Because I am now on the plains of Spain I always had intended in doing high mileages on this stretch and catching up on my schedule. The aim was Zomora but I failed by 40 k’s. The road now stretches away into the distance very slightly undulating, huge open fields on either side but it was the wind in my face that ‘done me in’. I got off my bike to give me a break at about 7 o’clock in the evening and just could not get back on. Luckily, there was a ruined barn at the side of the road so put the tent up in the lee of it. By 9 had reported into ‘wife control’ and quick boil-in-the-bag meal and went to bed, no surprise, I was soon asleep.
Slept until mid-morning and its now scorching HOT!
Now when camping in a hot country a good idea is to get up fairly early and get a couple off K’s in, before the sun gets too high . Well it’s passed 9 am and I am aware of the most ridiculous heat on my tent. It is boiling hot which does not make a great start to the day having to pack away the tent and muttering to myself about ‘sleeping in’. If only that was the only problem, jumping on the bike I soon realised that the back tyre was flat. The road had nowhere even to lean my bike, so I walked it to the next village. What I needed was - shade, plenty of water, and a bench. Amazingly that is what I got. The village had a small football pitch in a park - and that was being watered. Next to it was a game court - sorry don’t know what the game is called but the court consists of two large walls about 30 feet tall players alternately hit the ball against the wall - looks like an outdoor version of squash. Well anyway a young lad was practising on it and soon got me right about a hidden water tap at the entrance to the park. That however, was the only good point about the day. I did not check the tube before putting it on the bike and had great difficulty in keeping the tyre inflated I found 5 punctures! I would ride about 5 ks and tyre would go flat. Eventually got fed up with it a tried to put a patch on the other (punctured) inner tube but that was just as bad as the hole was right next to the value and could not get the bloody patch to stick. Having to constantly pump up the tyre - the heat - no where to lean the bike - it was becoming a nightmare. What was certain was the schedule was now right out of the window. Surprisingly, for me it brought me a inner calmness. It was something I had to just get on with - I now needed a new back tyre as riding it semi-flat had now put splits in the wall.
Another long road - this one I was on for three days!
It was a long 30 kms to Zamora. Worse, was that Zamora was a fairly large city, so the suburbs and industrial estates seemed never to end. Eventually, I arrived at one of these out-of -town shopping places. Large car park in the middle and the usual large shops around the edge - you know the sort McDonald’s, Furniture shops with permanent sales etc. Every kind of shop one needs except of course a bike shop. Anyway McDonald’s was calling me. I went over there and outside was about four teenage kids - all on BMX bikes, one of the lads had a puncture. I was going to speak to them when they spoke to me first (not a communal language between us) Soon established they needed a pump - but mine was no good as the valve end was not right for a BMX . I asked about where Decathlon was (the billboards coming into town indicated one was in Zomara) and was told they were now going there as well. So it was that the most unusual convoy went off to seek Decathlon. Amazing it was only about 2 km’s away. So I got a new tyre, two new inner tubes and a host of cycle clothes that was in the sale bin. Soon had everything in full working order - a great relief. Now off to find somewhere to sleep.
The old town of Zamora is on a hill and the church stood proud over the whole area so that was a good beacon for me. I knew there was a Pilgrims hostel nearby. Could I find it? - I could not - up and down the narrow streets of the old town I went - not a sign. Having passed a busker playing flamingo on a guitar about 6 times - on the seventh time I saw he has stopped for a rest. So I asked him if there was a hostel nearby. He had no English, so drew me a map - and amazingly (have a look at the map) I found an ideal place. The hostel was in a large block of flats - they allowed me keep my bike in the room - which was again off excellent value. So I hit the ancient town of Zamora on a Friday night. Soon discovered there was a small festival going on in the main square. Watched the cider sellers pouring out their drinks, which they did by holding the bottle above their heads and pouring it into a glass without looking at it. There was lots of strangely dressed people in medieval costume and a strange version of bagpipes. Early in the evening there was possession to church which also was weirdly medieval.
Friday night in Zamora appears not have changed for several hundred years
I stopped and asked a busker where a hotel was - he very kindly drew me a map which equalled his confusing verbal instructions