I’m sitting on my hotel verandah, looking over the gardens to the hills behind Santander; glass of red in my hand, relaxed. Not sure how I feel; a little elated that I’ve managed this ride? Not really. A little sad? Nope. No real feelings at all – just glad to have made my hotel, and can enjoy a glass of Rioja.
My GPS file utilty tells me I’ve cycled 3,715 km; I’m adding an arbitrary 85 km to that, to cover all the cycling I’ve done without the Garmin, while I’ve been in various towns and cities, and also to cover the countless times my Garmin has paused, because I’m off he bike, pushing it up hill. I ‘ve set it to stop once my speed drops below 3 kmph. Like today: I pushed it for nearly 40 minutes up a grade that I couldn’t be bothered trying to cycle; it was too steep initially, then I just decided to push for a while longer once it levelled slightly. So I’m claiming 3,800 km. I’ll not include the short ride from here to the ferry, which is about 5 km.
I was up early, thinking I’d get to Santander by midday, and check out the ferry setup. I’d mapped the route using maps.me, which said it was 43 km; and the first sign I saw said it was 41. It was more than 60… I succeeded in getting way lost – twice 🙂
Showered, packed, downstairs for breakfast – two croissants, OJ, coffee, and a chocolate pastry – about the size of a generous sausage roll. Yum. Out the door, turn onto the N-634, and pedalled off in the light rain, and the early morning gloom; it was after 8:00am, but much darker than usual; grey skies, low cloud. I had my lights on.
“C” roads are marked with a yellow outline around the number. “N” roads have a red outline, while Autovias and such, where cyclists, carts, pedestrians and mopeds are banned, have a Blue outline; usually they are A-nnn, or E-nnn, or sometimes S-nnn; I’ve never bothered to work them out, as I’m not allowed to use them
So when I arrive at a roundabout, I’ll see town names on each exit (like above), with the different routes to get there; Blue, Yellow, and Red – at the next roundabout there might be blue as the first exit, for say, Santander, and the next exit will have a red sign, and the same destination. Easy – you follow your colour code to get where you want to be. You’ll often see all three colours at the same exit; that just means that further along the routes will split.
And that worked fine, and has worked fine, all through Spain. I pedalled along in the damp, up hill and down dale – some surprising little climbs – following the red signs for Santander and the N-634, through Cicero, and Sombrilla, and Gama, and… – the system stopped working at Solares. There was a roundabout, which had a Blue sign for Santander at the first exit, and there was a red sign for the N-634 straight ahead. I went straight ahead. Wrong. After about 5 km I began to think something was wrong, so I stopped at a petrol station, pulled out the tablet with Maps.me on, and checked. Sure enough, the Blue motorway sign in Solares was the one I should have taken. I can’t see my tablet in daylight – I need to get into a dark area, hence the stop at the petrol station – I bought an OJ, and went into the loo to check my maps)
Back, took the turn, and followed the signs to Heras – all in yellow; no red, no mention of the N-635 or N-634 until I entered San Salvador. All the towns between San Salvador and Santander are basically one long ribbon development; several roundabouts later, totally lost, I flagged down a cyclist who told me to follow him; we backtracked a few Km, and he left me at a roundabout, saying “Go straight”. Thanks, random guy. I’d still be wandering the suburbs without his help.
If I’d been allowed on the motorways, no worries; they were signposted to buggery and back. The assumption is that if you’re not on the motorway, then you know where you’re going. Not true, guys – lift your game. I got to the docks around 2:00pm, pulled into a bar, and used their wifi to work out where I was, and how to get to my hotel. As I got here, the rain stopped…..
Booked in, showered, walked down the street, grabbed a vegie burger and chips, then back here, to sit on the verandah, and chill; The big ride is done. Athens, to Santander. I’m quite pleased.
Tomorrow is Sunday; Breakfast is from 8:00am, and I’ll then walk down to the docks to check out the ferry process, assuming I can on a Sunday; then I’ll walk the old town – I’m about 300 metres above it up the hill, , and about a km West of it – around 4 km to the ferry on foot, down steep streets and stairs, and about the same back. Should be fun.
See you down the road.