I decided to move on from Seville after one night, I’m just enjoying the biking in the glorious sun too much to spend time mooching around cities.
It took a long time & distance before I was in open country and quietish roads again. Today I was more careful which roads I rode on so as soon as I could see unmade roads I zoomed down on the iPhone and found a longer more made up road 🙂 I also found an Aldi so I could stock up on cereal bars which the Spanish supermarkets don’t seem to do.
Later a laden up touring guy came bombing past me 🙁 I decided to catch up with him to say Hi, I eventually did just about keep up and then lost him again. However, he stopped for lunch in Niebla so I managed to sit and have a very enjoyable chat with him. His name is Martí from Tordera in Spain, he’s cycling to Lisbon as well on his first long-distance trip, and he’s quick. However, he is going via the coast whereas I will be cutting the corner and going inland so I guess we may see each other there. After lunch, we cycled together, once I decided to go to Huelva too as that was the only place with hotels!
The Costa De La Luz hotel is OK a bit basic with an awkward shower, why have it pointing it across the bath rather than along it? but the city centre is close and surprisingly attractive.
I left Hostal El Caminero at just after 8 am the whole town & Hostal deserted, obviously not early morning folks. Eventually, in Los Banos I found an open bar/cafe and managed to get some coffee etc
I was pleased to have fresh legs as it turned out I had a couple of huge hills to ascend the first was 700 feet (I thought that was my climbing done) but alas the main hill called for another 2000 or so feet eventually topping out at Los Blancares 1,297m (4255 feet). Hopefully, this is the last major hill on the way to Lisbon! Once again there were huge cuttings interestingly starting with sandstone but then towards the top limestone. Never fails to set my mind wandering to think all that limestone is made from dead living creatures!
The downhill was pretty good with loads of other decent riders pounding up! Towards the bottom, a very swish rider all in blue came past & for fun I slipstreamed him 🙂 He spoke some English but riding together & chatting is not really possible on the way into Granada.
I found the Marquis Urban hotel OK, however, the bike wouldn’t fit in the lift so I had to carry it up to the second floor. I arrived just before 2 pm so I walked up to the Alhambra complex and wandered around with the hordes, no tickets were available so the innards will have to wait another day.
Weather-wise once again total sunshine & blue skies getting up to 24 degrees in the town 🙂
I paid up for last nights dinner, drinks & breakfast a grand total of €16! Then for some weird reason, I decided to follow Google maps instead of the route previously worked out. When will I ever learn I MUST NOT USE GOOGLE MAPS ON RURAL RIDES they take no account of terrain or road surface 🙂 so it first took me up a new 20% very steep pavior blocked road a cool 600ft 🙂 the road obviously put in for wind turbines, once at the top it thought an old railway track with the original track bed would be OK, maybe on a suspension bike with fat tyres but on fully laden 700X23C tyres not really. So I ended up pushing it along till eventually, a tarmacked road appeared and I could glide down to my original route having travelled over 11km plus grinding up a monster hill instead of 5km downhill on a good road. Repeat today’s mantra DONT USE GMAPS!
The main difficulty is you have to climb up to the top of one huge valley go across the top a short way and then drop down the adjacent deep valley, just to go west a short way (nope there is no route around the bottom).
My original route took me around the top through Baul and then on a 10km footpath, so in my wisdom I thought the motorway would have a parallel road, on Google Earth it seemed too, so next mistake was to travel along the most never-ending diabolical farm track up and down like a yo-yo whilst the motorway serenely went through cuttings and embankments 🙁 I did eventually come out with the wheels seemingly intact. What a day!
The valleys themselves are stunning,cut through sandstone the place must have been cut of before the road construction programme started.
It was starting to get late and there was no way I would make it to Granada so at Purullena I checked into Hostal El Caminero for €25 🙂
The lurgy woke me in Velez Bianco at stupid o clock but it was no way as bad as yesterday! I fell back to sleep and woke up in time to pack a little and have breakfast just after 8. Breakfast was a full on affair and for the first time I had two fried eggs, I left the bacon, this with the cheese on toast plus local oranges & two cups of coffee meant I was set up for the day!
The first challenge was to climb out of the ravine where the El Palacil is located, with a lot of huffs & puffs I made it, thank goodness I didn’t leave anything behind. Yesterday’s ascent continued for 7 miles to over 1,400ft which is getting perilously close to the snowline. Once at the top the full force of the headwind rose to prevent me having an easy descent. I stopped for another coffee in Orce and marvelled at the 5 ladies screaming at each other on some live TV show, the Spaniards can certainly shout!
The route then took me through the fascinating valley to El Cura, the valley contains some really old cave houses overlooking the sheltered valley, must have been a very desirable place in the stone age as the rock is very soft so you can easily excavate your own cave (apparently home to Europes first settlers). I then found a great cafe for my standard Spanish lunch of a tortilla & coke afterwards marvelling at the chimneys sticking out of the ground from the cave houses.
Just after Benamaurel the route suddenly changed into a farm track across fields 🙁 I quickly used the Go Map! app to update Open Street Map but the poor Fulcrum wheels are not designed for such conditions. However, after a few miles I spotted a very large warning sign for a private property so I reasoned there must be a reason for it, so obviously I went through and quickly discovered a tarmac road which joined the public road and then skirted the mountain to the huge beautiful lake, then it was back to climbing again up to Zujar.
Whilst at the lake I booked the Jaufil restaurant hotel for €25 its quite a bit out of Zujar but fortunately on tomorrows route. The worst problem is that they haven’t switched the main heating on so I’m sat under the AC blowing out hot air.
The weather today was sunny but with a strong cool wind from the west. The worst thing for me apart from the lurgy is my new super reflective Proviz jacket is totally non-breathable so when I arrive all my tops are soaked in sweat. I guess it may help in reducing weight 🙂