Day 1 - Madrid - Cercedilla - Segovia
For them stats Strava Route Cercedilla to Segovia
Day 1 starts with a hotel breakfast where the cured meats make their first appearance!
After that it's off to the room to pack then head to the station.
As soon as I get on the bike and start pedaling, I immediately find my comfort zone. The worries/anxiety from the day before washes away and we're rolling. A part from 1 wrong turn, biking to the station was surprisingly pain free. Although the street I took was busy and included a large traffic circle, I didn't feel unsafe. Not unlike biking on a busier Chicago road without an official bike lane. After getting to the station, I walk up to a train station employee and say "Buenos dias. Cercedilla" while pointing at Googles maps on my phone. After some communication with our hands, she brings me over to the ticket machine, purchases a 1 way ticket, shows me all 10 of her fingers and says "plataforma". Platform 10 it is! After getting to the platform, the train arrives perfectly on time, I get on without a hitch and we're off! The train ride up to Cercedilla rolls through some beautiful hills with small villages in the distance, dotted with red-roofed homes. I'm starting to get excited.
It admittedly took a bit of time to get my bearings after getting off at Cercedilla. After a bit of meandering, a guy on a mountain bike rolls up to me and starts speaking Spanish to me. "Perdon. No hablo espanol." He nods. I say "I'm biking to Segovia and trying to get to M-601" (I point to Google Maps). He points me down a street and starts biking that way. I follow. He was a heavier set guy and I wasn't sure if he wanted me to follow him or not but I was. After a bit, I decided to pass and head straight as it looked like my Garmin found the course and from there I should of been good. I take a left, and from behind me I hear, "Nooo!". I stop, turn around and my mountain bike friend let's me know it's a right at the fork. He was right and I head to the right.
I made my route using Strava's route planner with a bit of help from Google Maps. The thing about Cercedilla, is that it's a destination for mountain bikers. When you choose the "Use Popular" option in Strava to map your route for you, things go great until you hit the popular mountain biking route...
It got quite a bit rougher from here. I stopped some mountain bikers on the way down, point at the ground, and ask "Is it like this the whole way?". The guy responds in english and says "Yes. With your bike. Better roads". I turn around and take the longer but smoother route via the M-roads. After meeting back up with my original Strava route on M-601, I pass by my mountain biker friend again. It looks like he's negotiating a bus ride up the hills. He gestures to the bus. "I"ll take the bike!", I say and smile. "Buenos dias!". After a few rolling hills, I was greeted with this nice sign.
The Spanish 7x7! Wow did the next 7 kilometers kick my ass. In between my bouts of holy shits and fucks, I was very thankful I decided last second to add the granny gear to my Surly. I would have been really screwed today without it.
Pretty exhausted, I finally reach the top and a nice restaurant with no one in it awaits. "La comida?" I ask the waitress. "Si". "Menu del dia?" (I still can't speak in complete sentences so I rely heavily on inflection). Menu del dia is the menu of the day and usually consists of a few courses. It's supposed to be a great way to experience the local food. She shows me a handwritten list of today's specials. Pretty lost, I say "What do you recomendacion?" (When in doubt, Spanglish!)
After sitting down, she sends out her english speaking brother to serve the meals. I speak to him and we talk about where I'm from and where I'm going. He asks if I speak Spanish and I tell him, "very little". He said , "That's okay. You will learn fast. No one here really speaks English." So far he's been pretty right.
Very well fed I stop to at an outlook.
With every hard climb usually comes one hell of a descent and this one delivered! I love fast descents and even with the added weight, the Surly didn't disappoint. In complete contrast to the way up, I'm yelling "Wahooo!!" on the way down. Strava claims I hit 45.6 mi/h. It's possible, but I'm not sure it was completely accurate. I was definitely hauling ass but 45mph seems kind of crazy, right? Either way, my spirits are very high at this point. It's a great road with beautiful surroundings and I just experienced a great descent.
As the descent flattened out, I rolled into Segovia thinking, "If the rest of my days are half as good as this one, it'll be a great time." When arriving to Hostal Segovia, the adventure really began. I get to a pretty narrow front door with a buzzer. A lady answers (she'll show up again later in the story). I say I have a reservation and she buzzes me in, but a lady from the store next door popped her head out and distracted me with a question. Not being able to understand her, I apologize and point at the door and say "Hostel" ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. She says okay and goes back into the store. I buzz a second time and this time when the lady answers in Spanish, I tell her again that I have a reservation. Not sure she believed me because she didn't let me in this time. I buzzed 2 more times and no answer. Uh oh.
An older lady walks up to me and starts speaking Spanish. I hear reservation in there and say Si. I show her the reservation on my phone and she says okay. She points at my bike and asks if this bike is mine (I think). I say "yes" and ask her if I can put it upstairs. "Hmm...moment" and she gets on the phone. After a short conversation she gestures to follow her. I get my bike together and start following her. She walks into a small corner store. I thought she went in to get someone. From inside, she's gesturing for me to come in. I point at my bike and she says, "Si. Si".
I roll in, saying excuse me to the customers. This store is really small. The lady is moving ice cream fridges aside and making room for me to get to the back of the store. I can no longer make it with my bags on, so I take them off and follow her with my bike. She takes me to a back storage/laundry room and gestures to leave my bike here. From there, she takes me back to the hostel and shows me my room. I use Google Translate to ask her what time the store opens tomorrow. She types in my phone, 8:30. After wishing me a good day, she departs. After a shower, I get a knock on the door. A young woman asks me something about my reservation. After some difficulty with communication, I point at the receipt on my phone and she gestures to come upstairs with her. This was the buzzer lady! After a bunch of back and forths with the phone and a bunch of laughs it turns out the reservation I made online never charged me and I still had to pay.
With everything settled, I hit the town and start roaming with 2 wine stops, some chorizo, an Iberico cone, and "artisanal" Spanish beer.