Tag Archives: travel

2nd Ride – Home – Barzana – Proaza – 38km

So, my second ride was a bit more sensible than my first but still ended up tiring me out – not easy this biking lark!

This time I started by descending the 7% hill from my house, rather than attempting to go up it! To be honest though, this plan actually had less merit than I thought as the road is steep, potholed and very, very bumpy making it a bone-shaking and terrifying experience. Having only gone down it on an MTB with suspension and fat tyres I had no idea how solid and bumpy everything would feel on skinny tires and very rigid frame. By the time I’d hit the bottom my wrists were already tired: I hadn’t known whether I should stay high or lo on the bars, the new, more advanced riding position being a novelty, and I’d barely been off the brakes…so much for my ‘easy’ start.

Anyway, things improved as I got to Entrago at the bottom. I pulled onto the main road, much better surfaced, and was able to up the gears and start to pedal. The bike felt good and as this was in reality my first sensible ride I tried out my position and how to manipulate the gears (still looking down and back to see which cogs I was using) and then tried to go as fast as possible…

My stats...

My stats…

I still was wearing ‘civvy’ clothes, no padding or lycra yet, and was still without cleats. I was happy with that as I wasn’t 100% confident in my abilities and adding in another possible danger didn’t seem like a good idea. So, I headed downhill pedalling as hard as my little legs would permit and realising that the biggest gears weren’t for mortals like me – at least not on the flat.

The road down from Entrago to Caraga Baxu is about 7.5k and gently down hill with a couple of steeper sections. Not sure of what to do really I simply pedalled like a maniac trying to keep up a good speed. And it was OK. I got tired on the flatter sections and had to go down quite a few gears but overall I got to the turning in good spirits. I could change gear OK and I’d learned to avoid the potholes and bumps on this new stiffer beast…tick and tick!

At the junction I turned up towards the village of Barzana that sits underneath one of the areas more famous climbs, the large, steep ascent of La Cobertoria. This I figured would be good practice for extending my range as the road up to Barzana was almost a constant climb. The first few k were gentle then comes a short but steep segment up to the lake (just over 1k with 130 metres of ascent!!), this put me into bottom pretty quickly, and had me breathing very heavily.

I was chuffed to get over this and onto the flats above and covered the next section of 3 to 4km more easily until a longer hill, which always flew by in the car, started to really hurt my legs. This is the part right below Casa Quiros and what my real cyclist friend refers to as ‘rolling flats’ – bastard.

Innocuous as it seemed I was in bottom again and very slow to gain the summit. Wow this was harder than I thought, even the hills which don’t look like hills can be punishing…!

Map

The route…with the luxury of getting picked up!!

Finally I hit the ‘home straight’ to Barzana and after 19km and just under an hour I hopped off the bike and got a coffee – one of the ‘biking’ norms I’d picked up pretty quickly!! I was pleased. It had been a struggle but it wasn’t a flat ride so for my first sensible outing ride I was happy to have conquered a few hills and to have not hated it.

After my coffee I’d also taken the more reasonable option to continue my ride back the way I’d come but without the need to do the ascent back to Entrago. Mary was meeting me in Proaza which was another 5 km ‘down’ the road from the point at which I’d come uphill for the first time.

The descent was fun. Head down, like I’d seen in the telly I was a blur of legs (or so I thought) as I made the most of the hills I’d struggled up to enjoy the feeling of speed as I hurtled down. My rudimentary bike computer registering just over 50km on the steepest (23%) part of the descent!

My second ride completed; a few ‘puffed-out’ points but no real dramas and 38km under my belt of mixed terrain I was very happy to step off and pack my bike into the car and to be carried home by my wife!

See this ride on Strava

Sobrevilla to Pica Siella and back round – 15km circular route. Sept 2017.

For my second go at this ‘running’ lark my choice of run and partner may seem even stranger. This time I picked a guy whose idea of fun is to do 100 mile races!!

And my choice of run was pretty spectacular too. For a long time I had wanted to climb the huge gully that went up from the village of Sobrevilla and which passed a number of massive crags that I wanted to have a look at. So my reasoning was more about checking out future rock routes than ‘running’ (and I also figured that I’d be able to leverage plenty of rest by stopping to admire the rock).

As we set off the hill seemed huge, and I’d chosen to wear my mountain boots which, although very light for boots were about 500gms each. I was figuring on protecting my bad ankle (and I know better now) but that meant each stride was lass energy efficient and by 10 minutes in I was panting!!

The mist rolled in as we ascended leaving an eerie sensation and a slight feeling of being lost as we crossed a steep, blocky, rocky section only to emerge above the fog into the gully proper.

Chase the dog checks out the view as we climb out of the mist..

Chase the dog checks out the view as we climb out of the mist..

The gully was steep, very, very steep and progress wasn’t quick. Steep, with no path and small heathery clumps it wasn’t  easy going but I was enjoying it and Ian said that at this level of steepness even world class runners wouldn’t run (which I was pleased about).

The view down the gully...

The view down the gully…

As we slowly scaled the metres the views became more and more spectacular and although we weren’t going quickly Ian was quite happy to go at my pace. For me I was starting to understand a bit more that the world of trail running often didn’t involve ‘running’ but ascending as fast as one can. And i could get that…

And the close up views of the crags were as spectacular as I had wanted and my plan of stopping to check out the climbing lines was working to perfection.

Looking up the gully...

Looking up the gully…

There were some very big pieces of rock and we passed right underneath them. It was fun and the ‘rock-watching’ broke up the severity of the climbing. Nearing the top we had to decide on an exit – left or right. Left seemed easier but longer and right seemed more direct but with a ‘step’ that might prove tricky – it was obvious that we’d have to climb it but could we get the dog up there??

The step was a few metres of wet limestone but starting from a ledge so the consequences of a slip were not worth contemplating. Ian went first and made it easily and I, a bit more reluctantly, grabbed a slightly scared dog by the collar and shuffled along the small ledge. I  proceeded to shove the dog upwards as my feet scrabbled and I grabbed onto loose turf with my free hand. After a minute or so of struggle she was high enough up for Ian to grab her collar and I, mightily relieved was able to gain the firmer ‘terra firma’ above the drop.

What a position...

What a position…

As we gained the ridge we started to traverse up towards the high point of Pico Siella. But first we passed a viewpoint that was irresistible, a gap in the rocks opened out with a small spiky summit and we both ascended to get the photo…

We arrived at Pico Siella soon after and at 1550m it afforded incredible views of the valley and was well deserved of being the high point of our journey (twice as it turned out). We’d ascended over 800m (2400ft) already and although it hadn’t been quick it hadn’t been ridiculously slow either which I took some pride in. So we stopped briefly, set up a selfie with my camera balanced on the trig point, and got the all important summit shot.

On the peak...

On the peak…

Finally, the real running started and Ian, showing lot of agility, started out across a thin ridge which led slowly down to a more defined path than we’d been following. This was fun and after about a kilometre of me stomping in my big boots after the much more rapid Ian we met up at a small resevoir/lake at the coll before the big descent started.

‘Hold there Ian’ I shouted as I fumbled for the camera to get another shot of the run…But I couldn’t find it!

‘Arse’ I cried, ‘Ian, I seem to have lost the camera’ and it wasn’t a cheap one! About £300′s worth of Panasonic seemed to have gone missing during our descent – my pack had been open and the probability was that it had bounced out during our decent. That was the probability but it seemed odd as my small pack was actually quite deep, so with heavy hearts (especially mine) we set up back towards Pico Siella scouring the path either side. I walked a lot more slowly than Ian and it was he rather than me that made it back to the summit and found, still stood in selfie position, the camera! I’d simply left it on the summit.

We descended again and this time didn’t stop at the lake and headed on down the very steep switchbacks on a concrete farmers track which led directly up to the coll. With a ‘I’m going to go a bit quicker on this bit’ Ian blasted off. Once again his agility and speed left me standing and I kept up as best as I could as we descended about 400m in around 2km. Once again i was happy that I vaguely kept up but my big boots certainly didn’t aid me much.

We met up at the bottom and started to descend, less steeply, a series of muddy tracks back towards the car. Unfortunately (for Ian) we picked up a couple of ‘passengers’ on the way in the shape of two beautiful mastin puppies who followed us for about a kilometer downhill. However, when we realised the wouldn’t go ‘home’ I volunteered the more experienced runner for the duty of leading them back to the field we’d first seen them in.

I chuckled to myself plodded on downwards, tiring, and expecting to see Ian on my shoulder quite quickly. However, I’d made it a lot further than I thought I would and when Ian did catch  me he was out of breath ‘Man that was grim’ he said ‘ that track I took up was muddy as hell and it was longer than I thought. I grinned and said something about ‘good training mate’ and we finally exited the muddy forest track onto a tarmac’d road and I knew that the car was just around the corner.

The coffee and cake we enjoyed at the bar in town tasty scrummy and as well looked back up to where we’d been I felt pretty proud that I’d done it. And even Ian felt i’d done pretty well – especially for a climber that didn’t like hiking or running. This was a superb and fun route to do and well recommendable (maybe minus the ‘step’) and you can see the route on Ian’s Strava below…

https://www.strava.com/activities/1162680401

 

The route

The route

Jairo on a great 7a at Muro Techo, Teverga

Sports climbing at Muro Techo

After heading up to the snow at the weekend, midweek was ripe for some sunny sports climbing and what better excuse to get out on the rock on a school day than two public holidays that convert into an epic ‘Puente’ long weekend.

So Wednesday saw us meeting up with friends at Muro Techo in Teverga. Parking for the crag is at Sobrevilla village, a 20 minute drive from Casa Quiros, and the walk in is a steady, mostly flat, 20 minutes. It’s one of the longer walk-ins in the area but hardly epic and also makes for a nice little warm up on cooler winter days.

Jairo on a great 7a at Muro Techo, Teverga

Jairo on a great 7a at Muro Techo, Teverga. Climbing under blue skies with snowy peaks in the. background

Our current guests, Tony and Sarah, are here for a three week stay and with their motto of ‘to rest is to rust’ they have been steadily ticking their way through the local crags whilst climbing pretty much every single day. No wonder I caught Sarah sneaking a power nap in the sunshine before cranking on!

Sarah dozes in the sunshine at the foot of the crag

Sarah dozes in the sunshine at the foot of the crag

Muro Techo has a ton of routes across the grades, with a lot of development still ongoing and continually expanding the options. (The Roca Verde guide has the most up-to-date topos.) It’s thus suitable for mixed-ability groups and is a very family-friendly spot with a large comfortable flat base and lots of trees and caves that little ones can enjoy exploring. (Once you wrest the tech out of their hands!)

In the pic below you can see our Jack in action at the end of the day on the lower section of the ‘Clásica de Muro Techo’ – a spicy little 6a pitch. And there’s Sarah in the background on the lovely, friction-laden 6b ‘El Costo de la Vida’.


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The other important fact that you need to know about Muro Techo is that not only does it catch all the afternoon sun going, it also stays dry in the rain. Whatever the weather there’s always somewhere great to climb in Los Valles del Oso!

Las Saleras hike

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It’s been a spectacular winter, and now spring, here in Asturias, with lots and lots of sunshine and very little rain. We’ve been making the most of it, climbing, hiking and generally being outdoors every chance we get. Unfortunately, with all this unseasonal making hay while the sun shines this blog has been somewhat neglected. We have however been accumulating experiences, photos and a ton of good stuff to share with you so I guess we’d better get on with it!

Let’s kick off with some photos from a hike we did back in January (although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from last summer – check out those blue, blue skies!) This route took us up to Las Saleras peak at 1,700m with magnificent views over Puerto Ventana, to the Picos de Europa and even off to the sea in the north.

Quite apart from those views on the horizon and the simple satisfaction of peak bagging, the hike was full of interest.  At times we kept our eyes to the ground as we sought out traces of the Cantabrian brown bears and wolves that still live in these mountains. At others it was the traces of human civilisation in centuries gone that captivated us.

It was approaching twilight as we passed through La Braña de los Fuexos on our final descent. Here the stony remains of an ancient settlement of cowherds’ cabins and their livestock corrals are dwarfed by giant, ancient beech trees. Picking our way through in the half-light of the witching hour made for a truly magical finish to a great day out on the hills.

 

 

Salinas beach

With a ton of beaches within an hour’s drive from Casa Quiros, surfing or simply sunbed lounging is the perfect rest day activity after lots of crag-ticking or stomping up mountains. Last Tuesday we took a sneaky rest day ourselves and headed to Salinas beach, near Aviles, to remind us just what a great spot it is. We also managed to get rather sun burnt as we committed the fatal error of forgetting that sun-cream can be vital even when you’re still technically in the winter months!

surfing at Salinas, Asturias

The waves were super clean and gloriously empty on Tuesday – enough to tempt Richie into the water

An impressive 3 kilometres long, Salinas has something to offer everyone. It is one of the most consistent surf beaches in the whole region, catching any swell that’s going and with several different mini-breaks along its length. Its attractive promenade is also dotted with several excellent bars and restaurants.

The terrace of Ewan bar-restaurant is a favourite spot. Great food and even better views

The terrace of Ewan bar-restaurant is a favourite spot. Great food and even better views

There is a surf shop and shaper for all your surf supplies and in August the beach is host to an international long-board festival which is in its 15th year and always draws a big crowd to enjoy the competition, the music acts and the general mellow vibes and good times.

At just 15 minutes drive from Asturias airport, Salinas can make a great stopping off point on your day of departure and a very pleasant spot from which to bid Asturias farewell. Or should we say ‘Hasta luego!’

 

Climbing with Children at Quirós

Not every day’s climbing is about ‘sending the gnar’ (as some of our American friends like to say ;-) ). Sometimes just getting to the crag can be an achievement in itself. Take the other Saturday. I was here in Casa Quiros, car-less and partner-less, all set for an afternoon of house-bound pottering with our 6 year old son when I was messaged by some friends, a group of mums who climb. Turned out they were heading cragging here to Quirós. The perfect excuse to ditch the duster!

3 Mums climbing with their 4 kids - mission accomplished!

3 Mums climbing with their 4 kids – mission accomplished!

It was a beautiful afternoon so, even with an easily-tired six year old in tow, the walk from Casa Quiros to the base of the crag was a pure delight. We caught up with our friends halfway along the path – two brave mums with 3 small children. Brave because the first rule of doing anything with children (imho) is try and not let them outnumber you! This goes double for climbing but despite the odds being stacked against us we made it pretty painlessly to La Selva.

La Selva sector is a great spot for families and beginners with a wide, tree-shaded base at the foot of the climbing and a ton of easier routes, including some very fine slabs that go at between grade 4 and 5.  The perfect place for setting up camp for an afternoon.

Climbing in a three meant that there was always one mum with her hands free to supervise the four little ones, who ranged in age from 2 to 6. To be frank, this task would make sending sevens seem easy but sharing it between us and breaking it up with some 5 star routes helped preserve our sanity!

In fact we were all having such a good time that it wasn’t until twilight that we finally got ourselves packed up and headed back down. It’s a good thing the path is wide and easy! And so we arrived home with smiles on our faces and a real sense of achievement despite having no ‘gnar’ to report :-)