Woke up to the fire sirens going off! But no smoke or fire in sight, so we had some yummie bread and salami for breakfast, washed down with some fresh coffee Aidan brewed up on the sandy road (so as to not set fire to the forest).
Last night we had parked the bikes in the field down a steep slope from the road. The field was a lot bumpier than the knee-high grass had made it look, so we had left the bikes wherever they’d got stuck. This morning we had to somehow get them out again. Turns out Pippa had got caught on the grass and was in gear! No wonder she wasn’t going anywhere. Aidan heroically rode the bikes up the slope, wriggling all over the place and kicking them upright every time they threatened to fall 🙂
Our trusty crappy Halfords foot pump that we had stolen from our previous landlords finally gave up this morning. But since we only did a few miles the day before, the tire pressure should be ok. Tomorrow we’ll just use the electric one, that runs off the bikes’ socket, but today it’s just packed too deep in the bottom of the panniers! We loaded up and headed off east. The rush home meant big boring roads and lots of concentration. And I kept looking at the awesome landscape around us, yearning for the little winding roads, contemplating calling work and telling them we’d not come back before November.
Eventually we finally got off the motorway and I REALLY needed a pee! So Aidan led us off onto those lucrative tiny roads in search of a suitable bush or hedge to wee behind. A shepherd with his goats stopped us in our tracks and I fumbled frantically for my camera in the middle off a cross roads lest they disappear before I get a snapshot.
We found ourselves on a cobbled road amongst yellow fields enclosed by low stone walls and scrawny bushes dotted around. The fields were yellow because the grass had simply dried up in the scorching heat. So the farmers could simply mow the hay and bale it straight away without leaving it to dry first! As we rode on we watched cows and horses graze on hay. The fields were sprinkled with massive boulders and tiny trees and vineyards and sunflowers made a reappearance. And all the yellow and gold was topped off with bright blue skies! Stunning!
The Aftermath of more fires!
Then the gold was replaced by scantily planted rows of trees lining the mountain sides (olives maybe). The road twisted and turned its way through the landscape and a sign announced that we were in a national park. We stopped for coffee and stale bread with cheese by a water fountain.
After that the road started to climb and we had an awesome view of the lake (or was it a river?) in the valley. Took a few obligatory pictures of course.
Soon after we stopped again at a cross roads. Aidan’s phone insisted that the road clearly signposted “Espahna” ended in the lake. But the map told tales of a bridge. From up the mountain it had looked like there was some sort of structure there, so we believed the map and rode towards the lake. It turns out it was actually a river and the bridge was the old border. Now the posts were deserted and we rode straight across. Welcome back to Spain!
The rest of the ride was rather uneventful. We drank too little water and spent ages trying to find a shop that was open. Turns out today was another Fiesta. A poster announced that everything would be closed today (2nd), 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th September. The fences were up and the towns were prepared for the bull runs. Sadly we didn’t actually see any in full swing. we just remained hungry and thirsty. I am starting to think I want to find a job in Spain… they never work but always hang out in bars 🙂 In the end we managed to find water, ice cream and tomato sauce.
Luckily we found a camping spot really easily that night as we were super exhausted. It meant riding down sandy paths through some pine trees. Of course I dropped my bike. So I jumped off and stomped after Aidan and stroppily told him off for riding on and on along the sand in the first place. He turned around and patiently helped me pick Seven back up. We wobbled on for a few more metres and just put up the tent in full view of anyone walking past.
You couldn’t see us from the road and the guy walking past a few minutes later didn’t seem to mind us at all. So we just pitched the tent and cracked open the wine. Aidan cooked a yum lil dinner and we wrote the diaries (not in the mood for that today, but its gotta be done, there is no way I’ll remember everything otherwise!). Time to relax 🙂 Another big ride tomorrow….