A word about Sarria, my stop over last night – compared to all the other towns and villages – a disappointment and I could have easily pedaled a few kilometres further on the day with promise of a more transcendental village and hostel.
A delightful morning ascending along country roads and tracks. Dairy farms and villages with complex smells of cow manure, hay, cheesy sweet aromas added. Like the bouquet of a complex barn-yard red wine. As it is not quite autumn, there is the seasonal smell of ripening (and often dropped, rotting) apples and pears. Small purple fruit litters the ground – looking like some type of crab-apple ( they also look like, but can’t be,the fruit of the Lilly-Pilly tree!) Mulberry trees abound and they are in season, so its a free for all!
The lasting smell is that of fire and sooty houses so that the whole olfactory experience again is evocative of my elective on Nepal and the 2 week trek I had down from Everest basecamp!
The trail is packed this morning peak hour traffic. Lots of Italian school children and for the first time I caught up with 3 nuns in virginal white habits. I could have sworn one of them was humming “Maria” . There are more Pilgrims the closer one gets to Santiago! It is accepted officially that one has ‘done’ the trail if one has walked a minimum of 100 km or 200 km on a bike! So most people will take a few weeks and start at a location that meets the minimum criteria. Hence I suspect the sudden increase in traffic as I passed the 100 km marker! ( 100km! what bludgers!)
Analysis of my Garmin over the last weeks reveals that for all the ups and downs and variations between stony dirt track, bitumen, ascending and descending, I have averaged 11.4 km / hour on most days! Of that about 20% has been walking and pushing the bike uphill. I use different muscles so that after a walk and getting back in the saddle, my gluteals, thighs and adductor group, complain.
Moreover I have looked at my Garmin for the day and the summary of my efforts documents that I ascended some 1400m although the high point was at an altitude of 665m, in other words a lot of bloody up and down- AGAIN!
Two beers tonight! The octopus was great ( soaking in olive oil, paprika and salt) not to mention the crusty bread and the vino the Spanish equivalent of a Coolibah Cask!
Golly – have just discovered that the sunburn especially from day 1, has caused me to peel on the arms! I have been applying copious sunblock from Day 2.
The closer one gets to Santiago de Compestelo, the more I am aware of pilgrims with possible chronic medicaL conditions! Added to these are those who perceived themselves as fit, but are now hobbling, sore and sorry with elastic support bandages around the knees and ankles. All along the trail in the last few days, crude painted signs nailed to trees or the side of a house, tempt Pilgrims with the word ‘TAXI’ and a mobile number!
Tomorrow I reach Santiago de Compostela!