I was aware that it was a tad lumpy between San Seb and Pamplona but typically I had underestimated just how lumpy it was. Remembering the end of previous tours where I was able to cope with hills reasonably well, if not quickly, I figured I would be ok. I wasn’t.
The morning started ok, some decent riding punctuated by showers, but nothing too serious. I had my trusty Rainlegs (awesome product) on and a new waterproof jacket for this trip, so pushed on through the rain, hoping that the glimpses of blue sky would expand into sunshine later in the day.
The bike was holding up ok after the previous day’s shenanigans and felt ok to ride. What I hadn’t thought through was that my previous experiences of riding hills was at the end of trips (apart from talking the alpine pass at Oberalppass on day one of the Rhine) and not early in the trip having done no training.
I passed through a town, Andoain, with a stunning church and a hill so steep they had escalators on the pavement
I managed to get some video of the morning, despite the lens being affected by rain drops!
It was after I’d stopped for a lunch break of croissants and some weird really dense honey muffins that the conditions and terrain took a real downturn. The scenery was spectacular, rugged and slightly desolate as I headed up into the real hills. The biggest climb was up to a summit at just over 2000ft. This was nuts. It was cold, raining and very hard work.
Having committed to it, there was no real option to turn back. No towns on route, nothing but me and a bloody long hill. I was passed by a couple of lycra clad road warriors on road bikes which weighed about as much as my shoe…but i’ve long since stopped worrying about that sort of thing. Bastards.
Towards the top of the hill things were getting desperate. Raining heavily and nothing left in the legs. At this point had I purchased fuel in San Sebastián I would have pulled over and pitched the tent, but without fuel for my stove it would have been a cold camp and I didn’t fancy that at all.
As the light was fading I’d reached a plateau at the top of the climb and a small town called Lekunberri offered shelter about 5 miles down the road, so I pedalled hard for it and found just about the only hostel in town.
It was amazing. The lady who ran it was exceptionally welcoming and offered up a 3 course meal of fish soup, pork cheeks and apple cake to finish. A really good finish to a rough day on the bike.