Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Burgos

We need to start today's entry with a photo of Enrico -- he got squeezed out of yesterday's group photo at Cafe Suiza.

Now, to the chronicle of another superb day. The ride was 56 miles with 3763 feet of climbing.  I took off a little before the rest of the group and spent the morning riding solo and simply enjoying life. To borrow a phrase from my friends from Fort Collins, I found a "happy gear," put my legs on autopilot and just enjoyed the ever-changing scenery. For the most part, we were cycling through wheat fields although we passed extensive acreage devoted to peppers and other crops. Since we had a stiff breeze, all day, I gained a new appreciation for the phrase "amber waves of grain." Of course, at this time of year, they are green, but the breeze blowing through the fields created the beautiful illusion of waves.

As we entered the province of Burgos, I was struck by the immediate change in the quality of the road. We went from superb pavement with good shoulder to relatively bumpy road with no shoulder, and then to a stretch of construction for a few miles. After that, the roads improved considerably.

First stop of the morning was the town of Belorado where I got my passport stamped and then stopped at a small market for a chocolate bar and some bananas which I intended to be my lunch. Next stop was the small church of San Juan de Ortega. I got another passport stamp, took some pictures and was about to eat my meager lunch when I saw the rest of our group who had brought along a substantial picnic (also purchased in Belorado). My chocolate bar was now chocolate soup, and I was glad to join them for a lunch of varied meats, cheeses, breads, peppers, olives, and fruit.

After lunch, we had less than 20 miles of gently rolling road to Burgos (except for one short and very steep hill). The entry into Burgos can only be described as spectacular, as the cathedral came into view. It is a real treat to have a hotel room with a window facing directly onto the cathedral. After showering, I toured the cathedral which is simply breathtaking.

The entire group convened in front of the hotel for a quick briefing on tomorrow's ride (even longer), and then adjourned to La Mejillonera for some appetizers of mussels. This was a fun adventure. We sampled mussels prepared in several different ways -- simply steamed with lemon, "marinera" (with a garlic sauce of a creamy texture), picante (with a spicy red sauce), and with vinegar, oil and chopped peppers.

Pat and Larry

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