May 11, 2013 – La Granadella, Spain
We finally put Barcelona in our rear view mirrors this morning. Our hostel was deep in the Gothic Quarter so it was quite an evolution to get the bikes, get gas, get packed and get out of town. We did it and were motoring down the A-2 by 11AM.
Our first stop was Igualada. What a delightful town! It boasts a beautiful La Rambla-like promenade down the center of one of the main streets. Great people watching. We enjoyed a coffee and a (barely) morning pastry each for a meager 5E. It is good to be out of the big city.
C-37 between Igualada and Valls is a treasure. It follows the coastal mountains, starting quite gently through the vineyards before topping the hill and getting very tight and technical all the way to the plains into Valls. We stopped near the AP-2 at a Repsol station for a break and I added a pint to the BMW oil supply. No complaints. Gas is much cheaper here, too. 1.45E per liter is .30 to .40 E less than in Italy or France.
We rode around Valls and followed a narrow canyon north to La Ribe where we turned west again on TV-7044. Very tight switchbacks climbing up the canyon. Somewhere along the way we got on TV-7041, then TV-701 to Prades. All of these roads are barely go-kart tracks. Many sections didn’t have a center line and a few miles didn’t have any lines at all. In the widest sections you could not park a CRV and a RAV4 side by side. Great fun!
The highlight today was C-242 through Ulldemolins, then up the hill through Bellaguarda and here to La Granadella. Ulldemolins sits in a valley of vineyards surrounded by dramatic high mountains. We climbed up out of the valley to the west with huge views and then the road followed the crest of the hills all the way here. Amazing territorial views in all directions, including lots of huge wind towers.
The only hotel in town is Les Garriques. It may be one of the best places we have stayed and for 30E a night, maybe the least expensive. We have decided to stay another night and do a loop ride to the south and west of here.
They speak Catalan here and very little else. We had an interesting dinner if not exactly what we expected. The manager has a small tablet that he used to help translate some key words. Nice folks and a nice place.
May 12, 2013 – La Granadella again
We rode a loop today and ended up back here in La Granadella. Cheap rooms, good eats, excellent scenery, and very fine roads. What’s not to like?
Our first road was C-233 from La Granadella to Flix. This is 25km to compare favorably with the Spiral Highway or the Almota Grade in the Northwest. Just a delight to ride this morning.
Our loop took us to Alcaniz. We arrived just as mass was ending and the square was full of ladies young and old dressed in their best. Mother’s Day? We grabbed a table across from the church and enjoyed an adult beverage and a bowl of the best olives ever. Tart, but oh so good!
After the crowd had gone we stepped into the cathedral to look around. Quite plain in the main hall but several of the small sanctuaries were very beautiful. I got a picture or two inside and out.
The first half of our loop was a mixture of vineyards and orchards. The last part was all orchards. A few olive orchards here and there but many of what appeared to me as peach orchards. My father and grandfather who worked in the fruit business for decades would have felt right at home in this country.
Between Caspe and Mequinenza we rode along a huge reservoir behind a dam on the Rio Ebro. Quite dramatic scenery all along as we were high above the water until the bridge at Mequinenza. This area reminded me of eastern Washington or parts of western Colorado or Utah.
Our last ride today was up the hill on C-242 from C-12 back to La Granadella. There are roads that are dramatic or fast or technical or all three. This road is just fun to ride. Maybe its because you are climbing into the wind machines or because the scenery is suddenly opening up or just that you know you are only a few minutes from your first cervesa of the evening. Maybe it is all the wildflowers along the road. Recommended.
May 13, 2013 – Albarracin, Spain
The star of today is our ride profile.
Over a mile high three times today. Isn’t there a club for that? No, that’s something else. The terrain was really varied today. We rode through farmland, sparse vegetation, dense pine forests, and dry rocky desert. Just to the west of Teruel we could have been in Eastern Washington or parts of Idaho. Large plots of high intensity farming with mountains in the background.
Some photos along the way.
May 14, 2013 – Arnedo, Spain
I spoke too soon about the weather. Today was our first cold and wet day. Heated jackets and heated grips all day today. But hey! We’re still in Spain.
Debb and I stayed at the Hotel Valdevecar last night. We were the only ones who stayed there. The two gentlemen who helped us were twins. We weren’t sure which one we were speaking with.
We went over a couple more mountain tops today. One of them was 1650 meters. We realized today that almost all of the forests we have ridden through have been carefully planted. The trees are in neat rows and many of the hillsides are terraced. We also passed what looked like it might have been a university agriculture project. Several acres of both evergreen and deciduous trees planted in neat rows with big spacing. Both parcels had a large variety of trees interspersed in the ‘forest’.
The food highlight was lunch in Calatayud. Six pieces of delicious tapas and two cervezas for 6.50E. Yum! The main plaza in Calatayud has trees that have been grafted into archways. Made for a very elegant walkway.
The castle highlight was El Castillo de Molina de Aragon. Built, or at least started in 1129. There was a tour we didn’t take.
Our last hour of riding here was marked as a green road on the Michelin map. It might have been scenic but it wasn’t a good moto road. Way too rough and way too tight and twisty to have any flow. It was either on the top of a rocky mountain or deep in a river canyon. By then the weather had caught up with us. Lightning followed almost immediately by thunder followed by 10 minutes of hard rain. We finally rode out from under but our ride wasn’t green it was dark grey and wet.
But hey! We’re still in Spain. Time for an adult beverage.
Continue to France 2013