An excellent night’s sleep, thanks to two blankets, the right amount of wine, and silent dormmates. I left around half eight, after a cursory look round Sahagun, off into the sun with the tailwind still pushing me along like dads do with little kids learning to ride.
It was joy, pedalling easily and quietly thanks to the tailwind, with the unfamiliar feeling of the big chainring’s loping, windmill-like revolutions. My guidebook recommended a ‘smoother’ but more roundabout route, in preference to the Camino route – in fact, there were minor roads paralleling the Camino virtually to Leon.
Hmm. My guidebook was becoming more and more like that pleasant but waywardly-informed uncle whose views on the world, you gradually realised as you went through your teens, had been sourced not from peer-reviewed journals but from blokes in the pub.
Leon was a very impressive place, with a huge whopping big cathedral, but the tourist info had moved and nobody was quite sure where to.
I did a quick bit of wandering round the backstreets of the old town along the Camino’s shell-marked path, and eventually did find the new tourist info, where I got a map. This enabled me to locate the old city walls, a moat-road-thing, and twisty-windy old streetlets that occasionally yielded a little bakery.
But I wanted to cycle some more. I headed out through dull industrial suburbs, and up grinding roads accompanied by impatient lorries carrying fruit from the south. The grey skies, which had been growing gradually more menacing through the afternoon like a resentful divorcee in a pub chugging tequilas, reached their inevitable outburst. It thundered, lightninged, and downpoured.
Oh. I’d planned to get to Astorga, another 44km from Leon, and thus do two of JH’s small stages in one… but as I got to Hospital de Orbega, with the famous bridge I’d never heard of, I was wet and soaking. I thought it sensible to find a place there.
Which I did, having crossed the magnificent 20-span bridge over river and plain which was garnished with orange roadwork curtains, the sort of netting that in two centuries will have found its way to the bottom of the Med and will be strangling turtles. I was not in the chirpiest mood, and it was still throwing it down.
But I got a bed in first hostel I tried. I was cold and sodden but pleased to be somewhere warm and dry. My pilgrim dinner somewhere in town was the sort of bargain I’m getting happily used to: 9 euros for fish soup, whole trout and chips, plastic tub of ice cream fine and half a bottle of wine. Obviously half a bottle of wine for one person wasn’t an appropriate amount, so I had a quick beer before and after as well.
Back in the hostel I talked nonsense with my fellow pilgrims about, I think, history. Or perhaps geography. Or maybe double maths. And shuffled off contented to bed for another sound night’s sleep.
Miles today: 57
Miles since Pamplona: 287