So far we have learned a great many things since starting the bicycle tour. First and for most would be that no matter how well prepared you think you might be, you are not! Both of us thought we were prepared for the best and the worst. As it turns out we were dead wrong on both of those accounts.
It’s been a hard road for the both of us continual bicycle problems (both big and small repairs), rain delays (for days and days), mountain passes (sometimes more then 1 in a day), all these things add up to a load of frustration. There have been ups too. The people we meet are nice and welcome us into their homes like we are family. They cook dinner for us and offer great conversation even if we don’t communicate with each other very well there is still a great understanding between us. Mostly involving the love of bicycles, travel, and food. Even people we meet on the street are helpful and kind. Spain seems to have a large population of older gentleman who love to chat about their village and are willing to guide you personally to the local nondescript bicycle repair shop. Something you would never be able to find on your own in these villages where almost every street looks alike – white washed plaster façade, cobble stone one way roads, where the back drop is always some larger mountain not to far off. Then there is the natural spring water that flows from somewhere up high, it is just tapped and flowing from faucets in parks or into large basins on the side of the road. These basins are something from the not to distant past where people would tie up their horses so that they both could drink. Every chance we have both of us will fill our water bottles with this magic elixir. The taste so pure, clean, and cold. Nothing quite makes me happier then water with no flavor. Hopefully this will repeat itself everywhere we go. I think we are going to start cycling down to the coast, so I believe this little nicety is going to quit soon.
Spain is a beautiful place, everyone should come visit (they could use the tourist money, the economy is bad and it’s relatively cheap for Europe) but I wouldn’t necessarily come by bicycle. At least not to the part we are currently cycling in. There becomes a point when you are so sick of the climbing up that all you want to do is go down, but too bad, there is still only up. That point is about where I am at, too deep inside the country to go down. The only way out is up.
It’s been like this for about a week now. It started with our 2 day climb to Ronda and really hasn’t quit through Lucena, Martos, Mancha Real, and Quesada. Every village seems to be built at the top of a mountain right next to a ruined castle. I suppose that back in the preindustrial age this was for defense purposes, so that you might see hostile invaders from far away. Now all it does is make it incredibly difficult to reach. Not only by bicycle but also sometimes by car! Brian, with all his map resourcing has figured out that we would have to climb on average 1000 meters everyday for the entirety of Spain just to reach France. That is, if we continue on this path. Heading more inland and keeping away from the busier coastal roads. This mountainous way is much more dramatic (if you like mountain peaks over waves) and less traveled then following the beach traffic on the Mediterranean. But with all this climbing our miles/kms have dropped just as dramatically as the scenery, and my knees have started aching. So the decision has been made to go up and out towards the coast and visit Valencia and take in the coast for awhile.
No matter what, that still means up!