Day 52: Pamplona to Irun - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 29, 2024

Day 52: Pamplona to Irun

After ending the post yesterday with the observation of so many people hanging out late in the street, I felt it was misleading because everyone soon disappeared. 

But the reason was just that rain had started. Then at 3 a.m. I was woken up by all the loud talking, shouting, and laughing in the street. Most people were just around the corner, but even those I could see seemed strange for this hour.

Our street at 3 a.m.
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These people don't sleep! (And that girl needs a warm jacket!
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Since I was awake, I figured I could learn more about the famous Running of the Bulls here. Our spot tonight is just by the run route, and the destination bull ring:

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We are at Plaza del Castillo, right in the thick of it. In July no doubt our room would cost a fortune!

I quickly found that there is more to the running thing than I would have imagined. As a sort of sport-running activity, there are many tricks and techniques, and there are details about how many Bulls and steers run, about the cows in the stadium, no glory in being gored by a cow, etc etc.  There are also different named worker types on the run, not least the medics, and very well known parts of the course. I found this video had very good coverage of it all: Definitive Guide to Running With Bulls.

Just checking Google, too, there was lots of coverage of injuries. See my screen shot:

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The noise makers stayed in the street basically all night, waxing and waning with the rain. In the morning, we found the street uncharacteristically littered, but workers were already on the cleanup.

To get back to the train station we crossed a river and passed a bridge over a tributary. Exercising my new fun fantasy about getting better shots of a specific bridge than Scott, even when I know well he has never been to that one and has no plans to come, I took care to line up my angle. I hope Scott is not put off by my childish game!

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Scott AndersonNope. Not put off at all. I love bridges and am enjoying the looks you’re giving of them.
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2 weeks ago

Below the bridge there were also some birds. Here I know I have no hope of an earthshaking shot, but I  snapped these.  We are still thinking about some of the ID.

We are not quite sure what this is.
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Scott AndersonDomestic. A hybrid of some kind.
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2 weeks ago
Grey Heron
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At the station we needed to rely on the departure times to guess which train would be ours. The listed train destinations mean nothing to us, and the intermediate stops are not listed. So maybe the train we needed was destined for Madrid or Barcelona, or more likely a place we have never heard of. The trains need to be on time for time to be a reliable ID.

We did get on the right train, though the destination had to be first back to Vitoria- Gasteis, which we had passed yesterday coming in to Pamplona. 

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Looks like a Moorhen
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Scott AndersonLooks like a moorhen, quacks like a moorhen, must be a moorhen.
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2 weeks ago

Back home, we had talked about cycling out of Spain , with the assumption of a train or something, to Pamplona. We clearly were not wanting to just reverse the Camino and leave at St Jean Pied de Port. Too hilly. So we had scoped out a route to Irun, which we thought would sidestep the mountains a bit by keeping more west. Now that our train was rather following what our bike route to Irun was going to be, we were appalled to look out the window and still see lots of mountain, with the train going through many tunnels. Together with the cold drizzle, we were glad it had worked out with the bikes shipped and not pedaled to Irun.

Looks hilly
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Very hilly
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We are glad we are inside the train.
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Being glad to be on this train, the one definitely going to Irun, came to an abrupt end when the thing stopped at Vitoria and declared it the end of the line. We were so sure our ticket with this train number specified Irun, that we just sat there, until a conductor came and threw us off. Go stand on that platform, he said in passable English, and get on the train that will come in 20 minutes.  Ok, we joined some other bewildered foreigners on the platform, and actually enjoyed learning of their trips. One couple was from Norway, and were travelling all over Spain and France by train and rental car.

Are you serious?
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The train that finally came was more of a streetcar, in that it seemed to stop every few kms.  But is was ok, because Irun was very close anyway. We were just relaxing in our seat when suddenly there was an enormous thump just behind us. We jumped up, to find the thump had been the sound of a man hitting the floor. People later said he had "fallen asleep", and been thrown or had fallen from his seat. But now we had a collapsed man in front of us. People's natural inclination is to lift such a case back up, but that is wrong, since you don't know if and where he might be injured, or the slightest part of his medical history. We settled on propping him up, and I used a trick that I learned from a police woman that propped the collapsed Dodie up on that highway south of Merida in Mexico. That is, you give the victim your back as a chair back.

We rode the rest of the way to Irun this way. The blond lady was talking to the man to keep him calm and still.
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Rachael AndersonIt’s so lucky you were there to help out!
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2 weeks ago
At Irun, security boarded the train and lifted the man. It remains unclear if he was drunk, had a concussion from this fall or from a previous fall that someone mentioned, or some other problem.
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Meanwhile the Norwegians had planned to walk to France and to get on a train to Biarritz today. But the lady's phone was almost out of power, and I think the man had a heart condition that precluded a lot of wandering. Dodie tried to give them some directional guidance, but also recommended a taxi, given the heart thing.
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We ourselves easily walked to our pension, the Lizaso, and were gratified to find our two bike boxes and one gear box stashed in a narrow corridor behind the reception desk. The people had been very nice to receive and hold these, given how tight space is at the place.

I had already dragged away the heavy box of gear by the time of this photo.
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The plan at this stage was for me  to pull the disassembled bikes from the boxes, and see about getting them roadworthy, right in that corridor. Dodie would pull our gear from the third box, and reconfigure the stuff for loading onto the bikes. If all went well, we could not only do that but write this blog and leave for France tomorrow.

I opened Dodie's box first, an all looked well in there, with the exception of a mystery part rolling about. Here's the thing. I played with bike mechanical things a lot in the old days, for example disassembling, relubing, adjusting,  headsets without a thought. But with our latest bikes I have not quite kept up with technical changes.  So, change brake hydraulic fluid? adjust internal hub gears? program e-assist computer? - not so much. At Correos in Santiago, the handlebars needed to come completely off. I assumed this was some magic new system, and I left it to Alberto. In fact it was no different from the old days - you tighten the handlebar by tightening a rod that pulls a wedge up into the head tube. Alberto handed us the rod to safely store, but I never thought about, or that there would be a wedge. In Dodie's bike box, it was that wedge that was rolling around freely. It had started the Correos shipment just loosely "wedged" in the bottom of the head tube, and had popped out.

With my bike, the shipment had gone well, and the box was not damaged, much. But it was damaged enough to let the wedge escape. Conclusion: we were dead in the water. And did we mention that this is the Holy Week holiday? There is a vague chance that that a bike shop might open tomorrow, and a vague chance that it would have this part. Otherwise we could be developing a closer acquaintance the small and dreary town of Irun than we figured on!

The bike boxes did well, except for this.
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The steering tube, minus its wedge.
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Scott AndersonOh, no. I am so sorry.
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2 weeks ago
Well, the bikes are ready to go, except that they are not!
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Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 2,371 km (1,472 miles)

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Rachael AndersonI’m so sorry to hear about your problems with the bike! I hope everything works out for you.
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2 weeks ago