Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Spain Sierra bike trip – day 3

Today’s ride was a 36 kilometer ride from Buitrago de Lozoya to Rascafria. Due to the directions, which could really use some dummy-proofing, we added another several kilometers on to our journey. But today’s mistake resulted in us riding out to an old stone hermitage in the middle of a field, where cows and horses grazed and a shepherd was the only person around for miles. So while we were bummed about going a few kilometers uphill unnecessarily, at least it was memorable.

Highlights of today’s journey were:
• The great pedestrian/bike that goes from the village of Pinilla del Valle, through the villages of Alameda del Valle, Oteruelo del Valle, Los Gritos, and then Rascafria. It’s quiet and peaceful, has quite a bit of shade and is part of a network of hiking and biking paths in the area.

• Being able to turn around and see mountains behind me wherever I was, some of them with a bit of snow remaining near the summit. I know I’ll have to climb one of those mountains tomorrow in order to get out of this valley, but I’m enjoying the view while I’m here.

• The tour inside the El Paular Monastery. Wow. Amazing construction, amazing ornamentation, from 300-700 years ago. The Sheraton hotel next door is part of the original construction and is a fantastically ornate stone structure.

• The appearance of fresh mountain water (the public fountain in Lozoya is water fresh from the mountain, which I used to refill my water bottle) and trees. The appearance of greenery and the sound of running water is a welcome sight after seeing so much dry scrub.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find any remarkable food today. I was told the beef here is amazing. The grilled beef I got yesterday in Buirago de Lozoya was remarkable – tender and flavorful and juicy. But today we didn’t have much luck in our restaurant pickings. Another difficulty is the huge amount of pollen flying through the air. It’s easily visible and the wind occasionally blows it into soft, billowy piles. My eyes are red and bloodshot from constant itching.

My behind is a bit sore from the time in the saddle, but otherwise, I’m doing pretty well, hoping I can make it through tomorrow, which is the toughest day of the tour. Four days is the most I’ve ever cycled in a row. Mark is suffering, but I’m loving it and am already dreaming of what will be my next bike tour.

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