Toro loop: in the Meseta Central - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 7, 2019

Toro loop: in the Meseta Central

I was studying the map last night to see the course that the mighty Douro runs.  It’s one of Iberia’s greatest rivers: 550 miles long, rising in the Basque Country somewhat south of Bilbao and emptying into the Atlantic at Porto.  I then researched it a bit, puzzling over its name.   It’s called the Douro on the maps, but the riverside towns to the east have names such as Langa de Duero.  So I suppose both spellings are appropriate.

In my research, I came across a new geological term I’m happy to know of: the Meseta Central.  This is the large plateau that constitutes much of central Spain, and that we’ve been biking across the western end of for the last few days.  Nice to be able to give it a name.

Today’s ride

We woke up this morning happy to be in our hotel room, with a roof over our heads and our small stash of belongings around us.  So much better than tossing fitfully on a bench in the plaza mayor all night, hoping we wouldn’t get swept up by the civil guard or suffer a relapse on our health.  A good thing, too - it’s pretty chilly out when we walk out in the square looking for an early breakfast (no luck; almost everything is closed here on Monday morning) before returning to our hotel and waiting for the bar to open up at 8:30.  When we come down, we aren’t the first customers - some lone guy has beaten us here and is sitting at the bar nursing his morning vino tinto.

Today’s ride is a slightly more challenging version of the 40+ milers we’ve gotten fixed on for the past week - a loop south of the Douro, up into a range of low hills.  It begins with a sharp drop to the river, 300 feet below town.  Crossing the river, we pause for a look back and up at Toro spread along the crest of a precipitous 300’ reddish cliff, and then bike southeast toward Castronuno, roughly following the course of the Douro.   It’s a fine, flat ride, but not the most interesting miles we’ve seen this week.  We’ve gotten exceedingly spoiled, and expect more.

Leaving Plaza Mayor, on another exceedingly fine morning.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Dropping to the Douro, we look back up at Toro’s Alcazar.
Heart 4 Comment 0
It’s a precipitous drop from Toro to the river. We don’t like it going down, and will care for it less when we return in the heat of the afternoon.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Crossing the Douro, we pause for a look back at the town.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Southeast on CL-602. Not as quiet as most of the roads we’ve ridden, or as interesting. We ride steadily for the first ten miles, saving our time for a more engaging stretch.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Embalse de San Jose impounds the Douro just west of Castronuño.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Climbing away from the river at Castronuño, we look down at a big bend in the river before it disappears from sight.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Leaving the river, we gradually climb south up a richly cultivated arroyo toward La Bóveda de Toro.  Crossing a low 400’ ridge, it’s a lazy five miles up, followed by a matching descent.  An easy traverse - easy on the legs, but especially easy on the eyes.  We’re blown away by how beautiful it is this morning, almost surreally so.  We rate this as the most irresistable road yet in a week that has provided so many strong competitors.

At the far end, just shy of La Bóveda de Toro, we stop for lunch at a small park and enjoy our snacks in the cooling shade of a cottonwood grove. 

ZA-610, our favorite road of the week. One stunning setting after another for ten miles.
Heart 4 Comment 1
Ron SuchanekThat's a nice looking road.
Reply to this comment
1 month ago
Some beehives
Heart 1 Comment 0
Drying sunflowers and corn
Heart 2 Comment 0
Scarecrows
Heart 3 Comment 0
Pines ‘n’ Vines
Heart 3 Comment 0
Bringing in the onion crop
Heart 3 Comment 0
Just a plowed field
Heart 2 Comment 0
Clearing the field, one backbreaking stone at a time.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Beginning the blissful descent to La Bóveda de Toro.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Some Castillian torte, for those torte lovers out there.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Video sound track: Live in Paris, France/2011 by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Lunch break beneath the cottonwoods
Heart 2 Comment 0

The ride back to Toro is a fine ride too, but just a step down from what came before.  Still beautiful, but marred just a bit by the first flat of the tour - a slow leaker from an agent I couldn’t locate although I suspect the small thorn stuck to my rear tire’s sidewall.  Flats are no fun, but we were appreciative to have it occur in the middle of a pine grove so we had some shelter from the hottest afternoon of the tour so far.  And, we’re thankful that this wasn’t like the day ride we took a week ago when I realized afterwards that we’d ventured out without tire levers or a patch kit. 

Another layer cake, with an oak garnish.
Heart 3 Comment 2
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThanks for the Spanish lesson! I thought this meant brother when I first looked at it. Good word to know!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Off-the-scale awesomeness.
Heart 4 Comment 0

We had intended to return to town by crossing across the old stone arched bridge; and we’d intended to spend the rest of the afternoon visiting Santa Maria la Mayor, Toro’s great Romanesque church.  We ended up doing neither of these though.  Between the flat tire and the heat of the afternoon, nothing sounded as inviting as returning to our hotel, having a refreshing drink, and cooling off.  We have a very short ride back to Zamora planned for tomorrow, so we’ll still have time in the morning.

Toro, from across the Douro.
Heart 4 Comment 0

For supper, we ate outdoors at a Tapas/restaurant establishment and enjoyed an evening delicious in all ways.  The meal was fine, but it was at least as rewarding to dine out in the warm evening, watching the day darken and customers gradually stroll past and then settle into a table at  our restaurant, drawn in like moths to a streetlight.  

Scallops!
Heart 5 Comment 0
Marinated anchovies, pimentos, and hard cheese
Heart 3 Comment 0
Town hall, on the Plaza Mayor
Heart 2 Comment 0
The clock tower
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 43 miles, 2,000’; for the tour: 469 miles, 22,400’

Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 469 miles (755 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Carolyn van HoeveHi Scott & Rachael - glad you managed to avoid an outdoor camp last night!
We started our tour today and after feeling sorry for you having had colds to deal with have found ourselves in the same predicament. A wonderful ride nonetheless apart from our encounter with a pack of dogs. I had read about this potential situation so we were armed with cheap plastic (loud) whistles which worked brilliantly . I’ve never read in any of your blogs that you’ve had dog issues?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveYou’re in Puglia then? I’ll bet it’s beautiful there right now. It’s no fun having a cold, but you’re in a good spot to recover from one. Ours are thankfully finally moving on.

I don’t think we’ve ever had a serious dog problem, although we’ve worried about them in various places - especially Rachael, who used to be more afraid of them than she is now. I’m sure they can sense that. We always hear about how bad they’ll be in various places - they’ll be awful in Greece, terrible in Taiwan, etc. it never quite pans out as a real threat though.

Good luck with getting past your cold, and safe travels! Two weeks in Puglia and two in Andalucia, if I remember correctly?
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Carolyn van HoeveYes correct! Just cycled from Matera to Alberobello today. The weather gorgeous, cool in the morning, warm during the day. Not dissimilar to what you’re getting. Enjoying catching up with your trip report in the evening. We’re just hanging out waiting for a restaurant to open. It’s going to be challenging in Spain waiting for that 9pm opening!
Safe travels to you too and hopefully no more mishaps!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveYou might be pleasantly surprised when you get to Spain. So far, we’ve been finding restaurants opening by 8:30 or even eight. So much better! It might be different further south though - I don’t recall now.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago