Greg Eden’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014

Location: Spain

MapDay 14 Agliru
After a chaotic breakfast in the hotel (there are about 5 busloads of tourists staying here) we ride 20k to La Vega for the climb of the Agliru. This is the big day as Agliru is the hardest climb in Europe. It is 13 km and has an average gradient of 10.3% with the final 7km ave 13% and there are stretches of over 20%. Mal and I make it to the top but only just. We have to get off and walk the bike up in places. Even then it is so steep it is hard to stop my shoes slipping on the road. There are parts where I am so buggered I can't turn the cranks. This is the most physically challenging thing I have ever done. I have lost a heap of fluid by the time I get to the top. Sweat just pours off me as if i have a tap running at the top of my neck. It is a very warm day but quite cool at the top. Some of the riders say they enjoyed it but it is not an enjoyable ride unless your a masochist. Even Eric, our intrepid tour leader and ex pro cyclist says it is the hardest ride he has ever done. I'm glad I did it but I would not want to do it again. It is just too hard. It has many switchbacks and the views from the top are incredible. The descent is tricky and I nearly come off as I lock the brakes up going around a corner. The back wheel slides but I manage to stay on. We have to avoid the mobs of horses and cows being herded up the mountain. Horse and cow poo everywhere. Back in La Vega we have lunch and drinks and I start to return to normal. We have the option of riding the 20k back to the hotel or getting on the bus. Mal, Kerry, Ruth and I all choose the bus. Ruth and Kerry have ridden up to about the half way point and this is average gradient of about 7%. Their ride is about 5 km longer than Winters Hill but nearly three times as high. Our ride peaks at 1557 metres, almost 6 times as high as Winters. The scenery is amazing in the Asturias, which Oviedo is the capital of. High mountains and deep valleys and gorges and beautiful shady trees along the valley floors and high up into the mountains. Back in Oviedo we go for a walk through the old city and try Cideria which is a local specialty. We have to buy it by the bottle. It is terrible but the bottle only costs about £3. we leave most of it in the bottle. Mal and Kerry catch up with us in town and we find an Italian restaurant La Trattoria and it is one of the best we have ever been to. The olives and the Foccacia are really nice, as is the pasta. Total cost £80 for 4 people, about $25 per head.