After not having slept well due to excessive noise levels outside of the hotel, I get up early and look out of my room to check if TW560 is still there. Two things to report … Good news: it’s still there. Bad news: something else TW560-related appeared overnight: a huge new oil leak. I really need to tend to this ASAP!
After getting into TW560, I see that it must either have rained overnight or the humidity was extremely high – there was a lot of sand on my windscreen. Let’s fix that by driving to the next petrol station, get a good coffee and … get rid of the sand.
Easy…1 minute later:
With the new route chosen just the evening before, I set out into a golden sunrise before temperatures are too high.
As I said yesterday, my goal for today is to enjoy some more hills before heading back down to Tarragona. After just under an hour, the hills I chose slowly some closer:
At the start of the climb, signs along the road warn drivers that this is a road with cyclists and that they have – somewhat of – priority, as they have to be passed with at least 1.50m distance … which on this road with a solid line in the middle effectively means that cars cannot legally pass cyclists (of which there are quite a few today)
Following a group of cyclists at their speed gives me a brilliant break – I can let my mind wander and enjoy the surrounding landscape as if I were hiking in these hills. The temperatures are moderate as we’re at around 500m above sea level with minimal humidity.
In short: Perfect TWIKEing conditions.
Seeing the vast expanse of hills I’m going to cross through reminds me of the state of my rear tyres – I decided before leaving for this trip that they would be OK for another 4000km – OK in the sense that they would not be showing any tread at all by the time I’m back to Switzerland.
(I know what you’re thinking: That’s dangerous and not fun. Quite the opposite is the case: Whilst I admit that in humid or wet conditions I do need some more distance to the car in front – drifting around corners and especially roundabouts is HUGE fun. (Learn how to do this in a safe environment before doing this anywhere or at higher speeds – it’s the same as the famous ‘toboggan-mode‘ in winter.). In dry conditions, however, your TWIKE breaks much better, lateral stability is better, as you have much more of the tyre touching the ground at any given time and, most crucially, consume much, much less energy. Combine this with an 8-bar tyre pressure and you have a feeling like driving on rails!)
Back to the hills – seeing them also fills me with joyful anticipation for today, as this part will take at least 4-5 hours and is a guarantee for small and quiet roads.
I take the time to stop at the top of my first pass for today and immediately attract a lot of interest from the many cyclists enjoying a few minutes before heading back down at breakneck speeds.
This part of Spain seems to have been somewhat wealthy in the past – there are many old stately mansions and smaller castles nestled along and on top of the hills along the road. – always a nice break to the endless and uninspiring new developments seen everywhere in Spain.
After just a few kilometres of driving along a flat stretch of road, my next batch of hills starts building up before me.
They are slightly less high than the last ones – my road leads up to a very lonely valley with 3 separate villages along the way, all of them reminding me of ‘dos aguas’. This was the Spanish village I passed on my last Spanish TWIKE adventure in 2012. Almost devoid of people, with most of the shops boarded-up any person in sight was over 70 – just a few years to go and these places are bound to be ghost villages with no-one alive. A really sad thought as most of them seem to have quite some history to tell. I’m wondering if the Spanish state will do something to change course for these places or if they will be left to die.
Eventually, I leave the hills behind me. The change is as abrupt as it always is: the road flattens out and suddenly the roads are very straight and everyone passes my TWIKE much faster than before.
As readers of my blog know, I’m not a fan of driving across featureless landscapes. Today, I’m even less motivated, as I really want to stay in Spain a little longer and don’t feel like returning home right now…
So when the roads got really boring, such as the one below…
I queued an interstellar ambient mix, activated cruise control and let my mind wander free. With all my densely planned days when working this slow, low-on-endorphins way to let time pass by feels gloriously luxurious and deeply meditative.
I urge you to try it for yourself: best with a TWIKE or at least on a train looking out of the window for an hour whilst listening to this music.
The daily pic gives you an idea of how relaxed I currently am…
After an hour or so, finally, I get to see some distant hills – still driving with cruise control engaged, getting to them is inevitable and doesn’t need to be rushed. I’ll get there eventually…
Crossing the hills, I get to drive through another selection of smaller villages – some of them as dead as the ones earlier today, others, however, full of people and well kept up. I wonder what makes the difference between the ones prospering and the ones dying…
For my last few dozen kilometres today, I’m going to be heading back to the sea again. 500 m altitude to 0 m will do wonders for my average consumption! Roll, baby, roll! 😉
The view is spectacular – the sea is already visible from around 30 km away – perfectly tarmacked roads – TWIKEing bliss.
At the sea, I’m back to 100% flat roads… but not for long anymore:
My place for tonight is a typical Spanish ‘Hostal’ – simple, cheap, local and very Spanish. The very small road leading to the place was difficult to find and made sure that the noise from the busy street didn’t disturb anyone’s sleep.
Arriving at the hostal, I was immediately greeted personally by the owners who told me that they had wondered what I meant when I told them I’d have to charge my ‘electric recumbent bike’. They immediately started asking many questions and were kind enough to offer me a very cold beer to make this process more bearable 🙂
One of the first things I want to do is start charging as I never know how the electric infrastructure looks like – this turned out to be no problem at all. The owners already had freed a plug and parking spot beside it. No problem.
After having plugged in my TWIKE, it was time for some stats.
I’m still very happy with the consumption of my TWIKE!
With all this taken care of, I dumped my luggage in my room and ordered another beer and some snacks from the Hostal’s bar. Pork scratchings are just the thing I need right now!
After my first two beers, I head to the sea to swim one last time as the beach is just a short stroll away. Lying at the beach after my swim, I feel the warm sunlight all over and ask myself why I don’t go to the sea more often given that I love being there so much…
As I have to get up very early the next day to be able to get to the ferry with some time to spare for a top-up charge, I don’t stay up too long or start drinking with the locals at the Hostal’s bar which was surprisingly busy that evening.
Looking forward to the ferry tomorrow! Good night!