Friday, June 15, 2007

#177 . . . . . . 1066km in 9 days.

How I rode from Lisbon to Denia. I went through parts of Spain untouched by tourists (and not many Spaniards, either) I went through Portugal's Alentejo to Spain's Extremdura, Castilla La Mancha, a bit of Murcia and finally Alicante. An interesting ride, sometimes exciting and sometimes a bit boring (but in a nice way).

Prologue. Friday 15th June - 15k
Flew from Alicante to Lisbon via Sevilla with Iberia - nice surprise, we were given Håagen Dazs ice cream on the second leg - they don't do that on EasyJet! Then rode from the airport to Oriente railway station and took the train 25 min north to Vila Franca de Xira (so as to
avoid the Lisbon city centre traffic).

From there biked to Porto Novo and stayed in the Albergaria S Lourenço. Small mis-translation from my Spanish to their Portuguese, I didn't get the ribs for dinner, just one big piece of cow on the bone . . . . maybe it was a big rib?

Here is a picture of some typical Portuguese road.

Stage 1. Saturday. Porto Novo to Évora - 105km
The rain in Spain stays mainly in Portugal. It rained - drizzled - rained for four of the five hours on the bike. Fortunately have excellent Assos rain jacket so stayed relatively snug.

Évora is a UNESCO heritage site so is full of ancient buildings, cobbles and tourists. Ate out, had grilled tuna.

Stage 3. Sunday. Évora to Olivenza - 115km

Rained all night and all morning so rode half of stage in the wet. Realised that the last time I rode my bike with rain stinging my face must have been . . . years and years ago! However made good time as the winds have been favourable, except when I crossed back into Spain and had a fight for the last 20km, then to very nice hotel, Palacio Arteaga, in Olivenza.

Pictured below: the frontier between the land of the people that say vozshh and the land of the people that say ñ.

Interior of Palacio Arteaga, Olivenza.

Stage 3. Monday. Olivenza to Pueblo de la Reina - 110km
Out in the wilds (see pic below). Very little traffic but good roads.Went down one hill and touched 68.8kph (thats quite fast with a big bag jumping around your handlebars).

Couldn't find a hotel so stayed in a self catering chalet (only 35€+tax) and cooked a baked potato and tuna for me tea.

Stage 4. Tuesday. Pueblo de la Reina to Almaden - 145km
Long day; counted at least 9,000 sheep, 4 dogs and 2 cars. Got chased briefly by one of the dogs. Went up big hill. Came down other side. Saw a lake.

Arrived 7 hours later in Almaden and the nice hotel I had hoped to stay in was completo :-( so went to another joint. Dined on consomé and monkfish.

Stage 5. Wednesday. Almaden to Almargo - 120km
First 50km on tiny rural roads, all uphill (it seemed) and poorly surfaced. At the top passed a load of firemen playing vollyball and waiting to jump into their helicopter and put out a forest fire. Apart from that didn't see any humanity. Stayed in very chichi b&b but had dreadful meal, beans and chicken wings (I think). Almargo is very nice and has a summer arts festival.

Stage 6. Thursday. Almargo to Ossa de Montiel - 111km
More flat roads, diverted to look at the Lagunas de Ruidera. Looked then carried on. Met a couple of mountain bikers who were charging around the Ruta Don Quixote.

Ended up in the cheapest hostal of the trip. Beer and Doritos on arrival. Evening meal; soup, lamb chops, ice cream, full bottle of wine. Room (with choice of 3 beds!) and breakfast = 38€. Not bad, eh?

Stage 7. Friday. Ossa de Montiel to Hellin - 134km

Big roads and no traffic. In the Hotel Reina Victoria in Hellin, had a beer and some tapas including some torrednos which turned out to be deep fried pork belly fat - excellent! I think I've discovered the new Power Bar, just need some fancy packaging . . . . . .

(the white line continues)

Stage 8. Saturday. Hellin to Biar - 105km
After 7 days of good condition, I'm absolutely shattered. Its all uphill, into a stinking headwind and the road surface has been made from bits of left over ashphalt thrown at random to give an unpleasant cobbled effect. If this had been the first day, I would have thrown my bike in the ditch, hailed the first taxi and ordered it to "Take me to Denia - Immediately!"

Horrible riding! The only nice bit was the last 10k when I got on a Via Verde, one of Spain's old railway lines that has been converted for the pleasure of bikers and walkers.

But! Sally came out to meet me on my last night and we stayed in a finca rural Les Fanecaes and had an outstanding evening meal - worth all the day's grumbling :-)

Stage 9. Sunday. Biar to Denia - 105km

Last day and although its mostly downhill to Denia, it wasn't easy. One longish hill, more wind and tired legs, I was happy to just follow the signs :-)

ahhh . . . .

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