Euro Bike Tour: Out of Santiago, Up the Mountains

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When you think of Spain, what are the first images that come to mind? Sun? Sandy beaches? Beautiful people? Siestas? While the country is no doubt home to all these things, they are not entirely applicable in the Galicia Autonomous Region, a small section of land in the Northwest corner of Spain. This particular province is full of lonely winding roads and mountainous countryside. As an added bonus there’s cold and rainy weather, even in early May. A rude awakening for sure, but every challenge has its rewards. Though the cycling was grueling, the scenery – lush with green trees and fields blanketed in colorful flowers – made for some supremely satisfying riding.

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Chett cruises up a hill during some foggy early morning riding. Shortly after this picture was taken I returned to my bike to find I had a punctured back tire. It was the second flat tire for me in as many days.

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Marc winds his way down a country road, his shiny silver trailer latched onto the back of his ride. Since Marc’s bike didn’t have any pannier mounts, he was forced to ride with the cumbersome luggage attachment following along. While this made packing easy, it also meant that he ended up carrying the most weight – about 60 pounds – because we would throw random items like food and pots and clothes into his waterproof bag. It also earned him the nickname “Trailer,” not only because of what he hauled on the back of his bike, but also because he would, rather understandably, lag about 10 minutes behind the group. A true team player, Marc never complained once about the extra weight, and he always managed to find room for our extra gear.

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We took the roads less traveled.

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Scenery like this literally makes you stop in your tracks. We lingered on this road, taking pictures and just generally basking in the tranquility of it all. I felt like I was in one of those posters you find in dentist offices to help you relax.

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Hills + Clouds + Cold = Bad riding

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The beauty of not knowing exactly where you’re going are the constant surprises you find along the way. Often times we would ride through small villages to discover treasures like this, a castle located in the city of Ponferrada, Spain.

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A cross cuts a stark image in the sky in the small mountian village of Acebo, Spain.

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A store front in Acebo, Spain.

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This woman ran the one shop in Acebo. The town was about 500m up during a 1,500m climb and was a welcomed reststop along the way. When I told her I was riding all the way up she gave me an apple to take along for the ride.

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Korea represent!

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Snack time.

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Jon takes in the view along the way.

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Almost to the top, but after about 5 hours of riding uphill a break was needed.

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Made it! Jon celebrates at a monument in the small village of O Cebreiro in Spain’s Cantabrain Mountain range, a height of 1,503m. Took about 6 hours of uphill riding, but it was worth it. Unlike riding through long stretches of flats, riding uphill offers a certain sense of accomplishment when you reach that final crest in the road. As an added bonus, the next 30km in the Spanish plains were all downhill. Like the old saying goes, “What goes up must come down.”

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