Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cycling in Asturias 3: The mountain lakes

Cycling up to the mountain lakes: Enol and Ercina, near the Western Massif in the heart of the Picos National Park forms part of the toughest challenges within "La Vuelta"  the Spanish cycling tour. This is the third time I have cycled up to the lakes.

There are several routes I enjoy cycling from la Pasera that help me prepare for this yearly challenge. One of these routes is a circular tour that takes me up to "El Fito" viewing platform at 680 m high, within the Sueve mountains that offers stunning views down the Asturian coast and towards the Picos mountains. Approaching El Fito from the north side is a tougher route as you gain the altitude over a shorter distance.

On this occasion, I approached the climb from the south side. I cycled along the river Sella until I reached the town of Arriondas where I took the road up to El Fito, this is a road where every year an international car rally takes place during May.

Whilst cycling up this road the hard work is more endurable due to the natural beauty of the deciduous forest it runs through, the sound of the river water rushing down in the valley below, the numerous birds and the luscious vegetation and flora you can appreciate as you peddle...hard.

Eventually, the northern pine tree and eucalyptus become the main tree on the mountain while the scenery opens up in front of you to reveal the car park at the base of the rocky outcrop where a few steps take you up to the viewing platform. Depending on the weather, you may encounter herds of the Asturcon horse, a semi wild and rather small horse that has its stronghold within these mountains.

The way down is a vertiginous free ride until you reach the coastal plane near the stunning beaches of La Isla and Espasa. The temptation is to take a small detour and enjoy the quiet beaches at this time of the year before taking the quiet coastal road that would eventually take me back to Ribadesella and back home. Once I have done this route, I feel ready to cycle up to the lakes on a day the weather is not forecast to be too hot.

Cycling up to the lakes is always a challenge but not as difficult as when you do it for the first time. My younger brother joined me this time. We took the train from home to Arriondas town so that we would only have just over one hour cycling before we started the 12 km, 1100 m ascent that would take us to the lakes. We did it non stop. As I have done it before, I knew what to expect but still had a moment when I was tempted to turn back and we were only half way up and about to face the toughest part of the ride, the La Huesera incline. Overcoming tiredness and 90 minutes later, we reached the lakes with a big euphoric smile on our faces and a great sense of achievement. The distant snow covered peaks were shrouded in cloud and after we rested and took in the scenery, we started the return - 90 Km we cycled in total.

After a nice shower and bathing our thighs in cold water we were ready to go out and celebrate our achievement. We intend to do it all again next year if you fancy joining us. For us it is a question of enjoying the experience and I would not like to do one of the several competition many join during the seasons.

We will be doing it all again next Spring so... Get your bike out and begin your training. 

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