• Ryan Newman

This Isn’t the Tour de France

Day 1 (St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles)

Distance: 15.9 miles (25.5KM)

Steps: 36,500

Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes

I’m lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things.” —Lech Walesa (Nobel Laureate)

Did I ever mention that I don’t like walking. Actually, I hate walking!!! Normally, Erin has to do a lot of cheerleading to get me motivated to walk—even on the Kapa’a Beach Path. I’m cyclist not a walker. Yet, now, I find myself walking 500 miles across Spain.

Why? Well, why not.

Historically, Day 1, which takes Pilgrims over the Pyrenees, is considered the toughest day by most. I always imagined going over the Pyrenees—just on a bike. However, today, I went over the Pyrenees and it wasn’t too bad. I’m little tired and sore, but overall I’m good.

The first 7KM is rough. The grade can get up to 19-20%—that is insanely steep. The wind was howling and the temperature was around 47 degrees. Up and up and up you go!

The second third, Pilgrims find themselves slowly ascending the Pyrenees. The views are spectacular when the weather is good. Thankfully, despite it being cold, visibility was remarkable. Got some great photos.

The final third is a difficult technical portion complicated by the high altitude and snow, then followed by a rapid descent into Roncesvalles. I almost landed on butt a few times.

Today, the social conversation on the Camino was limited. Pilgrims were attempting to manage the strenuous climb and the new-reality of walking all day for the next 30+ days. The difficult day makes it impossible for prolonged conversation.

After Day 1, I still don’t walking, but I better learn to like it.

Lesson of the Day: The physical climb is only half the battle. The mental climb can kill a Camino before it really starts. Pace both my body and my mind.

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