Day 3 Xàtiva to Valencia.


I am domiciled in an old Spanish house, off a cobbled street slick with rain. My host is an affable chap whose broken English is better than my broken Spanish and he welcomes me with a knowing pity. I have a huge bedroom containing 4 beds. Somehow I booked a family room. This makes it feel a little like a hostel but the house is lovely. But no matter how many beds you have, when Thor cracks his hammer at 3am and pours Noah’s flood on your town (to mix my metaphors) there’s no counting and dividing by four. He’s here.

Shattering thunder and lightening for hours. Water like I have never seen. I lay staring at the ceiling wondering how I should rearrange my trip in the light of sudden flooding. After yesterday, if I happen upon a road blocked by flood I’m sunk.

Setting out from my sanctuary I am amazed to see that the streets are clear of water. Centuries of habitation at the foot of a hill results in a drainage system design to sluice out the deluge with the minimum of fuss. Ocassionally I see the drains beneath my feet rushing silently under glistening cobbled stones. The system works.

It is still raining when I leave for Valencia though not as hard. I bite the bullet and decide that if I am to be wet then let it be. Getting soaked in Spain is not like getting soaked in England. The chill is relative.

The road north out of Xàtiva to Carcaixent is pure Tarmac Envy. It is flat,smooth, has no surface water, no potholes, and is gorgeous. The Marylin Munroe of tarmacs. At least that’s what it felt like cycling along in the rain and “getting on with it”. The aim as always in the wet…keep going and stay upright.

But Thor tired, as gods are wont to do, and his ire wained in favour of Sòl’s splendour. I removed my rain coat, dried out in a tepid breeze and as I approached Valencia the wind is up but so is the sun.

Drenched rice fields outside Valencia, the home of paella.

I feared that entering Valencia might be another Sevillà incident but it wasn’t so bad. Though I’m sure that I was on the wrong side of the road for 30 seconds or so as I performed a nifty manouveur onto a dirt track.

I am to discover more of Valencia in the next 24 hours but first up is the cycle path that runs around the city. This made navigation to my hotel relatively simple. That and my stand-by recommendation that it is always better to enter cities by cycle on a Sunday during siesta.

The first thing I do after every ride is my washing. Then I can relax knowing my jobs are done for the day. My base layer , top, shorts, socks ,body, hair, tackle. I was towelling my self down when much to her surprise in walked a chambermaid. I know my Spanish can be dodgy but I didn’t recall ordering this service when I checked in. She made a hasty exit. I wasn’t who she was expecting, naked or otherwise. I’m left to wonder who she was expecting at 4.00pm entering a room unannounced. Triste?

Now, a quick word for the drivers amongst you. If there is a cyclist and he is not using the cycle path do not scold. Cycle paths are great, and we would use them exclusively if they were ubiquitous. And also if they were clear of broken glass. ‘Nuff said. I will now go and wash my hands.

I wander empty Sunday afternoon and stumble upon old town Valencia with its squares and bars, tourists shops – and a parade of manequins and dancers. Generations line the streets with their picnic chairs. Each to his 2 feet of space to watch the spectacle. Tourists are second row.

My power metre hits red and La Pizca de Sal serves me my first perfect solomillo of the trip. One foot in front of the other takes me to bed. Tomorrow is Valencia rest day. I close my eyes and wonder if the chambermaid went home disappointed.

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