Twickenham – Santiago de Compostela and Espasante (2004.4 km)
Twickenham (London) – Portsmouth – Caen – Santiago de Compostela – Espasante (UK, France, Spain) – Total cycling time – 110.31, Avg speed – 18.14
- Equipment: bike – Ridgeback – Velocity taken care by Moore’s Cycles guys in Twickenham, with Specialised Avatar Geometry saddle – here. The hole makes such a difference.
- Back panniers – Altura – waterproof. Couple of cycling bibs, Specialised and Pearl Izumi – felt much better in Specialised one, Three cycling shirts, Chamois cream – Butt’r – so much better for me than the Assos cream (I used it in my previous trip) – what a difference. One cycling jersey and I travelled with some cloth change that I could use in the evening during the cycling. Waterproofs – jacket and pans. Used just the jacket. Sunblock – SPF 25 works for me.
- Camping tent – Terra Nova Voyager Superlite – here, Therm-A-Rest Prolite Plus mattress – here, Eris 250 Sleeping Bag by Gelert – here,
- Things to consider: split the weight of the stuff that I carry between front and back panniers. I think it might really help on those heavy up-hills. Definitely chain tool and spare bits and pieces for the bike – even though you will not use them at all – include a good air pump. Staying in the tent is great – unless it rains 😉 Do not book Hotels in advance unless you know exactly the distance you will cycle. What goes up has to come down – slowly up the hill and then you will recoup time going down.
- Maps – Michelin – 1 ; 150 000 in France and Spain. Absolutely great.
- Camino de Santiago – Way of St.James from Pyrenees to Santiago – Check the book on Amazon – great reading about the pilgrimage, but I have decided to go on the Camino del Norte in Spain.
Day 1 (19/7/2010) Twickenham – Portsmouth Route map
- Start 10.55
- Time: 6.15.11 hrs
- Distance: 118.41 km
- Avg Speed: 18.9 km/h
- Max Speed: 53.7 km/h
- Total time: 6.15
- Trip distance: 118.4 km
I had all day to get to Portsmouth, the ferry was leaving at 23.00, so I started a little bit later. I had a very nice cycle from Twickenham to Milford, then the although beautiful it was very hot, about 1pm. Arrived to Preswick 13.45 to Gail and Doug’s, had a lot to drink and have eaten all of the little pork pies that Doug had at home. Set off again at 15.45. The road to Portsmouth was very nice but hilly as well. Had some nice ups to Haslemere and then a very nice ride through Liphook and Petersfield. From Buriton there was a steep up the hill. I had to push my bike for the first time during this trip. The hill is very similar to Deatchling Beacon maybe even steeper. Keeping in mind my previous trip I decided not to push myself on the first stages and give myself a chance of getting through the planned 2000km. When I got up the hill – absolutely fantastic landscape opened up in front of me. It was great till Chalton. Then went through Finchdean and Roland Castle. I followed the route to Havant and then it got very tricky to get to Portsmouth, Used Google maps on my HTC and they proved to be very responsive and I managed to get to the port area with time to spare. I had a drink at the petrol station next to the port and then cycled into the port area. Got all of the paperwork done, waited more, cycled in between all of big tracks in order to get to ferry.
On the ferry had nice, refreshing shower and then relatively good supper. Went to bed late.
Day 2 (20/7/2010) Caen – Argentan Route map
- Start 7.00
- Time: 4.22.28 hrs
- Distance: 88.2 km
- Avg Speed: 19.3 km/h
- Max Speed: 52.2 km/h
- Total time: 10.51
- Trip distance: 206 km
The boat got to the port on time and soon after we were released. I had very little sleep. The wake up call came at 5 or so in the morning. I had a breakfast, went back to my cabin and prepared for the ride. I had a nice ride till about 10.00. Afterwards I felt very tired.
Stopped on my way several times. I have gone through quite a few up and down the hills and arrived to Argetnan by 15.00. I have found a nice camping and set up my tent for a first time. All equipment seems to work OK. Great news.
Day 3 (21/7/2010) Argentan – Loue Route map
- Start 8.00
- Time: 5.30.17 hrs
- Distance: 104.34 km
- Avg Speed: 18.9 km/h
- Max Speed: 52.4 km/h
- Total time: 16.22
- Trip distance: 311 km
Today’s ride was quite tricky. There were two factors:
- head wind or across head
- hills (how many of them?!) – the ones I remember, well: Saint-Christophe-leJajoet and Criox…(Battle of Alançon)
After the first bigger hills all of the other were fairly the same… I mean tactics – Low gears up and as much as the bike and the road can give down the hill.
I found nice camping in Loue. Start was at 8.00 and I finished by 17.00. I got very wet before Fresnau – had to change my shirt. Had a little sandwich in a bar in Fresnau and then went ahead. The weather on the road was strange – not very hot though. I slept well in the tent. there was a short rain during the night but no major issues for me. Got up at 6.15 and took my time to have a breakfast and get ready for the road. It took me 1.45 hrs. Camping in Argentan was € 8.40, and today € 15.00 (with breakfast).
Day 4 (22/7/2010) Loue – Doue Route map
- Start 8.10
- Time: 5.42.59 hrs
- Distance: 113.35 km
- Avg Speed: 19.8 km/h
- Max Speed: 52.1 km/h
- Total time: 22.05
- Trip distance: 424.30 km
Started downhill this morning and then obviously there was uphill. Very nice woodlands around the route. Stopped at 12.00 for lunch in Benveau. After the start there was uphill to Jarze. D- 69 – very nice route but loads of traffic. Gennes – touristic town. Had very strong wind from 13.30 to Doue.
Day 5 (23/7/2010) Doue – Coulonges-sur-l’Autize Route map
- Start 7.30
- Time: 5.51.36 hrs
- Distance: 110.48 km
- Avg Speed: 18.8 km/h
- Max Speed: 57.4 km/h
- Total time: 27.56
- Trip distance: 434.80 km
Started early from Doue, So by 10.00 had 40 km done. Between Doue and Thouars – as usual plenty of up and down the hill. In Thouars found a street market and got some bananas and soon was away to St. Varent. Up the hill from Thouars (wow) and then had a few more wow’s all the way. Beautiful place for a pick-nick just after St Varent, just by the riverside. FANTASTIC!
Difficult to understand – why is it that you go up the hill and there is no down, or when you get one, the wind blows right in your face and you have to pedal anyhow? Wind, I mean WIND!!! All the way to La Chapelle St Laurent. Then the weather was a bit nicer and the road was a straight line. Going up and down for kilometres. Couple of higher hills – La Grande Mothe and Neuvy-Bouin. Then the road took me from Secondigny through the woodlands to Coulanges.
Again – couple of nice hills – La Batie and Puihardy. On the camping there was a massive group of kiddies but they were leaving, so soon there was piece and quite. Managed to talk to the lady responsible for the camping on the phone. I think she said just camp – so I did and it was great. Just three tents in the whole camping. No charge for camping?!
Day 6 (24/7/2010) Coulonges-sur-l’Autize – Pons Route map
- Time: 5.48.00 hrs
- Distance: 117.57 km
- Avg Speed: 20.2 km/h
- Max Speed: 51.3 km/h
- Total time: 33.4
- Trip distance: 652.4 km
Today it was another hard day of cycling. The sun came up through the clouds a little early for my liking. The ride this morning was more of the usual thing up and down the hill. I have got to get used to it. It will be like this the rest of the way, and worse. First 60 km to St Jean D’Angely – were fairly straight forward.
In St Jean D’Angely I stopped for lunch in a restaurant. Lunch – had the set menu – combination of beef tartar and mussels – the main plate. Afterwards I used Nokia to get on my way through St Hilaire where I turned to D731 and then in Brizambourg I stopped for a Coke and a chat with local people. Didn’t understand anything but felt much better and took off. Ohhh.. I had breakfast in Benet – good coffee and a pain au chocolat. In the afternoon it was windy again – just got on with it as was pretty tired.
Day 7 (25/7/2010) Pons – Gradignan Route map
- Start 7.30
- Time: 7.24.11 hrs
- Distance: 144.88 km
- Avg Speed: 19.5 km/h
- Max Speed: 50.6 km/h
- Total time: 41.08
- Trip distance: 797.2 km
God bless NOKIA!!! After an easy start from Pons the route was fairly straight forward to Ambares. then my maps and my navigation just weren’t good enough and Nokia guided me out of the trouble zone. GREAT!!!. I stopped for a lunch in a nice restaurant by St Eulalie – how little I knew. All sweaty and smelly sat at the table and ordered my food. The waiters were very nice and suggested a good plate of the day. As I was sitting there and having my firsts – great combination of jamon crudo, vegetables and melon, people in pastel coloured jumpers (kind of thing that you see on photos from 80’s in Monte Carlo) on their shoulders started filling up all of the tables in the restaurant. I had beef lever for seconds and that was the point when I realised that I was sitting in a Gourmet Restaurant on Sunday, midday, All of the local people pouring in for their family lunch!!!. Waiters served my table with the same precision as all of the other ones and then when I was paying for the food they filled up my bottles with water and wished a good journey. Great stuff. And not very expensive.
Nokia’s battery died on the doorstep of Bordeaux and I had to use the Co-Pilot on the HTC to guide me through Bordeaux. It turned out to be a poor replacement for Nokia. I cycled through the town centre – didn’t find it very interesting (maybe will have to come back one day for more touristic visit). I cycled through some strange areas of the town to the crossroad to Leognan. I was supposed to find a Hotel there. No way!!! Sopped by the gendarmerie and they told me that the closest camping or a hotel I could find was in Gradignan. I met a black guy cycling towards Gradignan and he guided me to the Hotel. Expensive – but I had air-conditioning and comfy bed for € 60.00. The first thing – charge all of my electric beauties. Nokia goes first.
Although I am not using Nokia as a phone the free navigation on it is just fantastic and it takes me through places in the shortest way. I had a supper in a Chinese restaurant (the only one open on Sunday evening) with a good wine and then walked back to the hotel. It was a very long Sunday.
Day 8 (26/7/2010) Gradignan – Mimizan (Salin) Route map
- Start 8.45
- Time: 5.19.18 hrs
- Distance: 105.57 km
- Avg Speed: 19.8 km/h
- Max Speed: 42.5 km/h
- Total time: 46.28
- Trip distance: 902.8 km
Today it was a beautiful day for cycling. I managed to put some lube on the chain and was ready to cycle at 8.45. Decided to take D 1010 to Le Barp and I got the the big crossroad not very tired. All the route till there was fairly plain and the sun has come out quite strong.
I met Raquel in Le Muret (nurse from Catalonia), she was cycling in the opposite direction and was lost, trying to find her way to Santiago. We cycled together to Liposthey and there we took the route to the coast, as Raquel wanted to cycle along the coast. We got to Parentis en Born. There we decided to split our ways, but before there was time for a beer and a photo. The route from Liposthey was downhill all the way and there were loads of crickets – very loud and very sunny all the way. I started seeing peregrines two days ago. First there was a young girl walking the Route, then met couple of groups of younger guys yesterday. All walking. Today I met couple of guys cycling and then run into Raquel. It looks like I will be seeing more people on the way. Very nice camping in MImizan. Achilles hurts – we will see.
Day 9 (27/7/2010) Mimizan (Salin) – Saint Jean de Luz Route map
- Start 7.15
- Time: 5.39.40 hrs
- Distance: 114.99 km
- Avg Speed: 20.2 km/h
- Max Speed: 51.9 km/h
- Total time: 52.08
- Trip distance: 1017.9 km
Today – two different parts to the trip. First – fairly plain terrain to Vieux-Boucan and then started up and down the hill. Managed to navigate my way well to Bayonne. Afterwards I had to ask Nokia.
It was fairly hot today along the route. Got to Bayonne and I had my 1000 km done during this trip. I had a little sandwich there and then and then went to Biarritz.
Biarritz – very nice town for people with big money. Very interesting geography of the town. I had a first glimpse of the ocean for the first time in Biarritz.
I found a very nice camping in St Jean de Luz, On the camping had a nice chat with a German girl, then went to the beach and sat down on rocks for a while watching a few men catching little sardines.
Day 10 (28/7/2010) Saint Jean de Luz – Orio Route map
- Start 7.45
- Time: 5.08.09 hrs
- Distance: 68.99 km
- Avg Speed: 13.4 km/h
- Max Speed: 54.4 km/h
- Total time: 57.16
- Trip distance: 1086.9 km
Today it was a day of hard cycling, walking and pushing. Started early from St Jean de Luz and got to Irun on one of the main roads without much of the excitement. Finally can have a good chat with people on the road. I was surprised that most of the people on the road spoke Castellano rather than Basque.
I stopped in a Pasteleria ‘Aguirre’ – had 3 croissants and 2 glasses of orange juice and a coffee. There was a very lively, tiny little waitress.
After the breakfast and a chat in a framing shop I decided to take a tougher route through Jaizkibel and Igaldo.
Had to push the bike up the Jaizkibel for a while. About 500 -600 meters. Getting up Igaldo later on – had to do the same.
With San Sebastian in the middle where I fell down and fell hard. Managed to break one of the side-bars. and was lying on the pavement for few seconds. It turned that I didn’t break anything, just circus-like fly over the handlebar. Bike was OK. Apart from the side-bar.
On the downhill from Igaldo I met Laurent. A Belgian that couldn’t walk any more. Called the next Peregrine’s accommodation in Orio and asked them for places.
First night in a Refugio. Met few nice people there. The Belgian l met up the road – Laurence , English – Lal, that walked Camino del Norte there and back. She was having time of her life. French girl – Benedict.
We had a nice chat with Rosa – the owner of the place, had great supper with good wine. Then Rosa took us to a San Martin chapel. Then there was a good rest.
Day 11 (29/7/2010) Orio – Bilbao Route map
- Start 9.30
- Time: 6.10.15 hrs
- Distance: 108.93 km
- Avg Speed: 17.7 km/h
- Max Speed: 47.4 km/h
- Total time: 63.27
- Trip distance: 1195.8 km
Had a late start of the day. Woke up 7.50.
The night’s rest was pretty good but sleeping with more people in one room has got its disadvantages. Had to go out for a few farts.;-)
To tell the truth El Albergue was really good.
Went through shortcut to Zarautz. Had to push the bike again. What a nasty little hill on the country road.
In Zarautz changed sidebars and the guys in the bike shop checked the whole bike and I was off again.
Very nice stretch to Deba. In Deba the N634 gets rolling up and down through the countryside. First there was a 5km uphill but not very steep. I got up this one pretty well. Then the nice downhill and another up of about 3 km from Ermua to Mallabia – 313 meters hill @ 8%. This one was more difficult. Had lunch in a track drivers ‘ bar. It was fairly late already.
Then the stretch to Bilbao on the N634 became a bit of a nightmare cycling on a dual carriage road. I think I was close to panic couple of times.
I arrived to Bilbao from the Guggenheim side. The view was great.
Bilbao – a mixture of colonial architecture and modern squared construction. Stayed in Hotel Ibis. Very close to the centre of the town. The guy from reception was from Espasante. Did some good shoppings: chorizo and ham for tomorrow, and nice wine for tonight.
Day 12 (30/7/2010) Bilbao – El Astillero Route map
- Start 9.00
- Time: 5.46.47 hrs
- Distance: 101.77 km
- Avg Speed: 17.5 km/h
- Max Speed: 45.3 km/h
- Total time: 69.13
- Trip distance: 1297.6 km
There won’t be any easy stages any more. I know, but today was a tough one. Very sunny and three major up-hills.
- First – la rigada – Onton
- Second – Ortualua – Muskiz
- Third – the easiest of the lot – Beranga. – Praves
First 2 @ 10 %, and at lèast 4km each. Downhills were very steep @ same 10 % and loads of little turns. Truth – I was really glad to get down.
Today saw more Peregrines walking and couple on bikes that I passed by or was passed by.
Views spectacular – all the way!!!!!!
Places to come and visit or live in.
It was very hot all the way so plenty of water to drink.Had a nice break in Gama for a snack.
Stopped in El Astillero. Not the most exciting little town. Got in touch with Lyndsay Morris before El Astillero but was too tired to visit them on a camping close to Santender.
Day 13 (31/7/2010) El Astillero – Celorio Route map
- Start 8.45
- Time: 5.50.40 hrs
- Distance: 111.32 km
- Avg Speed: 19 km/h
- Max Speed: 53.3 km/h
- Total time: 75.04
- Trip distance: 1408.9 km
A very nice day for the bike and my legs. Plenty of up and downs some @ 9% not too long, so I got tired but nicely tired.
All the cycling next to the coast and very nice beaches. Navigation was nice – ever diversions and special stretches were nice to go through. Vegetation – loads of eucalyptus trees like in Galicia, then lush green in Asturias.
Oyambre Park – between Comillas and San Vicente – fairy tale landscapes and views. Highly recommended.
Once I was uphill from San Vicente, stopped for lunch. Met one Peregrine in the bar and we had a nice chat. The guy was walking 40km a day, and 9 – 10 hrs. He was from Gijon and was walking on Camino del Norte. My accent amused him. He set off earlier and when I passed by him – he shouted : polaco – argentino.
We wished good luck each other, and went our ways.
El Celorio – a turistic village but no cash points. Had to cycle to Posada to get money out.
Day 14 (1/8/2010) Celorio – Gijon Route map
- Start 8.40
- Time: 6.08.07 hrs
- Distance: 103.83 km
- Avg Speed: 16.9 km/h
- Max Speed: 43.7km/h
- Total time: 81.12
- Trip distance: 1512 .80 km
Another great stage. Something new, something unexpected. All the time through beautiful landscapes , taking me through breathtaking places and of course hard up-hills.
To Ribadesella – nice stretch, no to many hills, there are no flats here.
Managed to loose my way in Ribadesella and did 6km extra as a result. Cycled in completely wrong direction, then had a look at compass – I was heading in oposite direction – useful all the time. Then uphill to Caravia and down to Villaviciosa.
Had nice asado in nice restaurant felt much better and could cycle again.
First uphill was to Pedroso, OK. First part steeper but afterwards relatively easy, altogether 7km, then downhill for about 5 km.
Then another uphill passed Venta de las Ranas, then down and up again close to Cabuñes. From there very nice downhill to Gijon. Spectacular panoramic views of Gijon. Policeman gave me a map and suggested couple of hotels.
Day 15 (2/8/2010) Gijon – Canero Route map
- Start 8.45 from Hotel – first puncture – start 9.45
- Time: 5.55.01 hrs
- Distance: 95.75 km
- Avg Speed: 16.1 km/h
- Max Speed: 46.7km/h
- Total time: 87.07
- Trip distance: 1608.5 km
It was hard cycling and navigating day today. First had my first flat on cycling trips. It wasn’t even a puncture. A defect of inner tube. Changed for a new one at the petrol station and 1 hour later was ready for the road.
Couldn’t find a bike shop on my way out of Gijon.
From Gijon cycled on the AS 19 which seemed like a good idea. Nice straightforward stretch to Aviles. It turned out to be a very busy road with loads of tracks. Brrrrr.
In Aviles asked guys for a bike shop, they were going there so I cycled with them. Great.
Got new inner tube and was off again. But first had a browse through town fair.
Then on the main route to Dueñas I found a nice bar. Stopped there for à lunch and the owner of the place explained that the route was closed for cars but could cycle well for a few kilometres avoiding all major traffic. It was great – all big road to myself. There were a few massive holes in the road.
Then came the stretch that I didn’t want to do under the massive motorway.
And what a surprise.!!! Plenty of turns and up and down the hill, in a fantastic surroundings. The motorway up in the sky and my road snaking through woodlands, streams and …
When I went through Cadavedo one owner of a bar gave me references for Canero and a hotel there.
The beach, the hotel, the food, the owners – all great. Max score. Well prepared for travellers.
Day 16 (3/8/2010) Canero – Mondoñedo Route map
- Time: 5.58.46 hrs
- Distance: 103.11 km
- Avg Speed: 17.2 km/h
- Max Speed: 51.9km/h
- Total time: 93.06
- Trip distance: 1711.6 km
The day started very relaxing. Great and easy trip to Vegadeo. There stopped in local church to ask my way. The priest looked fairly uneasy at first. Then when I made him aware that I wasn’t looking for accommodation or food he became more friendly. Asked him for the best way to follow to Santiago. The priest looked at the map and suggested going through Trabada. Told me the hill wasn’t very steep.
How little I knew.
3 km after Vegadeo uphill started. I cycled up to Trabada where I had a lunch and a very nice waitress insisted that I should have a stamp from their bar in my logbook.
Then back on bike. Plenty of water, it was very hot, plenty of breaks and somehow I was up the Ceibero. Afterwards nice downhill to Vilanova and then up nearly all the way to Mondoñedo
There were two hotels in Mondoñedo one full of Peregrines and second one probably more expensive Hotel Montero. Free internet for the first time. Used internet to book hotel in Guitiriz. Half way to Santiago.
I have to rest well tonight. Tomorrow Morning long uphill. 545 mts up and it looks like about 15km.
Day 17 (4/8/2010) Mondoñedo – Guitiriz Route map
- Start 8.30
- Time: 4.16.54 hrs
- Distance: 65.82 km
- Avg Speed: 15.3 km/h
- Max Speed: 50.1 km/h
- Total time: 97.23
- Trip distance: 1777.4 km
Short stage today.
Uphill to Abadin was relatively OK. I stopped at 4 and then 8 km. It was quite cold up there.
Afterwards the terrain as usual, up and down. All the time I was trying to relax my muscles and tendons and my right knee. The route wasn’t very nice today. Until Vilalba the road as in France. Up and down and straight for kilometers but the surface was horrible. And then there was a sudden change after Baamonte.
The way to Guitiriz – two uphills quite serious, but the houses, vegetation how splendid was everything. A massive contrast in economy in few kilometers.not so much traffic.
Staying at a nice hotel in Guitiriz. Very nice weather, had nice walk around the town did some shoppings.
Day 18 (5/8/2010) Guitiriz – Meson do Vento Route map
- Start 9.15
- Time: 6.28.17 hrs
- Distance: 113.34 km
- Avg Speed: 17.5 km/h
- Max Speed: 58.9 km/h
- Total time: 103.51
- Trip distance: 1890.8 km
Start 9.15 after breakfast. In Guitiriz, I met Massi, a cyclist going to Santiago as well. Massi was hard of hearing. So the conversation was very one-sided. He was asking questions and never listened to my answers. We cycled together for about 30 km then Massi cycled away and I was there by myself to enjoy last moments of the trip. Although tomorrow I am cycling to Espasante it feels like the culmination of the trip.
All the route very nice till about 15 km before Santiago. The navigation became more difficult and up and down all time.
Arrived to Santiago at 13.15. Loads and loads of people everywhere. Queues everywhere, to cathedral, to office. I queued for the Compostela for about 1 hour. Then went for a little walk though the old town. Very nice and interesting, and worth visiting in different time of year. Queue to cathedral at least 500mts. Decided to go away.
The road from Santiago to Meson do Vento – quite incredible, head wind all the time, loads of up and down the hill and loads of traffic.
Got to Meson 6.15. Stopped in pension – really nice and not very expensive. Had supper, went for a walk and that was it.
There were much more up hills than down today.
Day 19 (6/8/2010) Meson do Vento – Espasante Route map
- Time: 6.39.16 hrs
- Distance: 113.61 km
- Avg Speed: 17.0 km/h
- Max Speed: 52.1 km/h
- Total time: 110.31
- Trip distance: 2004.4 km
Started from Meson do Vento – 500 meters up. Stopped at petrol station to get more drinks.
Then a great surprise of all the trip. Nearly all the way to Betanzos downhill. Around 20 km. Great fun and amusing. Betanzos – very nice town.
Then the route took me through Pontedeuma – also very nice. Then through Fene and Xubia. All this route very nice and not too much traffic.
I got lost in Pontedeuma, just a bit, diversion around the bridge. Then the up hill started. About 20 km to Campo del Hospital. Then again nice 12 km down to Ortigueira. There I knew I was very close to the end of the trip.
There was another up to Espasante but this one had different flavour.
I had the mark of 2000 km 4 km before Espasante. Battery died on the camera when I was trying to get the photo of the bike’s computer.
The arrival to Espasante was emotional but not as much as last year’s arrival to Wieleń. I think it was due to much better preparation, less health problems and much more sensible riding