|The "puente" in Puente la Reina|
|Street with our hotel in Puente la Reina|
Today was a 53 mile ride with 4,740 feet of climbing, most of it in one long hill. Although long (about 15 km), it was not too steep. Most of the time it was at 7% or less, with a few pitches at 10-12% (all this assumes you believe the Garmin GPS on the bike). The scenery was fantastic, and the weather was generally cooperative. For most of the time we had a good cloud cover which protected us from the heat and sun, but the sun seemed to come out just at the right moments, such as when we visited the monastery in Estella and during lunch at Santa Cruz.
The first major stop was the Monastery of Irache, a 12th century Benedictine Abbey.. Before visiting the monastery, we had to stop at the famous "Fuente de vino," the fountain which dispenses wine (courtesy of a local vintner) instead of water -- "to provide strength to the pilgrims for their journey. [We have now entered the famous Rioja wine district of Spain.] We then spent some time touring the impressive monastery and adjoing cloisters.
We stopped for lunch at Santa Cruz and ate light since we had the long climb ahead of us. We bellied up to the bar, ordered one or two tapas apiece as well as something to drink, and then took the food outside to relax for a few minutes.
|Inspecting the wine|
Our hotel is in a "castle," constructed in 1932 from stones taken from a much older castle torn down by its rich and eccentric owner (at least, that is how I understand the story). The room are exceptionally well appointed (unlike last night's accommodations which were adequate, but sparse).
|Atop our castle in Laguardia|
We have five riders (Pat and Larry, Mary Kay and Bob, and I) this week, as well as three guides (Belen, Philipp and Enrico). Next week, we will be joined by four more riders.