160610 – Christmas in June

Awake at 7:00 am, I find I’m suffering from bike lag.

A number of navigational choices presented themselves today, all different routes to Palencia. From here in Tordesillas two different canals in different directions both (eventually) lead to Palencia. In the end I selected the shorter path, including a castle en route. The shorter path included climbing over a mountain range to arrive at the perfect flatness of following a canal – a certain irony in that, and wasn’t done.

I had a mix of cycling across the day. I started on small roads, arriving in the small community of Simancas, the castle looming on the horizon. Another castle converted for modern purposes, but at least this time the castle serves as the local repository for historical documents, with 16th century manuscripts on display. Not as good as Charlotte’s story of meeting the Head of the National Archives, only to have him pull national document treasures for her to view, but interesting nonetheless.

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Cycling with Wayne and Charlotte, we would regularly see white tufts of something, vaguely dandilion-like, blowing through the air. That plant has reached full bloom, and the tufts float everywhere. In places they cover the ground. When caught between the ground and trees, they pile up in drifts, looking like snow.

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The two Dutch cyclists camped next to me last night indicated Valladolid had no central historic district, so I cycled straight through, although on well-marked and separated cycle path. After Valladolid, I found a lovely, packed-gravel cycle path on the right side of the sought-after canal.

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Then my front tire deflated. With my flat tire a couple of days ago, instead of reveling in how long it had been since my last flat, I should have asked, “what changed?” Thornbushes grew on both sides of the gravel path, and while the path appeared clear, evidence indicated otherwise. Reviewing the tires before I replaced the tube I pulled not one but four thorns from the tires, with the first three not quite penetrating.

While I haven’t gotten around to replacing the tube I used a couple of days ago, I carry two tubes (and a backup patch kit), and replaced the tube in short order. However, at this point I have no unpatched tubes. I just picked up four thorns in the space of 10 km, with another 15 km to the campground on the same path, and, as is often the case with remote paths, limited optimal alternatives.

Shortly a nearby service road switched to the left side of the canal, but then returned to the canal path, still on the left. While cyclists regularly used the right side, the left side remains unused. The track narrowed, with thorns grabbing at my legs, and, more inportantly, enroaching on the space for my vulnerable tires.

Eventually emerging back onto service road, tires seemingly still intact (my legs less so), I continued onward. Approaching the campground for the night, I noticed a castle only a few kilometers outside of my path. While I’m still working on shorter days … castle. Fortaleza de Trigueros now falls into ruin. I would have been happier if the main gate wasn’t locked, but still a fun crawl around the collapsing outer walls.

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From there only a few kilometers remained to the campground in Las Ventas. The campground rests directly adjacent to the major highway I spent much of the day alongside, with the associated background noise. Not restful, but at least expensive.

I have a German cyclist neighbor, on his way to Germany from Portugal. He travels with a trailer, so we got off to a rough start, but he also carries his dog with him, so things worked out. I spent part of the evening picking thorns out of his fur (the dog, not the cyclist!).

Tomorrow I go to Palencia. I planned to travel via the canal path, but with the thorns I’m less certin. To add insult to injury, I don’t see a bicycle shop in Palencia to replace the tubes, with only smaller towns intervening. I have only a very short ride to Valencia, so I’m going castle hunting tomorrow.

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