after a very nice cup of tea with some toast and home made jam we head – yet again – towards a nature reserve and some promising climbs. even though it is still early, we immediately notice that today will be much hotter than the other days. after just 20kms, we arrive at a larger, flat valley with some rather high hills in the distance. the hills look odd, since normally they are beige with some dark green spots. these hills, however, are dark!
as we come closer, we see what happened to these hills: wildfires! everything, and I mean *everything* was burnt here! trees, shrubs, grass, bushes, houses … even traffic signs!
it is difficult to describe what we saw here and how large the burnt area is. in total, we drove through at least 20kms of completely burned-down hillsides with the occasional pocket of still-smoking embers. all in all, close-up it looked more like the surface of the moon!
for us it was the first time to see such distruction close-up and it had a deep impact on us. especially when we thought of the people that lost not only their fruit/olive trees, but their house, too!
after this very impressive first part we drove further into the nature reserve and climbed further uphill only to descend from 950m to a place way down a valley called “dos aguas”. this small village shall forever remain in my mind as the literal end of the world. it took us 2 hours to get there. no industry, one small shop, one bar, a handful of houses. anyone we saw was 70+ and looked like they were waiting, well, for life to end. no-one else there! heading back out from dos aguas on the only other road to leave the village towards the next hilltop, we admire the views but think how this place will look like in about 15 years. probably completely deserted and shut-down!
as we arrive at the top of the hill, we see that dos aguas was at the end of a valley and that we are now, again, on a plateau. the views are stunning!
we drive another 30kms though this nature reserve and whilst we have no reception, temperatures soar above 40° for the first time. my smartphone, whilst being more or less useless anyway due to missing mobile phone reception now decided to stop working since it showed (after cooling for in the shade for 15 mins) 58° internal temperature!
with our battery capacity slowly running low, we quickly consult a map (smartphone is still cooling) and see that we basically have exactly one option to charge our batteries. a small village called bicorp. arriving there, we still have about 21% capacity, but our next stage will take us from 550metres up to 1083. we’re looking forward to this climb, since the heat is getting unbearable.
we arrive in bicorp and jc very quickly meets the local mayors’ office infrastructure person and he takes us to the town hall and lets us plug in the TWIKE there. our stuff goes into the hall, too, he locks the place and we then head to one of two smaller places and wait in the shade for the charge to complete.
after 90 mins we head back to the TWIKE. bad news: the charge didn’t complete. we’re at 54%. this will not be enough to complete the climb. we restart the charge and after just another 10 mins, the controller display jumps from 26A to 35A, then switches off. restarting the controller again, we wait another 10 mins just to find our own, local, FI-differentials triggered by the controller.
I suspect that it has something to do with the temperature. the controller is currently at 65° when not under load. as soon as we put any kind of load on, the temperature soars and the controller either cuts out or our FI’s trigger. the additional chargers are at such a temperature that not only can one no longer touch them, but that given a pan, one could easily fry eggs on them! (and, keep in mind: the TWIKE is parked in the shade!)
I then decide to let the Chinese chargers do the work and have the controller just sit there idling and providing the 30W for the TWIKE computer. this keeps charging going and at the same time keeping controller temperature at 64-65°.
after another 45 mins, we reach about 85% battery charge, just as the infrastructure guy comes back to open the doors to the town hall again.
since we need to still wait for some minutes, we decide to show him our next stage. he nods when we show him where we want to go and then says that, although the climb is extremely nice and we would most certainly enjoy the fresh air at 1083 metres, we would not be able to go there… since the one lane road up the mountain from this village was not tarmacked all the way and he didn’t see us negotiating that part with the TWIKE.
a quick check of some high-res satellite imagery along the road (thanks, google) proved his point. a good third of the road was indeed not TWIKE-friendly.
prior to TDE2012, I very, very carefully worked on all the roads that constitute the red line, since google is, at least sometimes, very optimistic regarding the viability of certain roads. up until now all our roads were small, but tarmacked. it’s not a problem, but rather a pitty that we cannot drive up to that inconsequential but important point for TDE2012.
with our current ground clearance of about 7cm, any larger stone would pose grave danger to our battery-bay & we have a 100% no-risk policy towards these things.
this means that we will not be able to make it to our sea-avoiding point after all.
the detour involved is quite extensive and we need to get to Alicante by Saturday evening at the latest, as my family will be arriving on Sunday and we want to get the apartment ready and aired by the time they arrive.
as we leave, we descend to about 300 meters – and temperatures got even more crazy: 45° outside temperature!
i just rummaged around in the interwebs and found the forecast for today:
back to where we were: usually, we use a hand to get in some fresh air from outside: this, now, was not a good idea – it felt like switching on a hair-dryer. we are very much aware that in such situations, fluid intake is extremely important. our water felt like warm tea – yuk! then; we slowly weren’t able to touch any metal parts anymore. the black exloxy metal pieces were so hot that if touched felt like a hot stove plate.
these extreme environmental parameters were surely not part of the TWIKE use-case studies and believe me: 3 hours of this is definitely NOT enjoyable! we consumed about 3 litres of water each during that afternoon and did not have to stop anywhere, if you get what I mean. fortunately, I have took isotonic mineral powder with me which with some water then turns into an isotonic drink which replenishes all salts and minerals the body lost during the day.
late afternoon we arrive in la font de la figuera, a small village in the middle of nowhere, find ourselves a very nice casa rural hostel and head down to the village square. there we sit in the shade eat some tapas, drink some cold beers and enjoy the people slowly starting their life in the evening when the sun has set, temperatures are slowly coming down (to 34°) and a slight breeze stirs the stale air the hot day has left over.
during the night, TW231 parks inside this old building- and we enjoy our rooms which had the air-con running during our dinner and now are nice and cool.