Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 2: Xátiva to Font de la Figuera

Day 2 on the bikes, knowing what to expect after day 1 we were much more confident about getting back on the trail.

This stage certainly looked tougher and we soon found out that when the profile elevation points up you are going to be travelling slowly.

After a decent nights sleep in some good accommodation we started just after first light. Directions out of town were pretty straight forward. The first few sections of the trail followed old farming roads through the orange groves, which surprisingly are fairly smooth paved bitumen roads. Again we saw plenty of guys and girls out on their road bikes in these backroads. Still super friendly everyone wants to say hola or Bon Dia which is valencian for good morning.

Coming into the first major town of Canals, we noticed quite a few mountain bikers around, and then more, and then finally a huge group of 50. Looking for the route, we get up to the town hall and they are just pulling down the start finish line. And we realise we just missed a local mtb race! Heading out of town we follow our route markers and notice the race signage is still up pointing the opposite way. Now we are hoping some back markers don't come flying around one of the corners into us.

It didn't take too long before the paved roads ended and we were back onto gravel roads, and compared to yesterday the terrain was much more rolling.

After Canals, we found some of our first proper mtb trails. A lot more interesting, but loaded up to close to 30kg not easy to muscle the bike around. This is where we found some decent climbing, not long but some 10-15% 500m long sections. By this time it's starting to get closer to the 36degree daily temperature which means you need a break at the top!


We were then glad to get back onto some faster fire trails. Spinning along we got to what is now becoming a dreaded sight, the autopista/motorway. Generally they are fairly new and navigating around/under/over is always confusing. This particular one included an underpass but on the otherside was a deadend and an abandoned service station.

Backtracking a short way it was obvious we missed a turn, or the turn was now gone. Looking closer at the map, we had quite a few features to navigate from and locate our current position. Rather than backtracking to find a turn that might no longer exist, we decided to wing it and just head down a road in the general direction (well me,Ben decided this was a good idea!)

Luckily it paid off and we found the railway line which happened to cross the correct trail.

After the next small town Moixent the bigger climbs started. We where now winding through a valley. I can't access the full Gps data now, but we climbed roughly 500vertical metres over about 10k on gravel pot holed roads. Then we started to descend, which is a lot of fun, but plenty of caution/restraint is required. The fully loaded bikes over water bars at speed are not easy the handle.


Then the final stretch started, you can see the town, what seems only a few ks away but, the trail seems to snake in all directions towards it. Plenty more rolling hills, and finally we arrive


We had originally planned to ride through to Alamansa, a much bigger town. But the days hills combined its the heat we decided not to spend too much energy so early in the trip.

Arriving in the town, we quickly found a lunch spot. Being Sunday and a small town the full kitchen was closed, so a boccadillo of Jamon, cheese and tomato was it, washed down with a San Miguel beer.

Talking to the bar owner, there was a big festival on in town today. Which means accommodation was going to be hard to get. Walking up to the main square there was hoardes of people around. And we see the entire square is rigged up with fire crackers. Our guide book tells us the local sports hall offers accommodation which is organises by the local police, and luckily right on the square are the local police.

Could it get any easier! We find out the accommodation is free for people doing the camino, but we must wait until the fireworks are finished until we can get the keys. it's still early in the day at 2pm. And the fireworks start going off about 5mins later. But they are not fireworks as we know them, more like a huge pile of firecrackers making noise and smoke!

So we finally get the keys, check out then accom which is great.

It's the little shed just behind the tennis court!!

Relax in the main square with a few drinks, and then arrive back at the accom and find the same pyrotechnicians setting up more fireworks in the tennis courts right behind our room! Which are set to go off at midnight!

We found a decent meal, and I ordered the beef, and as usual you just order the type of meat with no idea how it's prepared, or even what the cut is. Turned out to be a beautiful scotch fillet!

Being dead tires we crashed by about 10pm, and sure enough at midnight we woke up to fireworks going off just outside or door on the tennis courts! Out the small window of our little room we could see the flashing lights of the fireworks, too tired to get out of bed I just rolled over and went back to sleep!


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