Sunday 13th December 2015
This morning we moved back up into the hills - to Camping Altomira near Navaixes - but rather than the little mountain roads that we'd come to love, we were mostly on a big busy duel carriageways travelling through heavily industrialised areas almost until we reached the campsite gate. When we arrived we debated if we'd made a good choice - should we risk it or should we look for somewhere else. This was because as we entered through the half closed gate (the T4rdis only just fit), our first impression wasn't that good. The reception office was closed, and the lower levels of the steeply tiered site looked a bit like a shanty town - mostly caravans covered with old dirty looking tarpaulins, thus giving a bit of run down appearance. However, the main reason we'd chosen this area was for the 'Via Verdi Ojos Negros' a cycle track that runs both ways from the site - in one direction it goes for about 25kms and in the other 160 kms. And in the end we rode all of the former but only a bit of the later!
|We went downwards on Monday and upwards on Tuesday!|
Monday 14th December 2015
Today we decided to head south along the Via Verdi trail and to follow it until it ends at Algimia de Alfara - we thought about 50 kms in total. To start with, the trail was quite poorly signposted so we struggled to find our way through the village of Altura, which we arrived at during the first few kilometres of our ride. However, John got out his trusty Ipad with it's downloaded maps and soon had us back on track - and what a track! We'd thought, as it is so well known, that the surface would be fairly good - WRONG - tarmac hardly existed at all and it consisted of a variety of surfaces including sand, gravel, stones and concrete, mostly in keeping with mountain bikers rather than us!
Having said that we kept going thinking that it would improve, and in a few places it did for a short distance, but luckily the scenery kept us preoccupied - we passed huge orange and olive groves, and as a backdrop to them, we could see mountainous hills in the distance.
|They use tools like strimmers to shake the olives out of the trees|
and catch them in a big net!
|Oranges for as far as the eye could see|
We paused for coffee opposite 2 churches, there was one at the bottom of the hill - Iglesia de la Concepcion - and one at the top Ermita de san Antonio de Padua, and the latter was reached by a zig zagging pathway that reminded us of a famous similar road that we visited while we were in San Francisco - Lombard Street with it's 40 degree incline - apparently used in a James Bond movie!
Overall, our ride took about 5 hours and by the time we got back I was quite exhausted and not sure if I wanted to repeat the experience the next day. I could only think that it had been so tiring because, on the way back there was mostly a steady uphill gradient, and with the rough surface peddling was quite hard.
Tuesday 15th December 2015
Well, after a reasonably good nights sleep we decided we would go cycling again today - but maybe not quite so far, and it turned out to be quite an unusual day! We navigated a flood, we met half the Spanish Army, we saw some interesting 'up cycling' and we also met some cheese makers.
But first things first, and knowing we were going to have another full day of strenuous exercise we fortified ourselves with egg and bacon butties to ensure we'd got lots of energy right from the start (you can get real bacon here in Spain)! Then we packed a wholesome and nutrient rich picnic (which included very nice chocolate cake), and after filling our flask with milky coffee we were off again! And we were quite resigned to the likelihood of the trail being much the same quality as yesterday, WRONG AGAIN, happily it was much better.
We'd set off with our jackets on (there is often a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings), but as we hadn't heeded the warning that our fellow campers had given us re catching the train, we were peddling against an uphill gradient, so we were soon stripping off down to tee shirts to keep our cool! And to make matters worse, in a village we had to pass through, we took a wrong turn and cycled for about a kilometre up quite a steep hill before John realised! Never mind, we soon zoomed back down and were quickly back on track.
|Jerica - The village of the wrong turn|
Anyway, we were soon poddling along towards our goal for today - the village of Caudiell, but on the way we were met by a flood. This occurred just before we entered a very long tunnel, as we approached we could see water flowing out and over a stone wall on our left, and as we cycled through the 600 metre long tunnel water was pouring in from the roof. I suppose I'm exaggerating really, because there was only a few inches of water on the ground, but the very cold drips that we couldn't avoid made us wish we'd brought our brolly!
Shall I ride or do I need my rowing boat!
Well, by now it was getting on towards lunch time and we were nearing Caudiell - but the very nice picnic site just as you enter the village had been taken over by hundreds of soldiers. They were sat on every available perch in the picnic area and on both sides of the track for about 200 yards, and as we didn't have enough food to share we decided not to stop! We cycled through their midst and on for another 4kms until we came to another picnic spot that was peacefully deserted, and where I could greedily keep all my chocolate cake just for me!
Lunch eaten, it was time to retrace our steps, and we were quite glad to see that when we got back to Caudiell, all the soldiers had gone - but only temporarily! We rode on a little further and who should we run into - they were marching along, some singing as they went, but walking 4 abreast so completely blocking the trail for several hundred yards. They were also carrying heavy packs and rifles, so they looked a bit scary, but we needed to get by. So, we dinged our bell, and to be honest, I thought Moses had arrived - the soldiers cheerfully parted splitting to both sides of the path and formed what looked like a guard of honour that we had to ride through. As we passed they called to their mates in front to move out of the way so 'the parting of the waves' continued until we had completely passed them, and by the time we were coming to the end of the line it had become quite funny for both them and us. I was going to take a picture but I thought maybe they wouldn't be quite so happy about that so I abstained.
Further down the trail we met our cheese makers, they were sat quietly by the side of the trail munching grass and not really taking much notice of us - but I'm sure they would find what was coming shortly a bit more disturbing...
Tomorrow we will move on again, and the day after we're hopping we'll be at our final resting place for Christmas - and fingers crossed it'll have good internet access!
Take care x
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