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Into the mountains

Friday, December 21, 2012

I stayed on the coast road as I left Valencia, looking forward to passing through an area of Spain I had visited many times before as a cyclist; Altea. This is a popular destination as Graham Baxter (Sporting Tours) used to run his camps and you’d have cyclists training here from not only Europe, but America and Canada. I know Graham sold his business, but the cyclists are still coming out and I shared the road often as I rode along.

Many of the coastal resorts were well and truly closed for the winter, but not Benidorm. Mid afternoon and the beaches were deserted (despite the fact it was 19 degrees), but the cafe’s and shops in general were open.

No problem getting a sun lounger in December!

I’m not a ‘resort’ person and although I’ve visited Benidorm a few times on the bike in the past, never has it looked so lovely.

This is my idea of a tourist resort.

Alicante came and went, I just rode straight on. My plan was to spend time looking round the next big city, Cartegena instead. The roads in this area were a sheer pleasure to ride and I was now able to wear shorts and a sleeveless jersey for the first time, making it much more comfortable in the hills. One thing I’ve noticed is that the Spanish tend to stick just about anything in the middle of their roundabouts and try to pass it off as art, but this takes the cake ->

Stuck right in the middle of a roundabout.

I’d been making good time recently and I really enjoyed taking the time to explore Cartegena, an old naval port and probably the nicest location I’ve visited so far. It certainly ranks as a must place to do a return trip with company. Up until this point I’d seen very little evidence of the Spanish preparing for Christmas, but somehow they never managed to find a tree for this bauble ->

Cartagena getting ready for Christmas.

On leaving Cartegena I was heading inland and into the mountains, where the work becomes much harder. I’m beginning to enjoy climbing on the bike now, but it’s much harder than you’d imagine when you’re lugging an extra 70kg up the hills. Imagine riding your bike and then someone sitting on it with you – that’s what it’s like for me. But I’m truly amazed at how I’ve adapted to it. When starting out I couldn’t balance the bike to climb out of the saddle, now I enjoy ‘powering’ up those short steep climbs and resting my sit bones.

Back into the mountains.

There’s no doubt that I’m at my happiest when away from the towns and in the hills or mountains. It’s much easier to find wild camping locations and to watch the sun come up over the mountains is a magical experience. I’ll leave you with a few more images and catch up again before Christmas…

Sundown and wild camping in a lemon orchard (with owners permission).

Hidden in the woods.

The sun appears over the mountains to start another day.

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