– Saturday, July 26th, 2014 –
Tonight I slept better than previous night. Some short wake-ups but normal because strange bed. I do some stretching and go down to have breakfast: fruit, te, bread with strawberry jam and… sweet rice with cinnamon . I talk shortly with a young couple from Santander, they are visiting the zone and curiously I’ll meet them again outside the Basilica after the Lagos up and downhill, pack my stuff and start the ride.
If you are interested, you can download the .kml file for this route in the next link: Stage_2.kml; or check the map and profile.
First km are almost flat. I put high gears to have an easy cadence and daydream about the climb. The beautiful landscape and slopes I’ve watched several times on TV are now a reality. Uphill is tough, moreover with yesterday’s route on my legs and bag on my back. The forest of the first part changes in La Huesera to grass and rockies, and the toughest gradients begin. I move to 34×26 (today’s stage will be long… ) and stand up from the saddle frequently. Some short downhills permit me to relax. Fresh weather helps also. I reach Lago Enol and continue to Lago Ercina, take some photos (many thanks to the kind cyclist who took the cover photo for this post) and go down.
During downhill I cheer several cyclists. I finish visiting the Basilica square and stopping in the Holy Cave. I keep good memories of Lagos de Covadonga. Very recommended.
After Cangas de Onís, I stop to take a te. I start to notice I didn’t recover well from yesterday and slow the pace. I’m in the lowest point of the stage, 65-70 m. From here, almost always positive gradient during next 45 km to reach 1450 m (altitude of Panderruedas). It’ll be mentally hard.
Less famous than Desfiladero de la Hermida, Desfiladero de los Beyos (River Sella) has nothing to envy the first. In fact it has an advantage, less traffic. Scenary is astonishing: tall rocky walls (at times forming arches over the road), trees emerging in the highs, lots of bends where don’t know what you’re going to find,… When enter in the province of León, clouds and fresh weather disappear and the “real” climb to El Pontón starts. I eat an energy bar and a gel. As always, I feel the boost instantaneously. But after 8-10 km, I’m empty again. I need proper food or at least, a good sandwich. I arrive Oseja de Sajambre around 14:30 h and sun is on the top sending fire. I eat a ham-cheese sandwich and a coke. I’m ready to continue cycling.
Rest of the pass it’s easy: not tough slopes, most time under the shadow of trees and good pavement. Once in the summit, only few hundred meters of downhill and I take the left in the junction to head Puerto de Panderruedas. I reach the top soon (only 4 km of climb and around 200 m higher than El Pontón), where I spent some time resting and comtemplating the rocky peaks. I think that sooner or later, I’ll do some trekking over those peaks. The downhill to Posada de Valdeón has some techical sections and it’s enjoyable. I stop in a bar to take another coke and fill the water can. Also, I watch on TV how Alejandro Valverde is doing a bad individual time trial and will not make a Tour de France podium.
Just leave Posada de Valdeón, first slopes of Pandetrave are a shock. I didn’t expect so tough gradients, not after +6 hours over the bike. Luckily, slopes soften considerably surrounding Santa María de Valdeón and also for the rest of the pass. I arrive to the top with some difficulties and some pain in my back. For future routes, I won’t carry any bag, even if it’s nearly empty. I finish the bars and gels I have. Downhill to Portilla de la Reina is fast. The combination of renewal energy and finish line so close, make me cycle at a decent pace. I do the last 30 km in 1 hour and reach Riaño.
At the end, 145 km and 8 hours over the bike. Happy but tired. And I still have a +2 hours drive to my village… However, I’d had an amazing weekend along this Picos de Europa circular route.
In the next gallery, some pictures done during stage 2: