To Zamora, one way - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 5, 2019

To Zamora, one way

Rachael chafes a bit this morning at how late breakfast is at our B&B: 8:30 is the earliest it is served.  Liking to get her morning coffee percolating through her system as soon as possible, she planned ahead by going to a cafe and ordering a coffee to go last night and brought it to the room to self-administer this morning when she wakes.

For myself, I don’t mind the late breakfast so much.  It’s chilly out in the morning anyway, sunrise isn’t until about 8:30, we have an easy ride ahead today, so what’s the rush?

We’re in the dining room at 8:30 sharp, but it’s a dark, lifeless place when we enter.  Dead silence.  Five minutes later there’s still nothing, and Rachael starts slipping into her food-panic mode, imagining worst case scenarios.  I talk her down off the wall a bit, suggesting we give our host just a few more minutes.  Soon enough she enters the room, greets us and smiles a bit quizzically, seeming bemused that we’re here already.

Then she looks up at the clock on the wall, and her eyes widen.  She looks shocked by the time, then quickly apologizes and dashes off saying it will be just ten minutes.  No problemo.  Things happen.

No, I don’t mind a late breakfast.  What I mind is a meager breakfast.  This morning we both get our unlikes, and start the day off a bit out of sorts.

I like this tabletop map at breakfast this morning, for it’s clear depiction of Spain’s provinces. And I like noting that by the end of this tour we’ll have visited all but two of them in our various travels here. All but a Cantabria and Asturias, the two along the coast in northern Spain.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Today’s ride to Zamora has a very similar profile to yesterday’s: 43 flattish miles, with maybe 1,000’ of climbing.  No hills or steep grades of note, nothing to work up a sweat over.  It’s cold enough that we linger around the room until the last minute, finally leaving not long before noon.

When we do start off, it’s uniformly grey outside, dampish, and still below 60.  Riding out of town, we make a noisy pair as we wheeze, hack and cough our way down the road.  Curse these colds!

We bike past a few miles of corn fields and small wood lots and then come to the first sight of real interest for the day: a restored section of the ancient bridge crossing the Esla.  It’s quite attractive, and would be even more so with a bit of sun on it, but that’s not happening at the moment.

A few miles more and we converge with the N-130, the minor national highway connecting Benavente and Zamora.  We’ll ride it for the entire reminder of today’s stage.

Soon after leaving Benavente we come to this historic bridge across the Esla, a renowned landmark on the Via de la Plata.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Making good time across the Esla, with some encouragement.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Spending all day on a national highway wasn’t actually the plan we set out with today.  I had mapped us onto a bike route that angles off from the highway to the east, but when we arrive at its turnoff and see that its unpaved, we think again.  Looking at our map again we see that it’s unpaved for most of the next 30 miles.  With the N-130 carrying very little traffic and having a broad shoulder, we don’t struggle with what to do here.  It’s my way or the highway honey, but happily they’re both the same way today.

Actually, the N-130 proves to be a great ride, and follows the Silver Way all the way to Zamora.  For a highway, it carries an astonishingly low traffic volume.  For the next two hours we pass bike travelers working their way north, perhaps a dozen or two of them.  Not many, but more than the number of cars we’ll see.  It’s amazing - a thirty foot wide bike path.  

Still though, we could be happier.  Our coughs are with us, Rachael feels a bit nauseous (I blame our meager breakfasts), and it’s still chilly.  If only the sun would break through and brighten the day a bit!

It’s cool, damp and solidly overcast today. The forecast calls for a clear, sunny afternoon, but that’s hard to believe at the moment.
Heart 1 Comment 0

About ten minutes later, the sun breaks through and brightens the day a bit; and then brightens it a lot.  It’s almost shocking - one minute the  sky is a monochrome grey from one horizon to the other; and ten minutes later, it’s blue.  I don’t recall ever seeing one clear as abruptly.

And, almost as abruptly, the Team Anderson mood shifts.  We warm up, sinuses start drying out, coughing tapers off, and we look around to see that we’re in the middle of another beautiful, vibrant landscape full of quiet delights.  A splendid ride, which ends when we pull into our riverside hotel in Zamora at around four.

Believe. The skies cleared almost instantly, in a matter of about ten minutes.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Jeanna & Kerry SmithThere really is nothing as powerful for creating instant happiness as the sun coming out!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jeanna & Kerry SmithYou’ve got that right. The magic elixir.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
It’s a quiet road we’re on today. Why not walk down the center line?
Heart 3 Comment 0
Thistle
Heart 1 Comment 0
It’s amazing how quiet the N-130 is here. For about fifteen miles we see more bike travelers than automobiles.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Here come two now, to help make my point.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Video sound track: No Puede Mas Sin Ti (I’m your man), by Enrique Eglesias

Like a scene from La Crete, in Tuscany.
Heart 3 Comment 0
In Riego del Camino
Heart 4 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyNow, if she would only jump on that horse and have it run by Rachael ...
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWow, what great recall! Why grandma, what a fine memory you have!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Another good use for your pet gekko.
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Granja de Moromuela, looking up at another empty stork nest. Will we ever see a stork on this tour, we wonder?
Heart 2 Comment 0
Moreuela is a minor node on the Santiago network, collecting peregrinos from Sanabria. Note the map schematic in the lower left.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The peregrino’s albergue, Granja de Mormuela
Heart 1 Comment 0
Its astonishing what the naked eye can pick out from a still landscape like this with just a bit of color contrast. I first noticed the man In the denim blue jacket, and didn’t notice the white smear beneath him at all until zooming in.
Heart 1 Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesThat "other site" had the feature of click on image to enlarge. But here, in Windows anyway - with a mouse - a right click gives a context menu that includes "open image in new tab". In that new tab, the image starts off much enlarged, making it easy to spot the man and sheep. I have also found this useful to read menus and signs that creep into photos but which are not the main subjects.

We raised sheep for many years, and they would never, never stick with us in a field, as shown here. The man must at least have some grain in his bag.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThese are different. These are spanish sheep, bred to an unusual degree of compliance.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Sheep drive! We’re pretty puzzled here, because the sheep seem to be closing in on me as I watch, to the point that I can even eventually discern the motion of their legs. But they’re apparently moving away. Or grazing in reverse gear?
Heart 3 Comment 0
I love the reddish soil in this freshly plowed landscape.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Ruined home and a stone wall.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The Embalse de RIcobayo isn’t impounding much water at the moment.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The reservoir behind the dam. On our map, this looks like quite a large lake. At one point Rachael had planned on continuing on to this spot so we could enjoy lunch beside the lake.
Heart 1 Comment 0
As we near Zamora the landscape becomes more open, flat and featureless.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Here’s the explanation for why N-130 is so quiet - all of the traffic has been diverted to newer A-66, the busy Zamora Benavente Highway. Oh, wait.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Zamora immediately reveals itself as a special place, as we knew it would be from the guidebook description.  We’re here for just one night, but don’t feel the urge to rush out and explore it because we’ll be back.  Tomorrow we leave for a two night side trip to nearby Toro and then will return here for another two nights.

We decide to save our sight-seeing for when we return.  Rachael heads off to the store to pick up tomorrow’s lunch (tomorrow being Sunday, she’s planning ahead) while I take the iPad down to the hotel’s bar to cull through the day’s photos and catch up on the journal, enjoying a small beer with Brahms’ First Symphony softly playing in the background.  Very relaxing, and I love this symphony.  It takes awhile for it to register that the hotel has only a single piece on its sound track, and by morning’s breakfast I’m ready to move on to a different symphony after hearing it for the third or fourth time.

At seven, we leave the single opus concert hall and work our way up to the historical center in search of a meal, following the well-marked Camino route.  First though, we stop to admire the fantastic Puente de Peidra, the sixteen arched foot bridge spanning the Douro.  Built in 1167, it is truly spectacular and obviously worth more time than the pass-by we allow this evening.  We’ll be biking across it when we return to town, and will slow down for a closer look then.

Zamora’s foot bridge across the Douro. I’d love to see it as it looked in the Middle Ages, when it was the only river crossing around and conveyed large flocks of sheep.
Heart 4 Comment 0

Walking through the old city, we pass one splendid sight after the other.  It’s too late in the day and too shaded for any decent photography, so we’ll show you the town in a few days when the lighting is better.  Instead, we’ll show you what feels like the most thrilling sight so far of a tour that’s been chock full of thrilling sights already.

It’s the storks.  I’m shocked when I look up at the roofline of the cathedral and see perhaps a dozen of them lined up there.  As we watch transfixed, others fly in, some fly off, soar above our heads for a bit and then return.  Zooming in on them with the camera, I can see their long feathers blowing in the wind, their beaks clapping like castanets, their feet slipping as they struggle to keep their footing on the sloped tile roof.  And the sound!  Their primary sound is created by the rapid clapping together of their huge beaks, and it’s well audible far below at street level.  I’ve seen it described as the sound of machine gun fire in the distance, and that about captures it.  

There must have been thirty or more on the cathedral roof by the time they’re all settled in for the night.  Walking through town, we see and hear more of them - they’re scattered throughout the center, high atop the most prominent buildings.  

When we were in western Spain and Portugal the last time, we saw one or two storks here and there, but not many.  I had no idea that they congregated like this.  This is an important breeding region for white storks, but most of them fly south to Africa for the winter.  We're a bit earlier in the season this year, and maybe we’re seeing them congregate just before they head south.  It’s all beyond thrilling - it’s a reason for a journey.

This is more like it. Five inert bodies, silence, five devices.
Heart 1 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyA little disturbing.

We'll .. at least they're sitting together.

I wonder if they're checking each other's Facebook posts?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThey’re checking up on the steps in their activity routine. In a minute they’ll all jump up and run around the plaza, laughing and leaping.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Yes, it looks like we’ll see a few storks on this tour.
Heart 3 Comment 0
A lone sentinel, posing.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Half moon with storks.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyFabulous! What a great experience to hear and see these great birds. And the half moon/varied stork pose combination make this a great shot.

I think this cancels out the continuing annoyance of the colds to make it another AFD, ¿no?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Heart 0 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 43 miles, 1,100’; for the tour: 383 miles, 19,100’

Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 385 miles (620 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 11
Comment on this entry Comment 0