Day 11 Vitoria Gastiez – Comillas

12/08/10 (885 miles)

“…but as we were going downhill I switched the engine off and freewheel the remaining 3 miles downhill, before  switching to reserve. This must be what it sounds like to ride an electric bike I chuckled.”

Daybreak came with the rain continuing from the early hours of the night until about 10am. We packed up in between brief spells of rain and the impending downpour on the horizon. H was not at all happy with the prospect of riding in the rain with her confidence already this low, so we put the bikes under a tree with our gear and went to the campsite bar for coffee and ham/cheese rolls (what else?) until the rains had stopped. The phone/satnav had worked pretty well so far guiding us in and out of towns without ‘too’ much drama, so we set a course out of town through the industrial estate and made it onto the A2622 heading NW. Quite a wide and busy road, the satnav must have read Helen’s mind and took a detour north onto the A3318 Morillas. This turned into a quiet rolling single track cutting through some ancient villages and hilly scenery, before rejoining the A2622 again which had magically turned into a quieter country road with little or no traffic.

drifting along

¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!

We happily drifted along on the A2622 which became the B553, B551 admiring the scenery, a smooth and cambered downhill sweeping road through the trees and fields of sunflowers, then took a single track lane up through some woods appearing at a little picturesque village called La Riba…which got Helen quoting Speedy Gonzalez for some reason… 🙂

¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!

16th Centure Castle for lunch…

After our relaxing ride along this road, we hit the N629 and decided to stop for some lunch. We found a campsite at Villalazara and bought a coffee and the directions to an incredible restaurant, as the campsite weren’t serving food. It was described as a 16th Century Castle which we mistook for directions to the local tourist spot, until we found it 500 yards up the road.

Posada Alvarado Castle

Taking a stroll inside we were greeted by a member of staff who ushered us into the dining room, before we could say “No, we can’t afford this and only want a cheese and ham baguette!” In the dining room sat one other diner, listening to suitably classical music in incredibly majestic surroundings…

Pasado dining room

So in we tramped in our nice clean biking gear and took a seat. Once again it was Meal of the Day, but we felt we deserved it (again) after such a good day’s ride so far. Helen had a Cannelloni, followed by ‘3’ pork loins and chips, while I had the fish stew and ‘4’ sausages and chips, finished by another coffee..all for 18 euros! 🙂

Cantabria Mountains

Feeling suitably fed we set off on the B542 towards Espinosa de los Monderoawhere I finally hit reserve on the bike’s fuel. Prior to this trip, the DRZ was getting about 90 miles on a 10 litre tank, before hitting the 2.3 litre reserve (works out about 41mpg) on an average trail/road ride. Since riding in Spain, I’d notice fuel consumption had dropped considerably and I had just ridden 118 miles since our last fill-up. Might consider taking it easier at home too then!? I had packed a spare litre container of petrol which I decided to put in the bike, as I had no idea at this point how big my reserve was. Checking the satnav, it showed no fuel stops in the direction we were riding for at least 50 miles, which could make it interesting. We rode on, noticing the road climbing towards the cloud covered hilltops ahead (good job we had our waterproofs on) and crossed our fingers for a garage along the way. Somehow we manage to deviate from our route by some margin, as we appeared to be riding the Lake District scenery!

Helen climbing the Cantabria

Continuing our pleasant journey up, we soon hit the clouds were our visibility was reduced to less than 10 yards in front, forcing Helen to put her lights on and we crossed our remaining fingers hoping that her battery would last out! After a slow ride we appeared to crest the hill as the road flattened out, but this was guesswork as we could still see next to nothing and I half expected to see sheep plodding along on the road beside us.  Rounding a right hand bend, the road began to drop down and started snaking its way along the side of the hill and I sensed there was a bit of a drop beside us, so I edged the bike to the inside of the narrow lane. As we continued to drop the clouds got thinner and a vast landscape started appearing below us, (which fortunately for me as I couldn’t see it all clearly), I wasn’t too spooked…and neither was Helen. Soon we had ridden below the clouds and could see the incredible views spreading out below and before us…the pictures don’t do it justice…

…we could see the road we were following twist down one mountain, along the side to our right and continue along the next mountainside, brilliant…and saw only 4 cars the whole road! The clocks on my bike hit 136 miles before coughing itself onto the reserve tank, but as we were going downhill I switched the engine off and freewheel the remaining 3 miles downhill, before  switching to reserve. This must be what it sounds like to ride an electric bike I chuckled. We drift along admiring the derelict train station on one mountainside and the local old boys strolling along with their umbrellas, to a little village at the foot of the mountain roads at Vega de Pas which much to my delight has a petrol station!

Road to Comillas…

By now it was about 5 o’clock, as the road joined the busy N623 north towards Santander, we got off this as soon as possible so as not to ruin what had been an enjoyable day in the saddle…for both of us! Nearing Puento Viesco the navigation starts to go a bit wrong and we have to join the busy rush hour E70 road along through Torrelavega to get over to the coast road CA131. At Barreda I stop at a roadside campsite, and ask H if she’s had enough and wants to stop. After a quick glance at the site, she asks how far to Comillas which turns out to be only 20km away. So we set off at full throttle, all the way to about 40mph, then normal service was resumed as we drifted along our way.

Seeing the sea through the hills was such a relief, mingled with the fear of the overhead clouds gathering. We ride into Camping Comillas which has a pleasant ‘looking’ campsite straddling the main through road (again), with one field overlooking the sea and the other down below on the other side. We were escorted to our half plot (being on a motorbike) past all the large spaces recently vacated, evidence by the patches of light green amongst the lush green grass, until we reached the wash block and he pointed just to the right at a sloping piece of unused grass and said that was us…for the next 4 nights!?

wash block to the left road 5 yards behind

Still, we’re at the sea finally and too tired to think straight. We pitch the tent, get some washing done and go hunt food and wine. I might venture out along the coast tomorrow and check out any other sites within reach…

Day 12 Comillas

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One Response to “Day 11 Vitoria Gastiez – Comillas”

  1. Nice blog, as someone who has ridden in the Pyrenees a few times and was a rider in the first ever Pyreneesup (in Llavorsi) it brought back lots of memories. Thanks for taking me on your trip 🙂

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