Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

Cycling Velez Bianco to Zujar

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!

Cave Houses

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.

Where did the tarmac go?

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 🙂

My Strava for the day is:

Cycling from Lorca to Velez Bianco

I woke up at the Felix Hotel in Lorca feeling dreadful. A bunged up nose, sore throat & gummy mouth the dreaded lurgy had returned again from  my Taiwanese cycling Trip

I still hadn’t made my mind up which way to go; the problem is that they have now made parts of the old road into a motorway so at one point the only way is on a footpath for 10km or maybe hop on the motorway a short distance between two adjacent junctions.

In the end, I chose the back roads so I could visit Velez Blanco leaving the path/motorway decision for another couple of days.

First stop was the pharmacy where I was sold 40 X 600mg  Ibuprofeno capsules, seemed a bit extreme but only €5. Then it was across to the co-op to fill the water bottles and get some cereal bars etc. So it was nearly 10 am before I really started biking.

A bit of a hilly day

It was a gorgeous sunny day so I decided to not book a hotel until I knew how well I was doing,  as it was going to be uphill all day. The road was obviously the old main road so it was wide totally deserted and a pleasure to be on. I even had a couple of mini downhills but after Jardin the serious climbing started with the White Town and castle perched high up.

Velez Blanco from the castle
Velez Blanco from the castle

The hill is endless, I ended up stopping for breathers every 10 minutes or so but I made it! A 1,000-metre climb with all the bags on the bike. The village itself is quite beautiful with stunning views of the surrounding area and the castle dominating, I’m sure laying the paviours throughout the village must have been a worthwhile contract for some guy.

I eventually found a bar to get a Coke and tortilla (€4) and decided that I had done enough for one day so a quick look on found me AT Restaurante El Palacil literally a stone’s throw away. I have my own apartment with the terrace offering good views.

A pretty exhausting day with my lurgy and over 3,000 feet of climbing. Let’s hope tomorrow has some serious downhill and less of the lurgy.

For fun just looked at the Strava segment on the final hill which is a Cat3 climb, I’m No1 in my age category 🙂 but overall what took me 31:45 to do the KOM took 6:37

Here is the Strava:

Geoff Jones Flickr

Goodbye to Murcia & blog record set

Yesterday was an ‘admin’ day but since it was so warm & sunny I decided to fit in a little 20miler returning to Murcia via the lovely surfaced path alongside The Segura River. It was great to be in only shorts and T-shirt.

The best Apple Crumble yet!

I’ve really enjoyed staying in Murcia definitely my kind of place, not too large, full of young people, no mass tourism & amazing selection of restaurants and of cause the sun & warmth plus it seems relatively inexpensive.

In the evening I did my blog post on Saturdays Spanish Audax, still can’t believe it had over 800 views in a few hours! Major record breaker for me.

Today, on Monday (Lifeday 25,767), I tore myself away and reloaded the bike with its carrier and bar bag, 8.5kgs at the rear 3 kgs at the front to continue the tour to Granada, Seville & Lisbon.

I tried loading the Wahoo Elemnt with the 350km route to Granada but it just wasn’t having it! I find the software really frustrating like where do you set the WiFi and why can’t it directly connect to the iPhone rather than having to go through the router etc Plus the screen resolution is not that good for city work. The Etrex was also having an off day too 🙁 so I gave up and used the Gaia app on the iPhone as I was desperate to try & beat the promised rain.

The route I made was only OK unfortunately it ended going around areas like the fenland fields the roads covered in mud after the recent shower 🙁 of cause the wheels soon clogged up so I ended up in a truckers cleanup yard so he could take most of the mud off with me finishing the clean up in a garage in Lorca.

I’m staying at The Felix Hotel again. I stayed here in Nov2016 on my ride from Cambridge to Morroco although re-reading the post makes me feel totally unfit now 🙁 Hopefully my fitness will return in next thousand or so miles!

Geoff Jones Flickr Pics


Brevet Randonneur 200K GDR Murcia 2018 Villena Yecla

t the start

Yesterday was the big day for my brevet Randonneur 200K GDR Murcia 2018 Villena Yecla, one of the main reasons for venturing a thousand miles South from the UK to escape the icy conditions of my previous two UK Audaxes in December & January, the weather in Murcia turned out as 9°C and 500m up it went down to 6°C so a close call 🙂

I applied for the Audax on Murcia’s Ultra cycling site and managed to transfer the €20 to them from my Barclays app (after working around its errors). However, imagine my dismay when I received an email saying  “Don’t forget your cycling license.”  Obviously being from the UK the idea of licenses is a bit of an  anathema, since Audaxes are specifically not races a Race License at £80 didn’t seem a good investment. My post on the Facebook Audax forum suggested my AukUK membership card & Cycling UK card or even as a joker suggested, my Cycling Proficiency Certificate maybe would do.

So I turned up with 30+ others at The Bike Shop at 7.30 am  (the previous day they had adjusted my gears and oiled the bike etc), to find all I had to do was to sign my Brevet Card and an A4 closely typed sheet of paper, who knows what it said, a bit like the webs T&Cs. so totally no problemo.

I was agog at the machinery & bikewear on display nothing like any UK Audax I’ve been too, plus everyone seemed my kid’s age (late 20’s to 40’s). We lined up for photos at 8.14 and then shot of, crikey it was like being in Taiwan again, instead of scooters at traffic lights it was a peloton. By the third set of lights, with my speedo having shown well in excess of 32km/hr, I knew I would be doing the ride on my own and so no need to worry about not knowing Spanish for chatting! Climbing the first hill I caught up with the only girl and her partner, he was peeing in the centre of the road! a few yards later they flashed past in turbo mode.

Inside my completed Brevet Card

The Audax had 4 Control Points. At the designated distance/town you have to find a bar/cafe/service station and ask them to rubber stamp (sello de goma) the appropriate section of the card and add the arrival time. I chose the first cafe as it was full of cyclists alas none of them knew about Brevets or Audaxes my fellow riders had disappeared hours ago. I was dismayed to find I was within 30mins of the upper time limit. Oh dear mild panic set in as the bars/cafes don’t seem to do cakes etc and the service is usually very slow, the waitress pointed down the street to a churro van but I decided to just have my banana and gulped down my €1.20 cup of coffee.

Km Min time My time Max time Top speed mph Slowest Speed mph
55 09.37 11.11 11.45
121 11.34 15.26 16.04
147 12.19 16.44 17.48
202 13.57 19.00 21.30  21mph  8.15mph

The wind was pretty strong once I gained some height and always seemed to be in my face especially on the long straight never-ending section between Villena & Yecla. In Yecla I stopped at the service station to fill up on junk food their rubber stamp was inkless, no doubt though earlier overuse!  🙁  After leaving, it’s a 90-degree left-hand bend so with a strong wind up my rear & downhill – 40kph was soon reached and joy returned to my heart.

It was pretty good from then on (the difference the wind makes) except in Pinoso where the first bar I went in was run by English folks so of cause no rubber stamp 🙁

I caught the sunset and so arrived back in Murcia in darkness the finish was at Hotel Nelva they stamped my card at 7 pm and then retained it for the organiser to collect and send them for homologation with the Audax Club Parisien.

The roads were very quiet and Spanish drivers seem to be very courteous certainly compared to the UK. The road surfaces are very good apart from one small potholed section which required careful negotiation, but coming from England I’m quite used to that!

An enjoyable but very different experience to riding UK Audaxes especially with the Control Points, End Hotel and dare I say it the youthfulness of the riders 🙂

Here is the Strava which also contains a few pics:-

Flickr Pics