Thursday, June 7, 2012

Carrion de los Condes to Leon

Once again, an easy winner for the photo of the day. (Doubly easy since I didn't take many today). When we began the tour, we were each given an Experience Plus hat. Our objective is to find someone along the way to give the hat to -- someone who would enjoy it, who would share a special moment with us, and who would pose for a special picture. The recipient of my hat today was the adorable proprietor of the small cafe in El Burgo Ranero -- she was just full of life and really enjoyed serving us a memorable lunch of tapas (the sardines with onions were great), olives, and french fries!!

Our first coffee stop was at Sahagun. They were barricading the streets, in preparation for the running of the bulls. I think we were all surprised to find that Pamplona is not the only place where this tradition is carried out.

The ride will be memorable for a long time because of the wind. Philipp, who has done this tour many times, says that it was the windiest that he has ever seen it on this stretch. It was a long stretch, too. We rode about 66 miles with a headwind or strong side wind for the entire distance, except for one quarter of a circle as we went about a roundabout. Because of the wind, we rode in a close pace line almost all of the day -- not for speed, but to protect some of the riders from some of the wind some of the time. No one would mistake us for a breakaway from the Vuelta de Espana, but we got the job done, arriving in Leon around 5:30pm. On the way in, we passed the Cathedral -- another magnificent edifice -- which we will tour tomorrow. In the meantime, we have checked into another great hotel.
Hotel NH Plaza Mayor, Leon

As were about to set out for dinner, we met two of the riders who will be joining us for the second week of the tour: "Siggy" and his daughter Edda  from Iceland. They joined us for a pleasant dinner at El Llar, where we all shared first courses of Serrano Ham, crogquettes, and baked potatoes stuffed with mushrooms. All were excellent. For a main course, I had the specialty of the house which was a dish of codfish cheeks with mushrooms, red peppers and small potatoes. It was superb.

And now, at 11:30, off to bed. Thankfully, tomorrow is our rest day, so I can sleep in.

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