Gijon to Ribadeo – Stunning coastline, beautiful beaches, the Asturias has it all

June 4th – 6th 2017 (Days 27 – 29) This week’s photo shows Santa Maria del Mar bay not far from Aviles in the Asturias. The Asturian coastline is full of secluded coves and unspoilt beaches like the one shown above. This must be at least the 20th photo of the Spanish coastline on this year’s Tour but I consider this is my best shot yet. The road in Santa Maria del Mar actually goes around the bay and hugs the coastline meaning I was able to capture the bay side on. This meant I was able to get a stunning shot of the sea shimmering in the distance as the waves cascade gently ashore.


Mountain bike race in Gijon campsite. In all, I spent 3 days at Camping Deva in Gijon due to heavy rain. I used the time to go shopping and update the website. Most days the campsite was quiet but not so on Sunday morning. I was awoke before 7 by the sound of dozens of cars and other vehicles pulling into the campsite. They were arriving for a mountain bike race in the hills around the campsite. The fact that the rain was lashing down didn’t seem to deter the mountain bikers as they excitedly got their bikes ready for the big race.


Dozens of cars parked up at the campsite. There were hundreds of cyclists taking part in the race and it looks like most traveled to the event by car. It was around 9 when the rain stopped and I started packing away my tent. By then, the race had already started and there wasn’t a cyclist to be seen apart from myself.


Total cycled Sunday June 04th from Gijon to Cudillero – 75 km (includes 1,170 m of climbing). Total so far – 1,705 km. The hills and heat towards the end of today’s route made for a tough day. It didn’t help when I lost a bolt from my cleat in my right shoe with about 15 km still to go. Not being able to clip in on the last few climbs made them even more difficult.


Hot air balloon being inflated near Gijon. This hot air balloon was only being tested and did not take to the air. As soon as it was full of hot air and there was no sign of any leaks, it was slowly deflated back down to the ground.


Sporting Gijon’s home stadium, the Estadio El Mollinon. Sporting Gijon’s stadium is very sleek looking. Unlike most stadiums which tower over you, the Estadio El Mollinon is much more stealthy and the cladding is similar to a B2 bomber or a modern day battleship.


Playa de Poniente beach in Gijon. Due to the cloudy morning, here were more people in the water surfing in Gijon than were on the beach. There were at least 50 surfers trying to catch a wave and it was the most surfers I have seen yet in any one place.


Statue overlooking Gijon harbour. This statue reminds me of the statue of Christopher Columbus, which overlooks the marina in Barcelona.


Poster showing the location of the Celtic tribes across Europe. I spotted this poster on a bar in Gijon, which unfortunately was shut or else I would have called in for a drink. The writing on the poster says “The land of the seven crosses”. There are 9 Celtic regions mentioned on the map so I don’t understand what they mean by 7 crosses.


First puncture of the day on the outskirts of Gijon. The roads into and out of Gijon are very rough and there is a lot of glass and debris. This puncture was caused by a small piece of glass and was the first puncture on my new bike. It only took about 15 minutes to replace the tube but in that time, dozens of Spanish cyclists stopped asking if I needed help. I later got a puncture on the trailer which was caused by a small piece of wire. I then got totally lost leaving Gijon and cycled for about 5 km in the wrong direction. All these factors made for a frustrating day’s cycling.


Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre in Aviles. Oscar Niemeyer is a Brazilian architect, who is best known for his modernist design for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. This cultural centre was his first project in Spain and was completed in 2011.


Saint Thomas’s church in Aviles. This church caught my eye with it’s double spire so I took a short de-tour into Aviles town centre to get a closer look. I am glad I did as the church is just stunning to see close up and is beautifully located in a lovely town square.


Bolt missing from cleat in my right shoe. Not far from Santa Maria del Mar, I heard a rattling noise come from my right pedal. I stopped but was unable to un-clip my right shoe. I had to un-tie the shoe laces and then use all my strength to remove the shoe from the pedal. When I looked at the cleat in the shoe, it was obvious one of the bolts had fallen out and was missing. This was a disaster as it meant I couldn’t clip in on the right pedal without the shoe getting stuck again. Mountain bike pedals are very uncomfortable to ride if you are not clipped in but without a spare bolt for the cleat, I had no option but to hobble on the bike for about 15 km to the nearest campsite.


Travoy at Camping Cudillero. It was near 8 when I finally made it to the campsite in Cudillero.  It had been probably the worst Sunday of cycling ever on the Tour de Travoy. 2 punctures, a missing bolt from the cleat in my shoe and a late finish made for a frustrating day.


Total cycled Mon June 05th from Cudillero to Ribadeo – 105 km (includes 1,500 m of climbing). Total so far – 1,810 km. 2 words sum up today’s route; helter skelter. The only flat stretch of road I came across I even took a photo.


Small boat at Camping Cudillero campsite. The campsite at Cudillero is just lovely and so well maintained. I love campsites that have something unique and this small boat set in a bed of flowers serves no purpose what so ever but it is just such a beautiful display.


First sighting of wind-turbines in Spain. Surprisingly for such a hilly country, these were the first wind turbines I came across in Spain. I didn’t spot any in the basque Country or Cantabria and it is only as I was approaching Galicia, that I spotted my first sighting of any wind turbines in the Asturias.


Map of the Camino routes from all over Europe in a shop window in Canero. The map shows 6 routes starting in Ireland at Galway, Dingle, Kinsale, Waterford, Wexford and Dublin. There must have been many Irish pilgrims doing the Camino in medieval times when there were 6 starting points. According to the map, some pilgrims traveled by sea to Soulec near Bordeaux, which I passed through on May 20th. But most Irish pilgrims would have traveled to A Coruna before then hiking 65 km to Santiago. You can see from the map above that the Camino del Norte goes through the Asturias and then from Ribadeo directly to Santiago. But my plan was to go from Ribadeo to A Coruna before then going to Santiago, just like most medieval Irish pilgrims.


Camino de Santiago marker for the hiking route. You can see from this marker that the Camino de Santiago footpath is very rough in places. I don’t understand why more hikers don’t pull a trailer behind them rather than carrying a heavy rucksack but I guess rough sections of track make it easier to just carry a back-pack


Will Quintana be Number 1 come the end of this year’s Tour de France. Not far from Luarca, I spotted this sign for the small town of Quintana. The Criterium Dauphine was taking place this week in the French Alps. This is the big warm up race for the Tour de France and all the big contenders were taking part in it except for Nairo Quintana. He was probably home in Colombia recovering aftter finishing second in the Giro d’Italia. No doubt he was watching events at the Criterium Dauphine to see who has the best form. He will have been encouraged by Chris Froome’s poor showing and will be fired up especially when Froome was asked to name his main challengers for the Tour and didn’t mention him saying instead Richie Porte, Romain Bardet and Alberto Contador were the cyclists he was most concerned about.


Herd of sheep near Villuir. I spotted more sheep today than any other day so far in Spain. The sheep in this photo have been clipped already and the ewe on the left looks very thin. The lamb in the centre of this photo has foot rot and you can see that it is holding it’s rear right leg in the air. In Ireland, foot rot is caused by wet weather but even here in Spain, lambs and sheep can get foot rot eventhough there is a lot less rain.


Playa Las Barqueras near Navia. Another day, another stunning shot of a secluded deserted beach in the Asturias. Today was much sunnier than other days in the Asturias but again any beach I passed by was totally deserted.


Eureka bicycle shop in Navia. I had to cycle today about 70 km with only one shoe clipped into a pedal as I had lost a screw in the cleat in my right shoe the day before. This was the first bike shop I went past today and luckily it was open to 7 as it was about 6.30 when I arrived in Navia. The shop owner was very busy working on a treadmill but stopped what he was doing right away and fitted a replacement bolt to the cleat. He also gave me a spare bolt and only charged a fiver. It was great service and I would highly recommend the Eureka bike shop to any other cycle tourists in the Asturias region.


Another day, another closed campsite in the Asturias. My biggest bug-bear with the Asturias region is the number of closed campsites. This campsite in Playa de Tapia had a sign on the wall saying open from June 1st to September 15th but it was clearly still closed eventhough today was June 5th. I wish campsites would cover up their signs if they are closed. I cycled for about 5 km and passed by about 6 signs for this campsite but only realised it was closed when I got to the gates.


Camping Vegamar near Ribadeo. I had to cycle about 5 km into a gale force wind from the closed Camping de Tapia to Camping Vegamar. The wind was by far the strongest I had encountered so far on this Tour and at times, it was like going up Alpe d’Huez it was that strong. As I pulled into the campsite, another family in a caravan were running around trying to tie down their awning from blowing away the wind was gusting that much. The awning was still there the next morning so whatever they did worked.


Another long day’s cycling in the Asturias. When I arrived at the campsite, it was near 9 o’clock but luckily the gates were still open. By the time I had my tent set up, it was after 10 and getting dark. I had spent 3 and half days cycling through the Asturias and 2 of those days were very late finishes all because of closed campsites. Of the 9 campsites I visited in the Asturias, 5 were closed. The coastline in The Asturias is just as stunning and as scenic as Cantabria but my abiding memory of the region is very late finishes and closed campsites. The Asturias has it all but it also has to do much better if it is to realize its potential as a tourist destination.


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