Travel Theme : Pink

Santillan del Mar SpainCycling in Spain will be our way to meet Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge this week. The search is on for PINK.

Warning : This post may cause increased heart rate, sweating and dehydration. Proceed at your own risk.

The quest begins in Santillana. Described as the prettiest Iittle village in Spain, the collection of stone houses wind around three narrow, cobbled roads.

Santillana del Mar Spain

This would be the starting point of our cycling through the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain. Pico translates to peak…summit, pinnacle, high point, bloody tall mountain….you get the drift.

picosdeeuropa_map

On the first day of cycling our Spanish guides arrived with bikes and suggested we should do an ‘easy loop’. We have come to know this warm up means, ” Let’s have a look at all of you and see if we need to carry a defibrillator in the support vehicle.”

Spain

I knew things were off to a challenging start when the guides suggested I take my bike for a bit of a try on the flat spot to see if the seat height was right. In true European style, the flat location they chose for the test varied from my idea of flat by twenty degrees or so.

Picos de Europa Spain

As the ten day tour progressed my cycling jersey was not the only thing that was pink. Just looking at the elevation map for the next day sent my face into a flushed state. In the photo below Hubby and I have left ahead of the group out of the beautiful Posada de Valdeon. Can you see my pink face?

Picos de Europa

There are some things that are certain in life. In this case it would be that since our arrival to the valley was via a steep 10 km descent, unless a helicopter was lifting us out over these Massifs, there was going to be some serious hill climbing in store.  After a flat 200 meter warm up (one would hate to overdo things) the ascending began.

Picos de Europa Spain

Cycling in Spain

With 60 kilometers behind us we reached the town of Potes. I noted on a digital thermometer the temperature read 33 degrees celsius. What remained was a 13 km climb to Liebana near Fuente De. Suffice it to say that at this point all layers of clothing that could be legally removed were long gone

The guide’s additional advice, and this one directed to me, was to take any extra gear or weight off my bike and give it to Hubby to carry. Should he have taken any more he would actually have had my bike perched on his back.

I leave you with my final contribution of PINK from the tenth and final day of cycling with two of three mountain passes completed and the third pass just ahead. With my skin on fire and sweat dripping on the pavement, the guide asked if I wanted to continue.

I asked how many more kms of climbing there were until the descent into our destination of Cabuergina. She thought about 4kms. I told her with a grin that if I had to drag my bike up the final bit I would. ” Oh Suuueee. You are doing so gooood” said the smiling guide.

I believe what she really wanted to say “Oh Suuueee. I am soooo happy I did not need to use the defibrillator!”

Cycling Spain

Do you have a cycling story? I’d love to hear it.

Now a bonus question…who knows what the significance of the pink cycling jersey is?

Map and image #7- Nichols Expeditions

139 thoughts on “Travel Theme : Pink

  1. also – just wanted to say I enjoyed this post – love the first picture the most (with the four large pink blooms in the foreground like that) but also really loved the photo of you coming down – thumb up – fist out – and the Leon sign to the right. :)

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    • Thank you so much for those kind words! It was an amazing trip and the scenery just breath taking. Well in all honesty my breath was ‘taken away’ a great deal of the time. :)
      That thumbs up by the sign was a great capture by the guides. A real feeling of accomplishment.

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    • Lynn let me say I am determined, some would say stubborn :) I will admit that earlier in the trip I climbed into the support vehicle on more than one occasion. However as the days went on I didn’t want to miss a minute of it even if it was very difficult. Sounds odd I’m sure.
      Do you cycle?

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      • Yes, I started cycling a few years ago, I absolutely love it. I totally relate to the red face. Last year was such a hot season & I have several pics that look like my head might just explode at any second!

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        • I find these photos very flattering :) However I also love the feeling of accomplishment it brings. I hate to even think about complaining about being too hot given this past winter however I know it will come. I can definitely relate to the face explosion feeling.

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            • Lynn you are correct. Drake beat you to the answer by a few seconds. Pink is the color of the leader jersey in the Italian cycling tour the Giro. A gift from a friend who got me started in cycling it was to give me strength on the trip. It also was fairly comical since I was at the back of the group.

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              • well I am glad that lynn and drake got the answer – (about the pink shirt) because my next guess was wayyyy off – was going to say that you wore the pink jersey because you like that shade of pink and because you found that it inspired you at times when you needed to dig deep to finish a ride. ha ha (jk)
                have a nice day.

                ~y.p.

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                • Well that would have been a great guess too! I do like pink to brighten the day. Did you notice my pink rain jacket on the summit shot with my husband and I? You see you weren’t so far off after all :) I really appreciate you playing the game and your comments.

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  2. I could feel your pain. Been there, done that in a couple of training camps in Europe. They are a different breed over there and have a totally different concept of flat. I’ve been so faaaaaar behind the pack and shed more than a few tears. Your face in the last picture says it all :) … those pictures showed some wicked climbs.

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    • Well good to know I am not the only one at the back of the pack Joanne. I always say I am getting my money’s worth and taking in the scenery longer. Good for us to get out there I say even if we are not the super stars.
      Perhaps in North America we just have such long expanses of flat compared to hilly or mountainous terrain that flat means long stretches. I think in Europe it might be anything that isn’t an Alp. :)

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  3. You are in good shape to succeed in the climb. They’d need a stretcher for me.
    My biking adventure occurred when I was about ten or eleven. I borrowed my girlfriend’s bike and rode okay to the end of the block on our dirt road, which was a cross road. I tried to turn around in this wide area–we had few cars then–and fell off into the ditch. That was the end of my claim to fame on a two-wheeler. 8-)

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    • Tess I can totally picture that happening. On our farm we had a gravel/dirt driveway and then on to a gravel road where I often turned around. Were you injured in the fall, well more than your pride? Was that the end of the cycling for you?
      As far as a stretcher the guide kept checking in with me to see if I required one. :)

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      • I love your sense of humour. Nice to know help is nearby should it be required. :-)
        My cycling days were numbered anyway because my mother had a fear of kids on bikes.
        When I fell, I scraped my chest and had a fear I’d never grow boobs after that ouch. *twirls forefinger in cheek*

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        • Tess speaking of a good sense of humour! You make me laugh out loud. Well I had not cycled for many years before getting back to it about five years ago. The cycling trips we have had since have been such gifts.
          How many sleeps to China? There should definitely be some bikes there I think.

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          • I’m glad we know how to entertain each other. :-)
            Three and a half sleeps. Plan to catch some shut-eye Thursday afternoon so I can stay awake for airport limo picking me up at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning.
            These darn butterflies are dancing up a storm in my tummy. :-D

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            • Tess I can appreciate your nervousness. It is a big trip and I am so excited for you. My favorite quote of all time from Mark Twain says it all
              “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

              Those butterflies are just telling you the trip of a lifetime awaits.

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  4. Wonderful photos… :-)

    Yeah the number one shirt in the Giro D’italia – I do a lot of mountain biking myself, in not only mountains but in all kind of landscapes – both on and off road – absolutly fascinating and “relaxing”… ;-)

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    • Drake you win the prize! Well there is no prize other than the glory. Yes the leader jersey of the great Italian cycling tour. My friend who got me started in cycling gave me the jersey to wear on this trip. She was not along and wanted me to feel strong and have her with me. Of course the irony is that I was always at the back of the pack.
      Glad to hear you enjoy cycling. I am a road cyclist. With my coordination any off roading would result in a triple flip in an instant. Even less relaxing :)

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  5. Sue. Once again I start my day by reading of your anaerobic adventures in exotic locals, almost spilling my coffee when I start to laugh. Totally loved the final photo. Who took it? Most my bicycling adventures are from the dawn of mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains in the mid 1980s. Pink Biker Chick jersey….for women only?

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    • Dave was the photographer capturing my ‘at the breaking point moment’. He was running about taking photos of breath taking vistas while I stopped for yet another rest. The guy is an energizer bunny I swear.
      Both pink jerseys on the trip were gifts from my friend who got me started in cycling. The plain pink one, seen in earlier shots, is the leader jersey in the Italian tour the Giro. I know, very funny considering my speed. The other in the last photo from San Francisco….biker chick. I imagine guys could wear it too. I love the play on words.
      Now mountain biking….challenging enough to go up and down them on pavement. Add som tree roots, mud a few boulders….yup I would be in the ER of a local hospital lickety split.

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  6. Oh my gosh…..I believe I need a rest now LOL. The only cycling I do is on FLAT ground where nothing more than 3 speeds is necessary and the front basket is cute. Remember…..I’m going for that Julia Roberts look in Eat Pray Love – a gal can pretend. Great photos on depicting ‘pink’.

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    • Ingrid although the bike has 27 speeds I seem to utilize the bottom three a great deal of the time. :) I love cycling along our flat path by the river too. Not everything needs to be about mountain climbing. I love the vision of you riding along with your basketed bike and stopping to capture those magnificent birds. Thank you for you kind comment which I always appreciate.

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  7. Sue, I’m not sure which I find more challenging, a constant ascent or rolling hills. I guess it depends on how you like your medicine. But this comment is coming from a flatlander, so take it with as many grains of salt as necessary. At least, with a constant ascent, you know what’s going to happen next – up, up, up, and you can pace yourself. But with rolling hills, you go up to go down to go up to go down … And it’s a freaky law of nature that the downhills are somehow shorter than the uphills. Anyway, that last photo says it all. ~James

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    • I get what you are saying James. In Slovenia last year there was more rolling than constant long up hills. Sometimes the steepness of a short hill was like a slap in the face; an unexpected assault on the legs. When you know you are going to climb for 10-15 kms you can get in the head space of one pedal stroke after another and of course the glorious feeling at the summit.
      Have you and Terri ever done a cycling trip?

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      • No Sue, I’m the cyclist, and all my touring has been in the US. We’ve done some backpacking, but only in the US. We’ve never gotten over the mental hurdle of gear hassles when it comes to international travel. As you may have gathered, we travel lean and mean, and after all these years, it’s gotten into our blood. ~James

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        • Well James I have the answer! Dave and I do carry on only for our European cycling trips and that includes our helmets and bike shoes. We rent the bikes there which are really reasonable.
          Like you we are dedicated carry on only travelers and can do laundry in the tiniest of sinks.
          Think of the blog material you would have. :) That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

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  8. Sue: Timely post on the Picos de Europa as Cherie informed me this morning that the cycling route for today was too flat. I think we to send her back to Spain for routes that might satisfy her thirst for a few hills. Good memories of a great adventure. Thanks

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    • Too flat?! Good grief she is getting way too fit. When you get back to Canada I am tying my bike to hers. That should provide some challenge :) Or back to the Picos in the blazing sun, that would likely suffice. Looking forward to the next one. It’s flat in Tuscany right?

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      • Yes, flat at the top of the hills. Everyday ends with a ride up to the town where you will stay that night. But at the top, the beer and wine seems to taste better!

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        • Ahhh…the prize awaits like a carrot at the end of the stick. My recollection of every village and town in Italy I that they were perched on a summit. I think I see some hill training in my future :)

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  9. Love the post and the photos. My caption for the last one is “Are we having fun yet?” I have an idea for future cycle trips. Bring along some tap shoes. My brother used to make me wear mine as we cycled the hills of Los Angeles. Me on the back of his banana seat. As we started to race downward, he would yell for me to drag my heels on the pavement. We both loved watching the sparks fly as we sped down the hill ;) What were the neighbors thinking???

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    • Wendy your brothers certainly kept you busy with their antics! What would they have done without you? Sparks flying from tap shoes? Oh my goodness that is creative. Did you ever get burned?
      I will say that at the moment before my husband snapped that final photo there was another with my head in my hands. Your title fits very well there as well. :)

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    • Slowly…that’s how I ride up those climbs. :) Just on pedal stroke at a time and try to breathe deeply and enjoy the wonders of exploring a country. Thanks for the kind words about the photos. You never know when pink will come in handy.

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    • Oh in Italian no less! Yes the pink jersey of the leader in the Giro. A good wish from my friend who introduced me to cycling, so I would be strong on the trip. Well I can say I was never the leader but it provided encouragement.
      Looking at the photos i was tired too Stefy. Definitely brought back many memories

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  10. Well, I’m late enough to have the answer to the pink jersey question there for me (I had zero ideas of my own). You do look like you’ve just cycled up a pretty steep incline in that last shot. The image that’s staying with me, though, is the imaginary one of you cycling piggy-back on top of your husband.

    You still put me to shame :) .

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    • Yes the pink jersey was a good quiz. Before I started cycling I would have had no idea. Our first cycling trip was to Italy and it was while the Giro was on. School children would hang out of the bus windows going buy cheering us on yelling ” Giro, Giro!” They could have been calling me a giraffe for all I knew at the time.
      As far as Hubby piggybacking me on his bike that doesn’t seem to much to ask does it?

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    • It is a beautiful area and I remember Reading Rick Steve’s recommendation that the best way to see the Picos is by car. No kidding :) pretty challenging for me but a fabulous trip none the less.

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        • Haha no I don’t think he was writing from a cycling perspective. I just kept chuckling at the thought of that line in the guide book when I was feeling like a cardiac arrest was imminent. The guides were great and it was fun, especially the Spanish food and refreshments at the end of a hard day :)

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    • Thank you! I am the poster girl for ‘trying hard’. I can assure you that I am the slowest on these tours but have come to be all right with that. So many wonderful adventures out there. I joke a lot about the defibrillator. Thankfully have never actually needed it :)

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    • That made me laugh out loud! I think the guide thought a stretcher might be more appropriate for me at times. It was really beautiful and of course the food and refreshments helped me forget the challenges of the mountain passes. :)

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  11. Ah, you really made my heart to palpitate with your pictures, especially the last one with your beet red face ;) I love cycling as well and my endurance is slowly increasing these days with regular work-outs..but it’ll be a while before I can start doing mountain biking though! Your grit and determination is so infectious that I am actually considering trying it out later this year :)

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  12. wow, that really sounds like an awesome adventure. Love those pictures of the mountains and the pink hyacinths. What beautiful scenery! I know the feeling of triumph when you complete something that’s really hard, and those red faces from the heat! Been there. I have never been on a cycling tour but my husband and I cycle a lot during vacations. So once we were in Door County Wisconsin and it started raining while we were out. Every inch of us was completely soaked. I was really worried for my camera. But it was bone dry when I got home!

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    • Thanks so much for that lovely and enthusiastic comment which I appreciate. Cycling in pouring rain is really tough isn’t it? Good for you to push through it and I can imagine you were worried about your camera. We have a waterproof camera which gives some peace of mind on such occasions. We had one day of downpour last fall I Slovenia. I felt like my cycling shoe were more like flippers!

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  13. I laughed all the way through, but I do sympathize with you. Loved the beautiful pictures, but I hate to be the one to tell you, your face wasn’t exactly pink. I believe RED would have described it much better. Love to cycle but I can’t ever find anyone who wants to ride with me, so no great stories to tell and if I did, they’d pale in comparison to yours.

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    • Donna Jean don’t tell Ailsa! Yes I believe red would be the more accurate shade but let’s keep it between us. Too bad you can’t find anyone who would like to cycle with you. I do some training on my own but definitely is more fun with someone. As far as stories well you may not want to have some of the ones I do. :)

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  14. sono una grande appassionata di mountain-bike ed apprezzo molto le vostre performance ciclistiche, oltre che le vostre foto favolose
    buon giorno

    I am a great passion for mountain-biking and I really appreciate your cycling performance, in addition to your fabulous photos

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