A Travellerspoint blog

la Zarza


Distance: 131.6km
Total ascent: 937m
Time in the saddle: 5hr 28

Early start again today..before breakie again too. However this place was lovely enough to give me a plate of bread, jams, cake and juice that I could take to my room to have in the morning. Made me laugh that the jam was diet stuff...when there were cakes to be eaten as well.

It was a beautiful morning quite hazy and cool, giving very picturesque views if the hills and the many wind turbines on top of them. The route itself was pretty non descript...up and then a long very gradual down (gradual enough that peddling was needed and of course there was the obligatory ups in the downs too. What made it much more interesting and bearable than the last few long days was the hills and then the mountains beyond. I could watch mountains for hours so they provide great distractions.

The main motivation if the day though was not the mountains..I was happy just pooling along in the valleys below them rather than in them. But more the thought of the nice swimming pool at the end. The place I am at now, the olive tree, is just outside the very small village of La Zarca heading towards Murcia. It's a lovely little place that the owner has only recently finished doing up and be open for business (2nd year I think). The owner is English which is quite handy as actually today I am the only one staying here. The whole site to myself! So a quick dip in the pool and a drink from the honesty bar..and a very relaxed me.

Thankfully today was the last in this run of long days in the saddle, with tomorrow a wee spin down hill to Murcia. It will be nice to be in a city again. It's been a while and I need to stock up on a few things..shampoo and razors for one..left them at the hotel a few nights back :'( . Down side is Murcia is one of the hottest places in the country. Most important though..I might actually get a lie in tomorrow!!

Posted by louisebenn 10:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Alcala del Jucar


Distance: 96.81km
Total ascent: 499m
Time on the bike: 4hrs
Terrain: rolling hills

So last night, having no supermarket I had to go out and hit the town for dinner. I chose a nice looking place off the main 'drag' that had a nice view over the hills. I somehow managed to order myself the taster menu which at 24€ was a lot more than am used to spending on food but at this point I was too hungry to work it out and change it. But to be fair it was totally worth the 24€..bread (lots which was good as I kept stealing it into my bag), sliced mushrooms with olive oil, viniger and pepper, 5 tapas (3 for me being veggie) two of which I have absolutely no idea what they were..apart from yum. Then the main for which I had a huge tuna steak, then pudding to finish it off. As with any meal larger than a sarnie..I get half way through it then get hit by an urge to fall asleep. I managed to make it through all the masses of food though, helped by the amazing lightning show over the way. You also got wine with this deal though as I am not drinking it was 'solo agua' for me.

Boy did I sleep well that night. Still woke in the middle but slept again after only to sleep through my alarm. Normally it wouldn't matter but the owner was coming at 8 especially for me so I had to leg it downstairs for that if I wanted my coffee.

Unfortunately the coffee didn't seem to work today. I spent the whole if the route in a zombie daze. Not that I needed to be awake..it was just along two very very straight roads which rolled up and down, up and down, up and down and so on. Put it this way.. If I had been in a boat I might have been getting seasick. And no offence to the scenery but it was exactly what I had seen for the last few days. The only moment I woke up was when I saw a huge bull silhouette on the horizon, and that made me smile..it's the epitome of Spain for me. The one perk of zoning out completely was that the ride was over surprisingly quick..also aided by the gods looking kindly on me and giving to route a slight decline and also a tailwind.

And so I arrived at the top of Alcala del Jucar. What hadn't really clicked about Alcala was that it was down in a gorge...like near Sedano all those months ago. So you are riding along what you think is the valley bottom, hills in the distance, then suddenly the valley floor disappears and you have a steep gorge down to the river. It's quite a sight but the best was yet to come. Following the road down along the striata past the castle to the town it comes to the river. Here the Rio Jucar is quite wide and slow moving, surrounded by huge willows and reeds. And as you get near the centre if the town the atmosphere changes..from dusty plain town to an oasis. There is even a beach! It's unbelievably stunning and not just a little random. All my worries of this being a small town with nothing open on a Sunday vanished as this is Spanish Sunday heaven! No supermarket sure but all the restaurants and kiosks are open to cater for the hub of people who have descended in the town for a day at the beach.

I may make it up to the castle later, but this is very much a place where you need to be it to appreciate it not looking down on it.

There is also the Vuelta today which is finishing at my favourite Lagos de Covadonga, so I shall be watching that. I have not seen it for a few days though I caught it yesterday and I have to say the finish was so exciting for the eventual winner and for Froomey, who I had thought was out of the game, that I was actually standing on my bed cheering them on. Quite amusing the stories that had been going on about the winner, Ryder, last week..he had been accused of 'motor doping' ie having a motor in his bike! Absolutely the most ridiculous thing ever. But quite amusing at the same time too..his bike even has it's own Twitter account now because if it. Madness.

Posted by louisebenn 06:44 Archived in Spain Comments (0)


I left my Garmin upstairs but rough stats for today are:
Distance: 130km
Hours: 5 and a half?
Total ascent: meh...500m

so another long day planned,another early start. Again too early for breakie but I had gone to the supermarket and the hotel was nice enough to get up early and get me some coffee (!).

The start if the ride was back along the last 10km of yesterday. Boy what a difference today! Against the wind and sun it felt horrendous and those ten k dragged. Today with the sunrise and cool and even a tailwind it was most civilised. Most of the route today was flatish with a slight incline, and that breeze followed me too so it was quite good going. Little bit of excitement when one road was well like going off road but that didn't last too long.

Unfortunately that was pretty much all the excitement as flat routes just don't really do it for me. Distractions needed. Virtual partner on for pacing. Songs sang. New songs made up ('i've got a bottle of chocolate milk so everything is alright in the world' was the title of one). games played. I spent far too long playing the 'game' of watching the grass by the side if the road to see what way the wind was blowing. Oh what fun!

Again the last 15 or so k was the hardest. And again I had doubts whether coming to Alarcon was worth it, and had even searched for other accomo but there was none in the right kind of area. It's a tiny little place..only 120 inhabitants. But you come round the corner from the main road and first you see a watch tower then behind it a very solid castle and it's walls around a village. The road curves around and you go through an arch by the watchtower (there are two more towers at other sides of the castle), then over a rock bridge toward the village. This is the only access point. The village sits on a hill where all sides except the one have been carved out into a gorge by the river. Over the bridge is another arch and then the road winds around into the actual village. It's all quite impressive for such a small place.

Gonna miss breakie again tomorrow so due to a lack of any shops here I am hoarding food whenever I can find it.

Posted by louisebenn 10:13 Comments (0)

Campo de Criptana


As it's the end of month 5 I have two lots of bike data for you..today's and the tour total so far:
Distance: 143.43km
Total ascent: 1252m
Hours in the saddle: 6hr 27
Terrain: undulating

5month data:
Distance: 7676.83km / 4770.02miles
Total ascent: 89962m / 295119ft
Hours in the saddle: 365hrs 25min

Strangely a little disappointed with the 5month total...not really sure why as August was a pretty heavy mileage month. Ah well, I will have to make up some miles this month!

Todays ride...Oooof! It was undulating for sure! Quite sharp ones at the start, which is bad timing as it usually takes me about 20km to warm up and get going. They slowly leveled off a bit as I moved towards the plains but it was still tough. I was really surprised when I looked at the elevation graph after as actually the overall direction was downhill. But due to the really strong headwind it felt like a constant uphill struggle. Some road closures didn't help either which added some k's. But I made it...just.

I spent a lot of my time looking at the tarmac as you do when there's a headwind but I did see the most sunflowers today than I ever have. Not particularly happy looking ones but field on field in field of them none the less. More and more as I moved nearer to the plains and the trees disappeared. I also saw a lot of people wondering in the small villages I went through. Wandering completely oblivious to everything else and several tried to step out in front of me, and another time I very nearly got taken out by a wheelbarrow.grrr

Campo de Criptana is a funny little place. People only tend to come here for the windmills and so there isn't really much else to it..though perhaps I just missed it. The windmills are quite impressive enough though..there are 9 on the ridge, another without sails and one dead one a little further out. The main 9 all have names and inside there are little museums on various topics. I now feel the need to read Don Quixote.

Am quite glad they were worth the trip..there was a few times on the route when I was f'ing and blinding about these windmills! I also have caught the sun today..mostly on my left side..super impressive sharp lines on my arm and leg now. Luckily tomorrow is back the otherway so I can try and balance out with my right side.

In other news my Nexus 7 tablet has died a death. Or more precisely I accidentally killed it. I feel quite bereft. It is..sorry..was the source of everything and now...sigh. my phone is filling in as best it can but it struggles with the heat, bless it. Worse is that I still had 3 episodes of Veep to watch! Dammit. I can watch them on the phone but I think that might just kill it. Anyway just a month to survive without it..thank god for warranties.

Posted by louisebenn 11:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Cuenca day 2

Lazy day


So a pretty lazy day today but sometimes that just has to be done. In hindsight as always when I stay 2 days I should really spread out the lazy..relaxing after the ride and then sightsee the next day but it never seems to work that way. For one its good for my legs to keep moving after cycling, and for two..I really do have an ocd fixation on having to know where the local supermarket is (and yogurt shop). So that probably accounts for why I was so tired last night...hard days cycling then straight out and about getting to know where I was. I did go out this morning, up to the mirador at the top of the town then back down to the new town to the supermarket before heading back to the posada.

Cuenca and it's sierra are quite renowned in Spain..Cuenca old town is a world heritage sight due to it's medieval stone buildings perched on and in the rocks surrounding it. The whole town up on a hill between the deep gorges of the Rio Jucar and Huecar. And it is from these cliffs that the houses hang and are incorporated into. It is quite awe inspiring and beautiful but a little strange as no one really lives here..it is like a life size museum so there are bits that are quite empty. All the inhabitants live in the new town down below..which has some pretty parks at the base of the hill but aside from that there is nothing to write home about.

The rock base is limestone so the gorge in Cuenca and even more so up in the sierra have been carved into some fantastical shapes by natural erosion. The contrast between the pale yellow bare rock and the carpet of green pines is also quite something.

I do get some quilty feeling about lazy inside for most of the day but actually I really need the time out.. of the sun of nothing else!. When cycling I get 5/6 hours non stop of hot sun so I feel I kinda have done that and my body probably needs some time to recoop from it. And as well as sleeping I have done a lot of planning for the last few weeks. It suddenly seems quite a short time away, less than I thought, (only 2 1/2 weeks left on mainland spain!!) and there are various bits and pieces that I need to start organising now for later on. My poor head is so full of logistics now, sometimes this tour feels like a job in itself! I have mixed feelings about it ending and so really trying to only focus fully on the next week which again is going to be a toughie but will be going to some hopefully quite amazing places to make it worthwhile.

Posted by louisebenn 10:11 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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