Make k’s while the sun shines…

dst. (km)
Today 168.2
Trip 1185.9

It was a very long day, not really tiring, just so many things happened!

The sun was out when I left at 9, but it was only about 10 °C or less, I was glad I’d put on my warm jersey for the first time. I grabbed some pastries from a café and headed out of town.

Feeling pretty good, I initially thought I’d see about riding all the way to Cordoba — guessing that it might be around 140-150km. The first road sign I saw was a very large, and very clear “Cordoba 198km.” There goes that idea!

The first two hours were into a cold headwind, almost straight south across the plain. Rather than go into Puertollano I tried to follow the detours around the town — labelled as a truck route. Somehow I ended up circling the town and accidently came back in from the south. Bought some water while I was there and thought about stopping for lunch, but it was still early so I headed on out through coal stockpiles, rail yards and a power station.

The next 40km were some of the most desolate country I’ve ever been through — treeless, bone dry paddocks with a few sheep, and the sight of mountain ranges in the distance. I climbed the first pass past Brazatortas (circa. 850m) and the view back to the north was impressive. I was going to have lunch at the top, then decided to roll on down to the flat… Once down on the plain again there was nothing until the next ridge, so on I went.

I finally stopped at the bottom of Puerto de Niefla for lunch, and had one of those thoroughly satisfying outdoors meals of bread and sardines and chorizo, washed down with cold, fresh water, then got back on the bike for the ride on up the ridge — 950m this time.

Once over the top I was in the mountains, the riding wasn’t too bad and the scenery was a vast improvement, mostly pine forests reaching right up to the road. I eventually came to a campground at about the 100km point, but since I didn’t really have much food with me, I decided to continue on for a while and see if I could find a town…

Azuel was too far off the road, Cardeña didn’t seem to have any hotels, so onwards I headed for Montoro. Due to roadworks I took the scenic route (C-510) rather than the “main” road (A-420). A brilliant decision that was, I could almost touch the trees on either side of the road, there were no cars for at least an hour, and then when the valley finally opened out I could see for miles. Along the way I kept seeing deer in the forests and at the side of the road.

Montoro is very picturesque, on a hill above the river, and I think there must have been a bike race through here recently. Huge slogans painted and chalked on the road gradually crept into my subconscious as I recognised the names and teams — I guess it must have been the Vuelta… Somewhere along the way a pannier bolt disappeared too. Two young boys brought smiles to my face when they ran alongside me up through the streets calling out “Miguel, Miguel….”

I toured around and around the very hilly streets of Montoro, didn’t find a hotel or any accommodation, but did discover that their week long festival starts today! I headed on out of town towards the main highway, and found a Hostal at the junction. Showered and changed, then headed back into town to experience the fiesta…

I need not have hurried, after a few beers I found myself wandering around at about 10 pm, since nothing starts until midnight! I walked up what I thought was the driveway of a derelict hotel — it appears to be nearly new, but empty and completely overgrown. The view was great, down over the town and river under the light of the full moon, but then some torches came on up on the balcony and made the adrenalin jump! I didn’t really want to meet any angry Spanish security guards — my chances of successfully talking my way out of trespassing being nearly zero — so I tried to sneak out through the gardens. Heading up the hill I ran into a row of fences and set off some mean sounding dogs, so this way wasn’t working. Then down through overgrown shrubs I finally found myself at the top of a 6m wall, concreted for most of its height, and and one that dropped straight down onto the road! Not only that, but I was stuck in a blackberry thicket. Extricating myself I finally managed to back-track and then walked quietly and briskly out through the main hotel driveway!

After all that excitement it was nearly midnight, I made it back to the town centre and listened to the music for a while, then back to the main part of the fair for a few drinks and some dancing. A couple of girls came and danced with me, then tried unsuccessfully to bridge the language gap. One spoke a little English and had a boyfriend, her cousin didn’t speak any English and wanted to dance with me… We smiled, we danced, we toasted and drank each other’s health, but the lack of communications got the better of us and they laughed and left.

A few more beers and a long walk back to the hotel. It was 2 am, all the doors were locked, and I only managed to get in because a cleaner was leaving and saw me in the car-park! What a day…


Ciudad Real, Montoro.