Day 6: Madrid and all that Jazz

Sunday, July 3nd.

Blog-log: Kilometres from ‘Go’: 1770.9 (314.7 ridden today).

Location: Ciudad Lineal, Calle Alcalá, Madrid.

I’d already realizes when I took a rest day yesterday that I wasn’t missing out on much of my route, rather my ride to Madrid via Guadalaja would have sent me over the same roads no matter which option I chose, either through the Serrania de Cuenca (see Day 4) or the Sierra de Albarracín, which is where I went today, with the added bonus of visiting the Reserva Natural de Alto Tajo – riding down the Tagus itself for many kilometres But for all that planning it was a spontaneous event that was the star turn, or rather the first star turn, of the day!

My ride today was to the centre of Madrid to stay with two lovely friends, Patrick and Lola, who had arranged a bit of a party – a night out on the town to an excellent Jazz gig, courtesy of Susana Sheiman and the Ignasi Terraza trio at the Café Central, one of the city’s classic venues. Not surprisingly I was loath to ride right into the city but the invitation was too good to refuse. So, get to their place it was best to approach from due east on the A2 which links Madrid and Barcelona – de facto Spain’s busiest road!

Fortunately it was a Sunday so at least there was no truck traffic and in the morning I’d be riding against the flow – I would want to get stuck in the huge traffic jams in the evening what all of the domingueros were coming home!

After dawn start, necessitated partly by the thunderstorm during the night, I was on the road by 8.00 and rode up into the sierra – pretty much teeth chattering with the cold after the rain and with no sun in evidence. The A1512 is in pretty good condition although it is a quite a veteran and after a short but steep climb to the Puerto de Noguera, where the road was in very poor state all was well. The Montes Universales, which is the global term for the whole region, aren’t particularly high but are nonetheless dramatic from the rider’s point of view. The route also passes through dense pine forest where already groups of walkers and anglers were setting out on their days’ excursions. The rock here is red in colour and there are numerous majestic viewpoints.

I’d ridden this road last year, coming from Molina de Aragón to the north, and think the views are rather better in this direction, you also have a more dramatic entrance into Albarracín as your destination, so when I devise a round trip this will be the direction. But today I also turned off into new territory and had a most wonderful chance encounter with an eagle (as I write I’m asking the Iberianature Forum, one of the best sources of info and advice on all that sort of thing, for the ID)

The Eagle flew directly into its nest with a rabbit for its young. I was only about fifty metres away and pretty much at the same level, looking across a small ravine from a bridge. Awesome! - but a shame about the tiny camera!

Onward and into the Tagus valley and the reserve. The A-2108 as far as Paralejos de las Truchas is very rustic indeed, difficult riding for sports bikes but perfect for mine – as long as you’re in no hurry. After this pretty village (with a new a good looking ‘green’ camp site) the road improves and goes through a wonderful ravine before climbing right out of it – almost vertically or so it seemed. Shortly it joins the CM 2201 – a splendid new road which winds up from the Nacimiento de el rio Cuervo where I was on Day 4 – definitely a round trip there!

From now on you are in ‘civilization’ and the dominguero traffic grew noticeably – well it was Sunday so you can’t complain! I found the Hoz de Beteta rather disappointing, but perhaps I’m spoilt! Having said that the ride was great – at least in my direction there was no traffic at all!

The mountains peter out after Priego and I was glad to get onto the N 230 national highway which took me pretty much straight to Guadalajara past the very busy resort area called the Mar de Castilla (Sea of Castille, sic) based around a series of huge reservoirs. But the road, which links Guadalajara and Cuenca, is excellent fast riding and a candidate for a long distance through route avoiding Madrid. Although I can’t say how busy is gets during the weeks I imagine not too much to make it useful to bikers heading down south. As a ride it’s only so-so, passing through what many riders see as the featureless interior of Spain – the lesson here as elsewhere is to take a diversion, there are treasures to be found but, like all such baubles, they are well hidden!

Approaching low country around Guadalajara was like riding into an open bread oven, even with all of my ventilation flaps open and cruising at 120 – once I got on the autovia of course! – I still boiled in the horrid muggy heat; I was glad I hadn’t gone on the Saturday, as planned a week ago, as then it was five degrees warmer!

Luckily I know Guadalajara well as well as my friends’ neighbourhood and address in Madrid, so I had a very simple ride in to the city with just one turn off. Great company – in the company of yet more friends as it turned out – fantastic cool jazz. OK it’s not to everyone’s taste but it is to mine – each to his/her own – HINT: listen to ‘Cry Me a River’ on the Mp3!

The A 1512 runs a rollercoaster ride along mountain ridges with spectacular views on either side.

It's hard to beleive that rural splendour like this is just a few hours ride from the centre of Madrid - you only have to cross a sierra or two to get away from it all!

This majestic ravine is only a few kilometres from the more famous Hoz de Beteta, but it's incomparable more beautiful - and only has a simple campsite and a couple of Turismo Rurales instead of gross coach-party hotels!

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