To Estremoz - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 15, 2024

To Estremoz

Oh.  I see I left out a small detail from yesterday’s account.  A minor thing, easily overlooked.  Let’s step back and pick it out up, but quickly because I’m behind again.

The day began early for the team.  We’re up at six and Rachael is heating up coffee for me while I start reshuffling gear in my panniers so I can leave one behind for my ride to Estremoz, a town I liked well enough in the past that I quickly snapped up the chance to bike back there to get their car,  dark blue Skoda, where Suzanne and Janos left it and were planning to bike back for themselves today until his bike broke down.

I leave Rachael with a mess in the room to deal with at check out time and head down to the office at 7:30 to get the bike, hoping to get a pre-dawn start and see the sunrise.  The office is locked and no one is here though, an unfortunate situation I hadn’t thought of last night when we were brainstorming all the things might go wrong.  I’ve got the keys to the car, I’ve got the license number, I’ve got a copy of the vehicle registration, I’ve got my passport (and left Rachael’s with her), I’ve got a how-to video for mounting the bike rack loaded on the iPad, and on and on.  But I don’t got my bike, so I sit and wait for someone to show up.


First on the scene are Suzanne and Janos, who come down at 8 and wonder why I didn’t just go into the open back room to get my bike, where it’s parked with the other three.  Because I didn’t know it was there, that’s why.  I thought it would be in the small room behind the office, where it had been kept the first night we were here.

So I miss the sunrise, but I’m still in time to get a nice early morning shot of the destroyed bridge when I cross the Guadiana seven miles later, enter Portugal, and start climbing toward Elvas.

It’s worth getting out early just to get a better look at the bridge.
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Hey, I forgot!  I’m supposed to be hurrying or I’ll run out of time to complete this post before it’s time to meet up with our friends and bike to Medallin.

So I guess we’ll just show the few scenes from the road that I allowed time for along the way, plus the four(!) new birds I saw this morning.

Climbing toward Elvas. A pretty, gentle ride, very comfortable in the cool morning air. It won’t start getting uncomfortably warm until I’m nearing Estremoz.
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Elvas comes into view, the first major milestone of the ride.
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#202: Western marsh harrier
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Nearing Elvas, I get a close-up look at its famous aquaduct, begun in 1498 and completed in 1622. Very impressive. I wish I’d had time for a few more shots of it.
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Kelly IniguezThere's a bike shop just to the right of this photo. How would you like this view to be part of your daily life. 1.65E sets of rim brake pads there. Amazing deal.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezYes, that’s just the first question I’d have too looking at this photo. Where’s the nearest bike shop I’d be asking myself and then turn to studying the map.
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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo Scott AndersonNo, that would be no one’s first thought with such a beautiful sight in front of them. Sorry to have annoyed you.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonAnnoyed? Not at all. I just thought I knew you well enough that I could tweak you.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsWow- a civil engineering and construction project with a 124 year completion timeline. That'd never fly in today's world, would it?
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2 weeks ago
Not sure what this represents on the side of the aquaduct, or what the date is for. Maybe someone with more time on their hands could look it up.
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Bob KoreisOkay, I'll take the bait. That's the city coat of arms, with a Google translation of the Latin as "Lord, keep us as the apple of your eye", although "watch over us" is probably closer. It's made up of azulejos, hand painted tiles. the 1864 would be when that was created.
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1 month ago
An old wash house, apparently sourced from the aquaduct it’s built out of.
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Interesting that no distances are indicated.
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Keith AdamsWhat's the 372 on the side? Presumably not the year in which the marker was placed.
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2 weeks ago
#203: Eurasian magpie
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Giant milk jug, repurposed as an abode or utility building of some sort apparently.
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#204: Common buzzard
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Keith AdamsI still have to consciously remind myself that "buzzard" is not a synonym for "vulture". You first made me aware of that a couple years ago.
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2 weeks ago
Rachael thought this was pretty drab, but I liked it well enough to stop for it.
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Worth a stop, on a ride with time for few.
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Also worth remembering, I thought. Janos won’t begrudge waiting another minute for it, I’m thinking.
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I came for the car, but the ride is incredible. So beautiful today!
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A horse and Santo Aleixo.
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I’ve ridden this road before, I realize when I see the Santo Aleixo Church. We biked this road on our way from Estremoz to Alter do Chaco a decade ago.
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Keith AdamsIsn't it curious how particular scenes lodge themselves in our minds, forgotten about until prompted? Then they come back to the fore, often in crisp detail.
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2 weeks ago
Reminds me of a similar appearing old guy we saw approaching us far in the distance thirty years ago in Hungary, near Lake Balaton. When we approached, his wheelbarrow tipped over and dumped his load of sticks. I helped him pick them up, wondering how far he’d been pushing them because there wasn’t a tree in sight.
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Karen PoretLook how clean his clothes are!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretYou’re right - and his jeans look fresh off the rack. I didn’t notice.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonUnless..this was photoshopped! (Ha ha) ..It is a lovely photo, Scott!
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1 month ago
One last beauty stop.
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#205: European goldfinch
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It’s nice to see beautiful Estremoz again, if only briefly.
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Entering Estremoz through the wrong gate. It’s one way going the other direction, so I have to watch for a gap and bike fast. I feel guilty, knowing Rachael would disapprove.
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I make it to the plaza where they left their dark blue skoda a few weeks ago right about 12:30.  I was hoping for noon, but there were just too many essential stops along the way.  I’m within a hundred yards of the car, but it’s another half hour before I drive off.  First, I have to find the damn thing.

Just look for the dark blue skoda. Shouldn’t be a problem.
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It’s a large plaza with hundreds of cars parked on it.  By chance I start off in the wrong direction and have biked past nearly all of them and am starting to get anxious I’ve missed it or it’s been stolen when it finally appears.

Phew!
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Karen PoretNot Phew, SU! ..and 27 27..great plate!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretAn easy one to remember alright, because it’s a custom plate. The M is mandatory, for Munich; but the SU is for Suzanne.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonA little inside information goes a long way! Thanks! I also have a (very old) personalized plate on my 1987 Volvo 245, but it was originally on my ( sniff!) stick shift VW beetle… People who know “license plate age color combos” scratch their heads on this one…but, not too many anymore because it is SO old..now the laugh is on me..;)
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsThat's where the clicker comes in handy: push the "Panic" button and follow the sound to its source...
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2 weeks ago

Once I’ve found it, it still takes longer than I’d like.  First off, there’s a moment of panic when I can’t find the keys.  Oh please God, no.  Don’t tell me I left the keys behind somehow.  But no, they’re right where I thought I left them and I just haven’t rummaged around the rucksack deeply enough.

Then, I have to see if I can fit the bike into the back after I put seats down.  I really want it to fit, because I don’t want to have to figure out how to mount the bike rack to the car, attach the brake lights, mount and secure the bike on it and then attach the red and white caution board on the back that Iberia requires.  I’m pretty good at some things, but this sort of thing isn’t in my skill box.  Fortunately it just fits after I take the front wheel off, but it makes me anxious that I’ll arrive at the end with a bent rotor or busted derailleur.

Finally it’s in, I’m in the driver’s seat, I’ve figured out how to start the car, and I’ve phoned Rachael to let them know I’m on the way home.  And I’m driving, happy to have the breeze from the open window because it was getting too hot out in the parking lot for the last twenty minutes.

The drive back goes fine, after I’ve stalled the car a couple of times because I haven’t driven a stick for several years, and after I get used to driving for the first time in two months and the first time in Europe in 20 years - not since we rented a car in Ubeda for the drive to Madrid to get our lost passports replaced so we could leave the country.  Probably the most challenging thing is figuring out the speed limit, since I don’t see any signs except when entering villages or cautioned areas.  I figure it out by letting a few cars build up behind me and then pattern after them once they’ve found a place to pass.

Navigation is simple enough - the phone is sounding out the directional prompts I need and I recognize the way anyway because I’m just backtracking the way I just biked.  It’s a challenge finding the way through town to the narrow lane in front of the hotel though, which I’d never have managed on my own without the help of the phone.

I know I’ve found the hotel when I see Janos walking down the alley my way, smiling.

We get right to it.  He starts mounting the rack while I carefully extract the bike from the car, give it a spin to see if anything was damaged (it wasn’t!), and then go to the office to start retrieving  our mountain of stuff, helped out by the woman staffing the desk who probably carries out more of it than I do.

And then I watch as Janos finishes up with the rack, feeling thankful again that I didn’t have to figure it out myself.  I’d never have gotten it right.

Let’s go to Santa Marta. Our lunch is waiting!
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As we leave, Janos playfully reaches his hand out with the keys to the car, in case I’d like to keep driving.  I respectfully decline though.  He’ll be faster, and lunch is waiting.

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Today's ride: 43 miles (69 km)
Total: 905 miles (1,456 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 12
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Karen PoretThanks for being such a good friend! Lucky you, to have to “put up with this request” and it was done with aplomb! Stick shift, no less.. Wow..I miss those days!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretIt seemed like the obvious best solution, and I was glad it worked out so well. I appreciated too that they entrusted me to not wreck their car. I’m also glad the weather cooperated - I would have felt conflicted about whether to make the offer if it was a sloppy day.
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1 month ago
Janos KerteszEs war für mich ein großes Problem, wie ich zu meinem Auto komme, da Bus oder Bahn gibt es da nicht. Der Vorschlag von Scott, den Wagen zu holen, ist unbeschreiblich großzügig gewesen. Tausend Dank dafür!
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1 month ago