My Camino - A lesson In Pain and Suffering

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October 16th 2006
Published: November 23rd 2006
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Kiwi CredentialsKiwi CredentialsKiwi Credentials

Stamps of Pain. Proof!!

Ronscavalles 0km

Caught the 6pm bus from Pamps to Ronscavalles. Me and the rest of the Pilgrims that is. Spied 2 others with bikes (sub sequentially I never saw them again). Signed up for my passport and spent the evening chatting away to a South African who was looking at living on the Camino next year, he was hoping to write a book so good luck to him. Also enjoyed my first Pilgrim meal, mmmmm Soup, fish and chips and some random dessert. Fortunately it also came with wine.

Punte La Reina 64km

Had an 830- 9am start today, fuelled on dodgy muffin and Cafe con Leche (essential Spanish 101). As it was my first time riding with panniers I stuck to the road for the first 2km (that and I missed the walkers turn off). After that it was a pleasant cruise on broad paths through countryside and forests. Was well behaved on the many downhill sections that presented themselves. Hel's voice ringing in my head about the hooligan antics of cyclists on her Camino must have had something to do with my tameness. The last thing I need is a lecture from a grumpy pilgrim, or worse yet to
Puente la ReinaPuente la ReinaPuente la Reina

Its all about the bridge.
mow down an unsuspecting French granny walker (there were plenty to choose from - I knew they were French cos they wore berets. They also seemed to all be walking with umbrellas?).
Coming into pamps I faced my first Cycle detour and the lack of signage was of some concern. However I made it into town ok with one priority on my mind - I needed to feed the machine!! It was 2pm and id covered 43km in the drizzling rain. So I powered up on a feast of Paella and some random stuffed capsicum thing that was fab, not to mention the all-important Cola Cao (life saver of lifesavers).
Coming out of Pamps I went and got my credentials stamped at the university of Pamplona (nice one) and headed of in the direction of a big hill with windmills. Got diverted yet again, this time causing much confusion. There are some pilgrim statues on the hill that I was going over that I had seen photos of cyclists in front of so naturally I assumed that the road I was on would end up going past them. But no. So I ended up doing a bit of a detour

Hey fancy meeting you lot up here
to go have a look. I then had to endure a rather scary/windy ride down the hill to Punte la reina.
Nice guy at the Albergue helped me wash my bike. Talked random talk to a young Swiss dude who'd started his Camino in Geneva and had been walking for 8 weeks already also talked random beer talk to some cyclists from Belgium.

Sansol 115km

Having not ridden a bike for 2months and covered 64km the day before today was a bit of a lazy day. My body was having to make some adjustments - it was also having a fight over which bits thought they hurt the most. My butt was winning.
Missed the Cycle detour first thing this morning and proceeded to endure the mission from Nam. Just out of Punte la Reina is a big wet clay ridden hill that I got stuck on and had to carry my bike and panniers up. This was ok if not for the humiliation of having all the pilgrims I’d passed earlier all pass me again. Such is life. Ended up in a dinky alburgue just out of Los Arcos. Spent the evening drinking beer with a German Englishman.


This WayThis WayThis Way

Pick an Arrow, any Arrow
del Camino 176km
Arrived in Logorono in the rain. Had been told the church was beautiful so I dutifully went and checked it out. Didn't get much chance to have a wander round as almost as soon as I’d walked into the building some random old gheezer came up to be and started hassling me in Spanish. Now don’t get me wrong I have crap Spanish, but you can generally get the idea of what someone is talking to you about. Not this guy - I figured from the palm out he was after some money, which I found very odd in a church as you don’t usually have to pay and I hadn't seen any signs asking for a donation. I tried pulling the whole I'm a pilgrim spiel on him but he didn't seem to get it - not even after I showed him my credentials. The only conclusion I was left to draw was that he was actively begging from me in a church, which I find a little rude. He eventually gave up and as I didn’t know what to make of it all I left shortly after - only to see the old gheezer charging
Fontana VinoFontana VinoFontana Vino

Such a Damn shame I still had 50km to go. Otherwise ........
off down the road. Very odd.
Rode on to Najera - getting stuck in the mud again, was assisted by 2 Americans and their Spanish friend. Stole grapes from a vineyard - sooooo good.
Checked out the Chickens in the Church at Santo Domingo De la Calzada very cool - unfortunately I arrived right on closing time so couldn't check out the rest of the church. Kept going till the wind forced me to stop and stay the night at Redcilla del Camino. Chatted away with a German Girl who was also cycling.

Arroyo Sambol 287km

Up Early to ride in the Dark and try and make up some km's. Windy and Shitty with trucks threatening to wipe me off the road at any second. Cola Cao in San Juan De Ortega - There’s a saint there in case you want to go visit. Depressive ride into Burgos, so depressive it gave me a craving for BK's which I was all to sort out before heading into Gothic Quarter and checking out the Burgos Cathedral which is absolutely amazing. Somebody’s wedding caked overflowed the cake mould and the baker just kept icing would be an apt description. Lots more cool
Leon CathedralLeon CathedralLeon Cathedral

Pretty Stained Glass
Gothic buildings around the place as well, shame I didn’t have more time to hang out and go exploring.
Rode out of Burgos and onto the Metsa - wonderful sunset before I arrived in the dark and the rather crazy Alburgeue at Arroyo Sambol. Excellent meal, no lights and a very cold run to the bog at the end of the garden. Not too mention lots of wine (which I rather uncharacteristically abstained from - the thought of cold dark trips to the loo put me off), crazy music and lots of smoking.

Calzadilla De La Cueza 350km

Depressive days riding. Too windy, too muddy and the Sign just out of Catrojerez saying Santiago 479km was rather off putting. Ride into Carrion De Las Condes was ok. More Cola Cao, whilst entertaining the locals. Boring 17km stretch into Calzadilla De La Cueza where I was Horrified to find I have a rash around my midriff, thanks to the Aussie couple who gave me some savlon to sort it out. Should also point out that today was a sore Butt day - so sore in fact that I ended up wearing both pairs of bike pants - which might explain my

Kill me. Kill me now.
Awesome Bean soup. blurgh chicken and good lemon mousse - but id drunk most of a bottle of wine by myself by then.

Leon 437km

Arrived in Leon Very Cold and Very Wet. Had been planning on riding on but as it was a Sunday the Cathedral wasn't open till 5pm so I was stuck here for the evening. My knees weren't complaining as they were feeling definitely worse for wear. Had a strange Aussie Faith healer offer her services but I politely declined. Gorgeous Stained glass in the cathedral even with the shitty grey Autumnal light outside. Drunk lots of beer to numb the pain in my knees. Its the worlds oldest Anaesthetic after all.

Villa Franca 557km

The Day Of Shame Hit Astoria around 2pm. Had passed a guy with a Donkey and some people with Horses. Had also had to stop and Cry a few times due to the pain in my Knees. When id set out in the morning id coated them in the Ibuprofen Gel id gotten in Shagun. Id stopped regularly to let them rest but still nothing. All the other pains in my body had taken a back seat to this
Kiwi and JimmyKiwi and JimmyKiwi and Jimmy

Hanging out in the early morning.
one. When I tried to quantify what the pain felt like in a vain attempt that I might be able to source an appropriate painkiller, the image of and old Cystic Fibrosis ad kept coming into my head. In the Ad the show the joint of a femur and then shove the femur joint into shards of broken glass and grind away. Well that was my knees.
In Astoria I asked the guy at the Alburgue to tell me where the Dr's was. When I sat down for lunch out front of the Cathedral and Gaudi's Bishops Palace I saw that he'd circled the bus Station. Time for some deep thinking. Up until this point (it was sunny) I had had nothing but crap weather and no time to really enjoy any of the towns I was passing through. I was meant to be on Holiday and I was in Pain and suffering for it. I decided stuff it. The Camino isn’t made for being done at speed. Everyone id spoken to was taking time out to just walk the way and go with the landscape. Me, I was just counting Km's and hating myself for it. I was also
Roman BridgeRoman BridgeRoman Bridge

Bridge for Walter
doing my knees some serious damage, as I didn’t have the time to rest up properly and continue cycling along the Camino, I opted for the unthinkable. I caught the bus from Astoria to Villa Franca. Id had nothing but bad luck due to poor planning and my body was suffering in a way that could leave me damaged for life (Think I’m kidding? its been a month and my Knees are still shot). I’m not proud of doing it, and if id had the time to rest up and do less Km's a day I would have. But I had a plane to catch and time was running out.

Triacastela 606km

Thanks Mum for my early morning wake up call. Not like I haven’t been listening to snorers, sleep talkers and now the early morning Farters as well. Easy valley floor stuff out of Villa Franca till Vega De Valcare - my knees were suitably thankful.
Then it was just a big long hill that I couldn’t see the top of due to the fog. Ride, walk. ride, walk all the way in the cold and the fog till.... out of nowhere Cebreiro. Warmed up with a fantastic green

At last!!!!!
soup - soooooo good and a so so Empanada, not to mention the all Important Cola Cao.
Short and sweet downhill before more rolling hills, progressively going down. Super windy section right before I arrived in Triacastela soaking wet and frozen it was only 4 and normally I would have carried on but he cold and my knee friendly policy called for an end of play for the day.

Pontecampana 675km

Bung knees took me to Samos- thinking I should have stayed here for the night instead of Triacastela. Lunch in Portomarin. Then it all starts to get all Galician country on me, crazy little lanes with Nona's in housecoats stockings and gumboots. Very cool. Pass through Palis De Rei and find myself a quiet little private Alburgue for the night - only 62km to go!!!!!

Santiago 737km

Last day riding turned out to be the best day. Managed to oversleep and only set off at 10am. After half an hour I was brave enough to take my raincoat off The only day I ever rode with it off. Fantastic scenery still was careful not to run over anyone’s chickens or Nona's. This all gave way to Eucalyptus forests and then shock horror! Santiago! I'd made it!!
Did a quick trip around the Cathedral before phoning home to get directions for the pilgrim’s office. Certificate in hand I sourced accommodation, a shower and the transport from Santiago to Bilbao. My bad luck prevailed with me though and I ended up on the 9am bus. So no time to explore the City or the Cathedral properly though. Stink. Got drunk and took night shots instead and then ate lots of Santiago Tart.

Would I do it Again?

Here's the part were I’m going to waffle considerably
Yes. I'd already decided on day 2 or 3 of my Camino that whilst cycling was a good way of doing the Camino you shouldn't do it in as little time as I did. The whole point of the Camino is to enjoy your surroundings, the Landscape is stunning in some sections and subtle in others. The people are also a big part of it and whilst I met lots of cool and interesting people, it was only ever very fleeting. The other big part of the Camino, and I know I might sound sadistic when I say this, is Suffering. The pain you feel makes it all worthwhile. In a weird way it imprints everything into your memory. If it was all-perfect weather and nothing hurt then I wouldn’t have anything to write about. The Cold, the Rain, the Wind and the Pain were all constant reminders that I was doing something out of the ordinary - something I'd chosen to do and I was damn well going to finish it.
So Hel, Scott- See you in Seville in a few years time. Ill leave the bike at Home and join you Hard core Walkers.


Tot: 0.146s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 11; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0258s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb