[ blog » 2023 » 09_South-West ]d12: Picón Blanco (by Philipp Gesang, location: Pesues)

Picón Blanco

So far I’ve failed at establishing a consistent wake-sleep schedule during this tour which to some extent I suspect is attributable to the timezone shenanigans that plague the country; just switch to GMT or GMT-1 already! After a noisy night in the celebrations of Espinosa what again pushed my starting time way back in the morning was the fact that most of the village was still asleep and the supermarket opens only at 9:30. Which normally wouldn’t be an option but climbing the Picón Blanco first thing in the morning without as much as a slice of bread for breakfast would trash my recovery cycle even more.

After waiting out the opening hours I stocked up on breakfast supplies and went to 1100 m to have a breakfast with view. When I got there it turned out to be on one of the "easy" 7 % sections so I decided to go for just another kilometer. What an exceptionally bad idea! The easy bit ended soon after and I found myself on the steepest gradient of the entire climb, 18 % and more, getting eaten alive by raging mosquitos that I couldn’t outrun due to the nasty gradient. I probably lost half a liter of blood in those five minutes. My first taste of proper Spanish "rampas inhumanas"! And the gradients on that ramp made me yearn for those "easy" 10 % inclines that make up the rest of the Picón road.

At around 1300 m the mosquitos were suddenly gone and I was alone with a bunch of cows and horses. Just under the summit the gradient picks up again to punish those that haven’t given up so far, but at that point I was mentally already over the antics of that mountain and powered through.

More cows and horses were loitering on the summit plateau, including on weirdo horse that camouflaged as a montbeliarde cow. A cloud followed me up there and for the first few minutes on top visibility went down to ten meters so I finished breakfast and, with the cloud gone, eventually took some pictures. While I was sitting there a Belgian guy on a roadbike showed up and we chatted about the climb which he’d done from the apparently much easier western side which I planned to ride down again. It proved quite technical on lots of twisty little farm roads, and I met that Belgian’s friends who were still ascending.


From the bottom of the Picón I followed the río Trueba valley upstream till the very source near the Puerto de las escacas de Trueba which is also the watershed between Ebro / Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Plus it marks the border of the Cantabria province.

The descent from the Puerto estacas is magnificent. Few switchbacks, very long straight sections at about 6 % average gradient which made braking mostly optional.

From the end of that descent it wasn’t far to the sea. Like in Basque country the Cantabrian coast consists mostly of steep cliffs interspersed with narrow beaches. Both regions too have the humidity in common which today manifested itself as simple rainfall. Compared to Norway last year where I wore the gilet almost every day it’s not recommended to do the same in Spain where the air stays hot enough to turn the thing into a furnace. It was already pouring when I reached Comillas so I skipped the sightseeing and headed straight for the other end of town and beyond to not waste a minute on my quest for a good night’s sleep.

gps tracks

[view GPS data in mapbox]


gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail