Day 248, Valencia, 12.410 km
I’ve played out the scene in my head at least four or five times over the past few days. Especially yesterday, when I saw a sign in the distance that said « State of alert! Access only to people with authorization ». The passage from Catalonia to the Valencian Community. A police car blocks the road. « Where are you going? – To Valencia – Do you have an official authorization? Well, I’m currently doing a bike tour of Europe, and I’m writing a blog about it. So you could say that I am a journalist and that professionally I have to continue this trip. – A blog, really? Do you think we’re stupid? » Then follows a confused discussion in a mixture of English, Spanish and French that ends with a quick ride to the nearest train station for a flight back to France… Damn Spain, it was not my war…
As I said above, this scene played out over and over in my head. The sign I mentioned did exist, but in reality, no one controls anything inside Spanish territory. So yes, I have a little shiver every time I see a police car (and they are driving around quite a lot), but in the end I reached Valencia without any other adventure than a little headwind or a quick passage on a freeway interchange…
From Barcelona Jay, Bob and I leave, accompanied by a very nice escort! Thibault and Arnaud decided to make a small part of the road with us to see Jay and Bob at work. Arnaud stiffens a little the pace in the Montjuic, even makes us make a small detour to show the big percentages that he usually swallows for breakfast, but we hang on with Thibault. Easy. Follows a long passage by the industrial zone, which has the kindness to be empty in this Saturday, what despite not giving us pretty landscapes to admire allows us at least to have a not too chopped conversation. Then we finally arrive on the beach, along the coast, in Castelldefels. Arnaud decides to turn back unfortunately, but I manage to convince Thibault to make the 20 km, which remain until Sitges (I do not mention the difference in height, otherwise the conversation would have been potentially more complicated…). We see the approaching mountains, and I try to convince myself that we are going to pass by the side close to the coast, the one that does not climb too much. In fact not. The slope is steep, the road is narrow but fortunately, the cars wait for it to be free to overtake, Thibault yelled after by the cops who do not want him to stop in a curve, but at least we are in the sun and the sight is worth the detour!
After a short lunch break, I leave Thibault at the station and start the next stage of the day. A little bit of big road, but with little traffic and wind in the back, a nice one. Tarragona. I pass near the beach, along the railroad. Not great, but I’m a bit lazy to go up to see the city center. So I continue. And I’m right: I’m on a bike path, along the beach, with the wind at my back and the sun in my eyes. A real treat! Then I go through the Catalan version of Miami Beach: Miami Platja. Funny. On the other hand, it’s very ugly, and all the fountains I see don’t work so I start to be short on water. I finally find a park where a sign forbids using the fountain but it works anyway. Phew. I can start looking for a place to sleep. I see a small wood next to the railroad. When I get closer, I realize that it’s a real dumping ground. Fail. I finally find a nice place a little further.
The next day, it’s a hard morning… I guess I got used to sleep in a real bed quite quickly. But the sun which rises and which warms me up gives me what I need to start the day. I get a little confused with my GPS which makes me go through all the stony paths of the surroundings and I decide to cut by the departmental road (or the Spanish equivalent, in this case the N-238). A good decision for Mr Lunet! I have the road for me alone, I avoid to climb too much, perfect for a Sunday ride! Then pass by orange trees, that smells good and that makes me want to pick one or two fruits for the breakfast tomorrow (in the end I did not dare… one day maybe!). Then we go on by a Green Path (the road is literally painted in green by moments!), and when there is a mountain which blocks the way we pass simply through!
I find myself again in water shortage, and on top of that it starts to be late and I look for a place to sleep. I find a cemetery on the way: closed. And I realize that my rear wheel is flat. I fix it and start looking for water again. A fountain. Closed. A park, another fountain. This time they have removed the tap. What a hell… Finally I find water but I’m in the middle of the city and I don’t see myself riding 20 km to get out. And I don’t dare to sleep on the beach, it’s clearly forbidden, with a sign every 15 m to make sure that people like me are aware of it. I finally find a parking for motorhomes. It’s gravel, but at least I’m not alone and I have an army of bodyguards for the night. Moreover I discuss with the neighbor, a German, who offers me a beer! Very good choice!
The next day, I’m awake early enough to see the sunrise, which is a good omen for the rest of the day! Legs are a little bit heavy, I am a little bit fed up with the wind (but I think that I have to face the truth, proximity of the sea says wind, I can’t have everything). On my left, often the beach: with palm trees, no palm trees. With gravel, no gravel. In any case I don’t know if it’s Spain or the Mediterranean sea, but they didn’t miss out on their beaches. And when I’m not by the sea I’m in the oranges.
To finish, I follow a Green Path, in straight line, during 15 km, until I arrive in Valence. Not much to add. At least I arrive early enough to have a real meal and a little tour in town.
Very nice evening at the hostel, I discuss with a cyclist who makes the road in opposite direction. Exchange of blogs and tips for the way to Portugal, I’ll have stuff to read for the evenings in the tent. Tomorrow we continue towards the south by following the coast, I don’t know yet where I will stop, but I promise to keep you informed!