The camino begins – Luarca to Mondoñedo

15 08 2015

D1: Luarca – Ribadeo = 52.5 km

Started the day off right – still dark, threatening rain and a nice steady climb up and out of the gorge of Luarca. Oh dear, what did we sign ourselves up for? 12 km down the trail, we stopped for breakfast. A few minutes after we arrived, the hiking peregrinos arrived. Were we cycling at a walker’s pace?

In Luarca, early morning, getting ready for take off

In Luarca, early morning, getting ready for take off

Yes, our first kilometres of the day were slow going because at times, it was a bit like trying to bike on the Bruce Trail, which our bikes weren’t exactly equipped for. This was a reoccurring challenge with cycling the camino – at times, the official route was perfect – paved, quiet road through the countryside – while other times it was rugged with large rocks which forced us to walk our bikes. So, after breakfast, we decided to take the road for a bit and cover some kms. In fact, throughout the journey we were continuously faced with this dilemma – camino or corresponding road – and tried to take the camino whenever possible, but took the road when we needed to get some kms on our belt or if word on the trail was that the upcoming section was rough.

Our first day was quite hilly, with lots of ups and downs, but nothing compared to what we would face in days to come. We stopped again in Navia and meandered through a flea market where I bought some light reading – the controversial Adventures of Tin Tin. A picnic lunch in Tapia de Casariego, another quaint harbour town with some beautiful nearby beaches where there were even some surfers.

Our seaside lunch spot in Tapia de Casariego

Our seaside lunch spot in Tapia de Casariego, the last main town in Austurias

We followed the coast a bit further, then crossed the giant bridge into and the city of Ribadeo and headed to the albergue. Unfortunately, it was full. We were ready to call it a day and didn’t want to risk the next albergue (7 km away) being full as well. So after cycling around town a few times to find the best price, we checked into a cheap hotel and collapsed.

The beautiful coast, just past Tapia de Casariego, on our last leg of the day

The beautiful coast, just past Tapia de Casariego, on our last leg of the day

The bridge that crosses the Rio de Ribadeo or del Eo into Galicia

The bridge that crosses the Rio de Ribadeo or del Eo into Galicia

We had forgotten this container of melon and cherries at the albergue in Luarca. Some mysterious anonymous peregrino carried them to the albergue in Ribadeo!

We had forgotten this container of melon and cherries at the albergue in Luarca. Some mysterious anonymous peregrino carried them to the albergue in Ribadeo!

D2: Ribadeo – Mondoñedo = 36 km

We were on our bikes by 08:00 and were once again embarked on an uphill start that continued for about 7 km. The aches and pains from the first day had now set in, so I was feeling quite slow, and Breanna pointed this out in saying, “I don’t know how you find it comfortable to go that slow.” We soon realized our different cycling styles – Breanna going faster uphill but in shorter bursts, and me going slow and steady – with both styles got us to the top in more or less the same time.

A furry fellow who wanted to join our camino

A furry fellow who wanted to join our camino

Our morning stop was in San Xusto where we met some other peregrinos, followed by a long difficult uphill on a gravel trail. But at least our efforts were rewarded by a fun downhill. Once in Lorenza, we switched to the N-634 road for a bit to avoid going down and back up a ravine. A bit more up hill, then finished the day with a nice 4 km downhill into Mondoñedo, and eventually found the albergue after asking a few locals. After some R & R at the albergue, heading for some tapas in the main plaza – patatas bravas, croquetas y tarta de Santiago, an almond cake that is a specialty in Galicia.

The lovely plaza in Mondonedo

The lovely plaza in Mondoñedo

A reoccurring thought as I cycled was how one’s mental and emotional state follows the physical terrain. When cycling uphill or on difficult terrain, I thought, “Why am I doing this again?” “I don’t like this.” “This is hard.” “I can’t do this.” And these were the moments, too, when Breanna and I were most likely to have conflicts. However, a few minutes later on the downhill, these thoughts became, “This isn’t so bad. In fact, this is amazing and so much fun.” “Look at the beautiful scenery!” Along our camino, the terrain was hilly, but would have our emotional states varied so much if we would have traveled a flatter route? More even-keeled? Just something I pondered while turning my pedals…

From Breanna's Instagram (@breannamyles)

From Breanna’s Instagram (@breannamyles)

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