To Villaprovedo - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

May 11, 2024

To Villaprovedo

We’re up early, foregoing the breakfast our hotel offers for the tempting selection Rachael saw at Panaderia Salazar yesterday.  The place opens at 6:30 seven days a week, obviously catering to the peregrinista morning rush.  I’m just getting my shoes on when Rachael suggests I look out the window.  It must be worth looking at if she’s willing to slow me down on our way to breakfast.

Red sky at morning.
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Rachael was right.  Salazar’s is an excellent spot to start the day at.  We’re there not long after it opens and make our selections before the crowds arrive.  We’ve only started our day at a place like this once or maybe twice the whole tour that I can recall, nearly always taking the hotel breakfast or eating in our room from whatever Rachael picked up at the store the night before.  We should really do this more often.

The first peregrinistas are on the road by the time we’ve finished breakfast.
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We’ve been a little worried about today.  For one thing, there’s the weather.  It looks fine when we start out, but the forecast looks like there’s the chance of rain by early afternoon so we want to get a jump on it.  And it’s a good thing we did, because we very nearly arrive at our hotel too late.  We’re about three miles from our destination when it starts sprinkling, enough that we pull off to hide under a slight overhang at what looks like the only chance of shelter the rest of the way.  We’re standing there squeezed against the wall and starting to consider breaking out the pannier covers when we realize the showers are stopping already so we hop back on the bikes and pedal hard for the last few miles.

Other than that brief scare though it was really an outstanding ride.  For nearly the entire way we biked on virtually deserted minor provincial roads, biking for miles between cars.  The light conditions and the dramatic sky made this one of the most visually striking rides of the tour.

Something new to worry about: the plastic backplate in one of my panniers is cracking. What are the chances that I can nurse this for the next half year?
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Rich FrasierIf that’s on the top of the pannier, I’d worry about the pannier getting into your spokes. If that’s physically impossible, I bet you can go a long time before replacing it. What did you do to break the poor thing? Are you using them for trampolines? :)
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergShould work. The solution to nearly every problem.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich FrasierI think the pannier should be OK as long as the bolt doesn’t pull through and separate the bag from the pannier. I’ll keep a close eye on it though. As far as cause though, it’s Rocky’s fault. She keeps offloading CRP for me to pack and I think I’ve been overstuffing the bag and putting it under too much tension.
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1 week ago
Leaving Frómista. That lowlying shell of a building is the eroded one I showed a few shots of yesterday.
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Two storks and a marsh harrier.
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A few miles north of town we cross the Castillian Canal again over the Requena de Campos bridge. We’ll see the canal off and on throughout the day.
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The Castillian Canal. If we’d wanted to, we could have ridden the dirt path next to it most of the way today. We didn’t want to.
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The church at Requena de Campos.
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Trees.
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It’s mostly sunny still, but the clouds will encroach more and more throughout the ride. By the end of the sky will be full and starting to spill over.
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I got behind here, waiting a few minutes for that patch of sun to overtake her so she wouldn’t blend into the shadows. I was beginning to think it would be for naught and Helios would lose the race when he finally caught up.
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The sky is deceptive here. It looks blue, but above us it’s almost completely overcast. The windows of sunlight are small and fleeting, and it’s difficult to time shots if you want your subject illuminated. This shed was aglow when I first stopped for it, but by the time I had the camera out and opened it was almost too late.
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By roughly the midpoint of the ride the sky has become almost completely overcast, the wind was picking up, and it felt like the rains could arrive at any minute.  Time to pack away the camera, pick up the pace, and strive to arrive dry.  Fortunately Rachael had the video on to help us remember what an exquisite ride this was, one to be remembered.

Video sound track: Placeta de los Carvajales, by Abel Sanchez

The other concern we had about today was our lodging and the village we’d be staying in: Villaprovedo, population 50 at the last census, and falling.  There’s no commercial dimension to the town at all other than Villa Romana, the country hotel that’s brought us here.  No bar, no store, nothing but whatever the hotel offers up and what we’ve brought with us.

Fortunately the hotel works out fine.  They know we’re coming, know we want lunch when we arrive, and will provide a decent breakfast when we leave in the morning.  Our host, an Asian woman who speaks no English, lets us in, gestures that we should just wheel the bikes into the hall and lean them against the wall next to the one that’s presumably hers, and fifteen minutes later we’re seated at the table hearing what the choices are for lunch.   I have the Castillian soup and Rachael a mixed salad for starters and then we both have chicken mains.  It’s not a sophisticated meal by any means, but it does the trick and meets our expectations for such a small, remote place like this.

The hotel itself is an enigma though.  It’s a large, elegant place that seems out of place and an unlikely presence in this dying village.  I wonder what its story is, and what it was in the past.  It seems clearly a place in transition now, with its Italian roots contrasting with the more recent Asian art and artifacts.  I hope the current owners are able to make a go of the business.

In the Villa Romana. The original owner must have liked photography.
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In the Villa Romana.
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In the Villa Romana.
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The sky has brightened considerably by later in the afternoon so we both go out for a walk, picking at random one of the unpaved farm roads that radiates out from the village.  It doesn’t take long to escape it - within a few hundred yards we’re out in the open, walking through big sky country with  no one around besides a tractor operator plowing up his pasture.  It’s a beautiful, serene walk that makes me thing of that wonderful afternoon last autumn in another minuscule Spanish village, Malanquilla.  I suspect that like that day, today is one we’ll look back on fondly for years to come.

Looking back toward our hotel, the large red building behind the trees.
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San Sebastián Parrish Church, Villaprovedo. I can’t tell if it’s still a living church or not, but its bells still ring in the hours.
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The brief period of showers passed just as we arrived, and conditions were excellent for an afternoon walk.
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Other than ourselves, this tractor driver is the only sole we’ll see until we return to the village a few hours later.
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Roller coaster. Rachael’s hidden in that second trough.
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The view to the northwest. I think that formation is the front line of the Picos de Europa.
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The view to the northeast.
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A few minutes ago Rachael passed me on her way back to town, muttering disappointedly that “you can’t get there from here”.
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Here’s the there she was referring to. There’s a dirt road down there at the bottom of this slope, but no path down to it. She didn’t want to risk getting all scratched up bushwacking her way down there when there are plenty of easier places to put in her miles.
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After surveying the terrain for a few minutes I decided I’d give it a try. It wasn’t bad, and here is my reward.
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It’s an excellent time to be out. The lighting is great and there’s just enough contour in the land to keep your interest.
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Every direction I look seems worth hauling the Lumix our for.
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It’s surprising how dramatic such a simple scene can look. You don’t need much.
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And in the not so distant distance, there’s the front line of the mountains again.
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Cornflower.
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The mountains are getting sharper and more distinct as the sun falls. I should have stayed outside for another half hour to keep watching.
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Seems like I should be able to figure out who this big guy further to the west is.
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Returning to the village. That’s our hotel on the left, and I can look into our room’s window from here. While I’m taking this photo the phone is ringing. My first thought is that it’s Rachael and she’s waving from the room, but that’s not it. She’s in the village, plagued by a pack of loose dogs she’s warning me about.
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Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 1,447 miles (2,329 km)

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