Sunday, 5 September 2010

Stage 2 - Piedralaves

I woke up an hour before the alarm was due to go off, so I got up and sorted through my panniers to try and distribute the weight evenly. I also put some cash, a debit card and my driving license in a pannier, in case my wallet or bar bag gets nicked.

Breakfast comprised four cereal bars, and I set off at about 9:30. I went back into Brunete to see if anywhere was open for breakfast (no) and to take some pics in daylight.

I was apprehensive about the route as today's wasn't the one from the book. I had to work out my own route as the main road in the book had been uppgraded to a motorway. I headed south to Navalcarnero, then west to Piedralaves. The road to Navalcarnero was pretty flat, so it was pretty easy going and I really enjoyed cycling through the Spanish countryside on such a glorious day.

The roads now were fast, single carriageways with a mini hard shoulder. Most of these were wide enough to cycle on, but they did narrow at times, and occasionally disappeared altogether when there was a bridge for example. In the UK I would think twice about cycling along these roads, but there really were very few cars on the road, and I found the drivers to be considerate, giving plenty of room when overtaking me. There obviously isn't a Spanish equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson.

I stopped off at Villa del Prado for lunch. This was a lovely old pueblo with a Plaza Mayor, and an old church. It seemed that the Sunday service had recently finished, as there were lots of (mainly old) people milling around the church in the shade. I decided to have lunch in a traditional bar, which looked a little bit intimidating from the outside for a guiri, or tourist, like me. It was just like a local bar inside, and I ordered a tortilla espanola and a small beer, which came to 3.70 €. The tortilla was fantastic, nice and soggy in the middle. I took some photos of the Plaza Mayor before continuing on my way.

As soon as I left Villa del Prado, the road went up into the hills. There were lots of long, slow drags interspersed with sharp climbs, and in the hot weather it was a long hard slog. Because the route was not in the book, I had no real idea of the elevation profile. After each climb I was hoping for a nice descent, but there weren't very many. The views from the higher ground were pretty good though. One thing I was starting to notice is that my bike was so heavy that I couldn't freewheel on the flat, or even on very slight descents. The bike weighed a ton, but I did need all of the gear in my panniers.

I didn't pass many cars on the roads, presumably because it was siesta time on a Sunday. There were no shops open in the villages I passed through, and there were no petrol stations either, so I started to run low on water. It was now approaching 4pm and I pulled off the main road to go through Cadalso de los Vitrios, where a bar was open. They didn't sell bottles of water, but there was a machine outside which I fed with all my change. The machine also had cans of Aquarius, a drink I hadn't seen before. It was a sports drink, with mineral salts amongst other things. Given the amount I had been sweating, I bought a can and it tasted really good, so I bought another one. I had a nice rest in the shade, drinking and watching the world go by.

Back in the saddle, I continued on my way, still struggling up some climbs, and starting to worry about tomorrow when there will be some real climbing to do. I started playing psychological games to try and make things a bit easier, telling myself that there would be a huge climb round the next bend, and that Piedralaves was a few km further than the signs said. Unfortunately, the climbs continued, but I eventually struggled into Piedralaves.

As I'd predicted, the hostal was at the far end of town. I checked in, and Paco took my bike for safe keeping. In the bar they were showing the real Vuelta, with about 10km to go, so I went up to my room, switched the TV on and watched the end of the stage.

I showered and changed, then washed my kit. Talking of kit, I'd taken two cycling jerseys (I didn't want to wear the charity shirt every day) and one pair of cycling shorts. For the evenings I had one t-shirt and one pair of shorts.

I had a nap, then popped over the road to buy some bottles of water, then had dinner in the hostal. Piedralaves is a small town and there didn't look to be any restaurants in walking distance. There wasn't much on the menu, so I ended up having pollo al ajillo and patatas bravas. The latter turned out to be chips and ketchup, and at 6€ they saw me coming!

I went to bed looking forward to, but dreading, the next day's ride. I was starting to get saddle sore and ached a lot.

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