May 31st-June 3rd 2017 – San Vicente to Gijon – The Asturias has to be one of the best regions I have ever visited

This week’s photo shows a smiling Fernando Alonso on the balcony of a house near Covadonga in the Asturias region of Spain. When I tweeted this photo, it caused quite a stir as Fernando had been making headlines that week-end by racing in Indianapolis in the USA in the Indy 500 race. The photo is not photo-shopped but actually a life-size cardboard cut-out of Alonso which someone has placed on their balcony. The cut-out must have been on this balcony for a good few years now as he is wearing Ferrari overalls in the above photo. Alonso now races for McLaren-Honda and hasn’t raced for Ferrari since 2014. Fernando himself is from Oviedo, which is the capital of The Asturias and only about 100 km from Covadonga. So perhaps, a relative owns this house or maybe a Formula 1 fan.

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Total cycled Wednesday May 31st from San Vicente to Ribadesella – 110 km (includes 2,200 m of climbing). Total so far – 1,565 km. Toughest day so far on this year’s Tour de Travoy. Didn’t finish cycling until 9.30 in the evening which is my latest finish ever on the Tour de Travoy. Had hoped to stay at a campsite near Covadonga and climb to Lagos de Covadonga the next day but all 3 campsites near to Covadonga were closed  So I had to travel a further 25 km back to the coast to Ribadesella as the darkness began to fall.

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Surfer sculpture on roundabout near San Vicente. They really like their roundabouts in pain and most are landscaped really well. This roundabout is beautifully designed and the surfer sculpture really stands out.

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Sea-food restaurant in San Vicente. Most restaurants display their menu in small writing beside the door but this establishment had huge photos of it’s menu and the prices on display for everyone to see. The photos and big writng certainly works as there was quite a crowd at it when I went past. Sea-food is not cheap and a Parrallida de Bogavante seafood platter costs €45 for 2 people at this restaurant. The Parallida de Bogavante comes on a plate the size of a surf-board and features crab and lobster as well as fish sticks and other sea-food delicacies. While the sea-food is dear, you can get a fillet steak for €15 a head at the same restaurant.

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Iglesia de Santa Maria des Los Angeles in San Vicente. This church was built in the 15th Century and totally dominates the town of San Vicente. The apartment building in front of the church is of much more modern construction and seem to feature a motif  of the Santa Maria boat that Christopher Columbus used to discover America. I have no idea if Christopher Columbus named his boat after this church but there may well be a connection.

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Casa des Las Corritas near Unquera. There are hundreds of cafes and restaurants in this part of Spain but few are as colorful as this cafe I spotted near Ubnquera. With is blue brickwork and terracotta roof, it really stands out and the car park was full when I went past..

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Approach road to Unquera. To most people, this photo is very ordinary but to me, it is brings back incredible memories. In 2013, I bought a Tacx cycle trainer and one of the first videos I downloaded for it was the road between Unquera and Las Arenas. In the years since, I downloaded other videos and haven’t played the Unquera video since 2013. But as soon as I seen this approach road, I remembered it right away from the video. I had planned to follow the video from Unquera to Las Arenas but Strava advised a different route along the coast with less traffic. In hindsight, I should have stayed on the video route as the route I ended up taking was incredibly hilly.

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Indianos Archive Foundation building in Colombres. This house was built in 1906 in the style of a Spanish colonial house from South America. Today, it houses archives and documentation relating to Spanish people who emigrated to South America in the 17th – 19th Centuries. There are loads of shipping posters inside the Indianos Museum and it looks as incredible on the inside as it does from the outside. If I ever go back to the Asturias, this is one museum I am definitely going to visit.

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Rio Cabra or Cabra river near La Franca. This region of Spain is known as the Cabra region but whether, there is a connection to Cabra in Dublin, I am not sure. The Cabra river is almost totally driedup in this photo.

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Spanish and Asturian flags on a tree. he Asturian people are fond of their flag and no wonder why as it is a beautiful design. The gold cross on a blue background is really unique and I must have spotted the Asturian flag 100 times today.

 

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Climb to Alto de Los Resquilones. This was the toughest climb I have faced so far on the Tour de Travoy. The last 3 kms averaged 12% and I was left with no option but to push the bike at times.

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Cow grazing on grass on an almost impossible slope. This cow was happily munching away when I passed beneath him on the climb up to Alto des Los Requillones. He had a bell on which made a sound just like the cow bells in Switzerland. I have a video which when I get the chance will put up on YouTube.

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Summit of Alto des Los Rsquiloses. it was quite cloudy and misty when I got to the to but the mist soon cleared on the way down from the summit. The climb is roughly 450 m in altitude and boy, was I glad to make it to the top.

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Bull pictured near EL Mazuco. The bulls in Spain are really massive and a thin piece of electrical wire was all that was between me and this massive beast. Fortunately, all the bulls I spotted in Spain were much calmer than Spanish dogs and this guy didn’t even flinch when I took a photo.

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Grotto built in cave near Caldueno. Grottos built in caves are a common sight in France but this is the first one I came across in Spain.

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Cardboard cut-out of Fernando Alonso on the balcony of a house near Covadonga. This image of Fernando Alonso has probably been on this balcony for the last 5 years as it is starting to fade and that was when he was last racing for Ferrari.

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Roundabout at Covadonga. This sign for the climb to Lagos de Covadonga is as famous in Spain as the sign in Bourg d’Oisans for the climb to Alpe d’Huez.

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Campsite in Covadonga. My heart sank when I saw that the campsite was empty and sure enough, when I got to the entrance, the gates were locked. It is possible the campsite was due to open for the summer the following day, June the 1st, but there were no signs on the gates. There was a man on a ride-on lawn mower in the campsite but no matter how much I waved, I couldn’t get his attention. I was left with no option but to cycle 12 km to the campsite in the large town of Sella.

20170531_195715-2Troll outside shop in Sella. It tookme another half an hour of cycling to reach Sella but when I saw this troll, I had a bad feeling. Sure enough, when I got to the campsite in the town it was also closed with no notice when it was due to open. I had nooption but to head another 20 km back to the coast and see if the campsite in Ribadesella was open. On the way to that campsite, I passed this troll again and felt like a person being trolled with all these closed campsites.

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Latest ever finish on the Tour de Travoy. It was around 9.30 at night when I arrived at Camping Ribadesella and luckily, it was still open. My latest previous finish was around 9 o’clock on the 2015 Tour de Travoy when I arrived at a campsite in Serracourt-le-Grand in the Somme. It was getting so dark in Ribadesella that I had a flashing red light on Travoy for the last 5 kms. By the time I had my tent set up, it was pitch black and I went straight to bed.

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Total cycled Thursday June the 1st from Ribadesella to Gijon. – 65 km (includes 1,100 m of climbing).  Total so far 1,630 km.  Just a short spin today as I was feeling wrecked after the marathon spin the day before.

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Travoy leaving Camping Ribadesella. At the campsite, I got talking to a German couple who were in a campervan. The German man and his wife both had good English and were very interested in my bike and Travoy. The German said he used to race and thought that I may have had an electric bike. I had to tell him that the only batteries on my bike were in the phone and computer. When I was leaving, they both started taking photos as if I was some celebrity and they were the paparazzi. In hindsight, I was sorry I didn’t take a photo of them as they really made my day.

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Trees growing out of cracks in a rock near Caravia. This is one of the most incredible natural sights I have ever come across on the Tour de Travoy. This tree’s roots were literally growing in the cracks of a huge rock beside the road. The trees were huge yet their roots were literally in mid-air.

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Playa La Isla near Colunga. You can see from this photo that it was very murky and the beach at La Isla was totally deserted when I went past.

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Sidra or cider house near Lastres. This cider manufacturer sells direct to the public and I was tempted to stop and buy a bottle. But with 30 kg already on Travoy, the last thing I needed was to add any extra weight.

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Another day, another plywood cut-out on a roof near Villavicosa. Yesterday, I had come across a cut-out of Fernando Alonso and today, I spotted a cut-out of a traditional Asturian musician. It was located on the roof of a timber warehouse and was absolutely huge. The musician is playing a Gaita Asturiana, which is a type of bagpipe native to this region. Apparently, in the church of Santa Maria de Villavicosa there is a piper carved into the stonework, which dates from the 13th Century.

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A herreo or a small building on stilts beside a new house near Villavicosa. Herreos are quite a common sight in this part of Spain. Some look like they may be as much as a thousand years old but this one in a garden is relatively recently built beside a new house.

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Roofers working on a herreo in Villavicosa. Herreos are quite small and most nowadays are used for storage but in years gone by, whole families would live in one. They are quite a common sight in the Asturias but not something I have seen in any other part of Spain.

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Plate on a building near Fonduxu. This plate was on the wall of a building at the top of my last climb of the day. It shows the altitude as 242.4 m and was put there by the Geographic Institute of Spain.

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Laboral University in Gijon. This building is absolutely massive and is rumored to be the largest building in Spain. It looks quite old but was built by General Franco in the 50’s in an attempt to cement his rule in this part of Spain. The building must occupy a size of around 100 acres and the tower is at least 100 m in height. It totally dominates the approach to Gijon and it truly is quite a sight.

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Football field in Camping Deva near Gijon. Camping Deva is absolutely huge with space for up to 500 campervans and people with tents. It has it’s own restaurant and even a full size football field. It only cost €6 to stay the night so with bad weather forecast for Friday and Saturday, I ended up staying here until Sunday. The Champions League final took place between Real Madrid and Juventus on Saturday evening when I was still at the campsite. I tried tuning in my TV stick but couldn’t get a signal so ended up following the game on Twitter as Real Madrid scored three times in the second half to win 4-1.

Real Madrid celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final

Sergio Ramos lifts the European Cup after Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final in Cardiff.. There was an incredible noise which would ripple throughout the campsite every time Real Madrid scored. Obviously some people were watching on terrestrial TV and others on satellite as there was a slight delay of about 5 seconds or so in the cheering every time Real Madrid scored. In other parts of Spain such as the Basque Country, the local fans would have been cheering for Juventus but here in Gijon, that was not the case and there was very little noise when Juventus equalized in the first half. The Asturias region is proud to be a part of Spain and there was no clearer indication of that listening to all the cheers as Real Madrid lifted their 12th European Cup title.

 

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