Total ascent: 1000m
Time in the saddle: 3hrs 35min
Terrain: over a mountain and down to the sea
Well the Chinese went down very well..prawn curry, rice, spring rolls and prawn crackers...num!! First curry since I left home. It was however not the best cycling power food and in the morning my legs were feeling heavy and a bit lacking in energy. But it was worth it.
The ride today was again a goodie. I apologise for all the scenery gushing but really it is that continually amazing. After a relatively slow start while I was trying to get my legs going I turned off towards Poblet..which is the home to one of three of the major monestries in the area. Following my Michelin map at this point I forgot the crucial piece of information..that where the Michelin map shows a green 'pretty route' line..it actually in cyclist terms means a 'huge ass climb'..a 12%er later and I can say that my legs had woken up!
The whole valley..'vall del monastir de Poblet'..was stunning..on one side the tree covered mountains, the other never ending vines interspersed with lone monestries, castles and villas all softened by the morning haze that had not yet been broken by the sun. Add to the fact that it was a cool 20 degrees..bliss. You know you have been in the heat too long when you consider putting on your arm warmers in 20's. I refrained knowing that soon I would have to climb those big ole mountains to the side.
When I did turn off and up into the Muntanyes de Prades..wow. I know I have mentioned before about pristine areas but here it completely was. There was no sign of any human presence except the road and me. No houses. No pylons or utility posts. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. For the whole 20km climb it was me and the trees and the mountains and that was it. Oh and two jaybirds. Very surreal. Very amazing.
Over the top it levelled out for a while on a high plain and then descended down slowly. The terrain seemed dryer here, less trees, the mountains that little bit sharper. But you almost don't see all that as you whole view is dominated by this massive ridge - the Montsant- which towered up ahead, its striata layed bare and it seemingly continuing for miles.
After a quick stop at a petrol station for some liquids, it was back on the 'descent' down to the sea. Obviously this is Spain and there is no such thing as a descent without a climb in there somewhere so a nice 'little' climb was had before the sea came into sight. This side of the mountain I was able to take advantage of a couple of new roads. The second must have been only completed a few weeks ago as it was like a race track.. Lovely zoomy riding down to the sea on that!
Tonights home is Cambrils. I will be honest in that I haven't seen much of it. The initial thought was to come here and train to Tarragona and back to avoid the bad roads into the city. However the trains and the weather had other plans. While I could get to the city no problem, the only train with seats left back was late this evening. Add to that that just walking down the road to the station made me sweat like a pig..humidity is a bastard!..I made the decision to retreat to my hotel room and my air con, catching the Vuelta and watching them swelter in the heat instead.
I am beginning to think that the mountains are the best place to be this time of year...