To Caceres - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 19, 2019

To Caceres

Today’s ride from Trujillo to Caceres was the exact opposite of the route we followed between these historic towns six years ago, practically to the day.  Our experience was similar too, riding on a grey and windy day that threatened rain, but better - this time we managed to fit the complete ride into a dry window.

We left our hotel by about 9:30, soon after last night’s rains finally passed on.  We wanted to get an early start to complete the ride dry of course, but also in order to leave the bulk of the afternoon free to re-explore Caceres, one of our favorite stops from our first visit to Extremadura. 

The first fifteen miles of the day are excellent, giving us some of the best riding we’ve experienced on the tour.  Connecting the few small urban dots between Trujillo and Torremocha, we spend the morning on near-empty roads cycling through open, rocky land blanketed by broad pastures alternating with sparsely wooded dehesas.  It’s nearly depopulated outside of the villages now, but the ubiquitous stone fences that separate these pastures give evidence that it wasn’t always so.  

A bit after noon we see Torremocha several miles ahead of us, at the end of a long, gradual descent.  I recognize the spot immediately when it first comes into sight for the large, distinctive grain tower that  stands tall above any other feature nearby.  I remember it from our first visit mostly because of the large number of stork nests it supported, one crowning virtually every cornice on the property.  And I remember our disappointment that then, as now, there were no storks to be seen.  It’s apparent that we are here just too late to see the myriad storks that nest here, and that they’ve all headed for Africa by now.  We were so lucky to have gotten to Zamora in time to see the last of them before they left, just ten days ago. 

Pulling in to Torremocha, we see that the grain tower has undergone a major renovation.  Instead of the weathered concrete exterior we remember from our first pass through, now it sports a clean, bright whitewashed look, with the name of the town smartly labeling it.  Very nice, and impressive that they managed this renovation without disturbing the nests.

Not long after the rains stop we head southwest and leave Trujillo behind.
Heart 1 Comment 0
I remember this road as being virtually empty, but there comes an oncoming car now. Still, not bad.
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Cattle company
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Bovine battalion
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Jen GrumbyFarm animals always appreciate some nice alliteration, especially when delivered by a sophisticated cyclist.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYou! Nothing gets past you. I’m going to have to try harder.
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1 month ago
Approaching La Cumbre. The day is steadily getting fairer as we bike southwest.
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A remembrance of things past.
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Somewhere near Botija
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Sheep squadron
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An interesting structure out there. Giant cistern? A time out room for unruly livestock?
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We cross the mighty Temuja River again, the largest waterway we’ll see all day. Last time, it was much greener than today.
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Life on the dehesa
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Perfect symmetry
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Here and there the open pastures are broken by scrubby oak forests.
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Video sound track: La Calera, by Abel Sanchez (see photo below)

Living out a well scripted life plan.
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A surge of sheep. It was amazing watching this river flow down toward the watering hole in the foreground, now completely hidden under a sheep cloud. They look totally self-organized - I don’t see a dog or person anywhere directing them.
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Pushing our way southwest to Torremocha.
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The Torremocha Stork Hotel has gotten a facelift since the last time we saw it. Then it was a uniform, drab concrete grey. Much nicer, but still no storks in residence.
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There’s not much of note in Torremocha other than its impressive stork hotel, but it does have a nice array of wrought iron benches lining the road.  We pick one out, break out the lunch fixings, and sit a spell.

Unfortunately, we find that when we resume riding we ‘ve left the good miles behind.  We follow EX-209 for the remaining miles to Caceres, not appreciating its narrow shoulder and the surprising level of traffic it carries.  I remember this from last time also, and our relief when we finally reached Torremocha and left it for the lovely small roads between here and Trujillo.  It’s surprising, because looking at the map you’d expect it to be very quiet too - there’s nothing to the southeast.  Where are all these folks rushing to and from, anyway?

It’s really not as bad as all that.  We’ve just gotten so spoiled lately by the many wonderful and empty roads we’ve ridden during the past few weeks.  The worst thing that grated on our nerves for these final twelve miles are the road reflectors, positioned in the dead center off the narrow shoulder. You have to concentrate the whole time, weaving past reflectors while watching your mirror for passing vehicles.

We arrive in Caceres just past 3 and check in to the very pleasant Hotel Don Carlos, just two short blocks from the edge of the city’s famous historic center.  It’s a warm, welcoming place, and the host immediately directs us to a side door to wheel our bikes in and lean them against the wall by the stairwell.  She’s kind enough to say she thinks she remembers us from the last time here, when our bikes were also welcomed in the door and ushered into the dining room.

Once more, we’re staying here two nights; and once more, I’ll put off showing you the town until tomorrow - except for these few images.  

The Hotel Don Carlos is very welcoming to bike travelers.
Heart 2 Comment 0
We enjoyed watching this flamencan guitarist lustily singing on a stoop in a small plaza, accompanied by the clapping of a spectator who passed by and stopped to participate. His wife is standing by and patiently watching from the sideline, off frame.
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There was a second busker on the streets today, this one a bit more professional and skilled. He was selling CDs, but since we don’t carry a CD player in our panniers (and don’t have one at home either, since we don’t have a home), we didn’t buy one. We did take note of his name though, so we could look him up. He’s Abel Sanchez, from Andalucia. You can look forward to hearing him accompany some of the videos in the weeks to come.
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Looking down on Santa Maria Church from the tower of San Francisco Javier church.
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Ride stats today: 38 miles, 1,600’; for the tour: 824 miles, 41,500‘

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 826 miles (1,329 km)

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Suzanne GibsonLove it that you used the music by the busker you encountered in the afternoon!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonSo did we. We really liked his music, but weren’t too optimistic that we’d find something we could download.
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1 month ago