Salamanca out and back - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2019

Salamanca out and back

(A note to the confused, from the even more confused: I’m not sure what happened here, but the narrative and captions disappeared after they were first published.  I think I must have had the edit window open from an earlier session and saved it, destroying all of my work.  I’ve rewritten it, but I’m sure it didn’t come out the same way as the first time.)

Rachael’s been chafing lately at the number of times she finds herself waiting beside the road for me to catch up again after stopping with the camera.  We’re bringing her some relief today with one of her favorite ride models - a pure out and back in a route with minimal navigation requirements.  These work great for her - she can bike on ahead, secure in the knowledge that she won’t get lost and that I’ll eventually come along behind if she has a mechanical problem; and at the end she can just turn back and pick me up on the way back to our room.

It’s her ride, so we’ll start off with her video.  It’s all from the return half of the ride, when we’re flying north on a big tailwind.

Video sound track: Los Twangueros, by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban

Today’s ride is a 21 mile straight shot to the southwest, to the end of the pavement on the road I’ve picked out.  Once we get out of town it’s very quiet the whole way.  A few miles into the ride, as expected, I find an excuse to stop with the camera for some reason and Rachael bikes off into the distance, not to be seen again for another two hours.

Once again, weather is fine - clear skies, warm.  Things are changing though, and we can see rain approaching a few days in the future.  The wind has shifted too, and we bike south into a steady headwind.  It’s not bad today, and a fair trade - we’ll work on the way south into the wind but get our payback on the return.  Tomorrow though looks like it will be a different tale, as we bike south all day to our next stop, La Alberca.

Most of the ride passes through dehesa, a vast, open agroforestry landscape that prevails in southwest Spain and southern Portugal.  The link gives a good explanation, but briefly it’s a land management system that maximizes the use of this arid, poor soil land while supporting the sparse population that lives here.

The dehesa, with its vast open expanses of holm oak forest, is attractive at first but has such a uniform quality that it grows a bit dull after ten miles or so.

A few miles out of Salamanca we come to the ridge south of town, the high point of today’s ride.
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I stop for a small bird by the side of the road, which flies off before I can focus on it. Rachael pulls ahead too, and is soon out of sight. I won’t see her for another two hours. I was alone, both birds had flown.
Heart 1 Comment 2
Jen GrumbySo, you lit a fire ...?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyCiertemente! Unfortunately, I was stuck with an ear worm for the rest of the day.
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2 months ago
I was wrong. She’s still visible in this long open expanse, but not for much longer.
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Another cloudless day, but for the occasional tractor.
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We’re too far from the nearest saline lagoon for this to be sea salt. Must be some sort of soil sweetener.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLikely lime.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_lime
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonOh, right. Pick off the easy challenge for the day. What about the hawk though? I think it has a reddish rump, if that helps.
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2 months ago
Jen GrumbyI think they're there for the very nice color combination. If Bob Ross were there, I'm quite sure he'd stop and paint the scene.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt’s the colors that caught my eye too, of course. I could stop to paint scenes like this too of course, but then Rachael really would be mad at me. The camera is. Slow enough as it is.
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2 months ago
The reddish soil is streaked with fresh lime.
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We’ve entered the dehesa, an agroforestry landscape we’ll be seeing much of in the next few weeks.
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The typical appearance of the dehesa: huge fenced expanses of open holm oak woods, with the ground plowed or mown to keep the undergrowth from taking over.
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The oaks don’t look like they’re really grown as a harvestable timber product. Some of these trees are a few hundred years old.
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Another characteristic feature of the dehesa: range animals.
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These free range cattle look pretty contented out there. Makes me feel a bit less guilty about being a carnivore.
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Here’s one happy hog, with the whole watering hole to himself. When we doubled back and passed him two hours later he was still in the same spot.
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Jen GrumbyHog heaven!
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2 months ago
Some drama on the dehesa: a loud sound in the distance triggered a small stampede of about a dozen cattle and thirty pigs.
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Right on schedule, after about two hours Rachael comes into view just past the town we plan to stop for lunch at.  I make a u-turn to join her, and we coast down into town and find a bench in the shade.  Afterwards, we fly all the way back to Salamanca, the stiff and steady tailwind blowing us up the low rollers.  The kilometers fly by, and before long we’re dropping back into the city again and working our way past the cathedrals back to our hotel.

Here she comes, right on schedule, on her way back to Salamanca. I turn around to join her and we bike to the nearest village to stop for lunch.
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We’ve been seeing a variety of raptors with increasing frequency as we move south. Fo a change, this one held position long enough for me to focus on it.
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One long fence, reaching out to Portugal.
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After flying north for the last fifteen miles on a strong tailwind, we find Salamanca come into our sights.
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Entering Salamanca by the old road, crossing the Roman bridge over the Tormes.
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Approaching them from the south, we get the best view of Salamanca’s two cathedrals. The New Cathedral, the huge structure in back with the tower and dome, was erected in the 17th century. The connected Old Cathedral, constructed in the 12th, is the much smaller wedge shaped structure in front.
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Looking up at the tower of Salamanca’s New Cathedral.
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The intensely detailed portal of the New Cathedral.
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If you were hoping to get a good look at Salamanca here, we’re going to leave you disappointed.  Truth be told, we’re getting a bit cathedraled out and are pretty content to just spend the afternoon lying around the room, catching up on the journals (ours and others), reading, and napping.

For dinner we enjoy one of the best meals of the tour, at Zazu Bistrot: a goat cheese salad, sea bass, a French cassoulet of all things, and a red fruit crumble.  Sorry for the lack of food photos, but I forgot to take them.  Use your imagination - or better still, come to Salamanca yourself and experience the meal first hand.

Salamanca’s incomparable Plaza Mayor is packed tonight and illuminated with Spain’s colors in honor of the national holiday.
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I don’t recall seeing another spot than this where so many people just squat down on the pavement.
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We end the day at Zazu Bistrot, enjoying an excellent meal and a half bottle of Ribera del Duero.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 1,900’; for the tour: 621 miles, 28,800’

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 621 miles (999 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesA note from the very confused, back to the you.......you have your date sequence wrong we think. This entry should maybe be the 12th? This could maybe explain why you lost the previous work if you were in one entry of the 11th but thought it was the other one when you saved????
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesNo, the date is correct. I published it yesterday AM, complete (as could be seen from some of the comments received yesterday, specific to the captions). This morning though, the text was gone as well as several photos I added at the last minute. I’m sure I must have overlaid it with an edit session I still had open from before I wrote it up.

The entry for the 12th is still up in my attic - we were both too exhausted after yesterday’s ride to La Alberca to deal with it, even if the WiFi had been adequate, which it wasn’t. Yesterday would have been a good time to have had an electric assist.
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1 month ago