To Plasencia - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 22, 2024

To Plasencia

I awoke this morning to the thought I should have had yesterday if we hadn’t been in such a rush and focused on whether Rachael should bike with one brake or get a ride from Janos.  It’s pretty stupid to have had Janos drive her to Monfragüe yesterday, drive back to Trujillo, and then come back over the same road again the next day to pick her up and drive her the rest of the way to Plasencia where we’ll hopefully get her pads replaced at a bike shop.  If we’d thought about it, it would have made much more sense to book a room in Plasencia for last night so he could do it all in one go and not repeat the same miles.  I could have ridden in the car with them, or biked it over two days or even one longish day.

And it’s not like Janos just had today free to do what he wanted anyway.  They have to relocate to the apartment they’ve found in Trujillo for the next four nights, and Suzanne is still in the middle of her health emergency.  So thanks again Janos for your great generosity, and our apologies for being so slow-witted.

My ride begins as yesterday’s ended, with a bike north to Monfragüe.  It’s another beautiful riding day and I enjoy seeing it under different lighting conditions, and it gives me a second bite at looking at those cliffs hoping to see something new.  And there is something new, but nothing so dramatic as  another eagle or black stork sighting.  It’s a tiny bird that briefly lands on the rocks below me and stays put just long enough for me to grab a blurry but adequate shot.  A rock bunting - another lifer, and a bird I’d never heard of until I googled the one quick shot I managed before he flew off again.

This road again. Works for me.
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Looking down on the switchbacks to the Vid Arroyo, a descent I’m sure Rachael is happy not to be riding with one brake.
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Looks steeper and scarier than it actually is though. I tested it out and biking with one brake is manageable, but it’s obviously better and safer with two.
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Jacquie GaudetDepends somewhat on which brake you have, as well. Rear brake isn’t as effective as the front but front brake only can lead to a somersault.
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4 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetYou got that right! It was my right brake that was non functional but I mostly use my right brake because I have small hands and my left brake is harder to reach. I had to walk if the grade was too much.
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4 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rachael AndersonYou should be able to get the reach adjusted. It might take a different handlebar to make it comfortable for both hands. The variances in shape of drop bars can make a difference.
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4 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetWhen I was in Tucson, Arizona which has the best bike repair shop we’ve ever been to, they were able to adjust the right brake but there was an issue with adjusting the left brake. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the smaller levers which is what I need but they are difficult to find. Maybe I can find some in GreatBritain.
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4 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rachael AndersonYou might want to do it before UK. Bikes sold in North America and other places where we drive on the right, the left lever operates the front brake (and front derailleur if you have integrated levers). It’s my understanding that it’s the opposite in places where they drive on the left, like UK.

I also have small hands and older levers came with shims, while the levers on my newest bike are adjusted with a screw. I swapped the handlebar last summer and, although the old one was okay (as long as I put the bike together just right), the new one is perfect (for me).
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4 weeks ago
The rock is so much more colorful in this morning’s light.
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Salto del Gitano and the Tagus River. Its wide and slow-moving here because this is actually the upper end of the huge Maria Oriol Reservoir, impounded by the hydroelectric dam at Alcantara.
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Nothing new in the sky at the moment, but it’s still a great show.
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But look down. #220: Rock bunting.
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Crossing the Tagus, I get a better look at about a hundred bank swallows (#221) than I saw when I was here last night. Pretty convincing shot, don’t you think? Also though, I see that I caught twenty or more swifts up in the sky that I didn’t notice at the time.
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Crossing the river, there’s a gradual climb up through oak and pine woods on the other side of the canyon before the road generally levels out about eight hundred feet above the river.  It’s a colorful ride on top, through another dehesa landscape with the roadside lined with lavender and rockrose before dropping sharply to Plasencia on the Jerte River, a major tributary of the Tagus that joins it near the dam at Alcantara.

Looking up the reservoir, we can see a higher damming of the river, the Torrejón-Tietar dam.
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After gradually climbing through oak and pine woods for the last four miles, I come to the top and look back along the Mavecino arroyo.
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The best shot I’m likely to get of a woodchat shrike, so I might as well quit after this one.
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At the top, the roadside is lined with wild lavender and rockrose.
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Gum rockrose (Cistus ladanifer), a pretty but aggressive invader that’s taking over former pastures and farmlands.
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Pretty hard to get jaded by scenes like this.
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Plasencia and the Jerte valley come into view.
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It’s a pretty steep drop into Plasencia at the end of the ride, another spot where we’re all happier having Rachael riding in the Skoda rather than gripping her left brake.
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I’ve just entered town and am about a quarter mile from the hotel when Rachael calls.  She’s just arrived herself and Janos has dropped her off near the hotel at the nearest spot Janos could find parking, and she wants help with her bike and baggage when she checks in.  Pretty good timing!  A minute later I see Janos driving my way.  He stops just long enough to roll down the window and wave goodbye, but soon some cars come along and he has to move on.

We get ourselves checked in to our spacious quarters at the elegant Alfonso VIII hotel, and then I immediately walk up to the nearby Plaza Major and find an outdoor table for lunch.  Later I’ll walk back up there again, this time wheeling Rachael’s bike to the shop where Rachael’s made an appointment.  Its a relief when they take the bike and brake pads (I’ve brought both rhe dislodged ones plus replacements) and say to come back in an hour.  They take my phone number and say they’ll call when they’re done, but they don’t.  After sitting in the plaza for an hour getting increasingly anxious that there’s a problem I finally walk back, and the repaired bike is waiting for me to pick it up.  Either they forgot about the promised phone call or there was a misunderstanding, but in either case it’s all good.  I ride her bike back to the hotel testing out the brake on the way, and it looks like the team’s been made whole again.

On the Plaza Major, a nice spot for enjoying my lunch.
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I was so surprised at how clear this window and the reflection were, and had to stop for it.
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Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 1,111 miles (1,788 km)

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Jacquie GaudetGlad to hear Rachael’s bike is safe to ride again.
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4 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonIt’s great to be able to bike safely again.
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4 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonSo sorry to have missed this part of the ride!
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4 weeks ago
Susan CarpenterWooHoo on new brakes!!
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4 weeks ago