Before the busy bicycle touring season starts we decide to take a few days off and ride through Spain. Weather forecast has been great for this region: sunny days, about 17 degrees near the coast and 10 in the mountains. Nights might be cold, but that’s ok. Hé, sounds great, doesn’t it? Little did we know…
Maybe the flight should have warned us that things wouldn’t really go as planned! As we pass high above the Pyranees a storm is raging and we are tossed all over the place. Two people are completely panicking, but stewards are strapped to their seats as well. Although I am not that fond of flying it calms me that the captain is just talking about the weather and a ‘little bit of turbulence’ right at that same time. I figure, if he has time to bore me with this stuff, it probably is ok. Especially when we hear all sorts of alarms going of in the cockpit, he stays very calm. Just five minutes later we are enjoying a smooth flight again and the steward knows how to lighten the mood: “Well, that was some turbulance, but you know, if you had gone to Disney World, you would have had to wait an hour in line for this experience!”
It is sunny and pleasant as we cycle towards Banos de la Fortuna, heavy headwind though. I have mapped out a track for this 10-day adventure, following dirt roads and quiet backroads. We immediately start climbing, passing olive trees and a couple of villages. Tired, but also energized we reach the campsite in Banos where we pitch our tent on the rocky surface.
We are slowly climbing on the Via Verde to Caravaca de la Cruz, while dark clouds are getting closer and closer. In Mula it hits us; big snow flakes are falling from the sky. People run outside and start taking pictures as we put on our raincoat and track back to the Via Verde. As we pass a tunnel just outside town the muddy surface is getting wet and sticky and we need to walk. The mud is accumulating on the tires and the bottom of my shoes. Our neat Avaghons turn into dirty bicycles as more and more snow falls down on us. The track has become unrideable and with the help of the GPS we cycle down towards the highway. Thank God for disc brakes!
By the time we reach the campsite in Bullas there’s about 15cm of snow, we are cold and wet and well, we (read: I) are pussies today: I ask the guy at the reception if there is someting else to stay indoors. He shows me an apartment and I am sold. Turns out this was a good move, because it kept snowing and snowing and we were stuck for three days here.
We forget about our cycling plan and try to find a nice route down to the coast, where it’s probably better. Out of Bullas we pass the Sierra de Espuna. A nice winding narrow track and a very wet downhill later we reach Totana and leave the snow behind us. We cross the Sierra de Almenara and at Aguilas we have a first view on the Mediterranean Sea. One last climb through the Sierra de la Muela and we reach flat citrus country all the way back to Alicante.
This route is not as spectacular as we had planned, but these things happen! It’s still nice to ride our bikes through Spain, enjoy tapas and bread with olive oil and a nice cup of coffee in the local bar. And the last (!!!) day we finally enjoy temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius, having lunch on a bench with the sun on our faces. Yes, this is it. This is why we ride our bikes: wind through our hair, sun on our faces, a little bit tough at times, new cultures and new landscapes to discover. Spain, we’ll be back!