It is a dillemma..for the first time this trip I need to plan, well better I want to plan how many km’s I’m going to do.
The issue is That for me de Cruz de Ferro is a very important landmark to enjoy as much as I can. I took my little stone with me from home to as per custom add it to the pile of stones that you find there brought by people on their way to SdC from all over the world. The weather forecast for later today is excellent for this climb where tomorrow they predict rain all day.
But..I also want to really visit Leon and Astorga and explore them well. And if you do this will it then not become too late for Cruz de Ferro?
With the forecast in the morning I worked out that if I would leave early and budget two hours for Leon and ninety minutes for Astorga I would start around 15:00 the ascent to Cruz de Ferro and arrive around 19:00 in Ponferrada.
So I got up at 06:15 for breakfast at 07:00 and departure at 07:30 as the sun would rise at 07:20. When I woke up and checked the actual temperature I wasn’t too happy with what I saw..it would be -4C excluding any wind impact..
So all winter layers on, and of we go. The ride to Leon is a detour on the route which means you first meed to head straight North in exactly opposite wind direction. And it was really cold especially as I only have wind/rain protective gloves and not the thick winter gloves.
I arrived at the Leon cathedrale at 09:15 and when I took of the gloves to lock the bike with the second chain I was really struggling to get this done, my hand were bery cold and stiff. I then had to wait until 09:30 until the cathedrale opened, which I didn’t know so by that time I had done full circle to find the entrance as all gates were closed. The outside of the cathedrale is already very impressive.
Inside I bought my ticket, it was 6 euro and I received 4 euro’s change. One of them dropped on the floor and this is when I noticed that my hand were really frozen. I could only move my thumb and pinky..now try this at home..pick up a coin from the floor with only your thumb and pinky..virtually impossible and it made me look like an idiot in such way that the lady behind me in the queue wanted me to sit down as she thought I was having some brain problem. She was relieved when I explained it was only the cold weather impact.
The cathedrale inside is magnificent and what made it extra special was the phone with explaination on architecture and how cathedrales are actually build up including all the glass windows was very informative. I learned a lot of new things that will help me understand future visits.
After the visit my hamds were still not in order so I went into a bar and ordered some hot drinks and warm pastry..very nice and energising.
Conrado had explained that in Leon I should visit the cathedrale and San Marco so next was San Marco but I lost the way in town (it is not a small town) and suddenly I was on my gps route again and when ai followed that one I droge out of the city so I will need to come back for the San Marco even though I saw a lot of other interesting places lile Casa de Botines by Gaudi.
In Villar de Mazarife I wanted to visit the St James church but it was locked. In front of the church there were about 30 young lads from Ireland and two local cycling guides. I spent half and hour talking to these two as they wanted to know where I came from, what the route was like etc and then they started to explain alternative routes back where they both were arguing which one was most beautiful. It was a fun break!
The route continued and indeed storks everywhere and I crossed the old bridge in Obriego.
From there I continued via many small roads to Astorga where there is really a lot to see, many churches and a bishops palace. All very well kept and maintained. A very impressive town where you have no clue when you see it from a distance!
So two places I wanted to take time to visit in the pocket..now what..stay here (I had already done 90km) or still continue and do the climb to 1500 meters to the Cruz de Ferro? Still rain for tomorrow so let’s go!
The ride up was very nice, the temperature increased enough to wear a short sleeve shirt and bibshort and you pass some nice small villages with albergues for the walkers because it is a long and hard walk that can best he done not in one go. The views became nicer and nicer and bingo I’ve seen cyclists, walkers but not yet the third category man with donkey..now it is complete.
The climb to Cruz de Ferro was not too difficult even though at the end of the day it is more difficult and the 10% you get a couple of times reminds you that you are on a heavy bike with luggage..but hte last two km’s I was lucky and the wind increased and turned into tailwind..very nice.
The Cruz de Ferro is an iron cross on a tree with the pile of stones known from the time of The Kelt to be that way. I also brought my stone from Maastricht and put it at the cross. Now all my sins have been cleared is one of the explanations of the ritual..hence only a small stone 🙂
Now the descent can commence..so jacket etc on and ready. You descent for about 2 km’s and then you get a climb again of 12%..great to have a jacket and gloves back on again..but then it really starts and it is a very spectacular descend (read I found it too steep) until Molinaseca where I wanted to spend the night.
There was however a large fire in the fields and I heard lots of firebrigade trucks coming so I was like let’s take the next town which was Ponferrada which is very nice too so it wasn’t a punishment! I arrived at 19:00 so a quick shower and then a beer followed by a carb dinner!
Today I cycled from Mansilla las Mullas to Ponferrada. In total 149km and > 1200hm of which most to Cruz de Ferro.
If you want to relive my ride please follow this link; https://www.relive.cc/view/961628306
Oh sorry..@Erika..I saw the first Spanish cow..