Spanish Figary & Other Stories

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Day 74 Friday June 09

Bye Bye Valencia

I'm still trying to make up my mind about where exactly I'm going. Actually, scratch that. I have no idea where I'm going. I'm trying to figure out what *route* to follow. Do I follow El Cid (in reverse) up past Burgos or do I do the Montanas Vacías loop? In any case, there's no need to make a decision today because I'm heading in the direction of both of them and most of the day will be in a Via Verde! Unfortunately for me, I'll be going the wrong way and going uphill all the way!

I was up and out early, flitted along the sea and through the familiar edges of the city without entering the centre. Passing through the outer centre I had the feeling of leaving something behind, something unaccomplished. There's a real liveability vibe to the place. I'll be back. To allay the "losing out" feeling I stopped for a tostada and couple of coffees.

Leaving the pleasantly liveable sprawl of Valencia behind and out into the country.


The early part was nearly all dedicated cycle path and easy to get out of town. 13km it took me to fully leave the urban sprawl behind and no more than 500 meters was on the road. I reckoned I had about 20km to cover before joining the Via Verde de ??? which runs up to Tereul. I wasn't expecting much and therefore wasn't disappointed at the relatively flat, agricultural landscape around me in the early stages. Fenceless fields, neatly ordered and serviced by impressive irrigation systems reminded me of my adventures in Holland back when all I had was a slow realisation that a bike could take me to a whole lot of places.

There was a time when this would have been the perfect bike-touring day. Easy. Easy to make the Kms, easy to navigate. These days I seem to be a bit harder to please. Something else has changed too. In the old days hills would have inspired a distinct negative feeling. Today, when they were finally getting closer I was full of anticipation. Everything from views to surfaces were about to get more interesting. To hell with the hard work!
Some wildness starts to take over.......

I was able to put the lingering sense of loss about Valencia to bed once and for all as I climbed higher and crossed over the motorway. One of my regular exercises to keep my head on right is to stop regularly and remind myself just how damn lucky I am to be getting to do this. Passing over a motorway with serious people on serious business in serious vehicles thundering under me is a particularly fine spot for such an exercise. As I was parked up, looking over the flow of traffic and thanking the Touring Gods that it wasn't me down there (at least not yet!) one truck driver, it seemed, grasped what I was doing and let out a long honk of his horn. Looking down I could see a beaming smile and a waving arm that swept from view below me. A random, anonymous, stranger seemed to be happy for me and was happy to let me know.

He wasn't the only one. A few truckers did the same thing, far enough apart that they weren't copycats.
I always think that there's something about a bike traveller that inspires others. Today, I was inspired by the messages from below. Time to pull my head from looking back towards Valencia and focus fully on the mountains ahead!

The colours can be captivating and inspiring.....

Turning into the mountains had exposed a hilltop fort - always good for inspiration - and a change in crop to citrus trees meant the air was filled with a delicious citrus tang. Fresh and inspiring!

I stopped in the small village of Petrés for a bite and a cold drink. I got a bad scare when the waiter couldn't understand me - and I couldn't understand a word he said. I have no faith in my ability to learn a language and it seemed that everything I have picked up was suddenly wiped like my poor iPod.
Of course not. The chap was from Romania ^_^ Once someone explained that to me we both got to have a laugh.

From bustling modern city along a state of the art bike path to windey, weaving lanes and cycling through history,,,,,,

As I was leaving an older couple, Dutch pulled up on two bikes, out for a day ride. Well, I waxed lyrical about the country side, the contrasts between dry and fertile, the great conditions for cycling to two faces that grew increasingly disconcerted. "Nice" was the most enthusiastic description I could drag out of them! It's strange, how we can all see things differently.

Setting off again, I was doing a steady climb in great heat. A strong wind, though, was my amigo, keeping me from melting.

Estivella had shade, if not people, so I rested up for a while out of the heat. I was very relaxed and in no rush. The only activity was a couple of young lads out on little push scooters looking shyly at the stranger in their village and a little bit awestruck at his bike. There was a campground a bit away and well above the town. That'd do for home for the night.

Ha! DumbAss!

Approaching Estivella. Spanish towns can be very good at their foreplay!

Despite being open for "residents" they wouldn't be open to visitors until next week. There was a coldness, a finality in the tone of the remarkably unfriendly woman in the office that I didn't even try to introduce a bit of charm. When I asked about other campsites in the area, knowing what was available but hoping for some additional information such as if they were open or not, I got a frigid "No". I did ask if I could use the bathroom (attached to the office) and such was the length of time taken to consider my request I nearly peed myself then and there.

The next campsite was a good 25-30 km away but I wasn't in the least bit fazed. I knew I'd soon be on a Via Verde and there should be good options for a stealthy camp. I was more bothered by the cold, unfriendly reaction of the woman in the office than the fact that I hadn't got a place to sleep.

Because I had turned off route to get to the campground I was damned if I was doubling back, so made my own way to the town of Algíma d'Alfara where I'd start the Via Verde de Ojos Negros. Topping up my water at a public fountain I got chatting to an English emigré. He had a load of empty bottles (ignoring the request not to take more than 2 liters - water supplies are low) that he was filling and eventually paused to let me fill my solitary one. He lives up in the hills and the drinking water, from a communal well, is not as good as this. Spain is great to live in. Cheap booze and lots of weed.

A little after 6:30 in the evening I was turning onto the VV de Ojos Negros, pleased to note the sign and barriers) prohibiting cars.

I'd be on this as far as Tereul.

The start of the Via Verde. I was pleased to note the no traffic sign and the barriers. A Wild Camp was a distinct possibility! I was well watered, Thunderbirds were Go!

I guess some people would find such a rail train to be boring, and to be fair, if I was only to cycle on them I've no doubt I would get bored, but loaded as I am, they're not just pleasant to cycle on, they're very pleasant places to spend some time and find a place to sleep.

Lots of variety early on from open vistas with intensive farming to cutting through the rock

There was a fair bit of variety in the landscape now, passing through some intense agriculture, some wild land, through channels cut through the rock, over dried ríos and through old tunnels. The shade was heavenly, but the sunlight was glorious. I'm never happy! ^_^

Away from the town and the few walkers, I had this beauty all to myself. There may have been singing!

I rejected a couple of likely spots to camp right beside the path because it was too early. I may as well keep covering ground. Eventually, I came to an old station with some flattish ground. The discreet thing to do would be to set up out of sight but it was overgrown, wild and thorny so I pitched up on grass between the ruin and the path.

I had company! Some kind of wild animal caught my eye when it burst out of the hedge opposite, then promptly retreated again. It seemed to be the size of a Jack Russel, brown with a white stripe and a long bushy tail. No idea! I didn't even know if I should be apprehensive!

Lots and lots of bridges

I made some dinner, discovering that the rail on one of my front panniers had been shaken loose. Confidently, I reached for my spare to discover that these are different fixings! Bah!!!!! I should have stayed with the Classics.

Later, when I went to pitch my tent, now in the dark, I managed to jam a peg into a nasty thistle who took instant revenge on my poor hand.

Even later still, I discovered that my sleeping pad has developed a leak.

But there was a wonderful moon. And just me and my mysterious neighbour to savour it.

Getting dark and not a feck was given!

Day 74 Friday June 09
Valencia to Wildcamp near Altura 70 km Total KM 2977
Min Meters 6 Max Meters 319
Total Climb 911*, Total Descent 400
Min Temp 22 Max Temp 44 Ave Temp 35

*The climbing numbers look overstated to me. Gizmo can go wonky on climbing if I switch it off. I might have climbed 200 meters when I switch it off, but 300 when I start it up again. CT suggests about 520 meters of climbing, although it's not the exact route I took, and probably understates.

Wild Camp 39.82806° N, 0.46888° W

Cycle Travel Here

Strava Here

Towns Along the Way
Albalat dels Tarongers
Algímia d'Alfara

The Whole day
Hola from the future!
The real world has been intruding in ways good and bad and I'm afraid that updates are suffering.
Given the time of the year, I suggest you get out there and make your own adventures! ^_^
Day 75 Friday June 10

Magic Morning

The dawning was well underway before I awoke. It was cool! Deliciously cool! A couple of guys rode past, my signal to get up. My plan was to roll into town and grab a coffee so packing up was quick and easy. A man walked past and wished me a good day. Wild camping is illegal in Spain and my approach in these situations is to be discreet, but visible, friendly but respectful. I don't think any of my early morning visitors will be reporting me to the Guardia Civil.

As a former not-a-morning person I love these types of mornings. There's a quality to the light that is impossible to describe but that seems to emphasise the power of life that it brings. Full of energy despite a poor night's sleep on a deflating sleeping pad I rode off to explore Altura. I took my time, though! Like I say, there was a "quality" to the morning and, in no rush, I wasn't that desperate for caffeine that I wanted to rush through.

Early morning, taking my time. Glorious light and hobbit houses! What more does a bike tourist need? Coffee!!


Unfortunately, Altura was a dead town that early in the morning. I found a café and relaxed over a coffee, then another. There was no food on offer and when more people came and food became available I didn't feel like staying. I moseyed on, found another café, failed to find some ciggies but enjoyed another coffee and a bite.
I headed off, a tad bemused. There were now lots of people out, all on terraces or in cafés but none actually going anywhere. Slightly strange, as if all these people all appeared out of thin air at the same time.

A wild pack of excitement! There were three of these groups and they brought great life and energy

I encountered three separate groups of kids out on their bikes with adult leaders. I pulled in each time both to let them by safely and also to enjoy the sight. They bring great excitement to the little road and I'll take any energy where I can get it! The truth is that I'm constantly climbing, and while not steep, it's steady and can be draining.

A very small selection of some of my views during the day

After about 20km I came up on Xérica (Jérica). Sometimes access from the VV to a town can be tricky so I took an "early exit" and approached on my own bikelane on a quiet road. But what an approach!! And the town lived up to the approach. It was a wonderful old town with lots of churches, a fair bit of life and one and deceptive steeple!

Xérica. A fabulous approach that was not deceptive. A steep town, a highlight for me, was the way the old buildings were "built around" even older ones. Having laboured all the way up a massively steep hill, lured by the idea of a special church I found only the steeple! Frauds!

It was so steep the best thing was to park bike and wander, otherwise I would hit an impossible street or stairs.
Hungry again (my usual state, these days) I opted to grab a sandwich. Service wasn't exactly swift nor friendly, being made to stand and wait as the till was counted at a shift changeover. Not a word of explanation nor apology offered. And a pretty full till at 12:30!

A little out of town a rare opportunity presented itself - a shaded picnic area!!! I passed several cool hours (a beautiful wind was blowing) scaring the bejaysus out of myself researching the Montanas Vacías route in detail. The more I read the more impossible it seems!

For a rail trail the surroundings could be very diverse and nearly always interesting. Lots of tunnels and bridges, interesting rock, ruined buildings and occasional open views....

Setting off again after 5 pm I had about 25km to go to an "approved" wild camp spot.

Near the end of the day I ended up on an open plain. After the "enclosed" feeling of most of the day it felt strange

I was finding it tough going. The path has been gravel all day and I finally figured out that was adding significant resistance to the climb, highlighted when I had a chance to join a proper road and flew along. It was a slow 25km. The steepish climb levelled off in a wide plain and my plan to stop in the last village for a bite to eat was thwarted by a sinking sun and no apparent place to eat! A filling station for cheese & chorizo sufficed and I charged the last few Kms, eating before putting up the tent.

All shade was gratefully accepted!

Buying plastified meats and cheeses in a filling station is a regular part of this bike tourist's activity but in Spain it inspires a sense of shame and guilt. The food -anywhere else- is just so good that it's almost disrespectful to the Food Gods. (For a non believer, the list of deities I recognise is starting to spiral out of control! ^_^ ).

A wonderfully refreshing looking lake!

Home is a recreational area with covered places with large concrete picnic tables, a kid's playground and non potable water. A motorway in the distance is the only noise.

It's listed on iOverlander but I see no real sign that my kind of overnight camping is expressly welcomed. Having said that, I see no sign that it's prohibited either. A few folks on bikes passed before I had the tent up but had taken over a picnic table to eat and were nothing but friendly. I don't think they were clueless enough not to realise what my plans are but nothing negative was said.

The little kid in me can't help getting excited by these kinds of approach

Later, alone in the landscape a beautiful, silver, half-moon lit up the country almost as bright as day. If that wasn't enough, thin, wispy clouds impersonated far off galaxies with the stars shining through them. Peaceful barely comes close to an accurate description. It was cool, too. At nearly 1000m of elevation I could count on a fresh night and invigorating morning. The Touring Gods were looking out for me!

One of my favourite shots of the day

I was surprisingly tired and began thinking of an easier day tomorrow.

Day 75 Friday June 10
Wildcamp near Altura to Wildcamp past Barracas 55 km Total KM 3032
Min Meters 317 Max Meters 999
Total Climb 1082*, Total Descent 188
Min Temp 14 Max Temp 36 Ave Temp 26
Wildcamp 40.02982° N, 0.72191° W

*I think my elevation gain today is out. CT suggests +/-800

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along the Way


The Whole Day


Sheffield, UK
Day 75 looks absolutely stunning! Wonderfully varied views. Superb weather, especially for photographs, although maybe a little toasty?
You're making Spain look more and more attractive for a tour, if not spoiling me for choice where to focus.
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Day 75 looks absolutely stunning! Wonderfully varied views. Superb weather, especially for photographs, although maybe a little toasty?
You're making Spain look more and more attractive for a tour, if not spoiling me for choice where to focus.

Hello again! Good to see you back.
Yes, a rail trail might seem boring to some but this one is in a particularly interesting part of the world.
I loved my first adventure to Spain to do the Camino and more so was optimistic when I arrived that I'd be in a good place for some more bike adventuring. I haven't been disappointed!
The bad news is that there's still a whole load more to be written up so don't go and do too much focusing ^_^ Generally speaking, I can think of one day, in one area, that was a bit bleh - Spain is great for bike touring! But it has hills! Lots and lots of hills! And heat! Another record Spring in parts. If you like olive oil buy it up now!

Since you followed TBBT you may be interested in the "lost days" now included thanks to the patient work of @Pat "5mph"
Day 76 Saturday June 11

Roccado goes to Mars!

There was no disturbance to my sleep during the night at all. I did wake up about 2:30 but I put that down to a relatively early night - I was asleep as the last layers of darkness fell - so rolled over and went again.
I think I woke up about 6:30 but that didn't last long! It was almost nine when I was awake enough to slowly leave the scratcher. I was clearly very tired! I set up the Trangia for coffee while I packed up and 4 cyclists pulled up on the other side of the path and did a really good job of ignoring me. A solo cyclist had passed earlier and we had exchanged cheerful greetings.

Unfortunately, the coffee and accompanying nicotine had me in pretty urgent need to use the bathroom, not something I was willing to do around here. Clearly this is a meeting place and kids and dogs will be all over at times. I could double back the 3km to Barracas or take a gamble and roll on. Maybe I'd see a more suitable place along the way (although digging a hole in this ground won't be easy) before hitting a café in one of the villages. I headed on.

Early morning views in an ever-varying landscape


Two very determined Spanish ladies stopped me to enquire if a side road would take them to the village quicker. I didn't know but as soon as I started to speak in my pre-caffienated state one of them (very, very) dismissively said that I wasn't even Spanish and instructed her amiga not to waste their time talking to me. I stopped reaching for my phone (and Osmand) at that point.

Later though, I met a father and son on a bikepacking adventure. The little lad, no more than 7 or 8, had his own "roll bag" attached to his small handlebars! Dad had the panniers and was delighted to talk to someone who wasn't Spanish! We had a lovely chat, although the young fella was shy and resisted my efforts at drawing him into the conversation.
What a fabulous thing to do! It's very rare for me to feel jealous on the bike but I did today. When I was the young fella's age there were no father-son adventures. My father was dying in hospital. And I didn't even know he was dying.

The Mighty Roccado, conquering planets as well as continents

A little later I think I freaked an older couple out. I'd rounded a bend and was stopped soaking up the view when they arrived on the other side of a bridge spanning the path. The lady in front seemed to grow more apprehensive the closer she came to the man astride a bike with his loon face on. She nodded perfunctorily when I commented on what a great view it was and when I tried similar with her husband following behind he just grunted. That's the Dutch for you! ^_^

There was also a group of about 12 MTBers that passed as well. Chatty fellas - not. I'd pulled in to let them by safely and must have inadvertently entered an invisible zone.

I was really enjoying the cycling. At times the view was limited to walls of rock on either side, sometimes trees and bushes but at other times it opened up - and always to a different scene it seemed. Sometimes dry, arid, rocky, almost white desert, other times forests of green trees from rich, orange soil, and even others back to dry and arid but a deep orange colour. I've seen all this before but it's still captivating to me. The variety just adds to the sense of progress.

Open, closed, my views kept changing, generating a great feeling of making progress

I turned off to enter the village of Venta del Aire at a crossroads and have a coffee and sandwich and use the pretty uncomfortable and unclean bathroom. I rested up for a little while in shade, bemused to be asked (for the second time I think, in Spain) if the orange safety flag I picked up in México is the Irish flag. A very well faded orange mesh with a functional reflective strip running diagonally down one side? Methinks not! Mind you, there's a small population on the island who would be very happy with a bold and bright orange flag flying over official buildings. ^_^

There's always a little bit of history in view to spark some thoughts and quite a few picnic tables scattered around too. Of absolutely no use in these conditions, though!

I set off again. And here's the problem with this Via Verde - getting into and out of the towns can be tricky.

If anyone has ever travelled the Vennbahn from near Aachen to Luxembourg it passes several towns all very far below the converted railway line. An easy, fast descent but a brutal climb to rejoin. Here it's similar but often on no road - just a rocky path. Declining the slipping, sliding and heaving required to get back on the Via Verde I stuck with the road only to find a lovely connection to the VV about 300 meters further along!!

Not for the first time I'm amazed at the difference and life a río brings

By now it was afternoon and it was hot, hot, hot. Anytime I stop in a place with a TV there is a discussion about the weather and lots of heat warnings. I'd understand it in Ireland. But this is Spain! It must be serious! The heatwave has not passed - it's just spreading up through the country. There were no more cyclists to be seen.

Just some of the tunnel shots from today! Magic and mystery! What a great place for a father son adventure!

I need to make a decision about whether I attempt a (big) section of the Montañas Vacias route to take me up close to Guadalajara or instead follow the El Cid route in the same direction.

The MV route, (Empty Mountains) is through one of the most sparsely populated parts of Spain (and Europe) and while I've given up on the off-road option, there's a whole lot of climbing, long distances between places and minimal services for long stretches. Frankly, as I look around at what's going on it seems riskier and more foolish by the hour. I was surprised at just how tired I was this morning - the heat is taking a lot out of me. The El Cid route has less climbing (but still a lot) and will be a bit more populated. An exhausted biker has more chance of help (and less need for it) on the El Cid. Or at least I think so. I need to look at it a bit further and deeper.

Ah! Spanish towns! ❤️

I rested up in Albentosa for a while and decided to both make a decision and postpone a decision. I made the decision to shorten the day by heading away from the VV and onto a main road and a campground, and postponed, yet again, making a decision on my next steps.

Off yonder is the motorway. I'd hear the odd bit of noise from it, but once it was later in the day it seemed like I had the whole country to myself. Myself and my Irish flag! ^_^

I had a long climb (in the circumstances) then a glorious, windy descent to a slightly unusual campground outside the small, peaceful village of Manzanera. It turns out that Buda is the Spanish for Buddha and the campground (named for Buda) was neglected but the lady looking after me, while definitely on the eccentric end of the scale, was charm personified. No shade to be had at all except behind one tree, I set up, showered, did laundry and set off to explore the village.

It's not clear but the angle is very steep! This is how the VV often joins a road! Fun to get down...... a b***h to get back up! ^_^

I'm thinking of taking a rest and research day here, tomorrow, Sunday. Break down the two route options into more detail - something I hardly ever do - a sign of how serious the heat is!!

The last stretch - big, wide, empty road. It doesn't look like much but I am really enjoying these days on the VV. This is my kind of country. It's tough work, made tougher with the heat and sun but so, so interesting.

Day 76 Saturday June 11
Wildcamp past Barracas to Manzanera 26 km Total KM 3058
Min Meters 921 Max Meters 1092
Total Climb 272, Total Descent 239
Min Temp 28 Max Temp 40 Ave Temp 35

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along the Way

The Whole Day
Day 77 Sunday June 12

Rest Day

Sometimes my figaries don't work out and this was one of them. Sometimes too, the reasons I give myself for not doing something are really not much more than a figleaf. I nearly took an extra day before crossing the border into México on the basis that CycleTravel had expanded into México (for the benefit of yours' truly!) but the real reason was a dread of crossing the border after three months of constant negativity.
My reason for taking a day off today was paper thin - I'd enjoyed a quirky dining experience in the onsite bar/restaurant last night and wouldn't mind another - the real reason for taking a day off was an anxiety about what was ahead.

As things turned out, the place shut down at 2pm - no interesting dinner for me! ^_^

The highlight of the little town of Manzanera was undoubtedly the old walls that were still in place, in parts. It was amazing to me that such a small place had been so well protected!


I did explore the little town. It was very, very quiet. Interesting walls were the highlight for me. And a very pleasant little park. At one stage some public announcements over a loudspeaker attached to a building had me mentally flying back to Méxican villages. Dark clouds which briefly appeared even disgorged some Mexican raindrops - big and fat. Too few to make a difference.

Sometimes the views didn't quite live up to their promise ^_^

A feature of just about every town I visit is the pretty large array of ruins. I ❤️ my castles and forts but there's a real sense of history from some of the more "ordinary" ones

The sun blasted out of the sky and seemed to ricochet off everything, intensifying in power. Any shade was gratefully accepted and grudgingly left.
Later, cooking was uncomfortable with no cover from the sun and swarms of irritating black flies buzzing around.

The old..... and the not so old

As days go, it wasn't up there. Looking at options in detail* - something I never do - was done in a mood less than optimal. The Montanas Vacías will have to wait. El Cid will be the basis for a route, at least for a while. I won't be sticking religiously to it.

The Ayuntamiento, or local Government Offices. Every town or village has one, and normally in interesting buildings. I'm trying to capture a photo for every town I visit

There were more than a few grand houses suggesting a wealth that required protection with big town walls.

The pleasant park with the unusual sign prohibiting dogs!

*I was breaking every day down into distance and climbing. Camping options are limited, I'm not sure what I can expect in terms of wildcamping options and the big, big thing is water. Access to water is going to be critical. I can see public fountains in both Osmand and CT but have to factor in the risk of a dry fountain. The water issue is what will impact on the wild camping too.

There's an individuality to the houses here that I like. Those roofs and windows out of line would send Dutch town planners into a fit!

A memorial to all the victims of the war (1936-1939), irrespective of their ideologies

It's very strange for me to be doing this level of research and I'm really not sure how helpful it has been. The only thing I can say for sure is that I've given myself a good scare! ^_^

A little taster of what I'm leaving on the table to come back to......

Day 78 Monday June 13

It's true what they say - it's hard to set up home on Mars!

I was apprehensive setting off so the road duly obliged and gave me something of an asskicking. In the back of my mind I'd the idea that it would be pretty much downhill all the way back to the VV but that wasn't the case. I started with a steep climb and even theough I had a descent after, I arrived back at the VV feeling like I'd climbed the whole way.
Without a trace of shade I was missing the trees, the bridges, the tunnels and the rocky gorges of the VV. To get back to them I had to push up a very rocky, slidey slope.

Then I could breathe a sigh of relief.

The steep push back to the VV and then I could get comfortable again.....


It would be all uphill to Teruel, then after Teruel El Cid branches away from the VV. My plan was to get to Teruel, explore the place, then continue on the VV for a spot of wild camping. Tomorrow I'd take the road. What is it with me and plans? ^_^

With the heat and the climbing I was horsing through my water so I turned off to visit Sarrión and replenish my water. A quiet, dusty village with little shade it didn't hold me long and I was soon heading back uphill.

My road and my little towns

I knew there was a another town up ahead but these VVs don't exactly make getting to towns easy. I took a quick detour but gave up, turned around and kept on climbing.

Arty farty shot!

Thankfully, my climbing was nearly at an end and I entered another wide open plain. If I thought the other day was like Mars this one was Mars on steroids!
Historically, this has been a big mining area (hence this railway line I've been following) so it shouldn't be that surprising that the countryside looks different but keeping a sense of wonder is important and I allowed myself to be amazed.

There may not be many people around..... but the goats were very friendly!

Amazed might not be the correct description when I came to the vicinity of Teruel, though. It was like mother nature had carved out a rough, deep and jagged moat all around the town and lacking any preparation it seemed as if the VV designers had omitted to add any bike access roads. Normally I approach Spanish towns with delight but Teruel was approached apprehensively and steeply down on what would be generously described as hiking trails deeply filled with gravel. At least until the edge of the town when proper bike paths were gratefully received.

Life on Mars!

It was a strange little town. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of red buildings which make it stand out from other towns.

Coming out of a shop, a woman appeared to be waiting for me as she stood beside Roccado, a half smile on her face. Perhaps she was expecting someone or had the idea that a handsome, fit, svelte cyclist alluringly wrapped in lycra would reclaim the bike but I watched her expectant face turn to horror and she scurried away before I could strike up a conversation. Hmmmm. Whatever "it" is, I appear to still have it - in some abundance! ^_^ (Sarcasm, Willy!)

I couldn't quite get comfortable in the place, though. I'm pretty sure that's on me and not on the town itself. After a couple of hours I was ready to roll on out.

Other reading since I was there tells me I should have given Tereul more time. There's a folk tale, a Spanish Romeo & Juliet type tale, from there and a famous sculpture to memorialise it. It's the kind of thing I love but it's the price I pay for my haphazard approach to planning. In any case, it's another reason to go back to Teruel!

Some lovely tunnels and bridges today and one right out of a fantasy book with trolls and goblins and all sorts!

I sure as hell wasn't going back the way I came in so left town in a different direction to get back on the VV. That wasn't easy, either. Roadworks and traffic diversions had me cycling all over the place and pushing through heavy sand. With relief I got back up and onto the VV and headed onwards in the direction of Cella where El Cid veers away. Anywhere now for a wild camp would be great, thank you very much.

Still on Mars!

I had my eye on a picnic site marked off on Osmand but that turned out to be beside a noisy, smelly factory.

I passed through the sleepy village of Caudé, half hoping for a cheap place to stay but no chance. An information board gave the population as 191!

I passed the turn off for Cella and kept going on the VV. I reckoned it gave the best options for a stealth camp but if anything the land seemed to getting busier the later it got. It can be quite depressing riding along knowing that in the morning I'd be doubling back again.

I love the history that pops up behind a bush or beside the path....

But there was nowhere! Well, there were lots of "where" but it was all open farmland with agricultural roads here, there and everywhere and lots of farmers out tending their fields. Stealthy it wasn't.

On the hunt for the holy grail of a wildcamping spot. There was nothing. Both these photos are taken from the same place, just pointing in different directions - it'll give you an idea of the power of the sun!

I did find a dried out riverbed beside the road (it was no longer just for bikes) and sat down for a picnic and to scope it out. A couple of cars went by and I figured it was discreet enough until a van stopped above me and two guys eyeballed me. They said nothing. They did nothing. They just sat there, staring. When they eventually moved on I did too.

There was nothing suitable. I wasn't particularly worried, but I was tired and a bit dejected at the thought of the morning. I figured that eventually the farmers would leave their fields. Then, about 7km along I crossed a dried out río under a bridge. A steep, loose bank with a whole load of tough, hardy and thorny thistles to get the bike down and I was home. So nice, pleasant and calm did the night turn out to be that I abandoned my plan of setting up under the bridge in favour of the gravelly river bed.

Home! First it was going to be under the bridge, then I moved out for a better view. And the moon. A magical moon.

There was a beautiful moon over my home tonight!

Day 78 Monday June 13
It's true what they say - it's hard to set up home on Mars!
Manzanera to Wildcamp past Cella 88 km Total KM 3146
Min Meters 882 Max Meters 1221
Total Climb 1297, Total Descent 902
Min Temp 24 Max Temp 44 Ave Temp 35

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along the way

The Whole day:

The Via Verde - The Whole Thing


Well-Known Member
Day 29 Mon April 25
I pulled up and we were having a chat but something was bugging me. I knew this woman. But from where?

Then it dawned on me - she was one of the two cyclists in the GCN video on bikepacking Colombia!
I read to this sentence, and then thought to myself: "OMG did he just happen to run into Jenny in the middle of Spain wilderness?" How cool is that! I watched that documentary after reading about it in your travelogue - subscribed to GCN+ especially for that. I'm familiar with both Jenny and Si from other videos (a long time watcher), they both are great! Too bad they didn't find good coffee - based on the video one might get the impression they had - by one Alessandro.

It's a pity you missed Cadiz. I went there once, the old city is lovely, I think you'd have liked it.
I read to this sentence, and then thought to myself: "OMG did he just happen to run into Jenny in the middle of Spain wilderness?"
Clearly your brain works a lot faster than mine ^_^

based on the video one might get the impression they had - by one Alessandro.
I think they did visit a fancy coffee place? I guess that's the difference between having a video camera and not ^_^
It also suggests a kind of "let's give the people what they're expecting. We're in Colombia ......... we must feature coffee".
(I may be confused - there were two videos, now only for subscribers and I'm not).
The really interesting part, for me, is the wonderful coffee country.
It's a pity you missed Cadiz
I haven't missed Cadiz! I've just left something on the table or later.:becool:


Well-Known Member
Across the way were a couple of French campervans, one with a dog. After a night of inner intestinal turmoil I had seen them gather and walk off leaving the dog in a camper at about 7am. Unwilling to move too far away I became increasingly aware of the dog's discomfort as the day wore on and temperatures exceeded 40C. There were occasional yelps and whines coming from the van and from about 3pm a steady bark. There was not a thing I could do.
Presumably they had left water for the poor dog but the camper was now in the full force of the sun - and he had nowhere to pee. Finally, when the barking became too plaintive I got up to head to reception - they might have a number for the owners - and encountered them coming back. 4:30 pm.
I had serious words with them. At first they thought I was complaining about the barking but that didn't bother me at all. When they opened the door the poor chap leapt out and didn't know whether to pee or poop first. Despite saying that they did this all the time and the dog had no problem being left alone they spent a good chunk of the evening removing things from the camper and mopping it out. The news reports are full of stories about the unseasonably warm weather with lots of warnings about the danger to health of people and animals.

That's heartbreaking. Here in Israel people sometimes forget babies or dogs inside cars, and they die, and it's a tragedy every time and makes the news - but this is a different matter: they didn't forget, they did this on purpose, the idiots.

A very interesting touring Tandem, upright for him and recumbent for her!

View attachment 679685

There was a couple on a custom tandem resting up for a couple of days too. They took a cabin for some comfort. From Germany they were great company with a very interesting bike. Before I became ill we passed a pleasant evening over a few beers swapping stories. No gear ratio discussions here! They had toured for years on regular bikes and now decided to go the tandem route.

This bike seems familiar to me - I don't remember where I've seen it, whether IRL or somewhere on the Internet. Regardless, perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but it tells me a story of a couple that loves each other and travelling together so much that they're willing to go to some lengths to overcome obstacles on the way to this common passtime. Very touching.
they didn't forget, they did this on purpose, the idiots.
They wouldn't be the only ones! I had another run in later with a Dutch lady in another campground.
This bike seems familiar to me - is the link
it tells me a story of a couple that loves each other and travelling together so much that they're willing to go to some lengths to overcome obstacles on the way to this common passtime. Very touching.
They had toured for years on individual bikes and I understood the tandem was a solution to differing declines in ability. I met another couple later (actually in two completely different parts of the country!) on two heavily laden bikes. Their issue was going to be insurance as they were nearing the age where they wouldn't be able to get coverage for such a "dangerous" way of travel!
Day 79 Tues June 14

Magic dust day

I had absolutely no idea what the Touring Gods had in store for me today and I'm pretty sure the day was all the better for that.
Yesterday, my lack of planning and preparation had meant me missing a turn off to Puebla and a nasty approach to Tereul and I gave myself a good bollicking when I discovered the story of The Lovers of Tereul (and realised I'd missed a sculpture) but today, that self same lack of preparation and knowledge delivered in so many different ways. It's a funny old world.

Ready to cover old ground but with a completely different perspective


I slept well and deeply on a night that turned out to be wonderfully fresh and cool. I took my time getting up, enjoying the fresh morning. Experience has taught me it won't be fresh for long.

I heaved everything up the bank, avoiding the thistles this time and took advantage of the bridge to load Roccado up. Then I headed back the way I came in much better form. A town was just down the road so coffee was waiting, the morning was still cool and with no pressure to find a place to sleep I could enjoy the country for what it offered whereas last night I was cursing it for what it didn't.

Cella was a charming little town, very pretty and with an innovative and pretty water system. Over coffee I got chatting to an older cyclist who was a bit bemused by my approach. Having enquired about my trip he wanted to know how many Kms I'd cycled. All things considered, that's a pretty fair question. The thing is, I haven't a clue! I know I kept a running total on TBBT but I haven't absorbed the detail. Ditto for this one. I have an idea setting off how many Kms I have to do, and how many I might do, but I rarely stick to them. The numbers don't sink in. They're not that important. Ask me about a place though and I won't shut up!

The wonderful water system in Cella. It kept me captivated for ages! ^_^
Clearly water is a big deal in these parts and the town had developed some kind of water distribution system that was clearly functional but very aesthetically pleasing. In the coolish morning, after days of heat and blasting sun the water generated something I didn't just see, but felt as well.


Off again and the road was good, wide, sweeping and interesting. Mountains appeared that I was sure were designed to intimidate - they appeared to me as a lot of shark-fins ominously just over there.

Meh. This was shaping up to be a bit ....... dull. DumbAss! ^_^

I met Juan from the Canaries coming the other way. He's heading to Valencia, with a much lighter load than mine. We had a good chat, bonded over the value of long distance travel by bike and its benefits for our minds. He'd rebalanced after a relationship breakdown by going on a tour and now he was convinced of the value of bike adventures. Dickhead touring cyclists, it appears, are only online not on the road.

King of the Word! Enjoying the view here we met Juan on his own bike adventure. Small talk quickly became a bit deeper and we found ourselves chatting about the great strength and inspiration we can draw from bike adventures.

Then I came to the village of Gea de Albarracín and the Touring Gods tossed the first sprinkling of magic dust into the breeze. A surprisingly big place, it was deathly quiet, but more asleep than dead. There was a strength to the place, an inkling of a fierce and brutal history that charmed me.
I had the feeling that this place had been built with defence very much in mind.
Buildings were falling into disrepair but that was just the latest chapter in a long and I guessed, interesting tale.
One, big old building caught my eye. Formerly a convent, it seemed to have either fallen into ruin or was paused on the precipice and was section, by section, being developed as a "Casa Rural", a country B&B. A modern viewing deck had been built so guests could enjoy the view over farmland to rising hills, but that view also included the parts of the building still to be brought back to useful life. The "street sides" looked respectable, but around the corner? Dilapidation and a mountain of work waited. I wondered, a little in awe, at the people who could take on such a challenge, who had the vision to see the "big picture", the strength to take it up and the patience to see ir through. Medieval history is full of quests and in this medieval town I was seeing a modern day equivalent.
Magic dust, everywhere.

The captivating former convent that charmed and intrigued me. Like many of the buildings in the town there were very few openings at ground level (which made me think of a need for defence). The top photo is an attempt to show some of the detail of the building, the different types of windows, the sole (high) entrance. Bottom left is the "street side" view of what looks an impressive and intersting building, while bottom right is a part yet to be restored. Those balconies look terrifying!

Having left Gea de Albarracín behind I got clobbered when I least expected it and in a way I wasn't expecting. On the side of the road, away from everywhere and solitary (and all the more powerful for that) I came across a wonderful sculpture in memorial to those who died in the Civil War.
It was my kind of art in the sense that it spoke clearly and unambiguously. No interpretation is required. Out here, in the still countryside, squint and it could be a real scene.
To say it was moving would be an understatement. It didn't hit me in the "feels" as the young folk might say, it ran me over like a bloody big tractor.
I've been passing the time reading up on the Spanish Civil War and some of the stories, some of the history, can become a bit more vivid, more real as I wander around. But today? Today it was like I stepped back 90 odd years.
Sometimes, travel can seem frivolous and insignificant. Today it was anything but.

I'm no artist and I have the impression that sometimes some artists can crawl too far up their own backside when explaining their inspirations or how they have used the "environment" to enhance their art.
This artist, I am convinced, knew exactly what they were doing when they placed this here with no attempt to adapt, or mould the environment. Beside a dusty road, on a bit of wasteland, no-one around it was the perfect combination of location and art.
The "board" in the picture is a list of 12 men (from 61 years old down to 32) shot by the Francosists on September 16, (the year is hidden by the flowers and such was the mood of the place I wasn't touching a damn thing.)
The tiny sign to the left is simply declaring that they will never be forgotten.


Thankfully, the road and everything around it was far more interesting now so I didn't spend too long "in my head".

So active was my imagination that the far-off mountains were like a school of sharks, just their fins sticking up

Spying a lay by I pulled in to tend to my near constant state of hunger. I wasn't alone. A hoarde of black flies attacked me. I don't mean they buzzed around me (they did), I don't mean they landed on me in packs (they did) I mean they actually*attacked* me, eating the flesh around where the thistles had got me last night. I wasn't paying too much attention to the ones on my legs until I glanced down and saw blood flowing! Feckin' vampires! These days, I always have a spray bottle of alcohol on hand but it was a tad disconcerting to be bleeding due to flies!

Ha! And I thought that this was going to be a bit dull!

Taking a breather.........

To Be Continued.........
Day 79 Tues June 14

Magic dust day Part II

Now well into the heat of the day, the Touring Gods made up for the fly attack by laying on a river for me beside the road. I first became aware of it through its music serenading me through the trees. It was lovely music.

Not the greatest photo in the world but certainly a great little río. Bouncing and bubbling along for a long stretch it was music - literally - to my ears on such a quiet road and it emanated coolness on such a hot day


Trees kept the view to a minimum but when I could catch a glimpse it was a beautiful green colour, so pure and clean and seemed to be rushing along joyfully. On such a quiet road it was often my only company and it's always good when our companion is cheerful and attractive!
As I got hotter it looked more and more alluring but there was no obvious way to get to it. I continued on, hoping that we could consummate our brief, passing relationship.

There were some serious roadbuilders here once upon a time

It wasn't to be, though. And as was the way for today, the Touring Gods distracted me from one disappointment by presenting me with another magic dust wonder. This time, out of nowhere, the ruins of an old castle loomed up on the side of the road. Now, castles, and the ruins of castles, are no great wonder in Spain - they are everywhere - but I haven't come across too many on their own on the side of the road. I've come across the ruin of many an old farmhouse and it's almost automatic now that my imagination kicks in and I get to see the house as it once was (or as I imagine it once was). As things turn out, when it's a castle my head does the same. My imagination painted a scene of merchants coming and going, of Knights in armour riding to and fro, a glorious, intimidating castle guarding a road bedecked in banners and I got to ride between them all! I think tradition dictates that some highborn needs to place a sword upon a shoulder to create a Knight. I had the feeling that someone did just that on that magical stretch of road. I approached a bemused bike tourist and I departed a Knight, not for the first time the mighty Roccado morphing into a fine horse under my ass.

A humble, sweaty bike tourist approaches Castillo de Santa Croche. And disappeared somewhere in the ether......

I was heading on now for Albarracín, a smallish looking town that had a campsite. I was pretty satisfied with my day, my first day of El Cid proper, but eaten bread is soon forgotten. The road became less interesting and more dull. The río was long gone so I'd no friendly company and traffic had increased. Not much, but I've become selfish, it seems. The heat too was taking its toll. A little grumpy, thirsty and in need of something "nice" I stopped off at a little filling station that at least offered some shade. Plonked outside enjoying the shade I was amused to see a Dutch car pull up and the driver, an older man, get out and proceed to start filling his tank. Oh dear! That's not the way in rural Spain! The old boy inside came out in a fury! This wasn't a self service station! It was amusing to watch the culture clash. The poor Dutch guy hadn't wanted to offend, was doing what was normal for him but at the same time wasn't going to take being shouted at! Live entertainment!

Grabbing a bit of shade wherever I can

Bemused, I eventually set off again, thankful that I didn't have too much longer to go. And then I saw it. Something I should have seen ages ago but for some reason my head didn't let my eyes process it.
Albarracín is famous for its fort that stretches across hilltops to protect the old town from attack. That's right. HillTOPS. It. Is. Huge. It snakes around and up and down and from a distance looks pretty much impregnable to man and beast.
Then there's the town, atop a hill of course, that could be the Disney logo - and indeed should be the Disney logo - because it just oozes magic.
The Touring Gods were sprinkling their dust again!

The less than impressive approach to Alberracín. A dull road, some more traffic. Very hot. A near constant climb. Then Dumbass properly opens his eyes. What's that on the hilltop?

I passed by the turn off for the campsite, no, that's wrong. I was drawn along the road past the turnoff for the campsite by something as powerful as as the tractor beams depicted in Star Wars or the like. It was irresistible.

I am being drawn along, irresistibly. My turn off for the Campsite is just ahead, to the left. I ain't going to be taking it!

And this is why I ain't going to go to the campsite straight away. What an impressive goosebumpy sight!

The "new" town is away to my left, and behind, but magical, fantasy town is right in front of me, the road actually running under it through a tunnel. It's a sight that defies accurate description. I stopped and got a cold drink at quite a trendy looking, modern bar that just felt so wrong and, not for the first time reminded myself just how feckin' lucky I am and marvelled at the places my battered old compañero brings me.

My observations quickly revealed that this is not a town for a bike, so after absorbing the atmosphere (in truth I was feeling more than seeing) I rolled back through the newer parts of the town and up a bloody big hill to the campground.

Hmmmm. Maybe this isn't a town best explored on a bike (it certainly isn't!)

The magic, it seemed, extended out here and I was dealt with by a lovely, friendly, chatty lady. Across from the office, at the restaurant, feeling drained and thirsty (again) I finagled a cold Pepsi from a sympathetic lady who was supposed to be closed but took sympathy on me, joined me for a ciggie and added to the wonderful way I was feeling.

The pitches weren't great, being gravelly and I had little choice with it being relatively small and very busy but again, the Touring Gods were beaming down.

Setting up and struggling to find a suitable rock to hammer in my pegs a neighbour opposite hauled himself out of his chair, called over, rummaged around in the back of his campervan to present me with a mallet. He grunted at my thanks (his wife later explaining he felt very self conscious about languages) but beaming like a jolly giant when I returned it, pleased, it seemed, with his role in my homemaking.

Better still, was Maurice, a joyful, playful, intrepid border terrier who came over to investigate the stranger. Maurice's parents were a delightful Belgian couple (once again, I recall the dog's name at the expense of the boss's^_^) and my plans for a hasty setup, a quick shower and a leisurely exploration of the magical place on my doorstep was taking a beating. But a very pleasant, chatty beating.

Eventually, I had to end the interesting conversation, showered and headed off on foot to explore.

An enhanced photo of where I was off to explore. Ain't Bike Touring great? ^_^

What a great feckin' day!

Day 79 Tuesday June 14
Magic Dust Day!
Wildcamp past Cella to Albarracín 34 km Total KM 3180
Min Meters 1012 Max Meters 1152
Total Climb 400, Total Descent 227
Min Temp 21 Max Temp 48 Ave Temp 30

Writing this up almost a year later, this is one of those days that sticks in my mind and I can still feel the coolness of Cella (and the río), the heaviness of Gea de Albarracín, the wonder inspired by the castle ruins and the pure excitement of Albarracín. I was tired, but energised when I arrived and looking now I see I did a measly 34km!! Thirty-feckin'-four kms! And yet I travelled through time. It felt like so much more than 36km. My time was spent wandering the towns, getting a feel for them, thinking about the history of the place I'm travelling through.

Cycle Travel

The Towns Along thew Way
Gea de Albarracín

The Whole Day
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