77.8km â€“ 9H53â€™
This course we are taking leads us away from the sea. The weather is gray and the temperature never exceeds 16Â°C. The wind is persistent, coming either head on or from the side.
â€˘ 44km along route N634. Traffic is heavy after Solares.
â€˘ After Vargas there is a change of direction toward the mountains, where we reach the hamlet of MontaĂ±a, which is at the summit of the first pass. The view is exceptional at this point, with snow-capped mountains in the distance, which tells us that there are going to be more passes.
â€˘ A descent to Torrelavega where we cross a shopping district with a Carrefour, a Peugeot dealership and a McDonaldâ€™s, which is very popular on this first day of the weekend.
â€˘ Exit from the city to follow a â€śrioâ€ť and the highway before catching up with the route CA283 to climb 5km to a pass. Itâ€™s a road heavily travelled by cyclists.
â€˘ Descent to Virgen to take route N634 and finish at the entrance to Cabezon.
Taking short cuts by way of the passes means we can admire our surroundings: cows, donkeys, horses, and sheep. And we can also smell the countryside, for example the spreading of manure, which Sergeâ€™s shoes bring as a reminder. The stone houses, the high-perched churches, the valleys, the prairies, all of the countryside of Cantabria is beautiful.
A tough return to reality at Km73, at the bottom of a pass, RenĂ© is stopped by the police (itâ€™s the first time we have seen a member of the countryâ€™s law and order force). The vanâ€™s papers are examined, then the driverâ€™s license and finally, RenĂ© getâ€™s to blow into the balloon to see if his lunch has been too well laced. No, everything is ok and we are relieved to know that RenĂ© doesnâ€™t drink on the sly.
At the bottom of the pass Serge learns that the length of the stage will be 78 rather than 72 Km, as he thought. In fact the reconnaissance I made yesterday is different from todayâ€™s course and Serge didnâ€™t pay attention to this information. He starts to complain a bit, then asks to stop 1Km further on. In the end, he decides to go to the place I had chosen, since I am in charge of tracing the route and finding a place to stop every evening.
JoĂ«l and RenĂ©, our 2 Â« Duponts , Â» are always even tempered and attentive to everything : the traffic, Serge, preparation of Sergeâ€™s refueling, as well as the surroundings in order to snap a few photos. Iâ€™m not sure they have begun studying Spanish. Their challenge is to learn one new word every day and thereâ€™s going to be a test soon.
In Spain :
The supermarkets are very busy on Saturday, as they are in France, where everyone is busy buying: gifts, decorations and food for the coming holidays.
There is an entire island of olive oil, with 5 liter cans and a multitude of brands.
Smoking is still allowed in public places, even though there are some â€śno smokingâ€ť signs posted.
Itinerary for 29/11 : Cabazon â€“ San Vicente de la Barquera â€“ Pesues â€“ Panes â€“ Las Arenas â€“ Prado.
Town : Cabezon de la Sal (Cantabria)
GPS : N43.18633Â° W004.13772Â°