The Somiedo Loop

Well it’s been a while since my last post but work and family demands have left me with little time to ride let alone write about it.

I’ve still managed to sneak in a few nice rides over the last month, the most spectacular being the Somiedo Loop.

I had actually put my name down to ride the first running of the Clasica de Somiedo, a gruelling sportive that goes round the loop and then finishes atop the Farrapona (the finish of stage 16 of the Vuelta 2014). I was having second thoughts about taking part as the route was a little out of my league. Unlike the Los Lagos de Covadonga Sportive, where there were 4000 participants, the Clasica de Somiedo was going to be only 150 riders, so the chance of being last or being swept up by the Broom Wagon was a real possibility.

There was only one way to find out if I was up to the task and that was by doing a test ride of the route. Once again, I managed to talk my good friend Ian into riding it with me and after parking up in a lay-by near Somiedo we set off still a little nervous at what lay ahead of us. After only about 10 minutes of riding we stopped at a bar for coffee and were easily convinced to accept the offer of jam and toast from the barman.

Now well dossed with caffeine we headed off again. From the town of Somiedo it’s about 12km’s to the top of the Puerto de Somiedo. It’s a beautiful climb and the views are stunning all the way up. It’s not a particularity hard climb but the gradients do stay pretty consistent at around 6.5% for the whole 12 k, with a little ramp of about 10% near the top.

Road to Somiedo

The climb of El Puerto de Somiedo

From there it was down into Leon and along toward the Puerto de Ventana. You climb back into Asturias via the Puerto de Ventana but from the Leon side it’s not too difficult as it’s only about 6km long and averages about 5% (it’s 20km long from the Asturias side and averages 6%).

Road to Ventana

Stunning scenery up to Ventana

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Ian almost at the top of Ventana

After the long descent of the Ventana we reached Terverga. Suddenly there were crowds of people and loads of cyclists everywhere. It turned out there was a Sportive going on and the finishing line was on the road that we needed to take to continue on our route. We grabbed a coffee hoping it would soon be over but when we had finished the sportive was still going.  We tentatively road toward the finishing line, hoping nobody would mistake us for competitors when suddenly the commentator announced over the loud speaker that two riders from Nava (we had our Nava2000 kit on) were now finishing and people started clapping. We tried to make it look like we weren’t part of the race but there wasn’t a lot we could do and people must of thought it strange as we sped up and disappeared into the distance. Shame I didn’t have the camera on at the time, it was pretty amusing.

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Ian waiting at San Lorenzo

We were still feeling pretty good considering we’d ridden 80k, with 30k of that being up mountains, but that was soon to change. The problem with doing the loop that way round, is that you have to climb the San Lorenzo late on in the ride. All seemed to be going well until about 6km from the top. Here the gradients go up to 12% and seemed to stay like that all the way to the top. I have an uncanny ability to go really slowly without falling off so only just about made it to the top. Ian, bravely struggled to the top getting there just ahead of me, were I found him sitting, exhausted.

Road to San Lorenzo

The road to San Lorenzo

 

 

After a short rest it was all downhill to Riera and then a gentle 5 k climb back to the car. Any thoughts of climbing the Farrapona had well and truly gone out the window.

Could I have made it up the Farrapona? well I reckon I could have but we’ll never know. The ride had made one thing quite clear though; that if I did take part in the Clasica de Somiedo it would take me about 8 hours and I would come dead last. I did still toy with the idea of doing it but as it turned out I got a chest infection and wasn’t able to take part, something I certainly wasn’t too upset about.

The ride with Ian was fantastic. The 5 toughest kilometres up San Lorenzo were probably the hardest I have ever ridden, but getting to the top felt like a great achievement. The views are amazing virtually all the way round  but particularly up the climbs. It really is a must do route, but be aware it’s not for the faint hearted.

Despite San Lorenzo, Ian seemed to really enjoy the ride and I really appreciated his great company. I can’t wait for our next epic riding adventure and I’m sure I will be doing the loop again next year when my friend Mark comes over, but he’ll make us go up the Farrapona as well.

I will be adding the route to the route section shortly and the Somiedo climb to the climb section, but until then, here is the Strava link to the ride. http://www.strava.com/activities/200159729