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The Long and Winding Road

It feels sometimes as I don’t celebrate enough that strip of tarmac that allows me easy passage across all these countries I am visiting. Today’s post will be a bit of a celebration of it, together with all the interesting things you can find on and about it.

The view at the top was the great down and up by the Rio Almonte. You can see it on the map and find it in the route profile, it’s the V shaped feature around mile nine.

it is always quite exciting to get into a canyon, even if man made.

The rock type around these parts is slate and the picture above is the view on the way up from the bridge.

As you travel in it you can see all the channel that have been drilled into the rock to seat the explosive used to blow the rock away and make space for the road.

Route 2,854,822 – powered by

The roads in Spain are quite good, not the the ones in the UK or France were bad, just I did not get to ride on them as much due to the omnipresence of bicycle lanes.

The one difference down here is that you do not see much, if any, road side advertisement. Not sure if it’s a law or if it just not catching on, but the advantage is that there is no distraction for the drivers. Driver in general look more law abiding and have a greater respect for cyclists than either in Italy or the UK, the French are quite good too. Not sure I will find the same treatment as I go along the journey.

Notable exception is the occasional big bull board.

Then, If you are observant enough you get to meet the most unexpected creatures on the road.

I am not even sure how I spotted this, even more, how I avoided flattening it. I’m fairly sure it has now met its maker as it was standing at right about the spot where the right tyre of any automobile would have passed.

Unsure of the etiquette of Mantis encounters, I left it where it was.

Of course I have been experiencing more real Spain in the last week as I have more succesfuly learned to navigate the small roads.

The problem with small road, however, is that they can occasionally let you down. They can turn into really small roads, where the quality of the tarmac is not ideal for heavy laden bikes. A great deal of time and effort is then wasted in avoiding damaging the rims by navigating around the holes.

There was no traffic, I guess I know why.

Or, in the worst case, they can turn into gravel roads, or no road at all. Going up them is a real pain and going down can give you some hair raising moments.

Thankfully going down.

The gravel road and it’s challenges is, I’m sure, one I will remember fondly when I get deeper into Africa. I’m fairly sure that I will encounter much more challenging situations and, if I believe the accounts of previous riders, there will be situations so bad that will make it necessary for me to cargo the bike and the bags separately along certain stretches of road. Quite literally I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there.

Another thing that I will probably encounter more of in Africa is relatives of this next creature. I am not sure of the type, any help from you budding zoologist will do, but I was dead impressed to see it so nimble in late November.

At first I thought it was dead.

I passed it and caught it with the corner of the eye. I had seen one in the Basque Country but it was dead and it was not like this, so, in this case, I decided to take a picture.

I stopped the bike and by the time I had taken the camera out the little fella was on the move. By the time I had taken these few shots it was almost on the other side of the road. This one will not be roadkill tonight.

… but then it moved.

8 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road”

  1. So roads huh! Well I tried to engage a few folk on the topic after spending a while in Catalonia. As many of the rural roads I encountered there were concrete not Tarmac and incredibly smooth and, well hard. Not like the wibbly wobbly Tarmac in Scotland carved into ridges and valleys by buses and lorries nor shattered by expanding ice into pot holes. So why not more concrete then? Is it slippy?
    A pedestrian/passenger’s, not cyclist’s, point of view

  2. Hi Alex. Long time no speak. A great blogg recording your thoughts. Good luck and keep twiddling those legs. May be catch up one day. (Got here from SA website link though seen other bits on facebook.)

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