Vuelta a Burgos Stage 1

After trying out the oven for the first time – roast chicken! – we treated ourselves the next night to a meal in the campground’s restaurant.  We had a lovely smoked salmon and asparagus salad for a starter and both chose the veal with potatoes as a main.  I don’t often opt for veal but it was pretty good.

The water seems to stop at least once or twice a day – there’s been a tanker truck filling up the pool and other things to compensate for the shortage.

On Tuesday morning we got going at a decent time to find a place on the route for the first day of the Vuelta a Burgos – another of our favourite races.  We were accredited photographers two years ago and had applied again this year, but due to covid restrictions were regretfully turned down this year.

We headed southwest from the campground and picked up the route in the reverse direction.

After passing Santa Maria del Campo we turned around and backtracked to Pampliega, a picturesque town on a river where we decided to stay and watch/photograph from.

As we had some time we took the doggies for a walk around the village – uphill to the main part of town.

After asking a local fellow where a cafe/bar was – in Spanish! – we found the place we were directed to and stopped for refreshments, then on to the church that overlooks everything.

The door was open so I went inside – the stained glass windows weren’t that great but everything else was outstanding.  I got ready to take my first photo but a fellow inside immediately said ‘no photos’, and pointed to a sign on the wall that I hadn’t seen.

It was a shame I couldn’t take photos – it was by far the most interesting church I’ve been in for a long time.  Like in many churches the ceilings soar and are vaulted and the walls are covered in sculptures.  But they also had a ‘wing’ with priests’ vestments behind glass – a whole bunch of them.  Some looked like they were embroidered in gold thread and lots of silk.  Also a display case that contained some relics, including some very old-looking scrolls.

Returning to the campervan we re-conned some possible spots to shoot from.  There’s a fairly sharp turn before the riders get onto the bridge and we hoped that would slow them down a bit.

The river, along with the lovely park and walkways was a great attraction and thoughout the morning more and more locals arrived to swim and fish.  They also opened both of the kiosks at each end of the park area and must have done a good business.

There was a good crowd gathered, and the race arrived with five in the breakaway – I got a pretty good shot of them coming across the bridge.

They were all from local Spanish teams and had been allowed to get a seven minute gap on the peloton.

I didn’t recognize too many riders in my photos but there are a lot of big-name racers here.  It’s a good warmup race for the Vuelta a Espana later this month.

After the racers had all passed we took our time going back to Santa Maria del Campo where there was a very nice free aire for the night.

Colin got his drone up for the first time but the strong wind made it difficult to nagivate – it ended up in a tree, but we did manage to retrieve it safely and without damage.

San Sebastián Classico in the Fog

After pouring rain off and on all night race day dawned foggy and wet.  I’m very glad I went for my scenic walk yesterday as it doesn’t look good for the great views today.  The sheep didn’t mind the inclement weather, though, and meandered from a field on one side of the road to the other at their leisure.

The San Sebastián Classic is one of our favourite races and this will be the third time we’ve seen it.  The last one was two years ago and young Remco Evenepoel was the winner.

We’re at the exact same spot we were at three years ago, just around the bend from the summit of the Jaizkibel climb, and they’ve erected summit markers 

Some cars joined us during the morning and the occupants stood around under their umbrellas.  I eventually approached a few that were in front of us and asked when the race was expected to arrive.

None of them spoke english, italian or french, but one young lady had a phone and she understood enough to show me a time schedule – for the women’s race (which, to be honest, we don’t really care about).  Just a guess as to when the men will be by.

The first of the women arrived right at noon with a three-rider breakaway, the main peloton a minute or two behind, and small groups straggling along about half an hour back.  Most of our fellow spectators turned out to be giving out water bottles to the riders, and as soon as the last rider passed they all left.

More fans arrived throughout the afternoon and once again our pullout was full.  A few of them setup tables and had a meal while waiting, and it was really nice to see the fog dissipate and have some blue sky overhead.

It was quite funny – at 3:50 I got a nice clear shot of some of the police motos, then we watched as the fog blew in again and swept across the hill to envelope us once more.  Only thirteen minutes later a lone racer arrived – you could hardly see him approaching through the fog.

Alaphilippe passed by about 3 minutes later with a couple of teammates…

I was glad to be wearing my winter coat as it was so cold and windy – it must have been awful for the riders.

Not wanting to drive in the foggy darkness we opted to stay another night at the roadside.  Having no 4G or other reception we didn’t find out the winner until the next morning after we’d left – Nelson Powless of EF won – good for him!

After another very rainy and windy night we left on Sunday morning, backtracking a bit before skirting Pamplona where we turned west and on past Logrono to Burgos and a campground we’d been to before just south of the city.

The Camino is very big around here – even the highway is named for it.

We arrived in good time to the campground only to be told that we could only stay two nights, not three, but that’s ok.  They have a decent restaurant but the wi-if sucks.

Finally Spain!

I forgot to mention the adorable hedgehog we saw in Ruffec on our way to the lab for my swab test.  We were going down the main road thru town and saw something shuffling across the road – it was a small hedgehog!  We were very worried that it might get run over so Colin quickly pulled to the side to stop the traffic, but everyone else also seemed aware of it and the little fellow made it safely across.  It was very nice to see that we weren’t the only ones that cared about a little animal.

The men’s time trial at the Olympics was awesome – much more exciting than time trials usually are.  Primoz Roglic won the gold and Tom Dumoulin got the silver – so happy for both of them.  Hugo Houle came a very respectable 11th.

I made an excellent lasagna (if I do say so myself!) for our final dinner in France, although the pasta making machine is a bit different from the one I have in Papiano and the one I have back home.  In any case it turned out pretty good and was well received.

Much to my relief we got the results of my swab test back before we left the house and were able to download and print it – I passed!  Or maybe I failed – in any case it was ‘negative’ which is good!

We got away at the decent time of 9:15 and were cruising – until we reached Bordeaux.  I know it’s always a bit of a pain getting past the city, even on the ring-road but it’s still frustrating.  It took us at least an hour to get by before we were once again cruising south.

We reached one of our favourite campgrounds mid-afternoon – just north of the village of Souraide, near the Spanish border.  We’ve stayed here at least three times before but for the first time noticed the ‘no dogs’ sign at the entrance – he let us in anyway.

Waking before seven the next morning we had a nice cup of tea – or two – before heading on to Spain.  There’s a border crossing about 20 km away thru a small town that’s mostly duty-free shops just across on the Spanish side.

We kept waiting to hit the ‘border police’ that would ask for our vaccine certificates or test results, but there was no one.  I got my brain poked for nothing!

We stopped for some groceries along the way – I’d forgotten to pack the potatoes, onions and frozen salmon before leaving so we did need to replenish some staples. We arrived near our destination right around noon and pulled into a large gravelled area where we stopped and had a light lunch.

Since we’d been here before we knew we weren’t yet at the summit of the climb so after eating we drove just a little further where we found the spot we’d watched the race from three years ago (where I got bowled over by the barrier because of the wind from the cars).

It’s a small pullout on gravel with room for about 3 campervans, right on the edge of the hill, with horses grazing below and the ocean in the near distance.  When I was walking Mo she stayed pretty close to me – the vultures above us were hunting in threes and she’d be a plump little meal for them.

Some of the riders taking part in tomorrow’s race were doing a re-con of the route.

While Colin and the doggies had a little lie-down I took a walk along the side of the hill that the horses are grazing on.

The views are fantastic!

The horses remind me a bit of the ones we saw at the horse fair in San Emiliano two years ago – very beautiful.

As evening fell the sun coming thru the clouds over the ocean was quite stunning.

We had a lovely dinner of salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans – such is ‘wild camping’ for us!

Dinner Out, and Brain Piercing

On Friday evening we went out for dinner – we had an outside table and it was lovely – luckily almost the whole area was covered by large umbrellas as it rained off and on almost the whole time.

I made a very nice choice – duck breast with goat cheese sauce and roast potatoes.  It was just delicious and I didn’t even have anything leftover for breakfast – highly unusual!

The next afternoon we went and had a very nice visit with Colin’s friend Jane.  She has a beautiful house a short walk away right on the river and we had a lovely time sitting outside overlooking the large garden and swimming pool.

The neighbour’s cat likes to spend time here – a very cute calico.

Another bike ride on Sunday took us over 41 km in all, including a stop in Aigre for a fairly good cafe creme.

We also popped in for a quick visit with Joyce in Fontenille – Tony was out at the time.  It had just started to rain when we arrived and during our short visit it just poured out.

Luckily there was a break and we made a run for it, arriving home without getting drenched.

We’ve started getting organized for our next trip, including me getting another covid test swab.  I thought – ok, I’ve had one before, this shouldn’t be anything different – wrong!!  I had to stand in the parking lot of the lab/testing place and the swab that approached me was huge.  I went to take out my nose stud and the doctor kind of laughed and said ‘no – not necessary’.  What I think he was really thinking was ‘no – it doesn’t matter at all – we’re going way further in than that’!

It was awful!  I tried to pull away a bit but couldn’t.  I had read a couple of months ago that people described the ‘swabs’ as almost piercing their brains, but after the one I had before I left Canada I thought they were exaggerating, but now I don’t think they were.  I’ve never had anything that far up my nose in my life – it was horrible, but I did survive, and I better pass the test!