Day 25,762 biking Alicante to Murcia

What a relief, a day of wall to wall sunshine along super bikeways and quiet roads between Alicante & Murcia all be it with a bit to much chill in the air for my inadequate clothes 🙁

I left The Esplanade Hotel in Alicante after an OK breakfast and retrieving the bike from the left luggage store. Excellent to see that the narrow streets have the cycle lane clearly marked down the centre of the road giving space for the parked cars doors to open and more importantly letting cyclists set the speed of the cars! What a great idea no need for ridiculous 20mph limit signs all over the place plus infinitely safer for cyclists.

Cycleways connecting towns!

Once I reached the new roads what a joy to see wide dedicated bike tracks alongside the dual carriageways even cunningly using storm drains to cycle under the cloverleaf junctions a great dual purpose, although they could have adjusted the gradients slightly to allow the last 1″ of water to drain away! The cycleways went on for about 20 miles outside Alicante and then the route reverted to minor roads through miles of lemon groves interconnected with very short sections of tracks.

The bikes gears kept jumping all over the place no doubt from all the carrying and knocking about on the marathon train journey here. I oiled it up and fortunately the road was pretty flat so I only had to pull the front changer wire once to get it into the big cog. In Orihuela, I also stopped & rotated the handlebars up as my left hand had developed an annoying pain where I hold over the hoods.

The La Dama cafe was incredibly busy and not surprising given a coke, bottle of water & a couple of biscuits was €1.50! Later rounding a bend I nearly ran into another English cyclist who is living in a camper van over here &  going out on his classic bike every day said he did Audaxes too! Loads of Spanish groups and individuals out too but very few acknowledgements when they passed.

After 53.6 miles and a dawdling 10.9mph I eventually arrived at Hotel El Churra Vistalegre which is going to be my home for the next 4 nights 🙂 Tomorrow I will check my bike into the local Specalized shop to get the gears adjusted (how lazy of me) as the Audax is a really hilly course.

Pakoras, Edamame, Quesadilla, Yakka Mars
Pakoras, Edamame, Quesadilla, Yakka Mars

In the evening, and how strange is it that restaurants only open after 9 pm, I used Google to find the Dragones Vegan Cafe excellent food & value for less than £18.

 

Unfortunately for some weird reason, I can’t access Flickr on the hotel network 🙁  and since I’ve already used 1.3GB of my mobile data allowance I’m limiting my mobile data usage 🙁

Here is the Strava for the day:

Yet another 6 hours going south on a train.

Bike bagging in 20 minutes

I woke up and rode to Barcelona Station in yet more heavy rain 🙁 stopping for an excellent breakfast at Granier where I ate last night.

I booked the €40.70  ticket to Valencia on trainline.com last night it arrived as a pdf that they said needed printing out at the station ticket machine. However, the RENFE  lady by the machine said I was OK with the pdf and wonder of wonders the train would depart from Platform 11, leaving me oodles of time to dismantle the bike by the escalator. I now have it down to a fine art, so 20 minutes later it was beautifully encased in the nylon bag, with even the derailleur tied in. The train guys were suitably impressed even letting me first down to the platform.

Bike on a luggage shelf.

The train 1111 duly arrived and I was by the wrong door so a bit of a dash to find the pokey little luggage space was nearly full.  I just couldn’t get the bike to fit in until a kind passenger showed me how to lift up the top shelf thus allowing the bike to squash in vertically, the rack is only 50cm wide by 1.2metre high thank goodness I had taken care to strap the wheels and derailleur to the frame!

Whilst travelling along I noticed the coach on the screen showed it terminated in Alicante which looking at my map was only 80km away from Murcia, my ultimate goal. A look at the hotels.com app showed I had 15 mins to cancel my hotel booking in Valencia at no charge, which I did 🙂 On trainline.com I booked an additional ticket for Valencia to Alicante at only €16.40 and then booked a hotel in Alicante all done from my seat – modern technology is magic although the train less so, as it kept coming to juddering halts!  So just after  6 hours and 350 miles later I alighted in THE SUN at Alicante to reassemble the bike.

The Esplanade Hotel is a bit faded but OK especially for €42 a night although the shower is only 2-foot square which is very tight for me and my scrubbing techniques.

So that should be the end of the trains for a while. It’s been an illuminating experience but I don’t think I will be in a rush to repeat it! Easy to see why people flock to planes with there generous luggage allowances, cheap & very fast flight times.

Back on the trains with my bike.

I woke up totally refreshed and the sheets hadn’t moved out of place all night. Today rain was scheduled and duly delivered 🙁

Ibis served an excellent buffet breakfast and I was soon on my way in the heavy rain to the main station just over 3 miles away according to my Strava. Once again the poor iPhone’s touchscreen struggled when covered in water, it always happens when I’m homing in on a destination, must get an umbrella for it!

I had left it to late to buy an online ticket so I at to pay the full €120 for the 3 hour trip to Barcelona (the online price one week ahead is €69 for comparison 🙁 )  one huge benefit though was that I could specify the lower deck so I didn’t have to struggle up the coach internal stairs.

Montpellier station is very pleasant built above the tracks with lots of eateries. Bike size lifts take you down to the platforms, once again you only get to know which of the 4 platforms it will use 15 minutes before it arrives, of course in Japan the platform is a given with clearly marked coach door numbered lines on the platform!

After my previous experience, I removed the pedals and released the mudguards before going down, leaving me 10 minutes to take the bags and wheels off and strap the wheels to the frame before dropping them into the nylon bag. Just made it when the train hoved into view, then a dash down the platform to the packed train.

Bike just fitting in luggae space on a TGV

The bike just fitted (1 metre in disassembled length) against the luggage rack halfway down the coach very neat and out of the way but blocking the folk’s suitcases in, fortunately, the seat was just in front so I could bob up and down at stations.

In Barcelona, I reassembled the bike on the platform so I could bike to Hostal One where I managed to convince the guy that my bike belonged in the bedroom not in the municipal car park down the road 🙂

Going out later I realised how much I love Spain with its shops that sell everything including plugs and adapters 🙂 plus great fruit shops.

Tomorrow it’s back on the train to Valencia, poor bike must be getting fed up being taken apart so frequently!

Biking from Avignon to Montpellier down the Rhone & Camargue

Lifeday: 25759 (70.525 yrs)
Date Sun 4 Feb 2018
Location: Lattes, Montpellier, France

A bit of a monster day especially with very limited food & drink (missing the ubiquitous 7Elevens of Asia)  plus going astray several times.

I left the hotel pretty late as I didn’t get to bed until after 1 am due to my late discovery that my home-brewed power cable to the 5 port USB charger still had the US flat pin plug that I fitted for Taiwan 🙁 so I ended up having to dismantle a converter plug to wrap the wires into its innards.

The planned route wanted me to go through a building so my diversion had me go around where folks just dump their rubbish and broken glass in the roadways 🙁 I wandered around the pretty historic centre for a while looking for food, alas nowhere open.

I then made the error of following the first river not realising I was in the confluence of two huge rivers, I eventually escaped over a bridge and discovered the Via Rhona cycle path a good track not tarmacked but OK, although a big worry is puncturing or breaking one of the fancy spokes. I went to Vallabregues and found a tiny supermarket open so I made do with a croissant and bottle of milk.

Flooded vines

Unfortunately, past Beaucaire I followed the cycle track signs and ended up going the wrong way down a dead end track through flooded vineyards 🙁  I went back and returned to the planned route on the Elemnt, but thank goodness I good navigate with the iPhone as the maps on the Elemnt are useless once you are off route.

In Arles all was deserted apart from old men drinking strong coffee & no bread shops open, making me remember just how awful biking in France on Sundays is 🙁 I spied an open bar in Gallician and ended up with a tin of peanuts and coke. It was then onto a gorgeous cycle path along the Canal du Rhone a Sete with great views fo the Camargue even the famed wild white horses.  The track continued to varying degrees all through the seaside towns such as La Grande Motte. In the summer these places must be so heaving as to render the pathways unusable but today was pretty quiet apart from rollerbladers and a few kids on bikes.

I at last found a bread shop open at La Levade and managed to devour some pies. Finding the Ibis Budget in Lattes proved hard as there are half a dozen hotels in a hodgepodge development but I made it just before dusk.  92 miles in just over 7 hours of riding through some very pretty villages a bit reminiscent of places on the Norfolk Broads with all the boats in town centres I found the Camargue a bit disappointing but maybe I didn’t find the truly wild spots.

The hotel is OK but I couldn’t face walking a mile to get some dinner so I stayed in with some M&Ms and hot choccy from the vending machine outside the room.

Tomorrow is the train to Barcelona, in the rain!

The days Strava:

Today’s photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/gp/geoffjones/3qs1ZL

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