To Mojácar Playa - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

March 20, 2024

To Mojácar Playa

We have a fairly easy ride ahead of us today - it’s only about 25 miles to our next stop, Mojácar Playa, with only some modest climbing along the way.  At least we hope it will be easy.  The forecast is for fairly strong winds, which should be in our favor if the weather app isn’t having some fun with us again.

Our hotel at the other end, the Continental, has a generous check-in time and allows arrivals as early as noon.  We decide to get an early start and check into our room before lunch for a change, and then have the afternoon free to look around.

There’s only one elevator, and it’s only large enough for one bike at a time. Might as well amuse myself while I wait for partner to descend and join me.
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Karen PoretSay “Cheese”..:)
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2 months ago
There’s a brief scare when we realize that today’s route hasn’t been loaded. Fortunately we can download it to hers and then transfer to mine. Three Garmins are required (don’t ask why), but fortunately we have three along.
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Bruce LellmanWhy three Garmins? Oh, sorry, I wasn't supposed to ask.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanOh, I’m so glad you asked, Bruce. Over the winter Rachael bought the newest Garmin, the 1040, to replace her 1030. I forget what the issue was, but it has many improvements and she’s very happy with it. We kept her old one as a backup though, which is a good thing because it turns out we need it.

Our devices are paired to our RideWithGPS accounts through our phone numbers - hers to her account, and mine to mine. I only create routes on hers though, so we can only download them to her device. In the past, we loaded them to my Garmin using its Bluetooth file transfer function. It worked great.

For reasons known only to Garmin, the file transfer function was dropped from the 1040. So we can’t transfer from hers to mine any more. This is where the third Garmin comes in. She has it paired to her phone and RideWithGPS account also, so she downloads her routes to both the 1040 and her old 1030, and then transfers from her old 1030 to mine.

Aren’t you glad you asked?
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonNow I'm even more glad that I don't have a Garmin.
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1 month ago

Like a few of our upcoming rides, this is one that we took four years ago but traveling in the other direction.  In the interest of saving some time I’m going to steal a few words from the past here, and also encourage you if you’ve got a few extra minutes in your day to look at that previous post for a different set of photos of a striking bit of coastline.

Today’s ride is quite easy, one of the lightest ones of the tour.  Once we drop from Mojácar the riding is quite flat most of the way to Aguilas.  And, after the nearly unbroken drama of the past several weeks, a bit uninteresting.  It begins and ends with long stretches of flat beaches and small coves separated by smaller headlands, and has been almost completely taken over by coastal tourism and large resort hotels.  A lot of this development looks quite new, and it makes me a bit sad to envision the string of quiet fishing villages that must have existed here before they were inundated by mass tourism.  The riding is easy enough though, and there are enjoyable miles where you can bicycle on pretty seaside promenades - but it’s not really the Andalucia we came to see.

The middle third of the ride is a different story though, as the quiet coast road passes beneath Sierra Almagrera, a short mountain range with a long history of ore extraction, most importantly lead and silver.  There is evidence of long abandoned mining activities all along the range, but it all died out over a century ago when its last silver rush played out.

Caves of some sort, for some purpose in the past. We can only speculate.
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Almeria! We’ve been aching to return here ever since we first saw it.
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We look forward to a week of spectacular riding and hiking ahead.
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#171: Sardinian warbler. I’m really pleased by this sighting, another lifetime first. I’m pretty sure it’s the same as a bird I saw yesterday, but he was too far off and the lighting was too poor to pick up the details.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWhat a cool bird! Looks like it's having a bad feather day.
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2 months ago
Bandit hideaway, so it says.
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For about two miles we pass through a band of what look like old sand dunes.
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#172: White-rumped swallow, another lifetime first. I thought this was a new species for me, so I tried googling to find what it was. I tried ‘white rumped swallow Spain’, which worked quite well.
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Starting the most dramatic part of the ride, as we follow the seaside slope of Sierra Almagrera for the next six miles.
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The grade is never too challenging, and we get a great scenic payback for our modest effort.
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Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t be standing quite so close to the cliff here.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesIt's all in the timing.
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2 months ago
Approaching the high point of our modest climb.
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Remains of a small fortress ahead, with the same sort of blocky trapezoidal shape as the ones in Águilas and Calabardina. Another defense against Barbary raiders?
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On the seaward side again, enjoying the long view south.
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The big descent. Rachael reminds me as she passes to be sure to turn right at the bottom rather than sailing off into the sea. Got it coach, thanks.
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I remember this from our first pass through. We’re in an area with an intense mining history, with stony relics all around. The previous post gives a better set of photos from here, when the lighting conditions were better.
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Remains of an old viaduct to convey ore down to the port perhaps?
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Villaricos Tower, built in the 18th century to defend the Kingdom of Granada from seagoing raiders.
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Karen PoretWhy is the door way painted white?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretDarned if I know. I didn’t paint it.
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2 months ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonYou’re fun! Maybe it’s to “highlight “ the entrance !
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2 months ago
We’re on the EV8 and pass plenty of cyclists today, including pannier-bearing travelers from Germany and Poland. This couple stopped to chat long enough for us to learn a bit more. They’re Germans also, on their long way home from a tour that began in Marrakech.
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marilyn swettI see that this couple have flags that stick out from the road side of the bikes. We were touring in Texas years ago and ran into a rider that had one of those. A driver came by and the passenger yanked on the flag, causing the cyclist to fall over! So it sounds like a good idea, but maybe using a bright blinking rear light would be better.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo marilyn swettThat’s an amazing story. At least no one got shot. We’re never going back to Texas.
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2 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo marilyn swettI agree with you about the blinking light!
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2 months ago

Video sound track: Maria la O, by Ey Cooder and Manual Galban

We’re staying down on the beach this time, not in Mojácar itself.  It’s a few miles inland, a gleaming white town draped across the top of a grotesquely steep hill.  We stayed up top last time, which really was spectacular; but we don’t need to relive the pain of pushing our bikes up on arrival and pushing them down when we left.  Once was enough.

It’s roughly one when we arrive at our lodging for the night, the Continental (coincidentally, the same place the Grampies stayed last month).  It’s a modern, clean beachside resort hotel, the sort of place I tend to sniff my nose at for no obvious reason, but this one suits us really well.  The desk agent doesn’t blanch when he sees we’ve got bikes, and leads us down to a small storage room where they get crowded in with the laundry.

Rachael as usual has scouted out the restaurant scene and picked out a promising place about a quarter mile away, but as we biked in I encouraged us to stop and check out the menu of the day on the place right across the street from the Continental.  It’s a good thing we did, because the menu looks great and is another bargain at a flat €15 each.  It’s also very popular, and we’re lucky to score a table by an open window where we’re in the shade but can enjoy the refreshing breeze wafting in.  

We waddle out stuffed to the gills an hour later, with Rachael bringing along half of her huge grilled chicken breast serving as her main course for tonight’s dinner, along with the memory of her slice of white chocolate cheesecake, one of the best desserts she can recall.  And then we retire to our room to digest for the next hour.

Sucked us right in. We’ll be back as soon as we get checked in at our hotel across the street.
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Just as we were biking into town we crossed the bridge over the small Rio Aguas and I looked across it to see some interesting birdlife, including what looked to be a night out in the distance.  Only a half mile from our hotel, it’s the obvious place for me to head later in the afternoon.  Rachael’s got a more ambitious idea, and finds a walk for herself up to the historical town, a few miles inland.  She’ll come back with a pile of photos, deep enough that we’ll give them their own post shortly.

There’s not much to Rio Aguas when I get there - it’s a tiny waterway without enough flow or oomph to make it all the way to the sea.  And there aren’t actually that many birds out either, but enough to hold my interest for a half hour or so: the night heron, an egret, the usual cormorants, coots and mallards, shovelers, and my first moorhen of the year.  And turtles, tons of turtles.  What really delights me though this afternoon is an elusive, tiny bird that perches in the reeds on the side of the stream and periodically dashes out across the water and back, presumably to snatch a passing bug.  It reminds me of a flycatcher by behavior, but a small wren by appearance.  I’ve never seen a bird quite like it, and even though there are a half a dozen of them here it takes awhile before one finally lands near enough and exposed enough that I can get a credible shot.

I’ll puzzle over this bird later over a glass or vino tinto down in the lounge before I finally figure it out.  It’s a chiffchaff!  Another lifetime first (and the fourth in two days), and a bird I was hoping to see someday just for its delightful name.

The very impressive Rio Aguas (water river?) makes its way to the sea. I see we’ve also captured a coot down there skipping over the river like a stone.
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Another immature night heron, the second of the tour if I’m remembering correctly. I think I also saw one on a day ride from Alcudia.
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Further out, an egret and a raft of turtles.
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Spanish pond turtles, I think.
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#173: Common moorhen
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#174: Common chiffchaff
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The Rio Aguas doesn’t quite make it all the way to the sea, at least not on the surface. This is the end of its short line.
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Another greenfinch! Its nice to have another bird I know on sight now.
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Life is good.
Heart 8 Comment 2
Scott FenwickLooks like you are getting your form back. Nice to see!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Scott FenwickWe feel mostly back, alright. Now if we can just get a break in the weather! Things are about to take a dark turn, unfortunately.
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2 months ago
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Today's ride: 26 miles (42 km)
Total: 318 miles (512 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Bob KoreisRe the weather app, which one are you using? A couple of years ago another cyclist recommended Windy for the wind forecast.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob KoreisWe use Weather.com. We used to use a second one over here (not Windy, but I forget what it was), so we could shop around and assume we’d get the better of the two forecasts. It didn’t change anything in real life, but made us feel better.
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2 months ago