Caceres loop - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 19, 2019

Caceres loop

We’re quite pleased with our stay at the very hospitable Hotel Don Carlos.  When we left the breakfast room and passed by the front desk on the way back to our room, the host was waiting for us, with a bag of our clean laundry on the counter.  Remarkable service - for only six euros they accepted our pile of filthy laundry last night and returned it clean this morning - washed, dried, and neatly folded.  They even matched and rolled my socks!

Another in my series of hotel stairwell shots. I like this one for its unusual triangular shape.
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Over and above the call of duty. They even matched my socks!
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Patrick O'HaraI never pegged you as a tighty whitey guy;)
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1 month ago

We got ourselves out for an early ride today, hoping to fit it into the fairly small window that was forecast for the day.  It’s supposed to be cloudy this morning, with rain forecast to arrive at about one.  We had planned an out and back on a quiet road northeast of town, but after looking at this morning’s forecast we changed directions.  Winds are due to come from the southwest and to strengthen throughout the day, and we decided it would be prudent to start by biking into a headwind and let ourselves be blown back to town.  Who wants to be caught racing a coming rainstorm while biking into a 15 mph headwind?

Unfortunately, the prudent road is also the busier road.  We’re riding the direct route to Badajoz, which understandably carries some traffic.  I’d expected it to be fairly quiet though because on Google Maps it’s labeled as a provincial road, the EX-100.  It’s not that any more though - it’s a national road now, the N-523, so maybe it’s been recently rebranded and modernized.

It’s not a bad ride, with a wide and comfortable shoulder; but the first ten miles are pretty uninteresting - flat, open, fairly featureless.  We’re considering just calling it a short day and turning back when we come to a paved side road that looks worth pursuing.

Heading southwest from Caceres, we look west toward the frontier. The formation in the distance is the Sierra de San Pedro, near the Portuguese border. We’ll be biking straight at them tomorrow when we leave town.
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Still in cattle country. Actually, this would probably be great country to ride through on a dirt bike. That path off in the distance looks very inviting.
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The side road is very nice, but too short.  It ends after three miles at an eco park, but we thoroughly enjoy biking out and back.  We probably could have made a nice day of it by just doing a series of repetitions here and then heading back to town.

We’re off the national highway for a few miles, heading west. The road dead ends on us after only three miles, but this is the best part of the day’s ride.
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On the top-short ride to the ecopark.
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This desiccated ball must be something like a Queen Anne’s lace. It looks like it must be about to break off, from the look of that hole in its stem.
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Bill ShaneyfeltYour ID is correct!

https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/queen-annes-lace
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1 month ago
Another instance of the same plant, sprung open. Looks like a firework.
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Back on the highway again, we decide to continue south for a ways further.  There’s a low range just another five or six miles off, the easternmost extent of the Sierra de San Pedro, that makes sense as a target.  We target the high point of the ridge as a sensible goal - a natural turnaround point, and maybe one that will give us some nice views from the top.

We’re pleased with our decision.  The ride improves mile over mile as we bike south and approach the foothills.  There’s more green in the vegetation, the contour of the land is more interesting, and it’s a pleasant, gradual climb to the low saddle that cuts through the range.

At the top we take a look at the darkening sky and decide that we’d best fly back to town.  We’re about 17 miles from shelter, but with the help of a good tailwind the whole way we hopeful as we fly along at nearly 20 mph, the few small rises in our path melting beneath our momentum and the wind.

Turning back toward town, we pass again through the gap in the ridge.
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She’s gon. I’ve stopped for a photo, and now I won’t see her again until the outskirts of town.
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We should make haste.
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Race!
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Caceres is just past that ridge, under that grey sky. Will we make it?
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We do really well.  We make it back to town almost precisely at one, just when the rain is predicted to arrive.  We’ve been biking in a very light mist for about the last five miles, but it’s too feeble to cause any damage. We look good to arrive  at our hotel dry, until we make a navigation error and loose the course, wasting about a half mile and several minutes backtracking to the point we went wrong.

It’s enough - in those few minutes, the mist turns to light rain.  Rachael stops us to put on her raincoat, and in her haste makes a tactical mistake - she tries to pull it on without taking her helmet on.

Help!  I’m stuck!  I’m choking!  I tell her to just unzip the jacket to free up room, but unfortunately the jacket has a very short zipper and it’s already fully open.  Hero that I am, I come promptly to the rescue - after taking just a second to pull out the camera so we’ll remember the moment.  There’s time - she’s not blue in the face yet.  A bit red, actually.

A few minutes later, both breathing normally again, we wheel our somewhat damp Fridays into the lobby of our hotel.  Not long after, we’re showered, changed, and out the door again in pursuit of a meal.  Later, we’ll return to our room for a nap while we wait out the rain.

Help!
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Jen GrumbyWhoopsidaisies!

I guess that's a sign of a comfortable helmet when you forget it's there. :0)
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1 month ago

I’m not honestly sure how long the rains continued, because we napped through most of the afternoon.  They had ceased by early evening though, and we walked out for a look at the historical city after dark.  This is an awesome time to explore Caceres, as you’ll see when I get around to posting photos of the city.   It’s a remarkable place during the day, but evening is even better.  I don’t know if it’s always like this, but in this Saturday night anyway many of the towers and churches are illuminated.  

The old city is nearly as busy tonight as it was during the day. There were several tour groups making the rounds, as well as other random millers like ourselves.
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As great as Caceres is during the day, it’s even better in the evening.
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Ride stats today: 40 miles, 1,600’; for the tour: 864 miles, 43,100‘

Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 866 miles (1,394 km)

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