Sherpa Tenzing Help!

Posted by on 24, Jun 2022 in 2022 - Camino, Spain, Tilly the Tandem

Sherpa Tenzing Help!

We set off from Sarria in good spirits and on a decent gradient.  We climbed and as we slowly gained height began to notice the steady stream of cyclists hurtlying down the mountain passing us on bikes with no luggage….Uh oh.

Sherpas here are extremely popular for walkers – and why not – lots of people walk with just a small back pack rather than Sir Edmund Hillary rucksack.  We were aware of this since we started out in Porto, but here the number of bikes without luggage was quite alarming.  Especially as most, if not all the riders were a good bit younger than us and on e-bikes.

Still, we plodded on getting more and more concerned at the thumbs up and looks of horror people were giving us and we were quite enjoying the ride, well,..the first 20km anyway.

After that there was a signpost saying 7% for 10km.  That’s at about our limit for riding fully loaded and for any extended uphill periods.  Add the sunshine, which was baking us at 35C with no shade and we decided at that stage to bail out off the main road and take to the dirt track walkers Camino which, whilst steeper was far shorter and had regular cafes and tree shade. It did mean though we had to push for much of the next 10km on hills that were normally 12 -14% and up to 20% in places.  Anything over 20% and we can push all we like but Tilly isn’t going anywhere.

Anyway, we slowly slogged upward against the steady throng of walkers and ebikers stopping regularly for chats with people horrified we didn’t have a motor and even more horrified when I pointed out that we did and she was on the back and eventually we reached out hotel for the night at almost the top.

There something about having cycled/ pushed / man handled your bike and luggage up to 1300m all on your own, and contrary to what Linda says, it isn’t stupidity. And it was quite satisfying to see our fellow guests for the night having all their luggage sherpa’d in and arriving on their e-bikes.  Though, thinking about it now while my legs still ache days later, Linda may have a point.

When we arrived our Garmin speedometer said we needed 4 days to recover from our exertions, naturally we ignored this and set off the next morning (our 27th wedding anniversary) for the downhill. Well, for the final 7km uphill before the downhill.  Surprisingly we were ok when we arrived at the start of the descent, but by the end of the 26km descent our rear brake pad had been completely worn out – I checked these before leaving home – the gradient was such that you really didn’t feel comfortable letting rip and we used our brakes all the way down to keep us around 12kph and by the time we arrived at the bottom the sun and heat were almost unbearable.  The Garmin wouldn’t budge below 44C and often went up to 52C.. I know this is on the handlebar and in the sun, but suffice it to say it was ridiculously hot and it just drained your energy completley.

Any incline more than 50m we were incapable of cycling and so we stopped at the first town and adjourned to a bar to drink for an hour during siesta time while waiting for 4.30 and the bike shop to open.

Once the bike shop was open Tilly was examined and the bike mechanic said if everyone left changing their brake pads until there was virtually nothing left on the pad he’d go out of business! But he changed the pads, bled the hydraulics and we were ready to move again.

We still had 14km to go to Ponferrada where we had a hotel booked for the night and, still exhausted from the heat, we debated whether we could actually manage it – but as it was a fairly flat cycle we  went for it .

By now the air temperature had dropped to a more reasonable 33C and we actually hammered along to get to Pontfferrada intime to find the hotel restaurant chef was off that night! We had zero energy left to wander out to search for a restaurant that actually understood what a vegetarian was – Tuna Ok? Our only option was the room service soup and bread, which we had in the hotel bar and then were plied with wine by the barman as we were the only people there and he liked the company!  So, happily tasting free samples of the best local wines, it was all in all a perfect way to end the day…

The town itself was a bit a of a modern sprawling mess of medium rise tower blocks designed by architects who hate people, but the old medieval centre was gorgeous with a huge castle dominating the town and a couple of nice squares full of cafes and bars which we spent a fair amount of time relaxing in and avoiding the walkers on the Camino de Stinkiago as we are now calling it.  Seriously guys and girls, wash your clothes and agent orange your armpits.  I don’t get it, it’s hot, you sweat but modern exercise clothes all dry overnight in the shower, no problem. That and using NUUD deodorant instead of normal stuff means absolutely no smell. We’d highly recommend Nuud though. (bit of product placement there!!) Apply a couple of times a week and you still sweat, but never ever smell.  They need to be selling it at the start of the walk!

In one of the squares there was a small group of far right VOX campaigners handing out leaflets and campaigning against immigration and preventing autonomous regions from leaving Spain. It always seems odd to me that far right parties say how dreadful immigrants are but seem so often to bang on about the countries great history, of, you guessed it, invading other people’s countries, pillaging it’s wealth and going to live there.

Anyway, We’d booked the Marriot hotel as it was a highly rated hotel and it was our anniversary but, as we’ve found a fair few times here, the air conditioning was almost utterly useless.  Our first room it didn’t work in at all and in our second it was so feeble it would hardly move a candle flame and it lowered the room temp by a couple of degrees.  The Spanish don’t seem to feel the heat in rooms, but people from colder climates often remark how hot the accomodation is at night.  Fortunately the large window opened and we could get a bit cooler at night but it was still high 20’s all night inside the room.  Not our best couple of nights sleep!

Despite our rest day we were still quite tired and our legs were definitely not ready for a hard uphill cycle. The lack of sleep hadn’t helped and nor had my back. I’ve always had issues with it, sometimes spending days in bed being unable to move, but modern medicine insists you just get on with it and ignore the pain. We aren’t sure why I’m getting so many issues this trip, the pushing? The cycling? The beds? But quite a few morning’s I wake up and can hardly walk. Linda says I hobble around like an old man who’s poo’d themselves. Charming….Anyway, time to plan for the mountain pass awaiting us out of here….

One Comment

  1. Hope Tilly is getting paid for the product placement!!! ????????

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