Berja - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 26, 2019

Berja

For some reason we weren’t really looking forward to today’s ride so much.  Most of it is on the coastal highway, until the final climb into Berja.  It’s fairly long and has a fair amount of climbing - in addition to the final climb there are five or eight smaller climbs along the way that we’re sure will soften us up before we get there.  We’re looking at it as a work day really, just paying our dues until we get to Berja where we look forward to another awesome ride in the mountains.

Boy, were we wrong.  Today was incredible.  Fantastic cycling nearly the entire way, through stunning scenery on nearly carless roads.  Incredible.  Oh, wait, I already said that, just two sentences back.  Bears repeating though, just to get your attention.  Incredible.

Leaving Motril, admiring a swath of rotting tomatoes that look like they were just dumped here.
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The ride was definitely lumpy, but not quite as bad as we’d anticipated. There are four or five tunnels (all short, well lit) that flattened it out a bit.
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About five miles east of Motril we come to tiny Calahonda, a place we’d considered staying but were afraid we might not find a restaurant open. If we come through again some year though, we’ll stay here at that hotel next to the rock that splits the town in half. I want to see what it looks like from the inside.
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Looking back on Calahonda as we climb over the next headland. It looks like a beautiful place. Look at that huge rock splitting the town in half! Next time, for sure.
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Over the next headland, we drop down into Plasticland again. This region - especially around Almeria - is famous for this. You can probably spot Almeria from the moon by its vast unbroken sea of plastic.
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And then, up again on one of the larger climbs of the day. The grade isn’t bad though, and the scenery is so striking that you don’t notice the pain so much.
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Rocky and the wall.
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The scenery just keeps coming and blowing your mind, bend after bend.
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Oh, and a reminder in case you forgot or weren’t reading closely enough: the road is pretty much empty. We see as many bicycles as cars for most of today’s ride.
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Another ruined tower perches dramatically on this promontory. We must be seeing a tower every three or four miles now. I should read up on what this was about some day. For now though, it’s enough just to admire them.
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Yikes. The scar higher up the slope is the course of the autovia. Both that highway and ours look carved out of the mountains by a giant scalpel - quite impressive feats of highway engineering.
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Looking back west. The nearest tower is the one we saw two frames back from the other side.
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Breathtaking.
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We’re not the only ones out today. We have to share the road with the other bikers.
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Jen GrumbyA sight like this makes me smile!
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2 weeks ago
Dropping into Castello de Ferro, another town we considered staying in. It’s the last place of any size for the next 20 miles.
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Still dropping to Castello de Ferro, stopping to gape at the massive heap rising just to the north.
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Beyond Castello de Ferro, we enter an almost eerie stretch of road. Generally flattish, broken by small, scruffy villages that look like they got passed by when the new highway was built. Not such dramatic scenery, but wonderful cycling because it’s so quiet. We ride virtually alone for the next 20 miles.
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I don’t remember where this interesting structure is. I’ll look it up someday, unless you care to do the research and let us know. There’s a nice attaboy in it for you if you do.
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We break for lunch at a bit before La Rabita, at the first spot we see that offers a bit of shade and shelter.  I walk up to claim a bit of grass in the shade under the olive trees, when I see we have a bit of company coming our way - a goatherd and his two dogs, followed by a ragtag army of about five hundred goats.

I try to fend them off from our picnic spot, pointing out that I was here first; but they won’t be deterred.  What follows is the second best goat drive of our lives.  I have a video of it that I’ll post later when we get to a spot with better WiFi, but for now you’re invited to see what I’m sure will always be number one: the great goat avalanche on Logara Pass on the Albanian Riviera.

After that, more miles of easy, quiet riding until we finally come to the small city of Adra, leave the coast, and head up and inland toward Berja.

Time for lunch. We could really just sit on the shoulder here for all the traffic there is, but we prefer a spot across the road in the shade.
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Hey, not so fast! We were here first.
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An army of invaders interrupt the solitude of our picnic spot.
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Another tower, more plastic.
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More of the same.
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Once we leave the coast, we’re back in the astonishing scenery again.  After climbing over a small ridge we leave the highway for a quiet, perfect road that follows the tiny Chico River upstream.  You’d think we’d be used to this landscape by now, but we can hardly believe how great this country is.  The last six or seven miles are probably the best of a day already destined for our record books.

Sorry there’s no video of the ride either, but we’ll post it later when we can upload it.  You won’t want to miss it.

Some of this country reminds me a bit of Death Valley. Through the gap you can just see the snowy Sierra Nevada far off to the northwest.
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The outcroppings really are amazing, colorful and varied. This wall has an almost mica-like sheen.
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Ride stats today: 48 miles, 3,500’; for the tour: 1,966 miles, 69,000’

Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 1,966 miles (3,164 km)

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