A wing and a prayer on a folding bike in Spain. Day 3

I must start by promising not to use the word “fantastic”. Overdone yesterday. Leaving the Pension at a leisurely 9.15 after a wholesome, but hardly exciting breakfast, I feel a subtle change in the weather: hazy sunshine and, dare I mention it, a stiff breeze – a potential cyclist’s nightmare. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Looking back at the hotel with some fondness I thank my good fortune (fate?) in coming across it. I could have been well and truly stuck – there are not many about. Also friendly and very reasonable.

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I soon cross the River Ason which has frequently accompanied me on my way.

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I start musing immediately: echo chambers; social bubbles – whatever you want to call them. We like to think that they are under our control; that we can dip in and out of them at will. But can we really?
The human brain can be too clever for our own good. It pursues a constant quest to keep up to date. By doing so, do echo chambers actually change the brain? If so, our behaviour is likely to adapt and change not only consciously, but also unconsciously, with no choice involved.
This may be why criminality is so hard to escape from. Even harder than it is for we old geezers to diverge from the ways in which we are set. When on the bench, one of the most shocking cases I came across concerned a young woman of about thirty, charged with shoplifting. She was so physically damaged that she was barely able to step into the dock. After pleading guilty, it was revealed that she had 130 previous convictions: half for shoplifting and half for drugs. Don’t tell me that she was leading a life of choice. Nonsense! She would love to be able to escape.
There is also the well-documented case of a journalist who, to write a feature lived as a down-and-out for a year. Guess what? At the end, he found it really hard to return to “normal” society. Surprise, surprise! It’s not just the environment which changes, the mindset changes too – and deeply. This theme has, of course, been explored in “Lord of the Flies”
Are we too quick to say “snap out of it”? The trouble is that one bubble/mindset morphs seamlessly into another throughout our personal and professional lives, deep within our brains, without us realising it. It may be possible for us to backtrack one or two steps, but back to the beginning …….?
Back to the journey.
After all this musing I suddenly realize I’ve been up (and down) two cols: neither particularly high, but both from a low starting point – two in one morning

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On the way down, I have a strange encounter

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There’s nothing like the unexpected!
I soon move into a gentler, pastoral terrain and stop at a bar for lunch.
Heading northward towards the sea I pass through Noja and on to Argonos. The roads are getting noticeably busier; though still surrounded by hills, that magical grandeur of the mountains seems suddenly far away.
Around the next corner, and ……….

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Wow! This makes up for a lot. Yes, you’re right – shirt off, I lie on the beach soaking up what there is of the sun and the scene for a good 45 minutes. After all, I’m in no hurry.
At Santona I have a choice (yes, they do exist!): the boat across the narrow strait to Laredo …. or cycle 10 miles around the bay. You’ve got it – I choose to complete the day on my trusty bike.
Arriving in Laredo I discover an up-market seaside resort, with a good selection of shops and hotels …. one of which I book into.
Another great day.

Distance travelled            42 miles
Elevation gain                      2801 ft
Average speed                       9 mph       You’ve got to admit I’m consistent.

On emerging from the hotel after a rest and a shower, I discover it’s raining. Checking the forecast, it may carry on for the next two days.
I was right about the weather!

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