To Santillana del Mar - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

May 16, 2024

To Santillana del Mar

Today’s is a longer ride by our current standards, and one we’ve been particularly anxious about the weather for.  Once again breaks go out way though and it looks like we’ll keep dry if we get an early start and stay focused (translation: pack away that camera, buddy!).  So I do, with a few exceptions.

I tell Rachael that the ride should go quickly since it’s nearly all downhill as we drop close to sea level from Reinosa, up against the shoulder of the mountains at near 3,000’.   A look at the ride profile shows that it’s virtually all downhill for the first 27 miles, and then there are a few speed bumps to be negotiated at the end.  

The look this morning is much better than we’d feared. We should be fine, if we don’t linger.
Heart 3 Comment 0

It’s cold this morning, so we wait around until it’s 45 so we won’t freeze on our long, fast descent.  We’ve learned from yesterday’s experience and pack more intelligently this time, with all the electronic devices protected and my shoes bagged.  The roads are still damp when we start biking and won’t really dry out until near the end of the ride, but they’re not so wet that they’re slick or splashy.

Leaving Reinosa. Its almost sunny out!
Heart 3 Comment 0

The start of the ride does go fast, and other than for a couple of short ascents that we can almost ride through on our momentum it’s downhill for nearly two hours.  We’re on the N-611 nearly the whole way, another of those glorious Spanish national highways that’s been made all but redundant by the newer autobahn that parallels it.  Smooth, wide, a good shoulder most of the way, almost no one to share the road with, it makes an ideal cycling route if you’re trying to make distance.  It’s beautiful the whole way - very green, and dropping through narrow canyons from time to time as the smaller rivers were following eventually merge into the larger Besaya.

And I do my part by almost never stopping for a camera shot - so if you want to see what a gorgeous ride it is there’s nothing to be done but use your imagination or watch the video.  Both are good choices, take your pick.

We’re down here by the river, but all the traffic is up there.
Heart 4 Comment 0
A gorgeous ride, one I’d love to repeat on a sunnier day. On the other hand though we’d have really hated it in the rain.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
From time to time our road cuts through narrow, rocky canyons.
Heart 3 Comment 0
We’re in Green Spain.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Twenty-five miles like this go down easy.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Toward the end of our descent we briefly leave the highway to follow a very nice bike path through the village of Riocorvo that stays close to the river - and follow it too far, because we miss our last chance to get back on the highway and our route.  We’re puzzling over what to do and whether to backtrack to the last turnoff we’d missed or push the bikes up a short slope and lift them over a railing onto the highway.  We’d been discussing this with another biker who passed us and stopped to help with navigation - or at least with as much discussion as is possible across an impermeable language barrier.  We eventually start pushing the bikes up this slope when the biker gives a shout.  He’s laying his own bike down and comes up to the railing to help lift both of ours across to the other side.  What a great guy!

Thanks for the lifts!!
Heart 8 Comment 0

Unfortunately the few remaining miles to Santillana del Mar are considerably less enjoyable than what’s come before.  Santillana’s off to the west and there are a few ridges in between that look like nothing much on the ride profile only because it’s flattened out by the 2,500’ descent.  The first one, climbing away from the Besaya River, is the worst -  it climbs at about 12% for the better part of a mile, most of which we both end up walking.   Then there’s a drop into the next valley, and another tough climb getting out of it too before we finally drop into Santillana - tired, nerves a bit frayed - but dry.  So even though we’re both complaining, we can’t complain.

Our plan is to head straight to a restaurant that looked good to Rachael but we’re surprised when entering town to find that Santillana’s central streets are all broken stone and some of the worst city streets we can recall from anywhere in Spain.  They rank right up there with the horrors of northern Portugal.  So we decide that the first open restaurant we pass looks perfectly fine and stop biking as soon as we can.

Revived, we head over to our nearby lodging an hour later, a very attractive apartment where we’ll stay for the next three nights.  Were greeted by a young man - an adolescent really, probably of high school age - and an older lady who we’ll later learn is his grandmother.  She’s very nice but speaks no English whatsoever, so the grandson is here to show us the ropes.  He speaks just enough English to orient us and let us know that our hosts will check in later in the day after they’re off work to check our documentation and receive payment.

Our home for the next three nights. This is a fourplex, with our unit on the upper left. The bikes for the moment are in the laundry room behind the house, so we don’t need to deal with muscling the bikes upstairs until tomorrow.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Video sound track: I Wonder, by Yasmin Williams

Rachael leaves almost immediately for the supermarket to pick up eggs, cheese, peanut butter, raisins, milk, and a few other essentials to get us through the next three mornings.  And after she’s back I leave for a short walk into the country.  I don’t have to go far - within about fifty yards I’m fraternizing with the cows and wondering how soon the rains will start.  Very soon, as it turns out.

Our next door neighbors.
Heart 3 Comment 0
This gives a good perspective on our situation. That’s our apartment building in the center.
Heart 3 Comment 0
More cows. I’m making up for the shortage of cow shots that have slipped into the journal so far. We’ve still got a few days in Spain to try to improve on our record.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesDon't forget the cats! Susan Carpenter has a nice cat shot today!
Reply to this comment
1 month ago
Scott AndersonPressure, pressure, pressure!
Reply to this comment
1 month ago
Another of our near neighbors is this abandoned church. Oh, nd more cows.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Pretty country! This should be a great place to spend the next two days, if we get enough dry weather to enjoy them.
Heart 3 Comment 0
I make it about as far as those trees when I decide it’s time to turn back. It’s a good thing I did.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 1,552 miles (2,498 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 0