Wednesday: After Ponts to after Mequinenza. - Sights Set On Morocco (Under A Hot Sun) - CycleBlaze

August 13, 2014

Wednesday: After Ponts to after Mequinenza.

The sun doesn't appear from behind the hills until after eight. This is after breaking camp and setting back out toward the highway south to Lleida.
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On the road this morning there's a stiff breeze hitting me head on and quite a lot of long low percentage grad inclines. A tough start to the day. Soon I pass the field Maurizio and I camped in last time. Now a field of onions in the process of being harvested. The onions odder the air. A few kilometres onwards comes a short steep incline below a hilltop village to the left and a hostel at the roadside on the right by the crest of the climb. We stopped here three years ago and I'm glad to get this far and stop again. Ordering a coffee and bacon torte at the bar, I manage to mix the language with French, "un grand café con leche". The woman reverts to English. I return out to a table under the awning front. When the woman comes out with toasted sandwich and coffee, it is a comforting second breakfast. The coffee being good. The lot costing two euros seventy. And a time to write the diary.

The wind at first was coming from the south, but it has swung more westerly, blowing me about precariously as I pick up speed on the longish descend starting off from the café. I've to be careful to avoid hitting the crash barrier as I counter being pushed out into the road. The wind isn't such a problem further on on the flat. Though later outside Lidl on the way into Lleida, trying to eat a salad box lunch in the shaded front of the supermarket, sheltered from the sun but not the wind, I've to guard against lettuce leaves being blown away by the crosswind where I sit on the curb with my back against the window.

On the way into Lieida around one.
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Riding on shortly before three o'clock, with four litres of water on board and a pack of Lidl caramel chocolates, I'm on a ring-road for quite a way having passed the rows of rusting freight carriages and dilapidated San Miguel brewery and cement factory, following signs for Zaragoza and looking in now at the central district's hilltop citadel. Then I cross a river and see signs for Fraga, on a minor road running parallel to the Autopista. But drawing the map out it apparently ends at a point, joining the Autopista. What will I do then? Having cycled much in Spain, I know in such scenarios, there's usually a "via de servicio" a service road alongside, and there is when I get as far.

There's a bulk of a hill in the way with a long hot climb though, then an extremely steep descent to Fraga in a deep valley the other side. I'm dying of thirst riding along the city's main avenue. Lots of bars and cafes. The water I've got is warm, but is intended for camping anyway. And of course the caramels have melted. Then miracles of miracles there's a Lidl enclosed behind a glass wall at the street front with an arched gateway in to it's sun-shaded car-park. A stop for a cold beer and bottle of sparling water.

On the way out of town while stopped looked at a direction sign and finding my planned route, N211 is shown, a couple of young hitchhikers walk heavily by. Both sunburned and giving the impression of wearing the same clothes for a week. She looking like a ragdoll and he glances back at my bike. I could guest he is thinking, perhaps that's a good way to travel in future.

I continue on N211, twelwe kilometre to Mequinenza on the Ebro river. a wide waterway with reed margin and steep slopes either side. There's a wooded plot along the shore on the way into town. A good place to camp. perhaps if not so close to town. On the other side of town there's religious ruins and a castle on the hilltop. Then the road crosses the long bridge spanning the river. The other side involves a long climb of course, up above the hydroelectric dam upstream with power-lines webbed out on pylons leading off across the hills in either directions. I ride for nearly ten kilometres more on the look-out for a suitable campsite. There appears not much level ground. Its rocky outcrop studded with dwarf pines. Then I come to a little used track, going steep up from the road to begin with, levelling along a ledge plenty wide for the tent and a covering of pine-needles on the ground from the pines around.

Today's ride: 108 km (67 miles)
Total: 3,531 km (2,193 miles)

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