If you’ve never been to Valencia then GO NOW. Quite simply one of the most stunning cities in Europe. Think Barcelona, Paris and Rome rolled into one without the hordes of tourists to blight your visit. This was day 12 of the ride and I was fortunate to be staying with friends, Eddie and his wife Heather and their son TJ who had given up his bedroom for me.
Getting here from the southern coastline had been hard. A lot harder than I had planned or envisaged. The ride from the coastal town of Nerja up to the plateau that Granada sits on was about as difficult as any that I had ever spent on a bike or would spend on the 7,000 km ride north. Nine hours of solid climbing up through a national park with no shops nor restaurants proved very taxing. So much so that by the time I had finished the days ride, had dinner and retired to bed my pulse was still 120 a minute. I woke at 2 am and my pulse was still 80 per minute versus a normal resting range of 55-60. It was a good indication of how much strain I had put myself on that climb away from the coastline and into Granada.
Granada is another must see town. The Al Hambra one of the more wonderful pieces of Moorish architecture in the world and well worth the effort. Just make sure you get there in a car or on a plane and avoid cycling there.
Leaving Granada after a rest day it was another very long day in the saddle riding to Jaen. Capital city of the great olive growing business of Spain. In a way it was almost as taxing as the ride into Granada. A tremendous amount of hills to conquer and at some stages I was at a relatively high altitude. The only highlight being the 11 km downhill stretch towards the end of the day where I didn't have to turn a pedal for the entire distance. I arrived into Jaen very late at around 8 pm basically sucking on vapour for energy and I think the waiter at the Italian restaurant was a little surprised when I ordered two starters, two main courses (pasta and Pizza) and two desserts. I'd go back to Jaen. the town itself is picturesque and so too the surrounding area. However I'd do it in a car or on a BMW GS1200R motorbike.
From Jaen to Valencia it was across the wide open plains of South East Spain, save for a monster climb out of Jalence that seemed to go on forever and would contain a stretch of road that would remain the steepest incline I would confront of the entire ride. I can proudly say I didn't get off an push, however I did have to zig zag across the road in order to maintain enough momentum to keep going forward. Jalence itself is a beautiful little town but for the fact that around the corner in the valley is one of Spain's largest nuclear reactor. ignoring that, the colourful houses, the easy ride there from Albacete the day before , and the wonderful weather which was now getting warmer all combined to make it a pleasant 2-3 days of riding towards Valencia .
Albacete was non-descript and I stayed at a house I had discovered on Air BnB. Basically the room was in a cellar under the house with one very narrow steep staircase as the only point of entry and exit. No natural sunlight to speak of and bars on every window it had a real feeling of dread about it. Never mind the fire trap that it possibly was. The terrain however was flat and the wind was always a tail wind.
One of the highlights of this particular segment of the ride, and one which will remain long in my memory is dropping down off the plateau west of Valencia towards the sea and coming across my first of many many orange orchards and hand picking a ready-to-be-eaten orange. Having eaten so many exported 'Valencia' oranges in my life it was a thrill to be able to pick and eat one first hand.
Scenes of Valencia
Arts and sciences complex
A ''simple door''
The dome inside the main mercato
Street art II