- Saturday, September 12th, 2015 –
Since many years, I’ve been thinking in a circular route starting in my home village, Valle de Finolledo, and touching Asturias and Galicia. This stage could be named as the AsturGalaicoLeonesa route. For its design, there were some clear points I’d take as base:
* Border pass between León and Asturias would be Valdeprao. Note that Puerto de Cienfuegos seems not very suitable for road bike (you can check the nice report done by Carlos Vega who did the climb from Asturias).
* Border pass between Galicia and León would be Puerto de Ancares.
However, it wasn’t very clear what would be the pass I’d cycle between Asturias and Galicia. Two main sources helped me to take the decision: the detailed report Informe Puerto de Ancares and a post about Pelliceira. Finally, I adopted to go through Pelliceira.
You can find the track under this link: Stage_8.kml
For cyclists best prepared than me, you can extend the stage to Chao d’Arqueira, Valdeferreiros and Sierra Morela. I’ll let you dream and design this extreme route…
So, let’s go with my impressions during the excursion . Just one week after stage 6 (Somiedo), I start cycling at 8:40 AM. It was raining a bit during night but tarmac is almost dry. Temperature is 10-12 ºC. For 160 km and all these slopes. I foresee no less than 8 hours over the bike.
In the first hour I reach Sorbeda (around 22 kms). Second hour is slower. I take easy pace for the Valdeprao pass. No traffic until now. Short eat break in the border with Asturias and fast downhill to Cerredo.
Normally, in long stages I start to have good sensations after 40-50 kms. That’s what happens also today. I’m going smooth. Passing Degaña, climbing Alto del Campillo via Rebollar,… I’m not taking photos during this section of the stage as I did it during Stage 7 (cycling the reverse way). Ibias road is always ups and down. But it’s clear the direction I’m cycling today is far easier than the opposite one. I’m enjoying the route.
In Fondodevilla, I have a break for a tea. I also buy an energetic drink I’ll pack in the maillot (thinking in the lack of places to buy once heading Pelliceira). I’m eating periodically and strengths seems good. Which does not mean I push hard in the many steep slopes I’m facing (specially tough the one before Torga village). I’m trying to save as much energy as I can for Pelliceira + Pan do Zarco. Soon, I’ll know that more than saving energy, preparation should be better…
The road to Pelliceira is narrow and surrounded by trees. Pavement is broken constantly but as speed is almost always below 10 km/h, there is no penalty. Slopes increase rapidly. These first 4 kms from the junction with the AS-212 have an average of 12-13%. So, I put gear 34×29 and focus on balance my pedaling. I pass through Folgueiras de Boiro. I see nobody. Total peaceful environment. And the slope doesn’t give you any rest… However the effort it’s worth it. Once I finish these extreme 4 kms, views to both Asturias and Galicia are breathtaking. They allow you to see very far away. From here, slopes decrease notably and Pelliceira is now an easy target.
Once in the village, you have to keep on the streets of your right to find the road to Rao. It’s the only one with asphalt, so no worry to be lost. During the first part of the downhill there is some short climb. Next, descent is abrupt. By Google Street View I knew perfectly when the road turned right to go to Rao. My surprise was that the dirt trail to Robledo de Rao is pavement. Then, I follow straight ahead (check photo below). This section has lot of loose gravel. I’m going slowly but I don’t observe any lack of grip. The road goes above Robledo de Rao and ends just a hundreds of meter before start the ascent to Pan do Zarco.
I stop to eat and drink. I do some stretching. Legs are very heavy and I fear cramps will appear. I keep the 34×26 during the first 2 kms. I pass Murias de Rao. The signal to Pan do Zarco is here. I move to 34×29 and mentally prepare to suffer the slopes. Fatigue is present. I didn’t remember it so tough. I put myself the goal to not stop until the braña. I commit to this. 55 minutes to reach it (from the brigde over the river Balouta). I hoped to find water in the fountain. But there isn’t. I leave two sips for the top of the pass and continue. Another 35 minutes to reach the top but mood is good. Hardest section it’s done.
I refill water in the Ermita de la Magdalena (as I always do at this location) and continue until Candín. I do a break in the cafe. Two chocolate bars and a coke should be enough to finish decently. This last part of the route is well known to me: Alto de la Cruz, Sésamo, Vega de Espinareda and the final 2 km to reach Alto de San Bartolo. I’m at home. I was motivated and I did it. This stage was a real challenge to me.
Check the photo gallery I did:
Data summary for this stage:
- 160 km and +4100 m
- 8 hours 30 minutes
- Drinks = 2 l. water + 1 energetic drink + 1 coke
- Eat = 3 bananas + 6 energetic bars + 2 gels +
- To take into account = don’t forget the mineral salt tablets for future endurance routes.
This stage and post is in remembrance of my grandmother Alicia: June, 5th 1923 – September, 12th 2015