Day 6: To Navarra and back with two flat tires! MapMyRide Link
My last day of riding I went out with a nail, overheated tire explosion, and completely exhausted! Nevertheless, I loved every minute of it.
I started the morning by picking up my 10€ from the Topo customer service office. Que eficaz! I then practiced my favorite phrase is Euskera that I I must have repeated a dozen times with my roommates: Kafe esnea izotzaki
Then, I was off towards Goizueta! However, getting out of Donostia and onto the right camino o bidi gorri is never a simple task for a foreigner. I got a bit off track and ended up following another cyclist to Andoain – completely in the wrong direction. However, everything happens for a reason because all of a sudden I heard the thuds of a flat tire! My new friend, Juan Luis, helped me to find my way to a taller de bici where they quickly switched out the pierced tube with my back-up tube. I also realized just how far off course I was at this point! So with the help of the taller y Juan Luis my Rosita and I headed back to Hernani to catch the Ereñotzu Auz towards Navarra! And, it surprisingly didn’t take long to cross the border from Guipúzcoa to Navarra.
After a few water stops I finally made it to Goizueta! This small town was absolutely worth the all the hills! I found a great restaurant and ordered a steak with eggs dish for a very hungry girl. Within minutes I was chatting it up with almost everyone sitting out in the plaza. Goizueta is one of the friendliest pueblos. 🙂 I received tips from everyone on how to best get back to my bike rental shop, learned some more Euskera, and even humored some by speaking a bit of English. I will definitely return to Goizueta one day!!
From here I sped off towards Donostia realizing that my time was running tight to return my Rosita before 19:00. I was riding to my fullest, pushing hard up the mountains and leaning into the downward hills when suddenly I heard a loud pop! Looking down my back-up tube must have completely exploded from the heat! I hopped off and luckily saw a cafe-bar around the corner. They let me know that we were only 5km from Hernani, but without any taller de bici within reach. They offered to drive me to Hernani to catch a train if I could wait another 15 minutes. Time was not on my side so I decided to try my luck at hitchhiking. The good ol thumb didn’t work and there just weren’t many cars out in this pueblo of pueblos! So, I decided to start walking the 5km. I actually ended up jogging most of it and finally made it to Hernani! I was one tired tia!
Here I asked around a bit and they said the best option was to take the Cercanias train a few stops until I could transfer to the Topo that could then take me to Kili bikes. I got my ticket and with a few minutes to kill I decided it would be best to give a heads up to Kili that I might not make it before 7pm. Thanks to Boni, my roomate, he Googled the phone number for me and I got in touch with the shop. I explained my situation and they kindly offered to pick me up in Donostia at the train station so that I would haven’t to change to the Topo.
So, here at the same train station where I had arrived just a week ago with my group of students, I said my Agures to Rosita 2.0 with two flat tires and both ready to retire.
I walked just a few manzanas to my apartamento with just enough time to get ready for the fiesta de cumpleaños de Boni! The theme was marinero/sailor and luckily Maite had made us some sailor caps for the night!
I also realized that daily bike routes while sleeping in one apartment can be just as fulfilling as a longer Bicigrino! Furthermore, I am now convinced that the best way to get to know any new region is by bike!
I can’t wait for what my next biciviaje will be.
A special shout out to all of those that put the wind in my sails throughout the week:
Maite y Boni
Aitor y Anartz
Day 5: La maquina que comió mi 10€..Igeldo/Orio
After hanging with my sobrinamiga for most of the afternoon, I decided that I would have to go for a much shorter route than normal. So around 6 pm I headed out toward Igeldo! Along the route I ran into my roommate and then two of the girls from our group. I almost collided with a random biker that suddenly decided to turn in front of me and I had to pay a toll to enter the town of Igeldo. It says: to walk our roads you have to pay a toll..fíjate!
Once i got through the ancient amusement park area I cruised along the coast towards Orio! At One point i though I was sweating again like the Niagara Falls. But, it turned out to be raining! Bai! I love a little rain appreciating the importance of if for the vibrant basque region.
I slowed my downward roll and inhaled the crisp aroma of rain! Before long I arrived at the Orio Topo station.
I confidently pulled out my 10€ bill, fed it to the machine and it was spit right out. I gave it a good flattening against the side of the machine and tried my luck again. Red lights started to flash and the machine erupted with beeps. This Cookie Monster digested my bill and was not going to give it back. After talking on the intercom for quite a while I arranged for a 10€ pick up the next day in Donostia and in the meantime had missed the free train ride that they offered. Seeing that the next train wouldn’t arrive for another hour, I thought I could beat that time with my trusty Rosita!
Off I went with probably one of my best times yet as I the rain had seemed to stop? and I had a outdoor movie date with my two roommates!
Making it in an hour exactly drenched by the rain, I knew that the outdoor movie had been cancelled. But, Boni cooked up a delicious meal and we all happily consumed a warm dinner and stayed in with Flemin (the house mascot) to avoid the rain!
I just love my roommates! It was good to back in su piso!
Today I want to give a shout out to my incredible AirBnB host, Maite! She is an architect and artist who has put a lot of effort into the decoration of her vintage home! You can see her personal webpage here and her AirBnB rental here! Maite is known for her artwork using magazine cutouts. The closet in this photo she designed with magazine cutouts!
So, on to my ride! I always start the morning prepping my Rosita y mochila! Full water, both cell phones, wallet, and swimsuit! Check. From here I go to a local Ogi berri and practice my newly learned Euskera phrases. They always laugh at me and then help me with my pronunciation. Here is what I have used so far:
Good morning: Egun on
One coffee please: Kafe Bat Mesedes
Thank you: Eskerrik Asco
Good Bye: Agur
Tonight my goal is to try this one when I order red wine: Beltz bat Mesedes
TOPo of the morning to you!
Once Rosita and I hopped off I immediately asked the first person I saw how to start my trek to Aia. He said do you prefer very steep climbs through quaint villages or do you prefer a slow steady climb without the villages. I chose steep villages! Off I went and within the first couple of kilometers I came to a fork with no sign for Aia! Luckily the correos (post woman) was making her rounds and pointed me up a very very steep grade!
I lasted only a few minutes and decided to walk up this one grade that was a killer! Eventually I jumped back on and pushed forward! I’ve honestly never been on such grades and by the 8th kilometer it seemed like the cows were even unimpressed with my turtle speed!
One creepy looking dog motivated me to step up a bit, especially after he started to follow me! I’ll never forget when a dog starting nipping at my legs on the Bicigrino de Santiago al Norte! I don’t have the best luck with dogs as you can see from the two scars on my chin!
Once I distanced myself from the dog danger zone, I found myself dripping sweat like the Iguazu. So, I took another break to snap some breathtaking photos! This scenery is honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen!
After pushing myself to the limit, I finally made it. What an incredible town.
I went to a Kafe shop to freshen up my energy and luckily found myself next to two basque boys, Aitor y Anartz, eager to help me along my journey! They gave me several tips about how to continue my loop, more rides that I must do in Navarra, and how to say a few more words in Euskera! I had so many questions that our conversation turned into a 3.5 hour lunch! With these fellow educators we had a 3 course menú and topped it off with bakibat while watching the Tour de France! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Thanks to their advice and the additional help from the restaurant jefa, I curved up and around the church and followed the signs towards Asteasu. This neverending enchanting road embraced you within blankets of broad branches and lavish leaves. It was more like a natural tunnel of trees that seemed to time warp you into an alternate reality. This was by far my best ride yet!
After coming down from this natural high I ended up in Andoain and things got a little confusing as I was determined to stay on the Bidi Gorri to get back to Donostia! But, due to the many breaks on the Bidi Gorri, I had to ask for a lot of guidance. And, as always, the basque stepped right up to point me in the right direction!
Day 3: Donastia – Minas!!!!
Thanks to my very friendly roommates, they recommended that I try out the Minas (mines)! And, I have to say that today was one of my best rides yet!
There is a bidegorri (red bike path in Euskera) that takes you to luscious green parks, through old mining tunnels, along serene rivers, and over all types of bridges. When you arrive you carry your bike up to several swimming holes and mini waterfalls sitting next to mine ruins!
A protected bike trail from the city to this -my idea of perfection!
To top it off I happened to meet another biker along the way that has biked over 200,000 km in his lifetime! He gave me several tips and guided me to the best swimming holes and then to the plaza of Oiartzun! Eskerrik asko Juan Jo!!
Today was just excellent! One of my top 5 biking days yet! I may have to repeat this one again with more time to try a restaurant highly recommended called Tolare and to spend more time in the plaza of Oiartzun! I may also extend my ride up to Arichulegi as another cyclist recommended!
But, tomorrow I’m off to Aia – also a top recommendation by other cyclists and my roommates! 🙂
A very happy camper!
Day 2: France or bust! Pedal roto..espíritu en tacto!
“Joder…what is wrong with this pedal or mi pié!” was my first thought. Every stroke of my right pedal felt as if someone had hidden a pea under the right side of the ball of my foot. Is it my shoes? Is it the strap of the pedal? Is my foot deformed? I must have stopped a dozen times and came to the conclusion that these strap pedals are simply uncomfortable! So, getting out of my comfort zone I carried on! Soon I found myself at the base of Jaizkibel and my roomate had warned me that I was in for quite a mountainous climb. However, within the first minute I noticed this strange rotation feeling had grown from a pea to a plum! So I decided to take a closer look and the metal pedal plumped into the palm of my hand!
“No me digas!” I was now fully talking to myself en voz alta! I did my best to relocate and re-rotate the pedal into its socket, but this was not looking good. I turned around and started my pedestrian hassling. Luckily the first person I came across (a mother casually grasping the grip of a stroller) knew of a taller de Bicis! She gave me almost perfect directions although I still asked at least 3 more people along the way! My nerves were in command!
Finally I arrived and was yelled at immediately for walking my Rosita rota almost straight through the store to the workshop area. I was on a mission to France! They took one quick look and said that this whole pedal unit can’t be fixed and that the rental shop will have to replace the entire gear unit! What!! Ugh..Francia fail! The child buried deep within me wanted to throw a mini tantrum. But, adult adventurer Sarah knew that any attitude right now would simply not be good for my blog post 😉 so, I found myself to the ‘Topo’ (yet another modern, clean, sleek transportation option in Spain). Within a very smooth 30 minutes I was all the way back at the rental shop.
I walked in with the pedal in my hand and said ‘ha caído’
So, the serious and sheepish gentleman dove right in and kept mumbling ‘que raro’. After some time he decided that it would be best that I have a different bike. I took advantage to request a smaller size so I wouldn’t feel like I was in child’s Yoga pose stretching my arms to an almost superman like stance! I’ve finally learned my bike size – 47!
So, I jumped right back onto the Topo and returned to the very spot of my broken pedal!
Francia Take 2!
From here I started on my trek to Francia just a few hours off schedule!
Jaizkibel is no joke! I huffed up to a cemetery and thought, bury me now folks! And then I realized that I never remember seeing a cemetery on my route. Lost again! Luckily I overheard a a family having a lunch just next to this mysterious graveyard buried deep into the mountainside. I revved up the courage to ask how to get to France. – such a strange sounding question, don’t you think! They resurrected my spirits and redirected me to some very narrow roads that no cars can climb! I loved it. I was right there with the cows, sheep, and horses!
One poor sheep had somehow escaped from the large fenced off mountainside. S/he was bonkers trying to jump over the fence, which always ended up with a vertical trampoline like bounce back into the street. I couldn’t handle watching what could be a YouTube viral hit and had to do something. So with my new Rosita, I tried to corral this wild sheep down towards a gate that I might be able to open. I don’t know if you have ever tried to corral a sheep, but it is no easy task! It would run in all different directions, up and down the street, side to side. It clearly thought I was out to consume, not help. (Sounds oddly similar to the stereotype of the American giri).
Two cyclists passed by. One didn’t seem to care at all that this poor animal (me) and the sheep were running frantically all over the place. The second biker said hola and then just looked at me like I was crazier than the sheep!
At this point the sheep sprinted up the inclined street again until it was almost out of sight! I then realized that I could potentially spend all day trying the save the day and would probably have no success. So, Rosita and I cruised on and it hit me that I was officially over the hill! I was on my way down down down to Hondarribia (the last city before France)!
Once I arrived I had to ask more people on how to get to the barcito (little boat) to France! Everyone is so nice when you are completely clueless to your whereabouts! I eventually got the barcito and 1,65€ later I was in France!
I was so excited for creperies, bakeries, etc..but, all I found was a very touristy strip of low quality and overpriced plain foods. I asked the tourist office if I could find some more local cuisine or plazas and they said no! Very anticlimactic to say the least! There wasn’t even a picture worthy spot in my opinion!
So I only stayed for a bit and jumped back on the Topo to home! Yes, the very local transit system even goes to and from France! We are so behind in the U.S.!
I was exhausted when I got home, but still mustered up the energy to go to one of my favorite pintxo bars: Bodega Donastiarra
After some guindilla y ardoa I fell in love with Donostia all over again!
Day 1: Kili Bike shop- Zarautz. My first step today was finding a bike shop with road bikes! Yesterday a small bike shop recommended that I go to Kili Bike on the outskirts of San Sebastián/Donostia. They were right on. Here I got a very nice bike and a run down of all the routes.
But, before I hit the road, I had to make a quick stop in Decatlon to get the proper bike shorts. I got fairly confused trying to get myself to Decatlon, even though I asked every pedestrian in sight where to go. (With no smart phone service you have to rely on old fashioned questioning!! – which I absolutely love). Anyway, back on track with my story..the adventure to Decatlon was definitely worth the effort. Their bike shorts/shirts are good quality and very affordable. Plus, the bike repair section offered to watch my bike while I shopped. Having rented an extremely nice bike (as it was the only one for my short stature), they recommended that I always take it inside stores and have it in sight.
After changing into my new uniform, I talked to some random nearby customers to help me figure out where I was on my map. I realized that I was already on the road toward Zarautz- One of the top 3 recommended bike routes. “Second exit in the round-about” sounded so easy until I saw two round abouts! Haha. By using the process of elimination I integrated myself with the motos and cars by following the red signs to Usurbil! I love how the road signs are color coded and have a very specific number sequence: N-634!
There was often a narrow bike lane, which gave me some relief as there were quite a few curves along N-634. As I started to approach Orio the scenery become a lush green interrupted by a gorgeous river. After seeing the 4th set of bikers coming in the opposite direction I decided it was time to flash the California cycling symbol that I learned recently along highway 1, the “hang loose”. So, I gave it a go and it turned out to be to the two cyclist that I had met earlier that day in the shop. One guy is from Brazil and the other from Donostia! They gave me a big ol ‘ole’ and within seconds we were both out of sight! When I crossed the bridge in Orio, I took an opportunity to get my first scenery shot and was pleased to see that I only had another 6 km until Zarautz!
So, I happily jumped back on my Rosita and suddenly realized that I had a massive hill to climb! Gear down, gear down, gear down….oh how the sounds and sensations change when you are pushing your body up a steep hill. You notice your body posture shifting with each stroke, you feel your lungs expanding, and the drops of sweat forming under the rim of your helmet. You contemplate whether it is best to focus on what might be the top of the hill or the cracked asphalt getting consumed by your leisurely front tire. Then you realize that at the pace you are going you acheive both within one rotation.
And alas! The crest. You reshift, glance over your tanning shoulder for traffic, and launch! Your body suddenly feels smooth and light. The sound of delicate motion fills the air. I slow my speed to maintain a controlled caution and arrive.
After talking to a few different pedestrians to ask about best lunch spots and how to get there I find my self on the Bay of Biscay with surfers attacking the waves! I settled down into a reasonably priced ‘menu’ with shade and a spot for Rosita. For 10€ they give you a three course meal and an entire bottle of wine (which you take home if you can’t finish)! Zarautz al cielo!