• Elizabeth Cameron-Smith

Day 20 - Santander to San Vicente de la Barquera




Perhaps the toughest day on the road, adverse weather conditions didn't make things easy...worsened by the fact that Grant was feeling so terrible.


'I left Santander navigating through crazy traffic and eventually found a cycle way on the outskirts of the city.When I say that it was crazy traffic, I mean there were cars and trucks everywhere.Whilst they gave me space as a cyclist, I shared my lane with buses and taxis who traveled in the dedicated space.

I never felt unsafe but it was quite an experience!"

-Grant's voice note


As the rain threatened, Grant knew that he was in for a tough day.He had been to the pharmacy in Santander the night before to get some medication for his cold and had taken it again in the morning after getting up a little later than usual - not the best thing to do considering he was going to be tackling the surrounding hilly terrain.


"I feel so flat and my legs ached a lot today.I stopped for a break about 25kms from Santander. I was sitting having an energy bar and some water and saw the same two Italians from the ferry the day before, pushing their bikes up the hill, drenched in sweat and looking much like I felt- completely shattered!"

- Grant's voice note



They were so happy to see Grant again; but there was no time to chat as Grant needed to keep moving.He could see all the snow on the mountains in the distance and it was extremely cold.He had put on both sets of thermals in the morning with his rain suit on over that, as he knew he was headed into the cold weather.Going up the hills was uncomfortable as Grant was getting very hot ( all that exertion tends to do that) and then on the descent it was absolutely freezing again as the wind cut into him.

He had no choice but to strip one set of thermals off and just bear the freezing temperatures on the way down!



The route today was mainly inland skirting the foothills of the Pyrenees from Santilana del Mar he started to head toward the coast again on a pretty rough track..it seemed doable but as he carried on he realized that the stones were getting bigger and it got muddier as went along. He eventually had to get off and push his bike in the mud as it just wasn't safe to ride in these conditions. As a result of all the bumping around and the bouncing on the rocks, his panniers had fallen off, so it was really not very pleasant.

( Whenever I hear this commentary I always ask if he is having fun yet - maybe you have to be a cyclist to be into this kind of experience?)



Not only was it bumpy and muddy and windy but this track was very narrow and it was at the edge of the estuary and the path was lined with thorn bushes too!

Eventually the path led to a road that turned onto the seafront where there was a cycle track all the way along the coast where he managed to travel a fair distance on an undulating path that made it a bit easier to get to San Vicente....even though he still had to climb the hill....



'My legs were on fire and I wasn't feeling well at all and although I had had some energy bars and was well hydrated I just couldn't keep going. I spoke to Elizabeth at the top of the hilly path and sent her a picture of the view.She suggested I stop for a long (proper) lunch and a rest and that I should just stop and call it a day.I could see the town of San Vicente de La Baquera in the distance, so I decided to sop there for lunch."

- Grant- voice note


With 2 km to go the the town, Grant made his way down there and had lunch in the harbour of this very beautiful town on the edge of an Estuary with old bridges and beautiful vistas.There were fishing fleets in the water and the place had a wonderful feel to it.

After lunch Grant looked at his map and worked out that he had at least another 40km to go to get to another much smaller town and he felt it would be better to stay put considering how sick he was feeling and called it a day.

He found a small Pension, had a hot shower and went for a photo walk in and around town and bought some fruit.He really is missing his fruit and vegetables and even fantasizing about Portuguese cuisine. Go figure!



Just over 60kms today and fast approaching the 2000Km mark!


A massive effort from Grant to stay on the bike as long as he did.Hopefully tomorrow is a better day!



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