Climbing Mountains On Bread + Jam

posted by: Justin

Arriving at the La Vega campsite wearing full winter cycling kit I felt a little over dressed for the spring sunshine, even though I was only beginning to feel my fingers and toes after the 16km descent from Puerto de San Glorio. Our priorities were shelter, food and warm showers as we tried to recover from the cycling of the previous two days.

When we started out from Cangas de Onis on Monday afternoon the sun was shining Route along Desfiladero de los Beyosand we had a lot of highly anticipated riding along the western edge of the Picos de Europas ahead. After a night spent in a wet free-camp located high above a rushing river we began to climb slowly through the spectacular Desfiladero de los Beyos gorge. We passed up the one open cafe we saw anticipating further towns and cafes ahead. By mid morning the weather had begun to clear, the climbing had got harder and we had seen no further cafes. Stopping for a brunch of bread, jam, nuts, biscuits and water we were unsure how much more climbing we had before the pass at 1280m. When the snow started to thicken on the ground around us it quickly became clear that 1280m on a map seemed a lot more achievable than when your legs had pedalled you there on only bread and jam.Pass at Puerto del Ponton 1280m

We reached the Puerto del Ponton pass and felt a huge sense of achievement at having cycled to the highest point either of us had ever reached by bike…so far. Our descent from the pass lasted about 1km before we turned off towards what we expected to be a further descent to a campsite. Closer inspection of the map showed otherwise.

We began climbing again to Puerto de Panderruedas levelling out at 1450m where we Pass at Puerto de Panderruedas 1450mstopped for a quick snack of some more bread and jam at a set of very snowy picnic tables. The descent into Posada de Valdeon was followed by a stiff climb to the shut campsite at Sta. Marina de Valdeon. After pitching our tent outside the gates a local took pity on us and we were invited to camp under the eaves of the campsite office for the night out of the bitterly cold wind from the mountains surrounding the valley.

Up bright and early the next day we began another ascent out of the valley to the passPass at Puerto de Pandetrave 1562m at Puerto de Pandetrave 1562m followed by a desolate and bone chilling descent to the village of Portilla de la Reina. Sheltering from a passing snow shower in a bus stop we changed into all our warmest winter gear and ate some of our remaining nuts, fruit and you guessed, it bread and jam.

As the weather looked to clear a little we began our final ascent of the day to Puerto dePass on Puerto de San Glorio 1609m San Glorio at 1609m with a stiff tailwind filled with snow and ice. A passing bread van gave us some much needed fresh bread before the wind literally blew us the final 5km to the pass. The 16km descent from the pass where Emma had met some passing cross-country skiers (they were as surprised to see somebody on a bike as she was to see skiers), saw us walking our bikes down some switchbacks due to the wind strength, sheltering from more snow showers and finally reaching the welcome and open campsite at La Vega.

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2 responses to “Climbing Mountains On Bread + Jam”

  • You two are amazing and awesome – I have just looked on google maps … and saw all the snow on the big pointy bit of Spain that you have cycled around … Judy and I will need to go to a boot camp to be ready for you in June in Italy …. you get my vote for the top cyclists of the month !!

  • Bruce on April 9th, 2010 at 5:54 am
  • You’re not shy of some serious adventure cycle touring. Wicked how the universe supplies passing bread trucks and helpful locals. Keep the faith it looks like you’re toughening up, not the spring daffidol, gentle stream Europe I imagined. But you’s fellas always relish a challenge. It’s awesome to see your photos, you’re looking good.

  • Andrea on April 11th, 2010 at 9:30 am

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The map below shows the waypoints for this blog post. To view the details of our trip to date take a look at our complete route map.