Sam and I left our mediocre accomodations this morning with not a soul in sight. Two backpacks remained in the lobby with only a tag identifying them for a company that carries backpacks from site to site. We started out in the fog, but soon found ourselves cycling above the clouds.
On mostly larger roads early in the morning, we made better time than yesterday. Yesterday by 10:00 am we cycled 11 km, but today the odometer read 16 km at the same time. As the day went on we slowed down as we spent more time directly on the Camino. By noon in Melide we met my typical 30 km by lunch time (although we’d started much earlier than my pre-Camino/alburgue days).
I learned last night that Sam is cycling at an intentional calorie deficit! I made that mistake once training for cycling in Sweden. I couldn’t make any progress, and was always exhausted. Sam’s having fewer problems on the highways, but the steep climbs on the trails hinder him. After lunch I started to navigate to road around the most difficult of the trails, and we made much better time.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Bon Camino” (or “Buen Camino”) to those we’ve passed. It’s the default greeting between perigrinos, and we regularly ask others to move out of our way so we can pass.
As we closed in on Santiago the number of hikers spiked. The Camino from southern Spain merged with the Camino Frances some time yesterday. You can also only get your Compostela on foot when you start at least 100 km out from Santiago, and any number of large groups clearly started out with the plan of finishing over a long weekend. The trails cluttered with people provided additional impetus to occasionally take to the larger highway, although a small shoulder and heavy traffic wore at me. By the time we neared Santiago de Compostela, both of us were dragging.
I have a lot of things to figure out in Santiago to find my way back to Lisbon, so I wanted to spend the night near the center of the city, and stay somewhere with a later checkout time than the albergues to permit me to investigate without the loaded bicycle. Sam decided to take tomorrow as a rest day, and selected a campground outside of town. That brings to an end the third portion of this tour, separating from Sam and beginning my final trek to Lisbon.
Sam and I have very different things we want out of cycling. In fact, I can’t think of much we’re on the same page for: cold weather, rain, routes, money, distance, traffic. We made it work, somehow. Mostly by Sam humoring me through any number of my idiosyncracies and eccentricities. He’s a good guy.
I spent tonight chatting with a German student in the room at the hostel, who walked the Camino and is ready to go home. While talking with him I worked on various plans to get back to Lisbon. Sam had the best most-likely-to-work idea of renting a car in Porto. I can spin that plan into a number of variations, but think I also then have time to cycle to Finisterre over the next couple of days.
I realized today I’ve been thinking the same way as the last tour at 10 days – like the trip is over. I’ve got a plan(s) now for getting back to Lisbon – back to cycling.
Tomorrow I go to receive my Compostela (verification that I have followed the Camino). I’ve been told the line can be quite long. Afterwards I’ll see how far I can get towards Finisterre. How often do you get to go to the End of the World?
Back on my own again. Buen Camino Sam.