Spain 2013

  • 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.

    Look for this sign just to the south of Igualada. Moto happiness awaits.

    Look for this sign just to the south of Igualada. Moto happiness awaits.

    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.

    Perfectly manicured vineyards to complement the perfectly manicured roads

    Perfectly manicured vineyards to complement the perfectly manicured roads

    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.

    This group was setting a brisk pace. Beautiful section of road.

    This group was setting a brisk pace. Beautiful section of road.

    I got by all seven of them just after this curve.

    I got by all seven of them just after this curve.

    Dramatic rock formations all along our route today.

    Dramatic rock formations all along our route today.

    Debb takes a pose just above La Riba. Some very tight switchbacks getting out of town.

    Debb takes a pose just above La Riba. Some very tight switchbacks getting out of town.

    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!

    Looking east toward Ulldemolins. Breathtaking.

    Looking east toward Ulldemolins. Breathtaking.

    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?

    Sunday morning scenery in Catalunya

    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.

    Those mountains in the distance are calling us.

    Those mountains in the distance are calling us.

    Can't have a vineyard without a windmill

    Can’t have a vineyard without a windmill

    We're not lost, just checking for the best route

    We’re not lost, just checking for the best route

    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!

    A big crowd today

    A big crowd today

    A view of one of the domes in the cathedral

    A view of one of the domes in the cathedral

    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.

    Debb and I are about as far from Australia as we can get, I think.

    Debb and I are about as far from Australia as we can get, I think.

    There are lots of these all over. I wonder how old they are?

    There are lots of these stone walls. I wonder how old they are?

    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.

    Every now and then you come across fields of these red flowers. Stunning!

    Every now and then you come across fields of these red flowers. Stunning!

    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 3500 feet half the day, over 5000 three times.

    Over 3500 feet half the day, over 5000 three times.

    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.

    No sign that this tower was active. Lots of power lines nearby, however.

    No sign that this tower was active. Lots of power lines nearby, however.

    Situated exactly in the center of the road.

    Situated exactly in the center of the road.

    We pulled over to look at this huge formation in the distance

    We pulled over to look at this huge formation in the distance

    My zoom was at max. Quite dramatic.

    My zoom was at max. Quite dramatic.

    Debb is always in the bars here.

    Debb is always in the bars here.

    The old fortified town of Morella. Dramatic gates and a huge wall.

    The old fortified town of Morella. Dramatic gates and a huge wall.

    Heading uphill in the sun. We did that a lot today.

    Heading uphill in the sun. We did that a lot today.

    Near the top of a pass there were miles of these stone walls.

    Near the top of a pass there were miles of these stone walls.

     

  • 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.

    We chased the rain all day. Then it chased us.

    We chased the rain all day. Then it chased us.

    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.

    It was just us last night. It is very busy in the summer.

    It was just us last night. It is very busy in the summer.

    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’.

    Google says this is 5413.39 feet

    Google says this is 5413.39 feet

    They could put up a lot more of these than they have

    They could put up a lot more of these than they have

    Debb does her Vanna White

    Debb does her Vanna White

    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.

    Sushi, can you believe it? I can, it was excellent.

    Sushi, can you believe it? I can, it was excellent.

    A view of the plaza in Calatayud, Spain

    A view of the plaza in Calatayud, Spain

    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.

    Started in 1129. Almost a thousand years old.

    Started in 1129. Almost a thousand years old.

    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.

    Not as good as Chuck's but we didn't send them back

    Not as good as Chuck’s but we didn’t send them back


     

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