160604 – 6 km and 500 m

While I occasionally heard voices last night at the hostel in Viseu, I didn’t see anyone except the person in Reception. With the hostel recently renovated, the restaurant next door serves the hostel breakfast. The kitchen still needed work, so I ventured forth for dinner. The renovation made the hostel feel sterile; everything in the room was white.

Remember the plan to stay still or take a short day? Not much to the west of Viseu until Guarda, 80 km away. Onwards and upwards. An hour later the odometer read 12 km. Not much to speak of, but at 10 km yesterday, and only 6 km the day before, I considered it improvement. The day started off with some zip; once out of town I had almost 10 km of down. That didn’t exactly make me happy – as Charlotte learned, down comes with up.

I can often get away with cycling on a major highway yet experience negligible traffic if the highway has been supplanted with a super highway. Today I found a case near Chas de Traveras where I cycled on the super highway that had been replaced with another more super highway. Nicely graded, penty of room, and only a car or two as I screamed down an 8% grade. Not a good sign.

As I stopped for second (third?) lunch at the 50 km mark, I felt pleased with myself. Still early afternoon, and regardless of hills, even climbing at 6 kph, I could make the campground by dark. At 50 kph I cover almost a kilometer a minute, but at 6 kph it takes me five minutes to cover only 500 meters. At 6 kph, I can talk with  people walking alongside me.

Dismay: Realizing that the GPS indicates my current elevation as 400 m, but that my destination 30 km away rests at 900 m. That’s 500 meters of up (1650 feet) – the equivalent of climbing the stairs of a mega skyscraper while pushing my bicycle. A guaranteed minimum 1.5% grade for the next 30 km, and grade doesn’t come that way.

Ever onwards. Slowly working my way up  hill, a gentleman stopped me to give me water, and enquire about my trip before wishing me luck with the hills ahead.

While getting late in the day, I stopped in Celorico da Biera with a castle looming above it. Not much to see, just the shell of the walls and the small keep with nothing but Reception within. A number of signs displayed the usual historical information about the castle. They included an English translattion, which roughly read, “The castle is really old, but we don’t know how old.”

Despair: From the top of a mountain, seeing the road leading out the other side of the valley (look closely at the line across the valley):

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Awe: looking back at it:

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Arriving in Guarda, I realized that Reception at the campground might close at 6:00 pm. Not a major issue, as so far the night guard just appropriates the passport to ensure I go to Reception in the morning, but I put forth a huge burst of energy at the end to get there by 6:00 pm. Given the map, I was concerned the campground would rest down at the bottom of the valley, but no disappoinment there, continuing my upwards journey. Reception closed at 5:00 pm, so I found a spot and will deal with that in the morning.

Still with no fuel for the stove, I wandered into town to find dinner and review the sights for tomorrow. The castle in town sits atop the highest hill, higher than everything in sight, adjacent to all of the cell towers.

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I had to rummage about in the campground, but now find myself next to a power outlet meant for caravans.

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I couldn’t find much of interest in Guarda. Hopefully tomorrow will include a lot of down, and 50 km to the west I enter Spain.

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