Week One: 143 Kilometres to the Start Line

01/04/18-07/04/18

Distance: 307.9 km / 191.3 m
Elevation: 3,023 m / 9918 ft

Trust us to have possibly done the longest ride for many months on day one. Whose crazy idea was it to cycle to the ferry port!? At least we decided not carry our panniers. That would have been a killer with the 1,030m climbing we did. On day one. We got there in the end though. And were even joined by Dan’s brother, Jacob and his girlfriend, Marlies – plus his Mam and Dad, when they weren’t following us in the support van with hot food and coffee.

 The crucial support van.

The crucial support van.

A few days in Emsworth with Dan’s family and then we were off to Spain. Slight hiccup in that we’d never actually rode with our front panniers on. Yup, it was the morning of us leaving the country and we were practising riding with fully laden bikes around his aunty’s cul-de-sac. Rookie error numero uno. Despite this, we somehow made it to the ferry in one piece and were off to Santander, Spain.

Now it felt real. We had left the UK. We were cycling on the right-hand side of the road. We were really doing it. Well, after a lazy 12.30pm start on our first day of cycling in Spain.

And now for rookie error numero dos. We were so concerned with what mountain passes to climb in the Pyrenees in a week or so, we failed to notice that Santander was surrounded by mountains. We were thrown in the deep end on day two – bearing in mind we’d just got to grips with riding with front bags. We ended up climbing Vega de Pas, a 14 km push to 1,116 meters, averaging 5.5% gradient. There was snow at the top! Lesson learned, check the route.

 The top of Vega de Pas (1,116m). 

The top of Vega de Pas (1,116m). 

Week one also saw our first wild camp in a picnic area along a Vías Verdes, which are old, disused railway lines that have been turned into cycling routes. Even though Dan was the one who was initially worried about getting caught, I was the one who woke up all night terrified of "bad guys". What a wimp. We got a bit of security the next couple of nights though, as we treated ourselves to a wood cabin in a little town called Trespaderne, where we also had our first day off. We spent it washing our sweaty cycle shorts in the sink and supping a few Dia Lagers on the front porch. Here’s to our second week in the saddle.   

 Beers after laundry. 

Beers after laundry. 

 Fresh cycle kit (kind of).

Fresh cycle kit (kind of).