Wakey-wakey, rise and oh do we have to do this again so soon, hah-hah! No early breakfast in this otherwise lovely place, so it's away to try to navigate the cobbles and the avenues and alleyways of Xativa at dawn...
Gladiators, are you ready? No. Not remotely. Let's go!
I was worried about today's (and tomorrow's) route from way out. Okay so far!
Generalisation time: your average Spaniard must have a sweet tooth, judging by the range of junk on offer...dans yer France, there will be a decent amount of savoury gear. Just my early morning observation born out of frustration, hah-hah!
Already been shunted onto the service road but the view's okay.
And this is what kicks the stuffing out of you: punctures only a matter of time and who knows where this is leading?
Nice bridging in the meantime.
The Via Camino (service road) is meant to shadow the Autovia (which I'm not supposed to ride along) and provide an alternative to saddos like me.
However, and I am really not having a go at Google here, there has been a new railway line built and basically that has naused-up what was in place before. May I present exhibit A, M'Lud...
What the actual?
All told, I had to drag YP for about 2 miles. Fun, fun, fun!
Please make this stop, hah-hah!
The Coup de grâce: a throwback to Namibia, last December!
The effects of this unbelievable route were that I burned more than a few matches to get through it, and the amount of time lost to the day.
Puts you in a good frame of mind, does it not? To be fair, I didn't meltdown because this was unforeseen: I used Google Earth to recce the exit from Xativa onto the first main road because it looked dodgy, but there was no inkling of this.
Do you know what the kicker is? I reckon that I could have ridden on the Autovia after all, hah-hah!
Anyway, I was eventually back onto tarmac and rarely have felt quite so grateful.
These were new a month ago. Lordy.
My kinda surface, thank you!
Nice to see the regions changing...fools you into assuming progress, hah-hah!
Today's plan was always to try for Murcia: bang-on 100 miles and with over 4000 feet of climbing in over 30c, I reckoned that was fair enough.
Given the ridiculously slow first-half of the day, it seemed a tad unrealistic. As ever, nothing stays the same on this ride...I resigned myself to another 7pm finish and plodded-on, as per.
No ice today, Chief.
Well, at least it ain't ceramics.
Could be back in The US with a view like this!
So the temps are in the low 30s, time ebbs, you feel a bit drained and then you happen across this view!
Booking in for a free mile, excellent!
So I bomb down and eventually the guys who have reached the top and also descended pass me, and they ignore a 'Road Closed' sign on the route that I need.
I close the gap and manage to ask if I can get through to Murcia as intended? Si, si...follow us Senor! Dunno how they knew my name but that was a nice touch, lads.
After the terrain that I was on earlier, this is nuthin'!
Valid reason for road closure, granted.
The group slowed a bit and towed me for about 5 miles: still doing Mach 2 though...eventually I saw sense (alright there was a climb coming) and thanked them profusely whilst having a coronary, hah-hah! Just hope my knee sees the funny side tomorrow...
I Googled and found an Ibis in Murcia...an excellent gaff as it goes, and they welcome berks with two wheels in tow. Result!
This day was so ridiculous that it ranks up with the madness of the first week of this tour: no higher praise have I than that.
I'm worried about tomorrow's route too: this part of Espana is not geared to providing alternatives to cyclists, outside of city centres. All that said, we are getting a bit nearer to Gib each day. Please continue!