Camino de Santiago Day 5: Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela
Day 5: Burgos to Ledigos, 110 kms.
- Camino de Santiago Day 1: Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela
- Camino de Santiago Day 2: Estella to Navarrete, Spain
- Camino de Santiago Day 3: Navarrete to Belorado
- Camino de Santiago Day 4: Belorado to Burgos, Spain
I wanted to see more of Burgos but changed my mind of staying longer. This wasn’t a tour and I had a tight schedule to keep. So far so good – I am right on the dot. But I anticipate some delays later in the tough mountain range as I get closer to my goal. And so at the crack of dawn, I saddled up and left.
Burgos to Ledigos, 110 kms.
My aim in the first stage was Fromista, 73kms. away. Some guys I met who biked the Compostela previously told me that this is the best part of the route to make good time since the Meseta – the long 235km. stretch between Burgos and Astorga – is all flat and isolated. So I brought extra water since I had no plan of drinking from a stream.
I had been biking just by myself which is more of what I like since I wanted to be alone with my thoughts, not to be interrupted by noisy patter. Sometimes an occasional cyclist passes by or I pass a group and we ride together single file for several kilometers until one of us gets tired and stops for a break and the other continues on his/her way after a brief wave of the hand. When I complain to myself about the load I am carrying, I stop and I’m amazed when I see others with bigger packs straddling their bikes’ panniers plus a backpack slung around their backs. I mean, how could they do that!
All sorts of bikes are used on the Compostela and once saw a very sleek BMW touring bike which the owner said cost him a cool 4,000Euros. Is it much better? I asked. The difference, he said, was in the suspension so it made for a smoother ride. I looked at Compo, whose lineage I could not make out, and saw that there was nothing wrong with him except for that troublesome pedal I changed earlier. We had been together for five days now and he had been a steady, reliable partner and I loved him for that.
I had been biking on the national road N120 all the while which is a two-lane carriageway that meanders through all the towns on the pilgrimage route. There is a one-meter shoulder for bikers most of the time so you are shielded from traffic but still, when the huge trailer trucks rumble by, you feel as if the sudden gust of wind would blow you off the lane into the ditch. Well, on one lone stretch before the town of Villandiego, I did end up in the ditch but it was because while reaching down for the water bottle with one hand, I stupidly made the mistake of adjusting my helmet at the same time with the other and before I knew it, Compo swerved to the right and sent us all flying into the small canal! Luckily, it was dry and covered with grass so nothing got broken or dislocated except for some bruises on the left knee. Lesson learned: don’t multitask on the road!
Much of the way were ridges and uncultivated fields – it made me wonder how people earned their living here. A shady, tree-lined road past Hontanas gave a nice respite from the sun and I stopped to rest and eat some of the Granola bars I bought in Kuwait which I completely forgot. Seems like ages now since I left home and it seemed so far away!
I arrived in Fromista past noontime and visited the beautiful Church of San Martin which was said to be one of the most perfect Romanesque churches ever built. Now as I pulled out the Nikon to shoot, caramba! – the battery was dead! What happened, I dunnobecause I did charge it that night in the albergue. It was the second disaster after shooting the other day without an SD card in the camera! What to do? You just shake your head and promise yourself to better take care of stuff like that. I guess it’s the numbing tiredness that slows down the brain leaving the synapses not firing properly!
Continued on, aiming to make it to Sahagun, a further 67kms. away by day’s end. Again, most of the road was flat and quite scenic that’s why there were many picnic places along the way. Several walking pilgrims were feasting in some spots. Sometimes I envied them for they didn’t seem to have much care in the world and had all the luxury of time to get to Santiago. These peregrinos take 4-6 weeks to make the walk from Pamplona. Those of us who bike are labeled bicigrinos(a corruption of bicicleta + peregrino) and seems to be a derogatory term since it looks like an easier way to do the Compostela. But it’s definitely not – just wait when the mountain climb starts!
Made a pitstop in Quintanilla delaCueza. I wasn’t really hungry but in the coming long stretch there would be no place to eat so why tempt fate? A quick jamoniberico sandwich washed down with Coke and added with gelato did the trick of boosting my energy level so I found it quite smooth sailing once more on the empty road.
Nearing my destination, I felt leg cramps and my left hand started getting numb on the handlebar so I decided not to push it and call it a day. Therefore in the next town of Ledigos, I looked for an albergue to stay for the night. Surprisingly, most were full – I think there were just a handful – so ended up staying in a hostel that had TV in my room and caught the news of what was happening in the outside world. For the past few days, I had been completely cut off from what was going on around and except for some Whatsapp messages to the wife (when there was wifi) to tell her I was still alive and kicking, I didn’t tap much into the communications grid.
The view outside my window of undulating fields was beautiful so I just sat there in the small verandah, cold San Mig beer in hand watching the sunset till darkness blanketed everything and the stars came out. Ah, welcome rest for the weary……