Zarautz to Bilbao - Pau to Porto 2019 - CycleBlaze

July 9, 2019

Zarautz to Bilbao

Perhaps a change of plans?

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I think I have made a mistake when planning this route out.  Perhaps a coastal ride was not the best idea after all, and we are now reconsidering alternatives to our original proposed route.  After riding in the tranquility of the Pyrenees, we were both a little surprisedby the volume of the traffic along the coastal roads, as well as the minimal shoulder.  In addition, much of the route runs inland from the ocean, and so far we have had only small stretches of truly amazing riding.  The whole stretch of coastline between the cities of Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastián are pretty busy and, in my opinion, unpleasant to ride.

Not sure how I missed that during my research.  But, sometimes you see what you want to see, and not how it truly is.  Oh well.  But, this presents us with a great opportunity to reinvent our trip.

It rained all last night and into the morning with periods of very heavy rain.  Some small towns of Northern Spain have have witnessed torrents of debris running right through some villages due to the heavy downpours.  It did not stop raining until about 10 am, and we got off to a late start and were on the road  at 11:30; which is very late for us.

Campground restaurant in Zarautz.
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Beautiful beach at Zarautz. Surfing is big out on this coastline.
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This region is also known as the Costa Verde. The amount of rain we’ve experienced explains deep and lush greens.
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The coastal town of Getaria. Sue and I stopped here for a wander only 5 kms from our starting point. We sure did play with time today. But, we’re not in any rush.
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San Salbadore Eliza. A very dimly lit church.
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Another view.
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One more.
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The road from Zarautz to Getaria was truly memorable as it hugged the coast beneath towering cliffs.  We rode into a stiff headwind as the incoming high pressure front cleared the sky and produced monstrous swells.  The views took our minds off the heavy traffic.....until the views stopped.  Then, all we noticed was the traffic.

Fresh sardines. Getaria.
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Man responsible for fresh sardines.
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Street scene. Getaria.
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Not sure why I included a photo of our breakfast. I think I just like the composition.
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The road from Getaria to Deba was dramatic as it hugged and climbed over successive headlands and it reminded us of our cycle tour down the coast of California in 2006.  We continued on towards Deba, and stopped for a snack of egg, cheese and potato pie in a small bar and left town excited for more coastal riding towards Lekeitio.  We when we arrived at the junction of the turn, we were expecting a much quieter road. Unfortunately, this route is also well known as a very scenic driving route for all forms of vehicles, and is very narrow.  It also involves a 500m climb over a headland.  We got about a kilometer into our climb as streams of cars, motorcycles, campers and tour buses lined up behind us waiting to pass.  The same parade of traffic was the same in the oncoming lane.

We had enough of this and backtracked.  It was getting late in the day and we were not going to spend the next two hours climbing dealing with that nonsense.

The headland that I appear to be looking at is the one we had to cycle over. 

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Looking back east from which we came.
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A closer view. Beautiful country.
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This old punk knows this already.
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To make a long story short.  We had enough.  It was getting on about 6pm and the wobble in my wheel continued to be a growing issue that really needed to be taken care of.  We were fed up with the road we were on so we hopped on a train to Bilbao.

It is here we got a hotel for two nights.  We are going to do laundry. Get my rim fixed and make a new plan.  In our younger days, we would have stubbornly stuck to our route, but with age comes wisdom.  I hope.

Stayed tuned .  Thanks for following along.

Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 374 km (232 miles)

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Anne MathersGood idea. Anne and I will only suffer for a few days before hatching a new plan. Check the weather forecast for sun and get on the train. It’s only a 6 hour train trip to the Mediterranean 👍
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5 days ago
Patrick O'HaraHi guys. Good idea. We are looking forward to cycling in Asturias around the Picos. A very clear and hot one here in Bilbao today. Cheers. If the road to Santander is not pleasant, we’ll take the train there, and escape the madness. Cheers.
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonSorry to hear that the traffic is so awful, and a bit surprised. I don’t remember it being bad at all when we were there, but it was just at the beginning of summer then. Timing is everything.
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3 days ago
Patrick O'HaraHey Scott. I hear ya. I guess it's what you get on the coast in high summer. We are looking forward to riding around Asturias and away from the coast. Going to likely head inland at San Vincente.
Looking forward to your upcoming local trip. You guys are prolific.
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3 days ago
Jacquie GaudetScott's experience matches mine, but I just looked and I rode from Itxaspe to Lekeitio on July 21 three years ago. Long weekend or something, perhaps?

I love that in Europe you can usually do a "get-me-out-of-here" train trip.
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19 hours ago