Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monday 2nd October: Giant birds nests

Sunday was another short day, intentionally so, and quite rightly so, we were a little tired from Saturday's climbing. We rode from Guardo to Cistierna, only 19 miles and not too tough, but still a little hilly. We found a hostal at Cistierna, discovered all the restaurants in town were either not really restaurants, or just closed "for personal reasons" (the owners wanted to watch the footy). So we ended up eating raciones at the bar belonging to our hostal, they had spanish omelette which was very nice.

Monday was a long day on the flatlands, taking us away from the mountains and along the River Esla, past Leon and into La Baneza. It has been suggested that the majority of the Iberian Peninsula's precipitation ends up on terrain such as this, however our observations indicate otherwise. We got a fair bit of rain in the mountains, however today has been a dry day with sunny intervals and an horrendous headwind.

We noticed a strange phenomenon in the villages we passed through - the church in each one was topped by an enormous birds nest. Dgym thinks they were put there by people to attract birds. I think they were put there by birds so they have somewhere to live.

There were also no shops in any of these villages, and we needed bread for our lunch. Fortunately, after a dramatic action-packed chase scene involving me and a bread van, we got what we wanted, and sat down to a lunch of bread, sausage, nice cake, and cheese which I thought was ok but dgym wasn't too pleased with as it was a bit too goaty for his tastes.

At lunchtime we were about half way to La Baneza and our average speed was just over 14mph, pretty good going. Then the wind really picked up and our average for the day ended up at 11.6, still not bad by our standards. The afternoon was horrible - any cyclist who tells you hills are bad is either a liar or hasn't been on the right hills. Hills are great, they protect you from the wind and give you interesting views and interesting cycling. Headwinds are a far worse enemy, the only hope is that maybe they will change direction or go away altogether. Today reminded me of the Netherlands and not in a good way, fairly boring agricultural scenery, flat open land with strong winds.

We are staying in an unstarred pension tonight, which is actully pretty decent. It cost 20euro and we get the use of a washing machine, our clothes are quite happy about this and excited to be clean again, although in my excited washing frenzy I went and put all my socks in there. And there was no dryer. Doh!

We were surprised to find a Chinese restaurant for dinner this evening, even more surprised to find that it was most excellent (apart from Dgym's chicken salsa picante thing) - my pineapple duck, and the fried vegetables were superb. Do look out for it if you are in La Baneza, restaurants like this need all the encouragement they can get.

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