– Friday, July 25th, 2014 –
I wake up before 4:00 AM. The journey to Riaño will take me +4 hours, so the goal is to leave A Coruña around 5:00 AM. Previous day I was considering to split the trip and go to bed in my village. However, I decide to go directly to Riaño the same day since the stage will be one of the easiest.
I barely slept. It was one of those nights you go to bed earlier than usual because you are going to wake up soon. And a mix of anxiety and joy makes you overthink about the next day. Anyway, I feel with energy to start the project. I have breakfast and package bike and rest of stuff.
Trip was fine. Mostly by highway and the last 80-90 km by national road. From Cistierna, landscape starts to change. Cereal fields transform to the typical limestone mountains. Road bends frequently, pass through a couple of carved-stone tunnels and along the dam. I enjoy the drive. Riaño entrace is a postcard: the long bridge, the reflection of the mountains over the dam and all covered in a faint fog. I park the car and setup the bike to start the stage.
You can download the .kml file for this route in the next link: Stage_1.kml; or check the map and profile.
At this point, I open a break to talk about the app/plugin I’ll use to display the map and profile of the different stages. I have to say that it took me pretty much time to decide which select. As I won’t carry any GPS watch (mine is KO), I’ll depend on Google Maps tracks to import them to another app. Among others, I checked Ride with GPS, Map My Ride, Bike Route Toaster and Cycle Route. All of these are good solutions, however, either no embed option was available or no import file or… At the end, the two solutions which more attracted me were Geocontext and Bikemap. Both permit embed the code in your website, stage profile is nice and you can follow simultaneously over the map while moving the cursor through the profile. Finally, I selected Bikemap because I think it has better accuracy in the route distance. Anyway, under my humble opinion, I also recommend Geocontext.
After this break, going back to the stage itself. First km are mostly flat (gradient < 2%) and road continues parallel to the dam. I decide to take it calm because I know the big challenge is tomorrow. Some km before Llánaves de la Reina, mean gradient increases up to 5-6% and will continue around these values during the whole climb. After a short gorge, road opens to green grasses. San Glorio sign pass arrives soon and so the clouds. I talk to a motorcyclist who suggests me not to continue to Mirador de Llesba (2 km road up and slopes > 10%) because clouds will no permit to appreciate the views. Anyway, my intention is to visit as much as possible places, so I cycle until where the pavement ends.
Some minutes in the top to take photos, eat, drink, put the arm warmers…and downhill to Potes. The asphalt is better than in the León section. There are nice hairpin curves and slope is the proper one to not be constantly focus on the brakes. You can really enjoy this downhill.
Traffic starts to increase in Potes. It’s normal as the town is located between Desfiladero de la Hermida and Fuente Dé, two recommended points to visit in Cantabria. The first one is a set of limestone gorges covering a total of 22 km (the largest in Spain). Cycling over there is amazing. Sometimes, you go under prominent limestones which cover nearly half the road! I reach Panes almost without notice and I decide to eat here: Fabes con almejas and Entrecot al cabrales
After this heavy lunch, I continue the route in direction to Cangas de Onís. The road travels parallel to the River Cares and always with spectacular views. I pass Arenas de Cabrales, town with several campings and start point to some good trekkings.
The route ends with a climb to Alto de Ortiguero – Las Estazadas (5 km at 5%) and the downhill + flat section to Soto de Cangas for the last 20 km. I arrive to the hotel around 5:30 PM, have a shower and do some stretching. Then, I walk through the village, dinner and go to bed early. Tomorrow I’ll have a longer and tougher stage.
In the following gallery, some pictures done during stage 1: