160623 – Porto or Bust!

Another morning with everyone sleeping in. I didn’t leave until 8:15 am!

I spent a lot of last night, this morning, and the day in general angsting about the route for the day, trying to avoid mountains. The path I followed from Santiago to Finisterra I couldn’t follow back (far too steep and gravel-enhanced). Several perigrinos encouraged me to cycle north to Muxia. Doing so would mean returning to Santiago and running out of time to do anything but take a bus from Santiago to Lisbon. In the end I decided to head south. Avoiding the mountains by cycling along the coast, I managed double-digit speeds for most of the day, significantly different than the Camino. I reached 40 km by lunch, and 80 km by 3:00 pm in Noia. A cool cloudy day, with the anticipated inclement weather consisting of cycling through clouds.

I had fantastic scenery today. The coast varies between wide beaches and a rugged rocky shoreline. To my left mountains went straight up looming over me, detering any thoughts I had of heading inland.

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In Noia decisions thrust thmselves upon me. If I continued along the coast, I’d add an additional 80 km to an already stressed distance to get to Porto. Instead, I cycled up and over the peninsula, a 210 meter climb which took an hour.

Just before I left for this tripm I spent part of a day running replacing the rear cassette on the bike. To get a rear cassette with the largest gear as 34 teeth instead of the 32 in stock I had to drive a half-hour to Carrboro to pick up the part, and spend an extra $40. And I’m glad for that decision almost every day.

Having been on large highways most of the day, I switched to smaller roads. Which had the same amount of traffic, but no shoulder and winding corners with no visibility. Searching for the bridge across the last bay, I encountered a super highway far ahead, and problem I’ve encountered before.

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Fortunately the older bridge lay just around the corner. By 6:00 pm I reached the campground I’d strived for all day, 126 km from where I started this morning, and a new record for this trip.

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I still needed to review the map to validate that I could make Porto in three days. I’m also just 35 km south of Santiago (having gone 100 km west to Finisterra, and then southeast along the coast), so if I screwed up the math I could return to Santiago. Finisterra is 100 km west of Santiago so depending on how I look at it I’m now the same distance from Santiago as I would have been if I had cycled from Finisterre to Santiago to here, cycling aong the cooast without cycling over the intervening mountains.

At the campground I encountered two cyclists from Germany – Alex and Sonya. They just started from Lisbon, and follow the reverse of the path I plan, so could confirm from experience the path from here in Ruleira to Porto in three days, at 80 km per day. They also pointed out from their own experience that the ferries along the way generally won’t work. I could comiserate given my ferry woes from last year.

We spent the evening hanging out. They brought wine over to my campsite and we talked about their plans, since they’re considering cycling either the Camino Frances or Camino Norte on their way home to Germany. They’ve traveled all over, and had stories from their travels in New Zeland, Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia. They’re cycling for the last leg of their trip as another way to see Europe. 

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Tonight Spain celebrates the Festival of San Juan, and the entire campground buzzes with activity and fireworks. At midnight kids still shout and fireworks boom not at a distance. A train also runs past my campsite. Culture shock after either days of quiet alburgues and hostels.

While doing laundry tonight, I found the hostel key from Albergue da Paz. They were nice about giving it to me; I’ll try to mail it when I get home – carrying it as penance.

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