OUR 800km CHALLENGE continues as we depart from Caceres and head north to the mountains……
177 kms, 26 kph, 2361m
After pastries and coffee and some more cakes in Plaza Mayor, Plasencia, we picked up the pace; well, we drafted the support van until we neared the mountains on the border of Extramadura and Castile e Leon.
The climb passes through the snow capped mountains of Sierra de Francia, an area requiring greater exploration by bike. In fact, it was whilst climbing the various switchbacks and technical sections that presented themselves on this Mountain, that another Tour was born – the Pro Climb Portugal Tour – like I said, inspiration comes at the most unlikely of moments.
Exhausted but happy, we arrived at our hotel in a remote village on the edge of lake Santa Teresa. The sports physio eased away the pain from our strained muscles before we settled down to a relaxing meal overlooking the lake.
170 km, 28.1 kph, 1043m
The physio must have worked miracles. We awoke to a gloomy day but 650 kilometres of the tour had been completed and we felt good.
We rode out of the village and through the fields full of strutting white egrets, stabbing at the insects disturbed by the grazing cattle. With a gentle breeze on our backs the sun began to shine and as our legs warmed up, the pace quickened. We sped into Salamanca at 37 kph and entered the most splendid of all Plaza Mayors for breakfast.
Salamanca has got to be one of my favourite cities in Europe but I won’t linger, we have 140kms to cover.
After drinking an extra coffee and taking a few photos we were back on the pace. This was a day for bum up, head down riding. The road was straight, the tarmac smooth and by the time we had arrived at Tordesillas 90kms later, our cabinet was bulging with Strava Trophies.
165 km, 25.6 kmh, 1300m
The weather had changed and after puncturing early, I did my recovery miles riding in the support van. The rest of the team were obviously tougher than me or was it because they had drafted my wheel most of the previuos day?
Whilst the others forged ahead I went food shopping with Carlos; the boys deserved a good meal tonight and I was cooking. Two boxes of food later and a free bottle of Moscato from the shopkeeper, we caught up with the others and followed them into Cantabria and our last stop.
Tonight was a celebratory meal. The tour was almost complete and tomorrow was a downhill stage.
105 km, 27 kmh, 1161m
Final day and the sun came out to play.
Well fed and recovered we rode through the snow topped Cantabrian mountains and took on the thrilling 80 kmh descents, hairpin bends and sweeping mountain passes. An exhilarating ride to end a truly memorable tour.
We arrived in Santander to find our ferry had been cancelled.
Oh well, it’s off to Bilbao then to catch a plane. It’s okay, Bilbao has some great bars which serve the most delicious pintxos….TAXI!!
Team Director at Volta pro Tours
My thanks go to Gentil and Carlos for helping to organise this tour and secreting in the support van an endless supply of great wine.