Welcome to the DAY 7 post of my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage by bike which happened on the 31st of May 2015. I did his stage of 81 Km or 50.33 miles from the tiny village of Calzadilla de la Cueza to León in 6h and 24m, of which 5h 16m were of moving time.
I left the hostel that morning just after 8:00am as usual. The first 18 Km on the familiar N-120 were reasonably uneventful. Passed by small villages and towns such as Ledigos, Terradillos de los Templarios, San Nicolas del Real Camino at a reasonably good pace. Just before Sahagún, however, I’ve made a mistake which I am still puzzled how I could have made.
As I was approaching Sahagún on the N-120, just after crossing the river Valderaduey, I saw one of the typical yellow arrows that guide the walking pilgrims and decided to leave the road and take the pilgrim’s route.
Few meters later I came to a small bridge over a creek and there was again a clear yellow sign pointing towards a small chapel passed the bridge, the “Ermita de la Virgen del Puente“. I don’t really understand what led me to ignore the sign and just continue straight ahead. That mistake cost me 35 min and an additional 7.28 Km to what could have been about 2 Km had I continued on the N-120.
Proves that if you just let your thoughts wander too much while on a pilgrimage and don’t pay attention where you are going you will pay for it physically later. There is no mistake, however, that cannot be corrected, so once I realized I was heading the wrong way I took the LE-6707 and rode back to Sahagún. As I crossed under the N-120, there was no point of entry back onto the main road, so I had to ride into the outskirts of Sahagún to get back to the N-120. This was by far not the biggest mistake I´ve made (more on that in later posts), but it got me very pissed anyway. So, if you download the GPX file with the intention of using it to guide you in your pilgrimage, please make a mental note that as you reach the river Valderaduey you should just continue on the N-120 and you will be fine. If you are walking I recommend you follow the yellow signs to avoid the roads.
About 5 Km after I re-joined the N-120, I left it towards Calzada del Coto, crossing through this little village to take a dirt road identified in Google Maps as Via Trajana. There are no ideal road alternatives from that point onwards as the N-120 takes a turn south (and Leon is north) and it is forbidden to cycle or walk in motorways (the A-231 motorway runs parallel to the via Trajana a few Kilometres south). About 9 Km later at around 11am I reached the village of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos and stopped for late breakfast or early lunch, whatever you prefer to call it.
After Calzadilla de los Hermanillos I rode for another 4 Km on tarmac (not very good though) to the point where the road crosses the LE-6620 and then 14 Km on a dirt road all the way to a village called Reliegos.
Those 14 Km were somewhat challenging for me because the sun was hitting me hard and the stones on the path were shaking the bike all the time and making me change tracks from right to left and vice-versa very often. It was in one of these moments that I stopped for a few seconds thinking how much that situation reflected my life (our lives?). We are always looking for the easy way, a way with less stones. I decided then to capture these thoughts in a voice recording, originally with the intention to write about them, but I´ve taken the decision to expose myself a little and share the recording with you. Hope you won´t consider me a fool for doing so. There were several moments in this pilgrimage I felt emotional and this was just one of them.
After Reliegos, the remaining 24 Km to León were all on good tarmac on the LE-6615 and all pretty flat, but I was feeling tired from all the shaking of the previous 14 Km. It took me just over 2 h to reach León. In León I stayed at the Albergue del Monasterio de las Benedictinas (Carbajalas) which was 5€ a night and was very basic. The hostel is maintained by volunteers and you need the pilgrim credentials to stay. It´s essential one large room with slots of 6 bunk beds on the left separated by thin plastic walls.
The hostel is relatively large with 132 beds (66 bunk beds) and the number of bathrooms didn’t seem to be enough. In terms of hygiene it was also not the best in my opinion, but it was OK. If you expect to find a power outlet to charge your electronic devices (phone, etc) good luck. I didn´t find any near to my bed and the place somehow did not inspire in me the confidence to simply leave my gadgets unattended. There is Wi-Fi outside by the reception area, but no Wi-Fi in the room. There is also no lockers or safe places to leave your stuff, but I didn’t have any problems (nothing was missing).
I had dinner in the restaurant in the “hospedaria” which opens at 7pm. The pilgrim’s menu was 9€ and the food was OK (not exceptional though).
Before dinner I walked around the city centre for about 2h. León is a great place. I felt well there. Very interesting gothic architecture and lots of flowers. I walked around the cathedral, but I did not enter it, as I thought I was not dressed in a respectful manner for that type of venue given the mass was just about to start, but from the outside it looks very impressive in all aspects. I’ll add some pictures of my short walk around town on the bottom of the post. The next video is of the cathedral bells calling the faithful for the mass.
Well, that´s it for day 7. Please feel free to leave comments, questions or at least indicate if you like it or not by clicking on the stars on the bottom of the post. Sometimes I have the feeling I am wasting my time here, but I do enjoy the opportunity to travel back in time, in my mind, and relive all those wonderful moments in the Camino.
Photos of León
The Botines Building. Designed by Gaudi.