Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.


By Stuart Lowe on

I had an early start this morning to try to get some miles in before it got too hot. My first problem was that a bike route claimed on my map could only be accessed by steps. That wasn't going to happen. So I went back around to the road. Up it went so progress was slow.

I set off early this morning.

There were plenty of Camino pilgrims already out walking the road so I passed quite a few. Then, as I was sailing down the other side: whooooosh. Air went from my rear tyre. I came to a stop to avoid damaging the wheel before all the air was out. Drat. I had a puncture. I removed my bags and took a look. A pilgrim gave me a hand getting the tyre off then carried on his way. The cheap French tyre has worn on the side. Probably my fault with badly positioned brakes. But it has gone a good distance in the past couple of weeks. I replaced the inner tube, tried to patch the tyre's wear with duct tape, and cautiously continued.

It's hilly around here.

I reached the top of the next hill and found a picnic area. I had a three fried egg sandwich. It was that sort of day.

As I pressed on I heard a noise on each wheel rotation. That meant it wasn't pedal related (my left pedal has been making disconcerting noises recently). I looked. The inner tube was poking out of the tyre and rubbing on the brake pad. I adjusted the brake pad but knew I couldn't really use the brakes too much now. Google maps said I had a downhill, followed by another 170m hill, some relative flat, then another 170m hill. If they didn't have switch backs I might survive.

I got over the first hill and down to Laredo where there was traffic due to the Sunday festivities. I stopped to see what was going on but as I set off again: whoooosh. Puncture two of the day.

I did a puncture repair and really put lots of duct tape around the rim of the tyre. It looked ridiculous (don't do this at home, kids) but I had few options given everywhere was shut because it was Sunday. My best option was to head towards Santander where, in the morning, I'd have more chance of finding a good tyre. Preferably another Schwalbe marathon plus.

Taped tyre

I had a brief stop at a supermarket that was miraculously open and got two "chocolate triangle" pastries for a euro.

Riding down into Laredo

Festivities in Laredo

Heading towards Santoña

Parque Natural de Las Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel.

As I rode the relatively flat road out towadds Santaño and on towards the next hill, I mused on the fact I'd not seen any branches of the bank Santander which is everywhere in the UK.


I crossed the bridge near Somo. I was stopping every few km to restick to duct tape that was struggling in the 26C heat. Then, in Gajano, I had a new problem. My pannier rack broke. Double drat. The little bracket on the right-hand side had snapped. Whilst I was attempting a rough fix, a man from Parbayón offered that I could stay at his house.

Heading from Somo to Pedreña.

His name was Luis and he knows a good bike shop I can visit in the morning. Ignoring the warnings you get at primary school, I went off with this stranger in his car. I'll have to cycle back to where he gave me a lift from, in the morning, but I it'll be less than 20km.

Luis said I can stay tomorrow and do laundry so it seems like the right time for a 'rest' day (I'll cycle what I missed plus fix bike so it won't be a proper rest).