Time in the saddle: 5hrs 15
Total ascent: 1693m
Terrain: up up and more up
Lovely relaxing day in Peniscola yesterday aka doing sod all but boy do I need days like that especially after 6 days on the bike. Perhaps not the most exciting for my hosts so thank you to them for being so patient with a somewhat broken and pathetic me. Also for all the stories on the perks and, probably more, pitfulls on living in Spain and the shenanigans that the Spaniards get up to. Best of all last night I actually slept more than a couple of hours!! Woohooooooo! That's the first time in months. Bliss.
And I would need that sleep as today's route was just up and up continually. Ok there was a wee warmup along the flat coast but as soon as I turned inland it was pretty much all up for 80km or so. Ooof. Anyway I get ahead of myself..the start was great..a potter along the beach promenade back up to Benicarlo which is a very civilised way to start the day. Surprisingly busy for first thing on a Saturday but it wasn't too bad. Then the hideous N340 to Vinaros and then quickly turning off and heading towards the mountains. The first part was just a gradual up through field on field of orange and olive trees. Then past La Senia the terrain changed as the road started to follow the river back up through an impressive gorge (and some impressive gradients too) up to the Panto de Ulldecona ..a reservoir, though only half full was still impressive with the Muntanyes de Benifassà in the background and the gorge the otherside. Odd to see it looking so empty thought they still had paddle boats on it at the ready. The source river was completely dry too.
The restaurant there seemed to be the hive of the area..and also for cycling club runs too. But after leaving that behind..I also seemed to leave everything else behind too, there were no cyclists and very few cars on the road ahead. Probably with good reason being a long old slog on what was for the most part a really bad road...damn side roads. The weather was quite strange too..I was expecting it to be cooler as it always is going up into the mountains but it was humid so I was sweating but I was cold.. goosebump cold ..in 25°heat..madness! I think though that the strong gusty wind in these mountains is a cold one. Maybe base layer and arm warmers tomorrow.
Home for tonight is Morella...a beautiful town perched on a rise with a big old castle at the top and the castle wall encompassing the town and it's maze of streets. Obviously it is a fiesta day today, not really sure what for..there is lots of drumming and also random people wandering around in faux animal skins, feather headdresses, face paints with spear/sword things that would make a Klingon jealous. I made the mistake of walking near to one guy dressed up and I was nearly taken out by all his 'accessories' whenever he stopped or turned or anything. But I didn't y anything as he looked quite scary. Its all quite bizarre but it makes a change from the usual mediaeval fare.
My room has a fab view over the city wall out to the mountains. It also has the smallest telly known to man. Not that I usually notice the telly but the Vuelta was on so I was forced to squint away to see what was going on..though it was easy to see the echelons! I love echelons! Not sure why.. I guess it's nature way of getting involved in the race and breaking up the peloton. Well nature and sneaky tactics by the lead teams. Echelons is just a cool word too.
I had to spend more time than usual planning tomorrow..not only is it a long day on the road (and more up too) but it also crosses over the Vuelta route who are heading the otherway. So lots of time finding the road closure times and all that...luckily the Spanish aren't like the french with the 4 hour closure. Here it's only a couple of hours. So I have plenty of time to get to my hostal dump my stuff then head back up the road as far as I can to catch the parade and the race. Phew. Downside being is that they are closing Valdilinares all day so I can't ride it before they do. Maybe something for the day after