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.

Figure 1. Map day 160-164

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.

Figure 2. Tunnel

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.

Tunnel with lights
Figure 3. Tunnel with lights

The first 18 km or so are uphill, once I get to the rest area in Robledo it’s mostly downhill to Albacete.

Rest area
Figure 4. Rest area
Downhill from here
Figure 5. Downhill from here

There are many MTB cyclists 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.

Broken tunnel
Figure 6. Broken tunnel

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.

It IS open
Figure 7. It IS open

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.

Opens at 10, mas o menes.
Figure 8. Opens at 10, mas o menes.

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.

Quiet country side
Figure 9. Quiet country side
Magic bike road
Figure 10. Magic bike road

I cross the canyon but it was too 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.

Small canyon
Figure 11. Small canyon
Road to Casas Ibanez
Figure 12. Road to Casas Ibanez

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.

Quiet, cold, cheap, nice hotel
Figure 13. Quiet, cold, cheap, nice hotel

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.

Big canyon
Figure 14. Big canyon

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.

Out of the canyon
Figure 15. Out 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. I don’t know if this is 30 km uphill or not.

Cerveza or not
Figure 16. Cerveza 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.

Noisy and expensive hotel
Figure 17. Noisy and expensive hotel

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 to 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.

Biking in the clouds
Figure 18. Biking in the clouds

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.

Busy, busy, busy
Figure 19. Busy, busy, busy

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 arrive at 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.

Thank you for watching my bike
Figure 20. Thank you for watching my bike
Thank you for watching my bike
Figure 21. Thank you for watching my bike

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 awhile 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 as well. But most shop and bars seems to be closed and it’s very quiet.

Bike lanes again
Figure 22. Bike lanes again

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.