Despite my friend Mark having a bad back and me still having leg problems, at 10:00am on 6th June we met up in Cangas de Onis to ride the Alto de Torno and Los Lagos de Covadonga. Also joining us was Geoff from San Francisco (who I met via my blog) who was visiting Asturias with his wife, so it was great he could ride with us.
I’d planned the route taking two main things into consideration; firstly the location was good for Geoff who was staying near-by and at the same time it wasn’t too far for Mark to get to. Secondly, it was good preparation for the Sportive Los Lagos de Covadonga that I would be riding the following weekend.
With a few well-chosen alterations by Mark – incorporating the final 50 kms of stage 15 of the 2014 Vuelta a España into the route – we planned to climb the Alto del Torno and of course Los Lagos de Covadonga. A 108km route with 2500 metres of climbing.
Now I haven’t been riding well lately but on that particular Friday I knew I was in trouble from the very first turn of the pedal. I just had nothing in the legs and even the slightest rise in the road would see me struggling. Probably not the best sensation to have when you’re about to climb an HC mountain at the end of a ride. Still, I’m a believer in starting what you finish so I would try my best to get round.
My main concern wasn’t for me but rather that I would hold the other two up, which I certainly did. Geoff turned out to be a good cyclist and it was great to see Mark riding so well after his back problems, but it did mean they would set an impossible pace given my lack of form. Although I just said my main concern was about holding the guys up, which is true, I must admit by the time I started climbing Los Lagos, my concerns had become somewhat more selfish.
It proved to be a great route, with a great combination of very challenging climbs, really fun descents, great coastal flat sections and some stunning scenery. The weather was perfect. It was hot but bearable and for the most part sunny. Although there was a one minute rain shower atop Los Lagos which only proved to be somewhat of a relief from the sun.
The weather up Del Torno was perfect and the scenery spectacular. It’s a nice climb with a nice flat section in the middle before getting pretty tough to the top. The descent is also quite tough as there are three small climbs on the way down which will sap any energy you may have left after climbing el Torno.
After these three small climbs it’s all easy riding to Covadonga and the start of Los Lagos climb. After filling up the water bottles at a road side spring, I said my goodbye’s at the bottom, knowing that I would be dropped within a few pedal strokes. My legs felt terrible when I started the ride but now after 75kms of riding, they felt totally wasted. As I started the climb I began thinking of the best point to stop and turn round and wondered if Mark would check his phone if I sent him a message. I also wondered how often the buses went to the top as I could go back down and catch one of them. With all this thinking, I kind of forgot my legs and suddenly realised I had passed the Huesera, which is the toughest part of the climb (1km long and 15% all the way). It kind of seemed pointless turning round now so I just kept turning the pedals as slowly as I could. Over 1 hour and 30 minutes from the start, I reached the second lake of Los Lagos.
Mark had taken it easy due to his bad back and did great to get up there. Geoff did great, he had found the climb really tough and had suffered at several points on the way up but dug in and still made it ahead of me. It was a great feeling having made it to the top and seeing the other guys, and after a well deserved drink it was nice to head down hill for the ride back to the van.
All in all a great route, a great ride and great company. I would certainly recommend it to anyone but it is a toughy. I have also learnt a couple of things from the ride; men with bad backs can still ride damn fast; no matter how bad my legs feel, it seems I can still get up most things and finally I’ve learnt how Nibali felt always seeing the back of an American, because Geoff was quick.
Route Map and Stats: http://www.strava.com/activities/150194367
Los Lagos Stats: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/lagos-de-covadonga
Alto del Torno Stats: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/alto-del-torno-from-nueva
P.S. I completed the Sportive the Clasica Los Lagos the following week. I didn’t exactly fly round but I felt much better than I did on this ride…… Post and Video of the sportive to follow shortly.