This is my last 60 miles ride of the first week and knowing that it’s going to be slower than the others I am up with the donkey and raring to go. However, I am somewhat thwarted by breakfast not being served until 8 when I was hoping for 7. The Night Manager, (remember him?) , is coming towards the end of his shift and offers to make me a brew and explains that his colleague has gone for bread.I accept his offer and as I sit on the terraza sipping early morning tea, as the sun stretches into the morning blue, I realise that nature is telling me to “Cool it. Chill out, man. You’ll get there. You are on holiday.”
Sometimes you just need to be told.
As I set out the poppies are bright and fresh by the roadside. Spain’s national flower should be the poppy. It is, in fact, the carnation, but given that poppies are everywhere here they brighten the landscape with slivers of smile inducing vibrant crimson.
I knew that what lay ahead was an up and down sort of ride with some particular peaks in the terrain. These high points however, turned out to be looonnnggg slllooooow gradients of up to a mile or more just rising and rising. I’m not sure which I prefer, the shorter sharp shock or these? Certainly I have learned not to be cocky and go for it,straining towards a ridge that looks closer than it is. It is a little like seeing shimmering heat rising from the land in front of you – it’s always ahead, you never quite reach it.
I am riding out through the region of Castilla la Mancha, described as one of Spain’s least populated regions, and a region obviously famous for the great Cervantes classic. Given the plataeu, the windswept nature of the landscape, the *space* , I rather naively expected more windmills. I know it sounds silly, but whenever anyone mentions Don Quixote, it recreates the windmills of your mind (!). All I can think is that they must be somewhere else because despite repeatedly passing signs that tell me that I am on the Ruta de Quixote, there aren’t that many windmills to be tilted at, I can tell you.
As the day wears on it is increasingly hot, the terrain rocking and rolling, but also I have to say, it is quite spectacular at times.
As I ride through a forest whose lush greenery is fed by the Rio Júcar the escarpments again become magical transformations. Like rock clouds, if you look hard and long enough you can see …….
I’m crap at Geology and I have been searching, dear reader, to find out what type of rock this is. Clearly pourous, but everything I find is steeped in jargon. The jargon isn’t pourous though and remains tough to penetrate. Answers on a postcard, please.
The Rio Júcar meanders its way through this region for about 500 kilometers and the area is probably best explored by car given that there is so much countyside to enjoy, especially the Júcar Canyon. Not suitable if you need to get from A to B on a bike – you have to be a meandering bike , too.
And so, at last, eventually Cuenca. I have been looking forward to this. I arrive just before 5pm. 250 miles in 4 days – yes, high fives all round- I think I’ll treat myself to another jelly baby.( I’ll have two if I can find the one that looks like Nigel Farage.)
Tomorrow, I shall put my feet up for the first time on this ride.