Day 165. Pucol – Pucol, 0 km.
I slept well in my very cold room. The hotel seem more or less empty so I enjoy my tostadas in front of the always present TV. The highlight of the day is when I walk along the big road that leads in to Pucol and do some shopping in the Supermercat.
I do almost nothing else all day, since the walk to downtown Pucol is to far and unpleasant I have my meals in the hotel. The proprietor allegedly is Gallego and the cuisine is supposed to be also. The meals are delicious and there are lots of veggies.
In the local papers I find an advertisement for a Lavenderia Autoservicio in Sagunt, this will be the highlight of tomorrow. I have done some washing in the bathroom sink but no washing machine since Benalmadena.
This accommodation was very expensive, I am so hoping that once Easter and semana santa is over I will be able to find cheap accommodation.
Day 166. Pucol – Grao de Castellon, 61 km.
I manage to get an early start, I want to be at the laundry when it opens at 9. The first bit is through the nice countryside with orange threes in full blossom.
Then I find that the road I was planning to bike on had been converted to autovia so I could not bike there. Instead I had to bike through the enormous and mostly empty Parc Sagunt. It is and industrial estate measuring roughly 3 by 1 km, most of the land is empty but as always in Spain the infrastructure is built.
After Parc Sagunt I get to the industrial harbor, not a very nice place either. I bike around in Port de Sagunt and manage to find the laundromat.
This being Easter Sunday it was very, very quiet in town. I start my laundry, one machine, four Euro, 30 minutes, amazing. The drying takes 24 minutes and cost another 4 Euro. So in less than one hour I have a whole bag full of clean and dry clothes. Perfect!
Before laundry I had some tailwind but it’s gone and now there is a headwind. The route takes me through half completed and/or half empty tourist ghettos along the coast, sometimes on bike lanes, sometimes on small roads.
All in all this is not great cycling, it feels more and more just like a transport. The villages, views, food and accommodation is uninspiring.
Once in Le Grao de Castellon I find a small hotel/bar/cafe/restaurant, still 6-8 Euro more than it would have cost if I had gone inland but such is life on the happy costa.
Day 167. Grao de Castellon – Benicarlo, 81 km.
Today actually looks like there might be some rain, very dark clouds over the mountains in the west. There is supposed to be a bike lane all the way to Benicassim and from there a Via Verde to Oropesa del Mar. The bike lane/road and Via Verde is absolutely crowded withe people, it seems everyone is out and about today. They are also very fast to bike on. The Via Verde is the old road that has been converted to walk/bike road, complete with tunnels and all.
After Oropesa del Mar I ride through the countryside to Alcossebre, I have decided to attempt riding through the Serra d’irta nature park. In theory it will save me from riding the big N-340 road and it should be shorter. The information I have managed to find is that the track is somewhere between facil and dificil, ranging from 20 to 30 km.
It turns out that I have to push the bike for a very long while and the road is at best very rough gravel. The clouds hoovered on top of the mountains just west of me so I guess that riding the N-340 would have meant rain. But I doubt it was worth the effort going through the Serra d’irta. Maybe with a full suspension MTB it would have been more fun.
I started to look for a hotel on the other side of the parc, in Peniscola, but the prices were very high. It felt like they had doubled already high prices. There were some drops of rain but I decided to keep biking and in the next town I found a reasonably priced little hotel. It was about 10 Euros more than what I would have expected.
Everything but Lidl was closed so I bought dinner there and ate it in my room.
The general impression from today that this part of the coast is not very nice, lots of garbage and smell of sewage. Yet another day of transportation.
Day 168. Benicarlo – L’Ampolla, 63 km.
I did the first 30 km on N-340, really fast biking but horrible with all the noise from traffic.
I cross the border of Catalonia and things become very Catalan.
When I get to river Ebro delta I have a close look at the map and find two canals with small roads next to them, first Canal de navegacio along TV-3408 and then after crossing the Ebro Canal nou de camarles. Really nice biking in the delta.
I have a lunch with low value for money, food and accommodation is becoming more and more expensive. Tomorrow will be a day of rest, some of it will be spent on planning some train travel across Europe.
I find a hotel in L’Ampolla, a small tourist-place, not very nice at all. When I park my bike in their storage area I notice that yet another spoke has broken. I will fix this tomorrow.
Before dinner I visit the tourist information, they were surprisingly well informed and had maps of all sorts. I also got some train related information.
Dinner was a mediocre menu del dia, all meals in this part of the world seem to come with a hefty serving of aoili, I like it and it makes other people less smelly.
Day 160. Alcaraz – Albacete, 88 km.
A cold and nice day, I look forward to biking the Via Verde. I have my breakfast and get going. I struggle a bit to find exactly where the track starts but once I find it it looks fantastic. It seems to be an old rail road track that the clever people have converted to a walking/biking road. As I will find out during the day it runs through many tunnels and has a very gentle grade, I guess it was a very old and tired train that used to run here.
The first tunnel has a sign saying “con iluminacion”, interesting, I will later find out that many of the tunnels did not have lights. The lights are very high tech and are operated by motions sensors so that just the section that you are in is illuminated.
The first 18 km or so are uphill, once I get to the rest area in Robledo it’s mostly downhill to Albacete.
There are many MTB cyclist out and about on the track, it’s a very nice day for biking. There are many tunnels and bridges, some of the longest unlit tunnels must be about 400-500 meters. It’s really cold in the tunnels. I bring out my speaker and play some music, it’s really great to be off the road for a day.
Unfortunately I have a headwind that means that I must pedal the bike downhill, that sucks a bit.
One tunnel is closed so I must take a detour out on the big road, the tunnel was very short and I could see all the way through it, no reason why it should be closed.
I meet a Dutch cyclist just as he is coming out of a long tunnel, his front light has been cracked while flying Ryanair to Girona. He is trying to fix it in en route. He has a house in Fuengirola so we talk some about the costa. He is riding from Girona to Fuengirola, he has gone inland over Teurel. He had some very high passes at 1700 meters. He had brought his tent but found out that all campings are closed this time of the year so he had stayed 15 days in hostals and likes. He was going to Alcaraz so I gave him some tips on hostals.
As I get closer to Albacete there are two more detours on the Via Verde so I give it up and ride the N-322 almost all the way.
The last 10 km or so were very slow, I biked the outskirts of Albacete and found the hotel. It was in a shopping area outside Albacete but had restaurants and supermarkets.
Day 161. Albacete – Casas Ibanez, 61 km.
I plan for this to be a long day and I have set the alarm to get a very early start. I have all my bags and the bike outside before 8. I have heard some noises yesterday so I check everything on the bike, and of course there is a spoke that is broken. It has cracked in the thread so it is still engaged and has not come loose. This sucks. I think through my options for a while, I decide to find a bike shop and see if they can replace the spoke and re-true the wheel.
After some searching I find one that is nearby, it doesn’t open until 10 but I decide to wait and wait and wait. Just as I am about to leave and find another shop the staff turns up 20 minutes late. Once the bike is inside the spoke is replaced and the wheel properly re-trued. At just after 11:15 I am back on the road again, I decide to bike back to the area where the hotel is and have lunch at a global chain that provides WiFi with their fantastic food.
I got some great tips in the bike shop, there is a very long fantastic bike road between Albacete and Valdeganga, from there it’s a road that goes through a canyon.
I bike through the countryside to find the bike road and it was fantastic, completely clean, no sand, no gravel, no glass. There were plenty of cyclists riding their carbon bikes along the road.
I cross the canyon but it was to much steep up and downs to be really enjoyable so I kept with my original plan and went to Casas Ibanez. Due to the fun with spokes in the morning I didn’t get to far this day. I found the hotel, one of the typical Spanish ones, the hub of the village. Combined bar/cafeteria/restaurant/hotel with a constant flow of guests.
The landscape here is much greener than in Andalucia.
Day 162. Casas Ibanez – Requena, 52 km.
There are some clouds today. I slept very well in the hotel, cold and quiet.
I start biking and the kilometers fly by. Then I reach a much bigger canyon, there is an insane downhill for 3-4 kilometers followed by a longer uphill.
It gets very hot in the canyon, there are also small flies or something that attacks whenever I stop or bike to slow. Some of the uphill is steep enough to have to walk. This is not fun with the flies. I think it takes between one or two hours to get up from the bottom of the canyon.
The day so far was hard with hills and heath, when I get to Requena I decide to try to find a hotel since the next possible accommodation is about 30 km away. Also I don’t know if this is 30 uphill or not.
I find a very touristy hotel in the old town part of Requena, it’s very expensive (probably because of Easter) and it’s more or less crap. There are only tourists in this hotel and I feel sorry for them if this is the only things they get to experience in Spain.
When I try to sleep I find out that the hotel is extremely noisy, my room is on top of the reception/bar and the door is uninsulated. Around midnight I go downstairs and try to talk to the staff but they are not interested in it being quiet. Nothing much o be done then and there, I don’t get many hours sleep.
Day 163. Requena – Paterna, 78 km.
When morning comes I ask for the official complaints form (from the local government of Valencia) and this gets their attention. The staff don’t know where the forms are so they call the owner, I think that businesses that can not produce this form are subject to an on the spot fine if the police catch them. They find the form after a while and I get a full refund, I fill out the form and leave with my copy.
So the day did not start well, but the morning was beautiful. It was cold and there was low clouds. I started down the via servicio that goes along the A-3, a big nasty and busy highway. There was an amazing amount of cars out driving, maybe Easter celebrators. I am just hoping that they don’t book up all hotels down by the coast.
This via servicio was very rough and in some places it was really hard to get through, but eventually I made it to N-III which is the old road going in parallel with the highway.
After a while I start to circle Valencia east to north, I don’t feel like going in to the center and the out again. So I get to ride the countryside again. Some small villages and some farmland. After a while I reach very big suburban areas with small villas. It feels like I make 1000 turns in a short while. After going through a forest on rescue “roads” I get to the hotel.
The country side smelled like expensive shampoo, maybe it’s the orange tree blossoms.
There is a room but only for one night, I really wanted a day of rest, but I have to move on tomorrow.
The hotel has no parking for my bike so I lock it just outside the reception/cafeteria, as it turns out lots of the local security guards and Policia Nacional spends a lot of time in the cafeteria so my bike is properly protected.
I am very, very tired, I am having serious problems staying awake during dinner. I got to bed early and sleep very hard until the alarm next morning.
Day 164. Paterna – Pucol, 24 km.
I wake up at 07:30 when the alarm rings, I have slept like I was unconscious, I feel rested. Yesterday I searched for hotels nearby but many were full, I managed to find one near Pucol, it’s only 24 km so it will be like 1.5 days of rest.
I have a late start and spend a while going through all the spokes and tighten them a bit, the wheel is still true, but I tighten them a bit anyway.
I bike some small roads in the country side, cross some small towns and finally a very long bike road. There are lots of people out on their bikes today also. But most shop and bars seems to be closed and it’s very quiet.
I find the hotel as advertised, they have not turned on the A/C but after some talking to the manager he sees my point that since he charges 40%-50% extra because of Easter he should get up on the roof and start the A/C. He calls for some A/C techs that come and start it up. They look mighty happy to celebrate Easter on the hotel roof.
I make it an early night.
Day 156. Linares – Torreperogil, 42 km
I start the day with breakfast in the room. This is a very nice day, sunny and nice. The first 9 km, out of Linares and then on to N-322 is very messy with road works going on, they are in progress of “upgrading” the N-322 from nice road to highway. After leaving N-322 I travel nice back roads, they are nice but even hillier.
I gain something like 500 meters of altitude the first 10 km so when I get to Ibros and find a park bench in the shadow under a three I take a well deserved break. Things are going slow today, uphill, headwind and hot like hell.
In Baeza I find a Teberna with a table in the shadow, so I stop there and have a very nice lunch.
When I arrive in Torreperogil I feel exhausted, I don’t feel like going another +20 km for the next possible accommodation. So I call it a day after only 43 km. The reception is at the bar desk and I get to park my bike in the yard in the back of the pension.
One from the staff and some volunteers help me carry my bags up to the room.
The place is very new and nice. I celebrate by turning the A/C on max and sleep some siesta to cool down.
Later I take a walk around the village, it’s all quiet and nice. When I go down for dinner at 21 I discover that the bar/cafeteria of the place I am staying in seems to be the watering hole for local law enforcement, several Guardia Civil and Policia Local units are there. As usual in Spain, I am the first for dinner and have to wait for the lights to be turned on and with them also the TV. Very nice dinner.
Day 157. Torreperogil – Puente de Genave, 66 km
I slept with the A/C running all night, it was tropical heat, 20C already before 8 in the morning. I have some breakfast at the bar, some locals arrive in jeeps and 4×4 and have their first stiff brandy of the day.
The day is very, very gray. Just as I pack my bike up and start to leave the happy folks from local law enforcement arrive and joins the crowd in the bar.
The road follows sort of a ridge so the first 20 km is relative fast. Once the road comes down to a bit lower altitude the temperature increases. My friends the farmers helps keeping the speed down, they travel between fields with their tractors at 25 km/h and the rest of the world just has to adjust.
Towards the end of the day there are many long downhills, my brakes started to fade a bit and when I checked the GPS later I had gone faster than 55 km/h down those hills.
I find a restaurant with a nice menu del dia, it’s really cold inside so it’s fantastic to sit down and eat for a while.
I continue to ride, the temperature in the afternoon is well over 30C, I bring out my new speaker and play some music.
I have a strong tailwind, I can bike at 35 km/h when it’s flat.
The hotel I find is for some reason expensive, maybe because it’s next to a nature reserve, the hotel and the interior is very dated. I take a walk around the village and do some shopping in the supermarket. Very nice little village.
I had an amazing dinner at the hotel, it was truly amazing and less than 10 Euro. The last couple of days it seems like I have been traveling through olive headquarters, there are olive trees everywhere. The olives they serve as tapas with drinks here are so delicious, the local olive oil is beyond fantastic. I think that I will not be able to eat any olives again after leaving this region or possibly Spain.
This is my last night in Andalusia, my home away from home during the last 5 months or so. Tomorrow waits uphills and Castilla-La Mancha.
Day 158. Puente de Genave – Alcaraz, 52 km
The morning is chilly and a bit gray., the day starts with a 15 km uphill.
This is my last day in Andalucia, the sun is strong but the winds are chilly. The scenery is stunning and I have to stop and take pictures frequently.
As the day progress the temperature rise and also the intensity of the traffic, there are big clouds on the sky behind the mountains and I hurry up.
I have decided to stop in Alcaraz, the next town with accommodation. is to far away and also behind a high pass.
There is a hostal down by the road, it doesn’t look great and reviews on the Internet are not good either. I decide to go for the hostal in village and have to push the bike up a very, very steep hill. Once up there is a small village and at the end of it I find my hostal.
The price is right, I get to park my bike on the balcony, I decide to stay two nights and have a day of rest tomorrow. I rush to the supermarket but it’s already closed. I have to settle for a small corner shop, just the basics to survive a Sunday. I return to the Hostal and do some laundry and hang it on the balcony and have a small siesta.
When I went shopping I found the tourist information, I went inside to see what they had to offer, I found out that there is a Via Verde along an old railroad going from Alcaraz to Albacete. This sounds almost to good to be true but they had maps and folders with information.
The clouds I saw earlier today have now grown and covers the whole sky, which is pitch black. A good time to go to sleep.
Day 159. Alcaraz – Alcaraz, 0 km
I slept very well and woke up late. There is no breakfast in the hostal so I eat some of the stuff I managed to buy yesterday. I do some more laundry, it looks like perfect weather to dry laundry in.
I go for a walk up to the ruins. I though the hostal was on the top of the village but it as it turns out there is a steep walk up to the ruins. The view is magnificent.
I spend some time looking at the route after Albacete, I have a challenge in getting down to the coast again without going in to Valencia. I don’t want to ride through a big city like Valencia, but there are very few options, I hope I will find the right one.
Nothing much to do in Alcaraz on Sundays so I spend the evening in my room.
Day 152. Cordoba – Cordoba, 0 km
Sunday in Cordoba. I practice the noble art of doing nothing for most of the day. I have a look at maps for the route ahead, update the blog, upload pictures.
I go out for some walks but the temperature is 30-31C in the shadow so the heat is intense. There is a massive amount of people out and about, most bars and restaurants are full, all the parks are full of people. No sign of La Crisis.
All the supermarkets are closed, even the little corner shop, maybe it’s some kind of local holiday or so.
Day 153. Cordoba – Andujar, 85 km
I start as early as I can to enjoy the cool mornings. The first 10-12 km out of Cordoba and then along the N-IVa is horrible. Massive traffic and nowhere to bike except on the highway-like road. After this I am out in the quiet and nice country side again.
There are many, many cyclist out and about, strange given it’s Monday. Most of them seem very serious cyclist with carbon bikes and carbon wheels.
A man on a bike catches up with me and we start talking some strange mix of Spanish/French/English, he is very impressed with how long my bike tour is.
It is a very hot day and before noon it’s well over 30C, the sun is shining.
I find a nice menu del dia and get to spend an hour indoors in the cold dining room.
Towards the end of the day there is a 14% uphill to conquer. I am very tired when I finally get to Andujar.
The hotel I have set my sights on is on the outskirts of town, in some kind of industrial area. At first I don’t like it but when I see that there are several restaurants and a big supermarket just across the street I decide to like it more. When I get to park my bike in the Business Center I like it even more.
Day 154. Andujar – Linares, 42 km
The breakfast buffet is fantastic and the morning is very cool at 14C. The ride to Linares is on some very dodgy via servico. At two underpasses I really start to wonder if there actually is a road to Linares except the highway.
It’s very hilly with many small up and down, the sun is blasting and before noon it’s 30C again.
It seems I was in the hottest place in Spain this day and temperature records were set.
When I arrived in Linares I could not get any 3G network and find my hotels I had looked up, I just stopped at the first one. When I saw it was 4 star I thought to my self that this will hurt. As it turned out it was very cheap, and I stayed two nights to have a day of rest tomorrow.
I park my bike in their garage next to the owners (?) Rolls Royce and go to my room and turn up the A/C to max and have a small siesta to cool down.
Linares is an old mining town. I will explore it tomorrow.
Day 155. Linares – Linares, 3 km
I sleep late and go out to the supermarket and buy breakfast, there is a small fridge in my room so I can store stuff there for 2 days breakfast.
I walk around the area and have a look, it’s not very exciting so I go back to the hotel.
The bike was very dirty from riding the flooded underpass, so I decided to take a ride to a service station and spend one euro on cleaning of the worst. I have had some doubts about the tension of my spokes, so I decide to take the bike to a local bike mechanic for a second opinion. He thinks they are perfect, I test some spokes on new bikes in his shop and they are like spaghetti. So I guess that my hand strength has increased or maybe it just is a long time since I built a wheel (August 2013).
The road ahead along the N-322 looks like it has partially been “improved” to Autovia A-32, I ask in the reception and the bike mechanic, there is no clear verdict on exactly where I can ride or not. I guess I will find out tomorrow.
Day 148. Benalmadena – Estepa, 67 km.
The time has now come to leave Benalmadena and Costa del Sol and start the long journey back home. To make life easier I had decided to stay in a hotel for the last nights. The reason mainly being logistics, I had to clean and leave the apartment at 10 in the morning, then carry the bike and all my bags down the stairs (12 floors). Then I would have to ride the 20 km to the train station and get the train.
So after spending many hours on cleaning the apartment and getting everything in order I went to sleep the day before my last in Benalmadena. Unfortunately there were many groups of people roaming around the hotel partying, the last ones went to bed just after 5 in the morning. So I started the day with only a few hours of sleep.
I had made sure that I had a room on the same floor as the reception so that I could just load the bike in my room and roll out the doors.
Unfortunately the weather was not so great, there were a few drops of rain in Benalmadena and the nearer I got to Malaga the more it rained. My plan was to take the Media Distancia train to Bobadilla to avoid the nasty traffic around Malaga and the mountains between Malaga and the inland.
It was dark when I left so I toke a chance biked on the beach walk, it is not allowed but the alternative was to bike through Torremolinos and Benalmadein the dark and rain. A small portion of the route to Malaga goes over the beach, it was not fun dragging my fully loaded bike through the sand and mud. I had already bought the ticket for me and the ticket for the bike so all I had to do was to pass through the X-ray machine, it was a 10 minute project to get all the bags off the bike and through the machine and then on the bike again.
The train I am taking goes all the way to Ronda via El Chorro and Bobadilla, a familiar route by now. It is only 13-14C and I am all wet, so I wait and wait and wait until I can board the train and at least be a little warm.
The train ride to Bobadilla was very uneventful, El Chorro looked great in the rain. When I left the train in Bobadilla the rain was pouring down and it was 12C, not really what I had hoped for on my first day of the return tour. But there is really nothing in Bobadilla so I put on my winter jacket, gloves and hat and started to pedal.
The ride through the Andalusian country side was as beautiful as usual, the rain made for some dramatic scenery. Towards the afternoon the clouds went away and the sun came out.
I had forgotten how fun it was to bike around in the country side, it seems there are not many loaded touring bikes going through this area as almost every car/truck I met smiled, waived, smiled, shouted, honked and/or stared.
I found a car/bus/truck stop along A92, they had a restaurant with menu del dia, it was not fantastic but at 9.30 Euro it was a bargain, and dry and warm.
When I got to Estepa after some hills I felt that I had enough for one day and quickly found Balcón de Andalucía. Hostal, bar, cafe and restuarante in a one stop shop for cyclists. I got to park my bike in the garage and they had central heating, fantastic place.
The view from the room was fantastic. Since I now had left the tourist paradise and entered the proper Andalucía there was no dinner to be had until 20:30. So I hung my clothes to dry and had a quick siesta.
I was the first and only guest in el comedor, dinner was great as it mostly is in Spain.
I was very tired so I went straight to bed after dinner (around 21:30).
Day 149. Estepa – Estepa, 0 km.
I wake up and hear that the rain is pouring down and it’s really cold outside (about 6C). I quickly decide to take a strategic rest day, no point in spending a day in the rain if it can be avoided. After all, I am not in any particular hurry.
I sleep for a while longer and then I go down to the cafe/bar and enjoy my breakfast, tostadas.
Nothing much get done this day. I have lunch, excellent menu del dia, at the hostal. I take a small walk in the rain and do some shopping at the supermarket DIA.
I have made a eBook copy of the blog so that it can be read offline, but in the latest version it became to big to fit the eBook formats. So I had to remove all the pictures from it. I have spent a lot of time testing new tools to create eBooks with pictures, but in the end it turned out that Libre Office is the best so far (at least for PDF). So I spend some time adding pictures back in to the blog-book.
I notice that my Spanish no longer works, I don’t know if it is that I am tired or that people outside Costa del Sol don’t understand bad tourist Spanish.
Day 150. Estepa – Fuente Palmera, 61 km.
Clear skies but a very cold morning. The heater is very hot but it is not enough to bring any real heath to the room. I pack up my stuff and go downstairs for my tostados.
It was so cold that I had to put on winter clothes, I could see my own breath as white smoke.
The first 12 km or so was mainly downhill and I average close to 30 km/h almost effortlessly. The day turns out to be great, it’s a bit cold but the sun is shining and the sky is big. It feels great to be back on the road, in the country side on small roads.
When I rode through Ecija there even were some bike lanes, felt great, but the town was not very big so soon I was back on the roads again.
During the pause in my tour I bought a louder speaker to have on the handlebar, in theory it can connect to my phone with Bluetooth. But luckily it also has a line-in jack. This was the first time I tried it out while biking, it was really great to be able to listen to music even when cars pass by. It seems like it also confuses all the nasty dogs along the road, it seems like they think it’s a car coming and discover to late that it’s cyclist that needs barking at.
Later in the day it got warmer, almost 20C. I have been feeling a minor strain in my calf, so decide to to push it to much and check in to Hostal Carlos III in Fuente Palmera.
The rest of the day is spent shopping at Dia and eating in the hostal. I have a bocadillo de tortilla francesa con mayonesa y tomate, this is the perfect food for a hungry cyclist.
Day 151. Fuente Palmera – Cordoba, 47 km.
I wake up and it’s a light rain but not as cold as yesterday. My next stop is Cordoba and a planned day of rest. It will be my third time in Cordoba.
The road to Cordoba is relatively flat, once in Posadas I turn on to the big road in to Cordoba. A little bit to much traffic for my taste but mostly a very wide shoulder to ride on. There are many road cyclists out today, it seems like they are not at all using the shoulder. They just group up and block the lane, I guess that’s the only safe way to ride if you can’t ride the shoulder.
Once inside the city limits I find my way to my favorite hotel and amazingly enough they have rooms to spare. I park the bike in their garage and set out to have a look around Cordoba. This is my third time here since December so nothing new.
Early dinner at my favorite restaurant and then an early night looking forward to my day of rest tomorrow.