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Day 9 ......  Alcaraz to Albacete ....... 84 km (total 729 km)

SMASHED IT ! Hit it out of the ball park. More on this later. 

First back to the beautiful little hilltop village I stayed at last night. Alcaraz. I arrived just ahead of the first rains of the day but after an hour long downpour it cleared to a lovely sunset complete with rainbow.

There exists a walking trail in this area named the “Ruta Don Quixote “ which was created in 2005 as part of the celebrations surrounding the fourth centenary of the Spanish masterpiece “The indigenous gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”. Alcaraz sits on that route and the dirt trail that runs near the main road was my companion late yesterday and most of this morning. 

Early morning views of the lovely town of Alcaraz. 

Alcaraz early morning views part II 

The good thing about a 2 km climb up to your accomodation at days end is that come morning you get the 2 km return trip down the hill to start the day and a chance in the early morning light to look over the plains from where you’ve come the day before. 

It’s the small nuances you notice when visiting a foreign country. Small things done differently. Everywhere I have stayed , without exception has the solitary pillow. Long, but only one. 

Am not quite sure what is being grown here. Aside from giant “pick up” sticks perhaps. 

The morning ride was as good as it has been any day of this trip. If not the best of the lot. Lovely cloudless skies with a cool temperature and after a 6 km hill climb shortly after starting I dropped down into a small valley, from the village of Robledo , that was almost gorge like. Passing through barely populated villages the terrain was almost flat with anything a slight decline. The tarmac surface was very good, there was minimal traffic and the road wound itself east following a small stream. Little wonder the first of many motorbikers soon appeared. It was about 30 km of unadulterated cycling heaven. 

The small village of La Jardín, situated in the heart of the gorge, appeared at about the 30 km mark and bask in the sun outside a cafe sipping my coffee and gorging on a pastry was a lovely way to pass 15 mins.

Just because. Another seemingly lovely piece of Spanish farmhouse architecture. When I rode by the establishment it looked rundown and vacant. When I parked my bike up against that door about 42 dogs suddenly woke up on the other side of the wall. Post haste was the shot taken. 

Meet Jorge. As I sat enjoying my morning coffee he pulled up and beckoned me to the back of his car. In quickfire Spanish he explained to me what the wreck of an old bicycle was doing there of which I understood nought. And then he was on his way. Strange. 

That SMASHED I mentioned earlier ? That would be a smashing of the record for the longest straightest piece of road on the trip. You might recall the record had been set at 3.6 km. Well, today as I left the valley behind me and made my way eastward across the plains towards Albacete I encountered a section of straight road that ran for 19.4 km. I know for many from Australia , the USA or Canada that isn’t very long but I was suitably impressed. After 10km I was also suitably bored. 

(FWIW I googled the longest straight road in the world and yes Australia holds that record. 146.6 km between Balladonia and Caiguna. ) 

Just outside of Albacete I came across “Club Chango” Girls Shows. Complete with discretion curtain around the car park to ensure passing motorists couldn’t make out whose cars were parked up whilst they enjoyed the entertainment inside.

Lunch in Albacete was interesting if only for the “life lesson” experience I enjoyed. Soon after sitting down a plate of olives and a bowl of very small shells turned up in front of me. With no cutlery in sight I assumed one ate the shells whole. So I did. About 30 of them (lovely crunchy texture to them) before I noticed people around me were using provided toothpicks to scoop the minuscule morsels of flesh from within the shell and then discarding the hard bit. Oops. 

Albacete has a bull ring too.

127 - the number of times I stood up on my pedals today to release the pressure off my left buttock which has seemingly grown an aversion to long periods of engagement with my Brooks B17 “Flyer” handmade leather saddle. 

4 - number of time my bike fell over today as I tried to prop it up with a rock or stick for a photo. The makers of Surly continue to ignore pleads from their riders for a stand to be mounted on the bike. Something about compromising the integrity of the bikes frame and also added weight. Perhaps a compromise would be to make a high tensile steel lightweight portable stand that could be folded away for use when necessary Mr Surly? 

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