My first biking adventure. I’m ready to enjoy the sunshine, the dry tarmac, and the lavish hospitality. I’ll be riding through Spain on two wheels, I’ve been fuelling my travel day dreams for a while, now it’s time to achieve them, create impressive adventure stories and see the world with the freedom of two wheels.
I had my ferry booked from Portsmouth to Bilbao. I received an email a day before I left to tell me that the ferry would be leaving on the Friday night (instead of Saturday morning and arriving at Santander instead of Bilbao. This messed up my original plans as I had intended on spending a night in Bilbao. The 30 hour ferry was very choppy and my seasickness was at its worse. I was bouncing around my cabin. I stayed in bed the whole time and watched Orange in the New Black for 20-odd hours. I occasionally left to get some snacks from the shop but that was enough struggle to send me straight back to bed. I was worried about the bikes but they strap them down nice and tight for the choppy journey.
I had picked a place in northern Spain to head to, it would be about 5 hours of riding and then I would stop in that town and spend the night. I didn’t want to give myself more than a 5 hour ride in one day. I commenced my ride from Santander to Ponferrada, a small castle town in central northern Spain. The ride took me through the mountains, it was fucking cold, I had 4 layers on my legs and 2 pairs of gloves on but I still felt the freeze as I hit speeds over 50mph. The roads, the blue skies and mountains made it a phenomenal ride. The diverse landscapes, hidden farming towns and perfect roads made it a great experience. I often stopped and had a moment with my bike, taking in the views and thinking about the ride ahead.
As I was riding I notice hundreds of birds of prey soaring across the perfectly blue skies. I had to stop and take a photo. The snow-capped mountains made for a wonderful backdrop to the mountainous ride. The ride had some pretty steep terrain – going up and down, I think the altitude hit up to 50km.
I made it into the Province of León, this region of Spain is home to many churches and cathedrals. At the point I was a 1 hour ride from my final stop for the day. I hit the long, desolate roads, avoiding all highways and made my way to Ponferrada. I picked this place to stay as it is surrounded by mountains and the roads leading to it made for a perfect ride. Long, curving roads going around and through the mountains, it was incredible.
The old quarter of Ponferrada has a 13th century Knights Templar castle that’s the centrepiece of the old city. It was built to protect the pilgrims on the Camino. It’s a nice little town to spend a day/night with some good restaurants and some stunning buildings. The castle is well worth seeing too. But that’s as far as it goes, you will run out of thing to do if you spend to much time here. An afternoon was enough for me.
Where I stayed
I stayed at the AC Hotel Ponferrada by Marriott which was reasonable at £50 for the night. It had everything you needed, which is strong Wi-Fi and bar and a good shower after a long days ride. It was only a short walk from all the attractions and they have secure parking for free.