Day 13 – Palas de Rey to Santiago – The final journey?

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Today we woke up early in anticipation to the end of our jorney. Little I knew what the day had in store for us.
As usual, we went looking for breakfast. We had the usual cafe con leche, prepared our Camelbacks and left arond 8 in the morning.
Again the landscape was very similar to the previous day. Lots of rural landscapes and small villages dotted the way. The step of the Camino had lost of climbs and descends.
As we neared Melide (13 km. from the start) I discovered that my rear tire has been slowly deflating. So we seek a gas station where we can repair the problem. We find one in Melide where we quickly decided to replace the tube. We also pressure washed our bikes. And just like that we were back on our way.
At about 37 km from the start while making a steep climb my rear tire suddenly blows and I am forced to stop. With only 32 km. to go I find myself helpless.
My tire pump had proven to be worthless so it was mailed to Santiago along with other things to save on weight. I could try too make a repair but I had no way to inflate the tire.
I also tried to call a few bike shops near my location without success. Out of three, only one answered the phone. They do not carry 29″ mountain bike tires.
So I resign myself to push the bike to a gas station or any other place that can have a pump to fill my tire after I repair it.
So after pushing for about one or two kilometers, salvation! An Australian couple on bicycles stops and offfer to help. We quickly remove the tire and find a hole the size of a lentil on my tube and tire. We also find that the inside of the tire shows signs of being defective.
I apply two tire patches to the inside of my tire and replace the tube with the old one. Yes, the one that leaks. We inflated the tire, mounted it to the bike and got back on the road to Santiago.
After a couple of kilometers I find that the hole on my tire is slowly getting bigger. But at this point there is nothing we can do. So we continue on our way.
At around 29 km to go we find another gas station where we quickly decide to swap the defective tire from the back to the front, we also add another tire patch to reinforce the hole.
And in a moment of stupid desperation I apply a inner tube patch with glue to te outside of the tire in an attempt to stop the hole on the tire to grow to a point that the tire will fail completelly.
Bob and I make predictions of when the patch will fail. He says in a few meters and I say in a couple of kilometers. We where both wrong – it doesn’t. The patch stays put all the way to Santiago. And ultimatelly it allows me to get to Santiago, as I should, riding my bike.
On the way I realize with mixed feeling that this is my last day riding the Camino. Happy to arrive and sad to stop riding. Then I start to think on what are my takeaways from this adventure. More on that when I get to a conclusion.
Around 4:30 PM we reach Monte do Gozo where we can see our final destination. The Catedral in Santiago. It is a very exciting moment for me.
Soon after we descend and in a unspectacular way we enter the city of Santiago. We follow the signs to the Catedral where we arrive at exactly 5:05 PM. A street musician plays Let it be on his guitar, we sing along fore a few verses. We enter the square. And just lik that the ride is over. Wow!
We made after about 780 km. and a lot of effort.
We quickly find a hotel, take a well deserved shower and go get our Compostela. After that we visit the Catedral where we see the remains of St. James among other interesting things.
We then go for a very nice dinner and a walk in the city. And since tomorrow is a religious holiday in the city of Santiago, people where out in force partying in the old town. We join the celebration with some fellow bicigrinos until almost 3 in the morning when we call the day and go crash in our hotel.
For today segment we rode 69 km.
I want to thank everyone that followed us and wished us a Buen Camino every step of the way. Gracias!

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