Tabernas loop ride - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 30, 2019

Tabernas loop ride

We’re staying in a private home here that also lets rooms.  It’s a warm place, and already colorfully decorated in anticipation of Christmas.  The owners are the local Spanish man I mentioned yesterday, who speaks just a minimal bit of English; and his Russian wife, who speaks quite a bit more, enough to almost have a conversation with us.

She’s also quite a good cook, and serves meals if ordered in advance.  We ate in last night and had an excellent salmon dish.  It looks more attractive than anything else we see in this small town, so over breakfast we place an order for tonight’s meal as well.

Over breakfast we chat further with Holger, who we enjoyed a long but somewhat stilted conversation with last night after dinner.  Stilted because he’s German, a hydraulics engineer from the Baltic coast near Hamburg (just west of the border with East Germany, he tells us) and speaks limited English.  With the use of his English skills, my even more limited German, pantomime and Google Translate, we get by enough to carry on a chat for twenty minutes or so.

Holger is here on a month-long holiday from the business he and his wife run.  He’s traveling on his BMW motorcycle on a solo tour of Andalucia.  Today he’s off to Oasys Mini-Hollywood; and then tomorrow he’s on his way to Granada.

Over breakfast, he agrees to meet me at the garage when he leaves for Mini-Hollywood so that I can take a photo of him with his bike.

Holger and his clean, shiny BMW, which he proudly says he’s owned for 30 months now. He’s off to visit Oasys Mini-Hollywood today. As I was just saying, to each his own.
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Ron SuchanekHe making a good choice on the destination. Also, I've rented BMWs a couple of times. Once for 11 days in Alaska, and once to drive from Long Beach California to Portland. They are truly amazing, efficient, beautiful machines. The Germans know how to build stuff.
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5 days ago

Today’s ride is the most challenging climb of the tour, on a tour that hasn’t seen many real climbs.  The only real competitor was our climb across the highest point on the French Camino on our ride to Astorga, nearly two months ago.

It’s a long, exposed climb - we saw scarcely a tree by the road for the whole ride - but quite dramatic.  Such barren, totally exposed country!  It wouldn’t do to try this climb on a warm day, I’m sure.  Even today, with a high of merely the low sixties, it was feeling warmish as we climbed up these bare slopes in the full sun.

But the descent - wow!  Best descent of the tour, bar none.

Video sound track:  Flamenco, by Anat Cohen and Trio Brazileiro

We, on the other hand, follow through with our plan to climb a hill. And then another. And another. A long, hard day lies ahead.
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This looks like Fort Bravo again, and it also has its circle of teepees in the wings (you can see the tip of one behind the rocks to the left of town), but this is Western Leone. The two towns are just a short stage coach ride apart.
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Our climb takes us through the striking and colorful Tabernas Desert.
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In the Tabernas Desert
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You can’t see it from here, but our small road parallels the Autovia, just off frame to the left. It ascends at a steady, comfortable grade of five percent or more. Not ours though, which is much more fitful - steep stretches that level off and then dip into annoying depressions before climbing out again.
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Every blasted one of these thirty or so depressions looks sort of like this. Strep enough climbing out that you’d like to speed down and get some momentum for the climb out. But you can’t, because the bottom is so rough and washboarded that you almost have to come to a stop. A bit irksome after you do this thirty times.
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Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekJust a bit. Not complaining, mind you. Just making a note of it so others will know what to expect.
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4 days ago
After about nine miles we come to the summit of the first climb, just south of Gérgal.
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An abandoned utility station of some sort stands at the summit. We must be riding on the old highway, now virtually abandoned. We’ve only seen one other car on this climb, and four other bicycles.
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Descending to Gérgal. Enthusiasm for this descent is limited, knowing we just have to climb out the other side once we bottom out.
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Ron SuchanekOn the Appalachian Trail they call them PUDs- pointless ups and downs. (I might have made a similar comment on another post, but who knows what I do?)
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekThanks for telling me that, Ron. What a useful acronym. I’ll try to find a few times to use it soon so that it cements in my memory.
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4 days ago
Looking back at our descent on the other side of the valley (Gérgal is hidden, around the bend to the right), we begin the second climb of the day.
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Over the top of the second climb, Castro de Filabres comes into view. Beyond that is the final climb, but first there’s a smaller one before the next village, and the steepest one of the day. Annoying.
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This is such empty, bare country up here. It looks like this for miles in all directions. It’s hard to imagine, looking at this, that people actually live up here.
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Still working our way, slowly, to Castro de Filabres. It’s much further than it looks, because the road bends into and then out of deep folds in the land.
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At the top of the pentultimate summit, looking down at Castro de Filabres. We’ll drop down to nearly its level before the final climb.
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On the final climb now, we look back at the other village up here: Olula de Castro.
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Another look back at Olula de Castro. This one really is tiny, but it’s definitely a living village. Two men were tending their orchard when I biked through.
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Castro de Filabres. Our route goes through the gap toward the left - if you zoom in you can see the road angling up to it. It’s still three miles off.
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Looking back, you can just see Castro de Filabres on the left. In between is the edge of one of several ridges we’ve been weaving our way up and around.
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Last leg. The final summit is just around the corner.
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From the summit, looking far below at Castro de Filabres.
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On top of the world, and almost alone. We haven’t seen a car for at least an hour, but while we’re sitting here two other bikers reach the summit, pause for selfies by our bicycles, and drop into the abyss on the other side.
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Now this: this looks like it should be quite fun.
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Rachael is having fun alright, from the sound of it. She’s just entering that hairpin, and it’s so quiet that from far up here I can here her issuing a command: “GoPro, start recording!”
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Our route back to Tabernas drops thirteen miles down that long canyon. Tabernas is at the base of that distant ridge, but hidden by intervening formations.
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More folks lived up here in the past, apparently. We pass scattered ruins like this on the way down.
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Another view of the hairpin we saw from above.
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Rachael is waiting for me down there, and Looks up when she hears me call from above.
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Lyle McLeodThat looks like a ton of fun!
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6 days ago
Rachael AndersonIt is! You should definitely check it out sometime but not during the hot time of year.
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6 days ago
She was waiting for me to come down, so I could then wait. She thought it would make a nice photo if she biked on ahead to that shapely curve I the road far below. It took her about five minutes to drop down as the road snakes it’s way off our ridge. Well worth the wait, I think.
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Ron SuchanekThis is incredible Worth the climb, I would guess.
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekYes, and a few PUDs.
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4 days ago
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 4,700’; for the tour: 2,100 miles, 81,300’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 2,100 miles (3,380 km)

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