…was mostly downhill. The first 25km and the last 20km. But that middle 15km was a killer! We had agreed to an early start of 730am so I was awoken gently by Jonny at 630 and we were quickly packed away and off on time. It was a great start with a swift 20km in an hour, despite a few tunnels we were not allowed in because the detour was a beautiful downhill through some idyllic villages. At one point the road was blocked by some self herding sheep! And then the big tunnel. This was an up and over job for us, and when I say ‘up’ I mean it. In 10km we climbed 600m, more than yesterday, and much steeper roads.
The switchbacks bought back memories of the Alps, but I think this may have been slightly harder? Belate was the name of today’s mountain, and it was beautiful. Very green and shady, and full of birds. I saw three kites and a flock of about 10 jays. Communication hadn’t worked so well within the group so I didn’t see the others for about 2hrs, but we were soon reunited at the top for a break. I was exhausted, and we hadn’t bought lunch before so I was getting hungry. thankfully the early start meant that it was still only just 12 so there was still time.
The next 6km was a straight fast roll down hill. More beautiful scenery but I saw less as we flashed by. The next 14km or so was a steady up and down, which I just about managed; slowly. We arrived at Camping Ezcaba, about 6km outside of Pamplona. The question was whether we head into Pamplona to find a closer campsite, or stay here, which would mean another 6km ride there and back for the evening. Pete was the hero and cycled up to the site to see if there were any closer. There weren’t, so the choice was made for us.
It was roasting, and after putting up the tents and having a shower and some food I did not want to do anything. However, there was a bus to Pamplona leaving in 10mins so we went for it.
It turns out that the bus stop was much further than 10mins walk away, so we missed the bus and got a taxi instead! I will write a separate report on Pamplona I think, but for the first hour or so it was too hot, we were too tired, and therefore we were not impressed! After dinner however, and in the cool of the evening it all seemed much better. We found a spot in the Citadel to sit and chat, right in front of a stage with the promise of live music. The Major loves the card game Hearts! He is pretty good at it too, apparently thanks to a lack of work during sixth form. As we played, the live music started; a great mouth-organ jazz trio. A lovely soundtrack to a lovely relaxed evening. We then walked back through Pamplona and appreciated it much more.
Back at the campsite we were all in bed pretty quickly, and asleep quickly too.