– Saturday, September 20th, 2014 –
Just 1 month after Vegarada, I decide stage 9 will be the last Leon all Borders one for this year. A circular stage from Ambasmestas with passes as El Portelo, O Cebreiro and Alto do Couto; and many places never visited.
Day doesn’t start as expected. In Cacabelos, I discover the road to Villafranca is cut due to the UCI Road World Championship trainings. So, drive back and take the A-6 highway in Columbrianos. Anyway, as temperature is a bit low, this delay could be advantageous for the first kms.
If interested, check the map below or the track under link: Stage_9.kml
El Portelo from Ambasmestas has 11-12 km of easy slopes. Pavement isn’t in its best conditions but not bad for the speed of a climb. Once in the León – Galician border, it improves considerably and so the difficult of the gradients. I have to be honest and acknowledge today I’m not in a good shape. Even though, these slopes at least will warm your legs
In Piedrafita, I take the N-VI and go down to Herrerías. You could say: “Why not go directly to O Cebreiro?” Mainly, because I prefer to climb from The Way of St. James slope (I’ve never done it before); and also to add another border pass to the project (Piedrafita – O Cebreiro road is all Galician). So, during some kms I see several pilgrims, both walking and cycling. The joy on the climb makes me do the first road mistake of the day (but not the last…) I reach La Faba but path only continues for pedrestrians. So, where is the road for bikes? No mobile signal, thus can’t check Google Maps. I leave La Faba and continue to La Cernada. Somehow I feel I’m cycling over the wrong road. This is confirmed just at the beginning of the village by a local. I have to go back before La Faba and take the right road. When I reach this cross, I notice it’s very clear in the pavement an indication for bikes.
This road climbs straight. La Laguna village is observed on the left-hand side, sitting placidly in a plain. It’s being tough but when I reach O Cebreiro I feel again happy after the previous moment of road doubts.
After O Cebreiro, there are still some slopes but soon the downhill starts. In Zanfoga I contemplate a nice restored palloza. Remark: it is not necessary to enter in this village to follow the route (in fact, this was another road mistake ) This won’t be the last confusion, but not going to bore you more with my adventures caused by these road mistakes.
Next 20 kms are an eternity. Continuous short steep slopes undermine my strenghts. During Alto do Couto pass uphill, my cadence is very low and stop several minutes to take a breath. This pass has nice views to O Courel zone. Fast downhill to Visuña (village on the left of the road) and head to the León border (between Ferramulín and Villarrubín villages).
Villarrubín area is a paradise for the chesnut trees. They are well conserved and prepared in stoned balconies. Even if the road pavement is a nightmare during several kms, I really enjoy this section. In Oencia, I take a coke-break (what a steep village!!). Discussing with the owner of a bar and another guy, they suggest me to not take the Cadafresnas – Corrales trail road (they say the road is in very bad condition even for a 4×4 car. I think myself, if you know for what trail path I cycled with this road bike… ). Anyway, these advices and the fact that I wasted lot of time in wrong road decissions make me to modify the original route. I’ll finish the stage doing Corullón – Villafranca – Ambasmestas (via N-VI), where no road doubts should appear.
Fast downhill to the River Selmo and head to Arnadelo and Los Mazos villages. Ufff, getting Hornija it’s been tough… Luckily, slopes are not crazy. From the top, no big comments to add: nice views to El Bierzo during the downhill to Corullón and good cadence from Villafranca to Ambasmestas. I get back the car. I’m exhausted.
Marvellous stage, tough and visiting remote villages. After doing it, my only advice is to have very clear the map in your mind or have the track stored in the GPS.
Below, photos from this route: