Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 4 - Higueruela to La Roda

Sitting here again drinking a Tinto de Verano after another hard day of riding. Which is red wine with soda water on ice, sometimes with rum for an extra kick!

Last night was excellent accommodation at Hotel la Posada. Recently renovated we had keycard entry, new bathroom, a/c and cable tv with 20 channels in Spanish. After a massive menu of the day lunch, we made ourselves a light super market dinner of Jamon, lettuce, canned corn, canned tuna and some bread.

After a huge lunch eating out is usually the last thing on your mind, most smaller towns only serve tapas at dinner time, which is usually fried things.

Day 4 and we were starting to get in the groove. We had lost a bit of time in the previous days so we had to decide if we would still try and make it to Toledo in 3 days time with a rest day up our sleeves.

To get back on track we had to put in a 90k+ day. The terrain looked flat, but others had said this is one of the harder sections due to the endless open roads in the searing heat.

We started early again, leaving by 7am, 15mins before first light. Directions are hard in the middle of the day, in the dark on a bike it was very difficult. Within 5mins we hit a motorway under construction. Our road just ended at a 50ft drop into a new road cutting. We could see a crossing further up but it was busy with trucks full of dirt and various road building tractors, graters etc. but there seemed no other path, and it was the right direction. 10mins of riding down the dust filled road of construction. We picked up a trail marker with a sigh of relief that we were on the right track.

First light, trying to find the markers
The view at first light
Small town of a few hundred
 

The day started quite cool about 15degrees with a light breeze. Before too long the sun started to rise high enough to warm us up, but the suddenly we road into what we now know is a fog. Quite eerie in the middle of a grain field, with no civilisation within sight in any direction. For close to an hour we rode in the fog, finally we ever emerged onto the motorway, thankfully this time well marked.

Riding into the fog
The terrain was quite fast, mostly farming roads through the grain fields. It didn't take long before the scenery became a bit bland, after the first 3 days of constantly changing scenery to keep the mind distracted from the peddling.

Endless rolling gravel roads
 

We made great time to Chinchilla, and arrived too early even for our second breakfast with nothing looking to be open. We pushed on for another 17.5k to Albecete. The terrain was much the same with some of the roads becoming worse with lots of slow sandy sections and rocky sections of the road.

On the train
We passed through Albacete fairly fast. We had been told they were having a major fiesta for fireworks at 2pm which means masses of people marching through the town. Not wanting to get blocked i pn by the crowds after a quick late second breakfast we were off again.

Not before too long, we hit another new motorway. Just as we loop around looking for our direction a second time, a man comes running out of a nearby building yelling something out at us. He fires off for 5mins in Spanish to Rishi, apparently according to Rishi's understanding of his rapid fie Spanish the new motorway has blocked the trail and many people get lost at this point, he directed us to follow back over the railway and follow the service road and rejoin further up. It looked possible on the map, so long as there was a way to cross the railway and the motorway further up. We follow the trail for 20mins and thank you Mr you saved us getting lost!

At this point when we rejoined the trail all we could see is open fields as far as we could see. Having already done 50k and with another 40k to go the heat again started to take its toll. Heating up to around 35k and with no shade in sight the only way to get through is to power on and stop wherever you can find shade for a drink. These are the bits that Rishi hates the most, and she started to struggle again similar to the first day. At this point the super drafting train was starting to break apart, we are riding different speeds which makes it difficult. The best strategy is to alternate some faster sections for 10mins and then cruise for a short break.

Finally some shade
 

Only 10k from the finish we can see the town in the distance, a nice shady spot on the side comes into view but has some strange looking thing draped across it in the shade. Rishi yells out to me "What the hell is that on those rocks" and then a lady sits up. 2 walking pilgrims from new Zealand trying to hide from the sun. W have a short chat, and they plan to wait out the sun and walk when it's cooler. It's only 2pm, and it will only get hotter until 5 or 6pm!

Realising how hard it would be to walk this section, Suddenly we don't feel do bad and push on through the next 10k in just over 30mins.

Upon arriving we stumble across some accommodation, looks good, it's after 3pm we are just hoping they will still serve lunch. We must stink because he says we can take 30mins and shower and come back for lunch!

We sit down for lunch at 3:30pm, 4 courses and we are done at 5pm! And only 20euro with drinks! Afer luch we realise the town is famous for a pastry called a miguelta which is a cream filled filo pastry, so we have to try couple! I think it will be an in room home made salad again for dinner tonight.

The way always goes past the church
Finding the church
In the end 95k for the day, the furtherest Rishi has ever ridden, 8hours on the trail including breaks.

Now we just have to do the same again tomorrow! I keep telling Rishi it will only get easier!

 

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