Back into the hills once more
distance: 125 km
Hours in the saddle: 5hrs
Terrain: rolling, undulating, up ups..
So a long day planned for today, not the longest for sure but the first of a few longer ones. A warm up for tomorrow if you will.
Today I think I got the clothes combo right. You wouldn't think it would be difficult but it really is! The temperature varies so much between when you set off in the morning to lunchtime, to with the wind, to on descents. It's also surprising how much the temperature difference between sun and shade/cloud and is. It literally is a 10 ° drop. So you have to be prepared for all. Personally I am no good when overheated so err on the side of cold. Before I had tried the jersey, arm warmers, wind gilet combo and that kind of worked but it was a very sweaty and so v cold option. Today was that but with my base layer underneath, and it worked. 8° when I started but I was all nice and toasty. I actually couldn't believe my garmin for saying it was that cold, felt fine to me. Even when it went toward 25 later on, it was still a good combo, not overly too hot on the ups but stopped the coldnness seeping in on the descents.
Anyway enough about my wardrobe dilemmas...so today..hmm well I have to say I zoned out for the first 40kms or so, and so missed any scenery etc that went by..it's a side effect of knowing you are in for a long haul day plus it was fairly rolling so nothing to keep me awake. I did notice soon after leaving Caceres, when I went down a no bike road, that there was a whole seperate road in place for cyclists! So the road I had gone on mirrored the motorway, and then you had a little road in between just for cyclists. All very impressive. Only lasted til the first town though..I guess there is a mass of bike commuters from there or something.
I woke up briefly for Trujillo, which provided an amazing outline on a hill on this rolling terrain, then onto Zorito, where there was some stunning straight descents unfortunately interrupted by the very annoying speed bumps and mini bumps. I only really woke up proper after this as the issue of food arose. I needed to eat before the 3 big ups that I knew were coming. Logrosan fitted the bill, though it was quite a dire 20km ride from Zorita. It wasn't tough terrain or anything just not the most interesting cycling through a high valley. Though I kept an eye on the big hills on my left as I knew that was what was coming soon.
A coffee, fanta and bocadillo de queso y tomate later and off into the hills I went! I have missed proper hills over the last few days. You know where you are with hills, all you need is to get into rhythm, then let the scenery distract you until you reach the top. No chance of zoning out here. So while I was wary of these climbs as they were at the end of the route and in the mid day heat, they were the best bit of the ride.
After the second climb I was expecting to be able to see my target for the day..Guadalupe, as I knew it was on an up, but nothing! I could only see more hills and trees. Quite disappointing. It only came into view on the last corner and then only being able to see the outskirts of a town. Zipping through the streets towards the centre to town, I suddenly spied what all the fuss was about this place.. The Royal Monestry. Wow. That stopped me in my tracks. As did the hundreds of day trippers. Best tactic head for the hostel and recoup before braving them again.
Where I am staying is a gorgeous place. Its run by an old couple who are very sweet and lovely. The room itself..well there is a fab set of welcome pressies on the table..a chocolate fig bonbon thing, sweeties, and a little bottle of local booze! Oh plus a random CD, but have no idea what to do with this. I also have a balcony overlooking the hills. Lovely couple also gave me a couple of guide books for the area, which made me want to stay and explore as it seems an amazing area.
As well as the monestry, there is also a very impressive viaduct just before you come into town. Apparently it was built about 40 or so years ago, becoming the most expensive constructions made for this railway line for which no train has ever passed. The timing was bad ..they finished building it as the use of trains to transport goods in Spain rapidly declined. Doh.
Sitting in the Plaza Mayor with my first chorros y chocolate..god I needed that sugar fix..when the day trippers had gone was very relaxing. There was the strange site of people bringing their horses to church, and 'parking' them by the cafes while they had a chat.
Tomorrow is a long and hard day. Slightly nervous as to how it will go. Applying the 'don't think of the whole' technique and make sure rest/food stops are taken etc.
Side note..both arm and leg tan lines are such that I cannot wear any of my tops (except my long sleeve) or my off bike shorts without looking a bit daft. Oh well, I think I have given up on trying to remotely look anything close to acceptable anyway.
Side note 2..I did notice that on some mountains to the north there was snow! I thought it was initially sun reflection, but no, there is snow on them thar hills. Not sure where that was yet, will check it later on this evening.