Thursday 31 May 2012

Day -2 Zumaia- Gernica

The Route: Zumaia-Gernika
Follow N-634 to Deba.

Amazing rock formations- earths crust through 90degrees- strata all along cliffs & coast along to Deba.

Steep hill just before the town well worth it for freewheeling down to Deba & coast views.

Deba park with fresh springwater tap on RHS just after lights a pedes crossing- terrace a bit further on LHS by crossing.

Local cyclista hangout & perfect for midmorning coffee & tortilla.

Bike shop in Deba 100m past

Short climb out of Deba & then follow GI-638 right at roundabout & thru tunnel & follow coast road to Ondarroa.

Dip in the sea & shower before taking BI-638 inland signed towards Bilbao & Berriatua. Follows river & gentle climb mainly. Becomes BI-633, take road past Markina on LHS and follow on 3.5km to turn off towards Gernika on BI-2224

Lunch under the stone arches looking onto main square in Bolibar. Incredible 3 course special. €11 each including 2L of water and cafe con leche!

4km climb out of Bolibar up to 365m, then freewheel & steady climb before freewheeling down into Gernika.

Stayed at Camino Hostel in Gernika
Stank of feet & drains
€22 each in shared bunks.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Day 1- Hondarribia to Zumaia- 40miles/65 km

Hondarribia -Zumaia
(via Jaizkibel 455m, Pasai, San Sebastian, Igeldo 400m Zarautz & Getaria)

Cycle out of Hondaribbia on the GI-3440 up to Na Sa de Guadalupe - hard going 4km climb with church and views across to Baia Txingudi and the French/Spanish border. Then another 7km climb to Alto de Jaizkibel (says 445m on the map, but signs say 455m).

Freewheel down at 35-40mph but watch out for sudden multiple hairpins!!!

Turn right at the bottom into Pasai, beautiful ancient port town. A ramp near the end of the road takes you to a small ferry crossing- 20 or so people at a time, and maybe 2 bikes. 0.60€ per person and bikes count as another person! The ferry takes you over the port to Pasai S. Pedro and an easy cycle into San Sebastian (6km).

Lunch in one of the beach bars in overlooking the Gros beach surfers, before the city- it gets more expensive the other side (la Concha)

'People' bar at San sebastian.
Bocadillos de calamares & beer €9.20 each.

Then follow the coast road through town - mainly cycle paths - round la concha (it goes on to El Peine de Los vientos) On the outskirts heading west look for signs to Monte Igeldo.

At the start of the hill, you'll find Camino hostel 25 via Igeldo to stamp Pilgrim pass.

Then begin to climb. About 6km of hard uphill is followed by 10km freewheel down to Orio, and then pick up the N-634 coast road to Zarautz and then on to Getaria and to Zumaia along more epic coastline.

There's an odd bit before Zarautz where we followed the coast road to a dead end and port building but the turn off (unsigned) is pretty straightforward as the only left turn before it. Unfortunately this is a narrow, steep and concrete surfaced road. Not fun.

Finally up a killer hill to the hostel overlooking Zumaia €18/night

Day O - Getting to Irun

And the adventure begins! Bicycles are packed and panniers full. We took the  07.26 Eurostar from  London to Paris-Gare du Nord. First challenge was to get the bikes (in bags) to the other side of town to Gare de Monmartre, we manage to get cab there, but bikes, luggage and bags were sooo heavy.
It´s really odd to carry a bike across a city - feels unnatural. In retrospect we should have paid more to put the bikes on the Eurostar and TGV whole rather than as carry-on luggage. And cycled across Paris!

Eurostar is designed as an international transport system, with plenty of storage, and friendly staff - we were happily told we could leave our bike bags in the bar if we needed - but the TGV was awful! So many travellers and backpackers going south (it stops at St Jean de Luz - the main starting point for walking the Camino Frances inland), and train staff shrugged shoulders, "Bof!?" as people climbed over rucksacks piled in the corridors...

Finally arrived, a bit grumpy in Irun at 20.30 in time to reassemble bikes, fit the panniers and cycle to Hondarribia 5km up the coast.

Check in followed by a stroll around a very pretty port town and the BEST PINTXOS I HAD EVER TASTED!!! More on that later.


Thursday 10 May 2012

Training- Resistance

Can't wait for Google maps to implement cycle routes in the UK, will make training a lot easier.
One option is Keston, Bromley, 30 miles nice ride with lots of green and pretty roads. 

The main worry was knowledge of the first day of the trip (never mind the 2nd, 3rd, etc).  From Hondarribia to Zumaia takes in 2 hills over 400m, starting at sea-level and climbing without much of a break for an hour or so.  Jaizkibel peaks at 455m on the road starting from San Sebastian at sea-level, so equivalent to 3 Ditchling Beacons one after the other.

A London to Brighton day trip via all the hills (will post the route another day) is well worth the effort on a May morning, and good training.

The training - up and down the hill

Getting ready and fit for the ride is one of the big challenges, there are lots of choices near London.
One recommended option is Sydenham Hill, and Crystal Palace, pretty step hill that you could go up and down a few times.
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