Day 5 - Riano to Langreo - Land of the Rabbits - CycleBlaze

July 24, 2023

Day 5 - Riano to Langreo

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Writing this from a very cheap (35 euro) but actually pretty respectable - if slightly smoky - hotel in Langreo (or Llangreu if you insist on the Asturian), a suburb of Oviedo. Just took the suburban train into Oviedo for the evening and checked out the cathedral and local eating options.

Today was supposed to be a slacker day, after the rigours I had in the mountains and the very big pass climb out of Cantabria. To start off I had to circumnavigate the rest of the spectacular high-elevation reservoir by Riano. Then followed what promised to be a much shorter climb up to another pass, the Peurto de Tarna at just shy of 1,500m. While this sounds like a lot, the entire basin of the lake at Riano is over 1000m, so I was looking at a 450m or so climb, much more manageable.

The initially stages flew by in perfect weather and just empty roads - I was following the national road for a bit, and then peeled off onto the local CL (Castille-Leon) and AS-117 (Asturias). Part of the national road had been "flayed", but only in short sections.

The partially flayed road around the reservoir
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There were far fewer motorbikers going up - I saw a few other cyclists who said hello, as well as some entertaining villagers who cheered me on in Uno, where I also picked up more water. I was slightly disconcerted when the climb didn't reveal itself until right at the end - in the end it wasn't too steep, under 10% the whole way to pretty manageable.

Climbing the pass
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At the top, a much quieter pass than yesterdays, I crossed into Asturias. Province number three.

Top of the pass after much less climbing than yesterday. Hello Asturias!
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I then had a blistering descent for the next 10km - all the height I'd accumulated climbing into Leon was blasted out over that distance. I tried not to take too many pictures and to keep the speed down to 40kph - the brakes handled really well, all I can say is I'm glad I replaced the front caliper before coming out here. About half way down I stopped at a viewpoint where some Belgian motorcyclists were waiting - they actually knew me from the Potes campsite, and remarked that my bike was distinctive looking.

Vertigo-inducing
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I was really freezing on the descent - not only was the wind chill a major factor, but the sun had gone in. For the rest of the descent I was actually battling a pretty wicked headwind - I had to pedal even when it was 3-4% downhill - but fortunately the almost constant grade pushed me through it. Hopefully the NW headwind will die down tomorrow, as I need to keep heading that way.

The AS-117 became wider and more trafficked, and I had to negotiate a number of tunnels, the longest of which was more than 600m long. I couldn't see any regulations about bikes, so turned on my lights and spun down it.

Eventually, near the town of La Pola, I had an opportunity to move onto the local roads, which I was happy to take as there was now considerable traffic, including big dumper trucks from what looked like a quarry. The pootle through the little towns was actually pretty worthwhile, and I soon picked up a cycleway that took me away from the nastier junctions and along a riverside route all the way into Langreo.

Langreo turned out to be a highly post-industrial town, with several mines and an enormous striped smoke-stack south of town. I bypassed the town on the cycleway and then looped back, finding my hotel had a reception on the second floor (dammit). There was no-one at reception so I took the liberty of loading my bike and panniers into the lift and leaving it in a corner. On my second trip up the guy materialised - and was the most chilled out hotel receptionist I've ever met. No worries at all. That's great, I didn't want to leave the bike out on the street.

I checked out the dining options, and scoped out a pizzeria and brewery which was everything I was dreaming of. Then I realised it was closed on Monday - bollocks! I had noticed a little station coming in, and to my surprise the suburban trains run pretty late into Oviedo and beyond. So I decided on an excursion without the bike into Oviedo.

I had a good 20 minutes until the train came, and spent nearly all of it trying to figure out the ticket machines. Utterly, completely, incomprehensible. All I wanted to do was buy a single fucking ticket to Oviedo for 5 euros! It kept asking me for a special local card, a 9 digit ID number, heaven knows. I was so puzzled I eventually enlisted the help of some friendly locals, who also couldn't figure it out. One machine then crashed, so we moved onto the next, and in the end they were waving my card about in front of the reader and in as much puzzlement as me. We figured it out eventually and I just made the train.

I spent a good couple of hours in Oviedo checking out the cathedral and the centre of town. It was weird to be in a proper city again, with so many people compared to Leon. I still fancied pizza so picked a place near the station so I wouldn't be at risk of missing the last train back.

Nice architecture
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Oviedo cathedral
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Doorway detail
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Portico details
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This has to be St Jim (Aka St James, Aka Santiago) - with his staff and gourd, very much in pilgrim mode here
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Ceiling of the cathedral chapel
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Why yes this is a statue of Woody Allen in Oviedo. No reason.
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There countryside between Langreo and Oveido is heavily industrial - we passed a massive power station. I have a cunning plan, which is I might take the same commuter train with the bike (which is apparently allowed, after rush hour) after breakfast tomorrow and cut off this section. I used to be far more purist on this, feeling bad about e.g. taking the metro in Oslo but I figure I'll have a more enjoyable ride and be in less of a hurry. Frankly, I feel it's an achievement in itself figuring out these trains run at all (another fun thing - the station in Langreo is not called Langreo anywhere) and indeed how to buy a ticket.

If I start pedaling from Oviedo, the aim will be to get to the coast and camp - probably in the environs of Luarca.

Today's ride: 92 km (57 miles)
Total: 426 km (265 miles)

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Mark Bingham*DON'T* feel bad.... you're on holiday!
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11 months ago
Jon AylingTo Mark BinghamHaha, yes I have to keep reminding myself of this. It's ok to take it easy! Hopefully will reach the coast today where I can really put that into effect...
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11 months ago