Vuelta de Burgos Day 4 – Monasterio San Pedro de Cardera

058A267B-C461-4376-8E74-99C88CCAE7F6Packed up our tents, had a cafe latte at the campground’s cafe, then said goodbye to Burgos.  The start of today’s stage is very close – only about 14 km or so at the beautiful old Monasterio San Pedro de Cardera.  El Cid is pretty big around this whole area – the monastery has a huge sculpture of him on his horse above the main door, although he’s missing most of his sword arm and part of his face.

355A1B54-5BFD-40EF-9100-5F4481D058AEThe moto guys were having a meeting next to the statue of Christ, co-ordinating their race plans and duties, and the caterers were hanging catered lunch bags on the motorbikes (all of which are extremely nice-looking BMW’s).

I saw a monk come out the main door and a few VIP type people went with him to a smaller door on the left side – I figured they were getting a private tour so scurried over to sneak in behind them but the heavy iron door slammed shut just before I got there – rats.  

EFAB5D08-A3A1-4268-A394-EAB76727C238Then the music started – the first song to blast out of the speakers was an AC-DC tune – at least it wasn’t Highway to Hell.

D7E7B372-CB8E-4D14-A3A2-8FFE32519230The motoriders, then the ‘civil guards’ got their group photos taken, then the teams started arriving to be introduced to the crowd and sign in.

2E11C33C-EA81-49DE-9E66-5A96443B11E7E2720367-B223-4681-BBE2-1F66FC5784A0We left near the end of the team signings rather than watch as they actually started to race.  As we were passing the team cars and buses that were parked all along the road one of the riders was paying some attention to Mo so we asked if he could score us a bidon or something – he pointed to another guy and said that he’d give us something.  

D9127D25-7E47-4940-9E5A-F48E2A2624D4When we asked the other guy he said no, he couldn’t give us anything so I piped up ‘but I’m from Canada’ and turned around to show him the maple leaf that’s now pinned to my small backpack.  The guy then said ‘oh – well then ok – here’s a musette (feed bag) for you – alright?’.

6FE0A678-9C23-4658-94E0-A6517773CA6EWe barely made it out of the next town as the race was about to come thru and the road we wanted to take was blocked.  We went down a side road just before it and got thru a back way onto the small highway we wanted that went the opposite direction that the race was taking.

670DCC73-DDF6-48C5-9C24-7BAA6DA63125We stopped just after the small town of Villabilla de Gumiel, where the people don’t seem too concerned about walking in the middle of the road even when cars are coming.  We pulled over in a nice flat area where hay had just been cut and was just before the end of the ‘feed zone’.

FFA5DB82-C4C5-4D12-8244-229313F39E96The only other car that joined us was a nice young Spanish couple that we chatted with – the guy especially seems keen on the cycling races, and they are from the Basque so were quite interested that we had just been there and seen the San Sebastian Classic.  Once again didn’t get any bidons or anything but the musette we got earlier made up for that.

3F068437-BF0F-4E1F-82E6-6F30A671913BNot too far from our next camping destination we we both feeling tired from the sun earlier so stopped for a refreshing beverage in the village of Palacios de la Sierra.  The small bar was cool inside so for once we didn’t choose an outside table. When we ordered a second round told us they were closing, but we could sit outside and drink if we wished, so we ended up at the outside table anyway.

FBB4E10E-6FC4-4676-87A7-5E1D3FF8318CThe campground just outside Quintanar de la Sierra was easy to find and we setup next to a creek/river.  There are lots of tents here and only a few campervans. The wi-fi reception sucks so no online news or blog posting for me.

Drove back into the town to find a supermarket, then settled in for bacon and eggs dinner.

Vuelta de Burgos Day 3 – Start in Sedano

F7AEA7A9-B4BD-4E2D-A4E3-0A42AB1DEA7BThe day started out fairly chilly, and then just got worse – and I don’t mean the weather.  I was putting in a new pair of contacts and the right one went in nice and easy, but the package of the left one was a bit hard to open, which was unusual.  As soon as I rinsed it with saline and put it in my eye it immediately started to burn and sting like mad. I ripped it out and tossed it – I don’t really know where – and closed my eye tightly.  I cried and cried it burned so bad and every time I opened the left eye it started burning again – I wondered briefly if I’d blinded it.

Because of the crying my nose was running so I took out my nose-ring so I could blow it and the nose ring fell on the floor  – so there I was squint-eyed crying and on my hands and knees patting the bathroom floor trying to locate my favourite nose-ring.  No luck – well at least the day can only get better, I thought – right?

I gave up on the contacts and resorted to glasses for the day.  I actually wore my long pants in the car on our way to today’s stage, but brought a change of clothes with me just in case.  It was about a 50 minute drive north of Burgos to the town of Sedano.

12FCDF75-8341-48A0-9658-FAB1CBF86187As we entered the village we were directed to a parking lot on the left – it was actually the local football field.  By then it was warm enough to change into my ‘rah rah’ skirt, as Colin calls it. It’s actually an LPGA skirt with built-in shorts underneath and is very comfortable to wear.  

9D36D55C-D871-41A7-AA46-1BD8C4A785CDI’m experiencing what I would call a ‘behind the scenes’ start of a stage for the first time – all of the buses and team cars began to arrive, then the riders all signed-in as each of the teams were presented – and it’s a whole different atmosphere.  Once the race is actually on the riders are all very intense and this was just the opposite.EBAFD17B-3AF0-4851-8508-83E3A48FAF59

The village isn’t that large so the parking and unloading of all of the buses wasn’t easy and had to be well organized.  5E8298CF-3271-4D08-8D16-CDA29AF23612

There were a lot of people there, and it was much more relaxed than any of the other races I’ve been to so far.  All of the riders are smiling and chatting, signing autographs for kids, posing for photos, etc.

BC0970A6-A04A-4C2F-8FDB-8A5194EAA307Right after all the teams had signed in and been presented a local kids’ group did a couple of traditional dances all dressed up in costume – or rather, a guy played a flute-type thing and another played a snare drum and most of the kids kind of stood in one spot and swayed a bit while the two oldest ones danced a bit.  One little fellow looked quite put out with the whole thing, but he was so cute.

4AB79166-EC1E-4B41-A16E-F0F29DC4B8ABThe riders rolled out right on time at 12:49, then we went and asked some locals where the bar was – right across the street and around the corner.  We went thru the inside and out to the back patio, then I went in to order. There wasn’t really a line, and the 3 servers were working furiously to try to keep up.  I had some good laughs with the old fellow beside me – one lady got her daughter to stand at the counter hoping she’d get faster service than us, but we weren’t having that.  For once I had patience and just went with it.17C8C866-3083-444E-860A-ED90ADC523FB


Vuelta de Burgos Day 2 – Sotopalacios and Castrojeriz

221EDDDC-28AA-46C3-80C8-A397E5AB8F1FAnother fairly windy night, but no rain.  Had a nice breakfast of leftover paella, then went for another ride to the east.  Headed up into the national park that’s across the road, although most of the trails were more suited to mountain bikes so I couldn’t go on many of them.

630CC448-FAE9-418C-BA63-4D57F7C10855The part of today’s stage we’re heading to first is the ‘feeding station’ just outside the town of Sotopalacios, which is only about a 14 km drive from the campground.  We got a really good place to park and set up the table and chairs, as well as my umbrella sunshade. Even though once again it’s not so blistering hot out the sun isn’t good for my skin – I’m still putting the cortizone cream on the back of my neck and my arms – especially the two mosquito bites I got a couple of weeks ago that got infected, or maybe they were just extra irritated by the sun.  While waiting we ate a nice lunch of more of the leftover paella – still tasty.  

00F6EB79-9FBA-489C-9107-58C1C70E85CCEECF838F-857E-41CA-8611-1E621A0AD49BEven though we were in a good spot we didn’t score any bidons or musettes (water/juice bottles and food bags), but that was ok.  As soon as the last rider and all of the support vehicles had passed we sped away to get to the finish at Castrojeriz.

E1B0BBA8-1142-4AFD-BBEE-D4375CD29513We found a good parking space outside the local swimming pool and walked a short way to the finish area.   We picked a spot about 100 metres before the finish.  

55CA4FFC-276A-476F-8970-DB7763DF0D49The small breakaway group had been caught and the peloton blew by in a sprint finish.

5D3F3925-78F6-45BE-8AB1-427807CBEE66We waited and watched part of the podium presentations before heading to a cafe/bar in the village to have a beverage before hitting the road back to the campground.  It had a lovely backyard area and we sat under the trees surrounded by bushes, flowers, fellow cycling fans, and locals.8CC116B3-3D31-4A56-BC8E-A07D45554844

Vuelta de Burgos Day 1 – Poza de la Sal

There was a terrific storm during the night – some rain but mostly wind.  The tent held up nicely and nothing inside got wet.

AD8CC84A-86E5-4825-A258-4B2D2EA5E2B0Went for a nice little bike ride after breakfast – followed the path that leads east from the campground, then circled a bit north towards the river.  There are many paths, large and paved, as well as small dirt ones. The one that goes west near the river is excellent – I believe it goes all the way into the old city but I didn’t follow it that far, turning instead back towards the campground.  I did see many small tree branches and one very large one brought down by the storm in the night.

E37DC126-55B4-4603-ABBB-39B382A8FCA0Upon returning I changed, packed a few things in my backpack and we headed north to Poza de la Sal –  it ended up being the same road we had come south along into Burgos on Sunday. We intended to stop and have a coffee before heading to the mountain summit that the first day of the Vuelta de Burgos race will be going thru but couldn’t find an open cafe or anything.

68ECE167-5743-41C6-85F7-9598C91B6908We had a heck of a time trying to find the right road for the race – there were no orange arrows in the town yet but we knew they were coming thru.  Also, the road number on the map and the road number from the race website were different, but we figured it out anyway after a couple of false starts.

18CE9F73-BD30-4DC0-AEE4-E405F4CC9CA6The climb to the summit won’t be fun for the racers, but at least it isn’t quite as hot as it’s been for the last few days.  There’s a fairly large flat area at the top, and there are wind turbines all over the place.

E79CD07F-4218-41A6-8D0E-F7EB3FD82BD5Also a couple of combines harvesting grain and blowing it into a large pile on one side of the big ‘parking’ area.  There’s a statue of a vulture on top of a tall triangular base that has writing about a Dr. ‘Somebody’ but I’m not sure what it was about – maybe a scientist of some sort that saved the vultures around here from extinction or something.

817BFF46-1C20-4D24-A765-B37FBA953CE9I went for a walk along one of the trails and it just went down and down, eventually turning a corner and opening up onto a great view of the wide valley below, although it was quite hazy.

The banner marking the summit was already there when we arrived, and then the line painters came.  I walked over and looked in the back of their truck and saw that they had boxes full of orange arrows so I asked if I could have one.  They said they didn’t speak English so I just pointed at the box – they gave me one and I was pretty happy. As I walked across the road back to the car one of the guys came after me and handed me several more – I’m getting a collection!

Even though the temperature isn’t as high as it’s been it was pretty hot – I had my hat on to protect the tops of my ears and managed to set the umbrella up to shade my body.  The white cotton shirt is getting pretty ragged but protects my arms ⅔ of the way down.

A51D7D49-DC05-47B2-8321-85DA21B7C4F5A very nice older English couple pulled up and we chatted with them for awhile – Joy and John, who know a bit about the cycling races, but had happened along not knowing the race was coming thru.  They didn’t stay to watch, but were going down into Poza to try to get a coffee – we wished them luck.

3110D256-CC31-4E7B-B0A4-D47DA5471D8BThere’s not as much fanfare announcing the arrival of the racers as there’s been at other races – especially the TDF – but we still knew when they were coming.  Several motos and some team cars, then a breakaway of six or so, followed about 3 minutes later by the peloton. Once again, even though it’s the end of a long fairly steep climb they all seemed to be going so fast.

364905D5-B9C3-4AA4-84E5-BFE114173D76Once they’d all passed we took down the flags and packed up – rather than going back to Burgos the way we’d come we followed to route of the stage for a bit and took a different way home to the campground.

For dinner we decided to wait for the paella – if you want the seafood one you have to order it for two people, and it takes about an hour – it was worth the wait.  We got ours to go and ate it at our campsite – well, part of it, as it could easily have fed four or more. It was excellent, having prawns, langoustine, crab, mussels, tiny clams – all just delicious – went to bed very stuffed.


Beautiful Burgos

Once again I realized that the monks at the monastery nearby just don’t know how to count – this morning it was 89 bells for 8:00 – maybe they’re all mostly deaf and only hear every 10th one or something.

1FDDCFD4-81D4-449D-BDDF-1B634539FEF9Finally did yoga again for the first time in many days – my hips and lower back feel ever so much better.  The campground is right on the southeast edge of the city, and everything past it is parkland with lots of beautiful looking bike trails that I’ll have to explore later.  Burgos is a big stop on the Camino de Santiago trail and I’m sure many of the hikers make a visit to the cathedral in the old city.

B16A774C-E942-44AE-B21B-65E8A5A42C48We headed the few km into the old city to find the tourist office and hopefully get help there like we did at the one in Hernani.  Parked in an underground lot near the cathedral and walked around a bit – even with a map it took us awhile to find the tourist info office, which was almost hidden back from the square behind some construction fencing.

The lady tried her best to be helpful, but didn’t have a clue what the Vuelta de Burgos even was, let alone have any info on it.  They were out of detailed maps of the area so she ended up giving us six seperate ones as well as a couple of nice brochures of things to see and do.  Burgos is not only the major city but also the name of the whole area.

B27B1F6A-9D83-48C9-B889-5A96D01B740EThe Cathedral of Burgos is quite impressive, if not really my taste.  In 3 years time it will be celebrating is 800th anniversary!

EB67E142-84FC-45A4-A1F7-D608B83012F0The whole old part of the city is just beautiful, with lots of pedestrian-only roads and many trees and parks lined with statues.  AF443D1C-6208-4D07-A520-0A5EB9811940

04664657-5CFD-432A-83EE-985C38CCD12FThere is a large statue of El Cid on his horse right as you come off the bridge across the river into the old city.

There are also lots and lots of outdoor cafes and tapas bars.  

C0023337-5970-47C9-96DD-1B4BE2F1186BWe stopped at one for a coffee, and I ordered a tostada with Iberian ham, tomatoes and olive oil.  It was very tasty, but so large I ended up splitting it with Colin. The cafe late was delicious (once I put some honey in it – still have a mini-jar that I carry in my camera case).

F9879C39-C677-4D27-835D-5E295543AEF1Back at the campground we sorted out where we want to be on each of the five days of racing the Vuelta a Burgos.  The maps we got from the info place were actually fairly helpful, as I looked up the official site on my ipad while we found the places on the maps we’d gotten and decided where we want to be for each stage.

After that we went shopping for a few things at Decathlon – an outdoor store that’s all over Europe.  I picked out some great sandals to replace the old flip-flops I got last summer in Angoleme – they were literally falling apart and were becoming dangerous to walk in as I kept getting tripped up by the flapping right one.

CD67B759-C645-4741-ACC6-3EEF2B613148Went down to the cafe/bar again for dinner and asked immediately about the paella – again they said it would be available at 8:30.  Colin decided he wanted the croquettes again, so I went in to make sure I could get the paella and was told that if it was only for one person I could have it at 7:30 instead of 8:30, which sounded great.  Near to 7:30 I went to order Colin’s croquettes and my paella and was told that I could only have the paella if I was in the indoor restaurant – I really wish they could give a person all of the information at the same time.  They knew I was outside from the beginning and could have told me that rather than making me wait an hour and then providing the essential missing piece of information.

Once again, then, I got the calamari – you also have to ask for knife, fork, condiments, etc as they seem to think you don’t need them unless you ask for them I guess.


Leaving the Atlantic for Burgos

In no real hurry to leave we had a nice cup of tea and breakfast before tearing down our tents and packing up the car.  We were on the road by about 10:45 heading west along the coast.

25B27A1F-E262-47DB-90CE-E96A80BC41ADThe drive was beautiful – along the Atlantic thru lovely little towns, all with gorgeous beaches starting with Zarautz, Getaria, Zumaia, Deba and Ondarroa.

18CA326C-F32A-4362-A4BC-3D68FE327AED587931A3-A452-4C4D-BCE7-CB6B38A7393FWe took all smaller, slower roads and it was so worth it – hardly any traffic, and right thru the middle of so many villages that the motor-ways completely bypass.

381F0A68-643D-40A9-9367-3519460AECADAs we turned south and left the coast the terrain started to change.  We first went up and over the mountains, which were still green and down the other side where it was much drier and browner, although still very beautiful.

617CDD82-C9BD-4384-93BB-AA8615B0F0910AE5B2DC-D289-411D-AA51-0DE654D75DF3We had already picked the campground in Burgos that we were heading for so Miss GPS took us right there.  We checked in and were told we could pick any place we wanted in the ‘orange areas’ on the map they gave us.  We looked at two places but weren’t that thrilled with them so chose a third and set up the tents.

EB5E2F3C-C2AD-49CF-9006-ED0D92535B2DWe went down to the campground’s cafe/bar for dinner and a drink.  The outdoor area was pretty much full and it had cooled down enough to be fairly pleasant.  There wasn’t a menu – just a few things on a blackboard – we were both interested in the paella, but found out when we went to order that we’d have to wait until 8:30.  Since we were both fairly hungry we ordered calamari, croquettes and fries instead and shared them between us – and Mo, of course.

I was still awake at midnight when the bells in the nearby monastery chimed – 66 times!


San Sebastian Classic Day

Got up nice and early and were on our way to stake out our spot before 7:30.  We took the peage (toll highway) instead of the ‘scenic road’ so we wouldn’t get hung up anywhere along the way.

DF64AAED-CAF1-4D72-88B8-9F9AF7A2F9EBWe went just past the summit of the second highest climb, then backtracked to a spot about 100 metres before the summit.  There were already two campervans parked there so we pulled in and setup the table and chairs and had tea and breakfast. The fog hadn’t risen yet on the mountain but we could hear the bells of some animals on the hill below.

85D3389F-1A0B-42DE-8636-93FC31AE740AAs the fog gradually lifted we saw that the bells were on horses, not cows – every one of them had a large bell right under their chins, even the baby ones.  The fog lifted, then settled again a couple of times throughout the morning.

Another car joined us after awhile – it was a very nice young Spanish couple, Ivan and Isabelle, and we talked for quite a bit.  It was getting warmer and warmer, and then I had to use the washroom. I walked up past the summit, then down the other way looking for a safe spot but there were too many people riding, driving and walking up and down the road.  Just as I got back to the car the driver of the large campervan next to us got back from a ride on his motorbike, so I immediately asked if I could use his bathroom.

He was very nice and said yes, of course.  A short time later he asked if we wanted to move Mo’s cushion and our chairs under the shade of his campervan, then he brought out a bucket full of ice for our water and wine bottles that we were trying to keep cool in the shade of the table.

1BF0B118-D303-4248-8288-B7649EEDCF91A young fellow came down the road and looked at Colin’s license plate, which is from France, and asked in French if we knew when the race would arrive – when we answered he could tell we weren’t French and it was quite funny – he was actually American.  He is here on his honeymoon with his new bride and we ended up chatting for quite a while.  In the meantime several more cars arrived until there was no room for any more.

DA8CEE49-B78B-47D3-82B9-7FDC22C178D9Since we had the schedule we knew approximately when the riders should start coming by so around 2:30 I walked up to the summit of the climb.  There were banners and about 20 metres of barriers on each side so I went back and forth to decide where the best spot to watch from would be. The American (Michael) saw me and we talked again – he asked how we would know when the race was coming.  I told him we should first see some police motos, then some official cars, and probably the helis, which was what happened.

D757C9FF-A52A-4788-807A-7F95C4BF25B4I chose first of all to stand just beyond the summit banner where there was no barrier, but when the breakaway of six whizzed past I thought I was going to get run over.  The racers veered to my side of the road because there was a corner coming and they wanted to be on the inside, so I moved to the lower side of the banner, outside the barrier.

E37383D9-B33A-44F5-9277-6C207DDF27DAThat wasn’t a bad choice until the peloton came by followed by all of the team cars – that’s when a fierce wind kicked up and the barriers fell over and threw me back against the hill.  At first I thought the wind was from the helicopter, which had been very close, but I think it was actually the cars – they were going so fast to keep up with the riders, even though it was the top of a pretty hard climb.

4B431C32-6404-42EB-AF1C-99CE3F47BD7EI picked myself up and kept taking photos of the next group until the end, then looked around at the fallen barrier – it was completely down and had landed right on top of my backpack, but I had my camera and all was ok.  The security guys were worried about me and asked if I was alright – at least they didn’t think it was my fault!

I saw Michael and his new wife (Jackie) on the other side of the road and we talked for a bit – this is the first race she’s seen and thinks its wonderful.  I took a pic for them next to the summit marker on her phone – she had to show me how – ha ha – then went back down to the car for a bit to wait for the second passing of the racers.  Colin was in the large campervan watching the race on the satellite tv for a bit.

32873389-E91C-4F41-BD0A-5BAE74BDC9DBBack at the summit I moved down the hill to just before the start of the barrier, which they had picked up and moved onto the very edge of the road so it won’t – theoretically – fall over again.  This time around there was only one racer in the lead, and the peloton wasn’t very far behind.

D9C65F68-862F-4B51-A5EE-3CA616F6B351As soon as the last racer had passed they started tearing down the barriers and everyone, as usual, started to leave.  Back at the campervan they couldn’t watch the tv because the fog had rolled back in and there was no reception. We took our time packing up then headed down the mountain.

5519305C-05CC-4EC6-853D-EF5889CC7AF1I was hoping to get an arrow as a momento, but they were already removing them – we saw the official van ahead of us so we stopped.  I jumped out and begged for one but one guy said he couldn’t give me any as they use them over and over. It happened to be the same three fellows we’d stopped and asked for a map from yesterday and we all recognized each other.  One of the other guys said wait – this one’s damaged so we can’t use it again anyway and gave it to me!

Relaxed back at the campground for a bit, then went back to the tapas bar in Getaria for dinner.  

AF9D0807-8B92-4077-9AB7-902E87FAD8DCEE2B7A42-0DF5-4947-88BF-DE3131DEDABFIt was even more crowded than two days ago – you could barely walk in the street – no cars, thank goodness.  The tapas bar was crowded too, but we managed to get seats.

2C50F8F9-1A6D-4843-9294-309BE4F386CCThe food was just as good as the first time, and I really noticed how the three staff members worked together – one young fellow that was there on Thursday, a young lady and an adult man.  They did – as Dominic would say – the kitchen dance. They were so efficient and fast and always had a smile – it was actually great to watch. There we so many people talking and laughing that we almost had to shout to hear each other, but it was fun.  A really good end to a really good day!