La Vuelta a Espania

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Posted on: 9th September 2014

Cycling in Spain

Vuelta Blog #3: Alto de la Cobertoria and the travails of the intrepid Vegetarian

It was still dark when the alarm blew this morning but after a hearty breakie we were out on the bikes as the fog was just lifting and the sun rising. Our goal today was riding from our hotel to the 3rd mtn of La Vuelta’s stage 16, the 1st cat Alto de la Cobertoria. 

En-route to this beast we had to traverse two challenging climbs which reminded me of years gone-by racing in Tuscany. So after 70 km of undulating countryside we reached lunch in the valley town of Mieres del Camino. Now if folks believe being a vegetarian in OZ is difficult, well Spain is a whole different league. A certain guest is this way inclined and for lunch his cheese sandwich had to be returned to the kitchen 3 times. I guess chicken doesn’t count as meat in Spain. Michael isn’t fazed by all of this, though, and despite being only partially fed (and the only one of us to lose weight), he is always at the pointy end of our group when the road points up. 

With a few sandwiches smashed down we headed for our final climb of the day, the steep Mieres del Camino. This was a tough 10k climb with an average of 8.5% however, except for the final 1500m, not once did I see under 10%: mostly it was 11 or 12%. 

The hot climb was on a much wider road than yesterday with little shelter from the sun. After 2km of our final climb most of the troops were wishing for a bar like yesterday’s watering hole, but there wasn’t one to be found. In a minor miracle, some avid Contador supporters living on the lower slopes of the climb detected men in need and assisted with some Asturias hospitality by inviting us into their yard and offering refreshments and shelter from the searing sun. 

After two failed attempts already this week, I pressed on to reach the summit of the days climb, the Mieres del Camino. I’m glad I made the effort and wasn’t victim of wayward temptations. The view from the summit was spectacular and the crowd well behaved. Michael and Rudy were satisfied with their efforts, too. The break and the following peloton put things into perspective, however, making the climb look remarkably easy. 

After descending back to the van it was a transfer west to A Coruna, our new home for the next 3 nights where we’ll take a break from the hills and perhaps find some time for sunbathing on the beach.

Written by Phil Anderson 

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