To Olivenza - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 13, 2024

To Olivenza

A visit to Olivenza has been on and off the cutting board several times in the past.  I wanted to fit it in on our ride from Faro to Granada ten years ago, but we were still both working then and ‘only’ had five weeks to work with that autumn.   I considered it for our ride from Santiago to Valencia four years ago but it didn’t make the cut then either.  It’s the same story as with Jerez de los Caballeros, which was considered both times too.  

The problem is with Extremadura and its Portuguese neighbor, the Alentejo.  They’re both such fine cycling country, a target-rich region with many enticing places competing for your attention.  Now that we’re here though, I’m glad we’ve waited until springtime to see it - because this country is so breathtaking right now.  The colors in the fields and meadows just won’t quit.

Today’s ride is easier than yesterday’s, generally working its way to a lower elevation in the usual way - climb a little, drop a little, climb a little, drop more.  The climbs are easier to take today, but gradually add up to something that gets your attention.  And somehow, no matter how innocuous the next rise down the road looks it still manages to stiffen to 6-7% toward the top.  And, it’s another hot day in the full sun, reminding us once again that we’d really be happier if we get ourselves out the door earlier in the day.

The terrain more than compensated though.  The whole ride was excellent, but the twelve miles on BA-081 rose to a whole other level, the kind of epic ride that cycling legends are born of.  Nearly all of this road passes through a vast dehesa - a savannah-like landscape of grassland shaded by scattered oaks, populated here and there by grazing or foraging livestock that are essentially free-range, contained only by this low stone wall that lines the highway.  It’s one of my favorite cycling environments.

I kept a rough mental tally of what we came across in these twelve miles: one other cyclist, one automobile, I think maybe zero man made structures.  One fox, crouched in the grass keeping a wary eye on me before he finally slipped off.  Cows grazing, pigs foraging, wild horses, sheep tended by donkeys.  Oh - and one guy on horseback, perhaps riding out to see if his three donkeys were keeping the sheep under control.

Wow.

Before dropping into the dehesa we climbed into a dense oak woods.
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It’s more down than up today.
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Keith AdamsProbably just a trick of the camera but from that angle it looks like quite the plunge...
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsOh, fine Keith. We go off for a bike ride and I come back to 36 unanswered comments from you. It’s gonna take awhile.

Seriously though of course, thanks for following and for your input. I’ll look forward to getting caught up.
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2 weeks ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott AndersonHee hee hee...

I got behind in my reading and needed to catch up. This morning was cool and wet here: perfect conditions to curl up with a good journal. Unfortunately I was using my desktop machine, with twomonitots, keyboard, and mouse. Do you have any idea how uncomfortable all that is to curl up with???
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2 weeks ago
Somehow these innocent-looking rises ahead are always a little more of a challenge than you’re expecting.
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The classic dehesa landscape.
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Amazing. The third woodchat shrike in a week. It must be a more common species than I’d realized.
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Fox!
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Patrick O'HaraWow. I wasn't expecting this great shot!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraI was so surprised to see him sitting out there, just waiting for me.
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1 month ago
Pigs! There was a good sized gathering of them fairly close to the road until I closed in and scared them off.
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It’s just us out here today.
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So that was pretty great.  About halfway through the ride it ends though when we come to a village, Higuera de Vargas, and our road merges in to a larger and modestly busier one, EX-312.  We’re out of the dehesa now and into drier rangeland and meadows.  Different, but still intensely beautiful and full of surprises: a purple cow, fantastic meadows, and two lifetime firsts for me: a cuckoo, a bird I occasionally hear off in the woods somewhere but never really expected to see, and an Iberian shrike.

I really love this purple. I’ll have to get a close-up of this flower before we leave the region.
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Busier, but as you can see not really what you’d call busy. In the distance ahead, further off than you’d think because the shot is zoomed in, is the Castillo de Miraflores rising above Alconchel.
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I’ve never seen a purple cow, but this comes pretty close.
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Annette SchneiderBut I can tell you anyhow, I'd rather see than be one! --Gelett Burgess
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1 month ago
Bob KoreisReminds me of the Story of of Ferdinand.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretAnd, to think you are seeing this in a much better location than the one known, which was in Florida..
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob KoreisSame here. If I had to be a bull or cow, this would be the place.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Annette SchneiderYou beat me to it!

I've never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one...

I never knew the name of the author.
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2 weeks ago
Annette SchneiderHi Keith... Yep, somehow my mother liked to recite that poem. Of course the internet makes it easy to discover its author. :-)

Cheers, Annette
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2 weeks ago
Heart 4 Comment 0
#197: Common cuckoo
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Miraflores sounds like exactly the right name for a castle out here.
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#198: Iberian gray shrike
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One last view before we leave it behind us.
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#199: Griffon vulture, the first of what I’m sure will be many in the coming week. A better shot will come.
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 We don’t make it in to town until about two, and face what’s becoming the usual theme lately - the restaurant we planned on eating at is at least open today, but it’s fully booked.  It’s too hot to do a lot of searching around, so we’re content to stop in at the nearest bar that can offer us a window table indoors where we can keep an eye on the bikes.

And then it’s straight to our room where we chill out for the next several hours.  Olivenza looks like a terrific town, but that’s going to have to wait.

Another spacious room!
Heart 4 Comment 3
Karen PoretThat floor pattern is dizzying!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretOh, thanks. I hadn’t noticed, but now I feel nauseous.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott AndersonThink of it as the checkered flag at the finish line.
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2 weeks ago
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Rate this entry's writing Heart 14
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Suzanne GibsonThat must have been a fantastic route! Map?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonOh! Thanks.
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1 month ago