February 13, 2024

Day 47: Tabernas (Drive/Cycle/Drive)

You've probably not been thinking to yourself "why is David spending so much time in Tabernas?" but, just in case you have, I've been waiting for day like today: that is a day when the weather at Calar Alto (Elevation 2154 metres) is good for a surmounting by bike.

Last year I cycled to the summit only to be met with freezing fog and negative C temperatures. Indeed, having left my winter gloves in the van, I ended up freezing cold due to a hypothermic decent out of the freezing fog.

Fortunately, today's weather was just about ideal: no freezing fog!, no rain, no snow, no hailstones, little or no clouds, a climbing temperature of about 22°C; a descending temperature of about 18°C and, generally, a very light breeze. What's not to like?

To make it an easier ride, I left Tabernas and drove to Gérgal. The main reasons for doing so were: 1) the cycle route from Tabernas to Gergal is mainly alongside a motorway and, as such, is not very enjoyable - at least that was my impression last year; and 2) I think the previous two days of cycling has resulted in a rather tired David! So an easier cycle was the order of the day!

Having said that, although the route was only 57 kilometres in length, it did include a roughly two hour climb of twenty-three kilometres in length.

On the route I noticed this road sign and, just in case you don't have a photograph of this kind in your collection!, you are welcome to this one:

I had thought I'd photograph the 16 kilometre sign (indicating less than 10 miles to go!), but noted that the 17 kilometre sign was informing me that the next kilometre has a maximum gradient of 11.1%, yet the average gradient is -0.1%. Clearly I'd be descending. Obviously, if I was descending at speed, I wouldn't want to stop and take a photograph!

As it was, I was travelling at a speed of about 35 mph as I passed it, which was a boon when the gradient went positive shortly thereafter!

When I took the following photo, I had a little less than half of the climb to go or, if you prefer, I had cycled a little more than half of the 23 kilometre climb (an almost glass half full or empty moment), and the legs were still working!

At two kilometres to go, the sign was having a lie down ...

... and my vital signs were indicating that I could do with one too! However, I pressed on.

Finally, I reached the top and, this time, I could see more than 2 metres in front of me!

Last year I did not get to see any of the stargazing infrastructure, I did this time:

During the 57 kilometre cycle I was only overtaken by two motorcycles; there were only 3 cars and 1 lorry travelling in the opposite direction; and I saw two other cyclists at the summit - it was a very quite and pleasurable cycle ride.

  • Distance driven: 32 miles
  • Distance cycled: 57 kilometres
  • Weather: Ideal for cycling to an altitude of 2154 metres!

Today's route (note: immediately outside of Gérgal town the route goes from paved to gravel for approximately 3.5 kilometres. I was not expecting a change in road surface but, riding a "gravel bike" with 32mm slick tyres was no problem - just so you know!):