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.
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!
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.
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.
BREVET Allowed TIMINGS
Top speed mph
Slowest Speed mph
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:-
I’ve now had two very relaxing days in the sunshine here in Murcia preparing myself for the 200km Audax tomorrow if they let me do it without an ‘official license” whatever that might be.
Murcia is a very pleasant University Town, 63 years younger than Cambridge but much larger with 38,000 students so it has a very young feel when roaming the streets, as I love doing and mercifully it seems to be off the main tourist circuit even though it has the fine St Mary Cathedral.
My hotel for 4 consecutive nights, almost a record for one of my solo trips, is Hotel El Churra Vistalegre the room is OK but the WiFi is really annoying as it refuses me joining Flickr and a few other sites, it isn’t the ISP as Reception on a hard-wired connection can access them. Also, the bed is a bit on the soft side but I still love living in a hotel especially at €40 per night 🙂
I had the bike gears fixed in the appropriately named shop The Bike! The guy also dismantled & regreased the front hub of my nearly new noisy Racing Quattro LG Wheels. Whilst he was doing this I had a bit of a cold sweat as to what would happen if I broke a spoke or two, since it would appear to have to partially dismantle the wheel coupled with their profile would make it nigh on impossible to do on the roadside 🙁
The other purchase was a high viz jacket from con2pedales for night riding, not the all white one for obvious reasons and some less obvious ones, paradoxically I found them hard to see on other riders due to the sheer blanket brightness. So I bought the Nightrider in Orange with many hi-viz reflectors and space for the Proviz rear light.
So I’m ready for the Audax in the sunshine and 14 degrees tomorrow. License permitting…
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.
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.
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 🙁