2010 Cima Coppi Tour – Day 10 – Burgos > Logroño

“One may easily see that you are not versed in the business of adventures: they are giants; and, if you are afraid, get aside and pray, whilst I engage them in a fierce and unequal combat.” – Don Quixote, moments before charging a windmill and being knocked unconscious by one of it’s sails.

It had been about 40 hours since I last through my leg over the saddle of my own two wheeled Rocinante, and this period of time proved to be sufficient enough for the winds of change to swirl through Castilla y León and eventually settle on blowing 180 complete degrees from when I last met with them.

As I was tilting at windmills again battling a ferocious morning head-wind on my way out of Burgos in search of wool and wine, I could only think of Miguel de Cervantes infamous fool, Don Quixote de La Mancha, and his obsessive knights-errant. I felt like Quixote with the my own ‘greivances to redress, wrongs to rectify, exorbitance to correct, abuses to reform and debts to discharge’. My giants where not the windmills themselves, or even the wind that gave them life that I stubbornly hammered hard into. I was here to find merino wool, to find history and value, to collaborate toward much-needed labour solutions in the heart of Spain and to push, perhaps quixotically, as equally hard against the currents of modern globalized garment production, as I pushed into the wind.

Aldonza Lorenzo: What does that even mean? — Sancho Panza: I’m not sure.

Final Numbers for the day.
Burgos > Logroño: 135km (417km – 3 days)
1 col – 1150m (1600m gain)
Average speed: 27.7kmph avg.
Time: 4hr52min.
Bike Map: 636828

Perhaps I had spent too much time on the bike, or perhaps too little. Either way I began the day in a reflective state and there is likely no place better for that than the N-120 highway between Burgos and Logroño. This was Camino de Santiago country and I was literally on the path, however, perhaps ironically and maybe even figuratively, heading in the wrong direction.

Just short of 146,000 pilgrims, tourists and soul-searchers traveled the Camino de Santiago (The way of St. James) in 2009, and this year, Xacobeo, or holy year, was likely to produce numbers up to three times that amount. I bet you always wondered what in the world the Xacobeo-Galicia cycling team was all about, didn’t you? The city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain’s northwestern most Autonomous Community of Galicia is famous across Europe for being the resting place of the bones of St.James, son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. The bones currently sit in a silver urn under the high alter with a Papel Bull issued signifying they are, in fact, genuine.

In a region of Spain which quite literally has been named the end of the world – Finisterre, you now have all types of person, religious or not, walking or bicycling, this great trail, with it’s branches all throughout Europe funneling pilgrams through Saint-Jean-Pied-a-Port and onto Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and on westward another ~400+kms to Santiago de Compostela. I think I was the only person bicycling east.

Perhaps my back was unintentionally turned on Galicia, as I headed west, but it would be fittingly turned on the hyper-consumerist fashion empire base of Amancio Ortega, Spain’s Galician billionaire, worlds ninth richest man, and owner of the retail giant Zara and it’s subsidiaries. Instead of concerning myself with such things I headed upwards again, winding and climbing through the last km’s of the rolling countryside of Castilla y Leon, before plunging down into the rolling valleys of La Rioja, Spain’s community of wine and most famous producing region. It was now hotter and drier, but the day went by quickly and I arrived in Logroño on this Friday afternoon, to meet with Nacho my host for the evening.

Once in Logroño, Nacho and I headed for the centre, for the wine and for the rotos. Rotos are a dish specific to Logroño, and they are worth the ride. It’s essentially a bread bun, with the end cut off, centre scooped out to make a pocket, and then filled with Spanish tortilla (egg, paprika and potato) and your choice of topping. The most famous roto in Logroño is tortilla topped with Gulas, which are an 80€/serving baby eel, which looks disgusting, but tastes great and fortunately in a small serving on a roto comes at the standard 2.50€ price. This however, makes rotos topped with gulas tremendously popular and lines very long, so we downed ours quickly and then ordered some with txistorra, a greasy Basque sausage, which is also great.

Logroño, was a great city, very alive with a percussion festival featuring Brazilian bands, and a liveliness which reminded me a little of Madrid, or San Sebastian. However, people were telling me that no city compares, especially during San Fermin, to the home of bull-running, and favorite of Hemingway – Pamplona, my destination for tomorrow.

Final Numbers for the day.
Burgos > Logroño: 135km (417km – 3 days)
1 col – 1150m (1600m gain)
Average speed: 27.7kmph avg.
Time: 4hr52min.
Bike Map: 636828

They ARE giant giants. And always facing the wrong way.
If they have signs on this side, I can't be totally going the wrong way.
Up and out of Castilla y León
Wine, Rotos and Gulas ...with a fork.
Rotos with txistorra
Forget the fork, Nacho shows me how to eat Rotos
I go for it, messy. The tilted head is the sign of an amateur.

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