After a quick stopover in Stockholm and through Frankfurt again, we finally arrived in Valencia (Spain) where we unpacked bikes to make sure all was in order and not broken in transit (Ryanair was great unlike reputation). Did we really pack this much luggage?
We spent a day riding in Valencia before loading up the paniers and heading out on the ‘Via Verdes Ojos Negros’ (old train track now a bike trail) Thursday morning. Initially we thought it would be a good way to get used to riding bikes again as well as with a load but without any traffic. The trail however was gravel and in some sections more of a mountain bike track – the touring bikes survived!
The first 2 days were a bit of a blur for me as I was anxious/petrified of just falling sideways with the weight of the bike or sliding off the rocky edge of the trail. Tim on the other hand was quite happy navigating and stopping to pick oranges that were in the trees lining the path.
After a comfortable camp in a pine forest (campsite 2) I found my bike legs (and courage) and we headed off to Teruel. Riding the last 10kms into town on Easter Sunday morning we caught a glimpse of the Easter Parade and had a brief wander through the streets before heading off again on our first day of ‘real actual hills’ – not the Alice Springs kind ie 7% gradient and 5km long…!
By this stage I was already exhausted and only made it halfway up the 1st hill before we had to stop and camp for the night. The next day was our biggest so far – about 75kms and the hills were just as big. After detouring into a quaint little pig-farming town Reillo we set up camp ready to ride into Cuenca the following day.
Comparatively, Cuenca is huge compared to the towns/villages we had previously passed through and after booking a hotel room (1st shower in 6 days!) we started exploring.
Cuenca is built around a monastery high up in the hills. After arriving yesterday we spent the afternoon wandering the alleys of the ‘old town’ – walking not riding. We were so impressed we extended our stay another night and did the suggested walking trails today. The scenery was amazing. Along the way we saw plenty of runners, cyclists and rockclimbers on the high cliffs and overhangs. It is great to see that the locals (not only the tourists) make the most of their town and surrounds.
We are vaguely trying to fit into the Spanish lifestyle of ‘work early, have big lunch + siesta and return later to town for the night life’ however it doesn’t quite fit with the bike riding. We have however eaten lots of jamon (cured ham), cheese and fresh bread… mmm yum!
**This should be a food photo...but saliva drool damages the camera :)**
Forecast for tomorrow is COLD and RAINING but we will start anyway on the ‘scenic route’ to Toledo = roman ruins, monasteries, castles and windmills + lots of farm land.