The rain and thunder had cleared by the morning. I slept reasonably well. We spent time taking pictures of the valley we had overlooked, as well as trying to dry off our damp equipment. We set off at 10 down a long stretch. With Dan ahead of me, we shot past a shepherd and his flock. His dogs gave chase and almost caught us at 25 to 30 kmh.
We turned east before a village and carried on for 200m before taking off our waterproofs. It had been quite chilly when we got up and we were wearing our fleeces too. Luckily, the road gently dropped away through a couple of villages which both had communal wash houses. The locals here waved and greeted us as we sped down the road. The countryside was made up of a terraced lands and flocks of sheep, rocky outcrops and a narrow valley.
My thoughts were with friends, for some reason, about the parties we had had. Passing another village, as a dog was coming out to meet us, disaster struck. Dan’s front rack swung in and hit his wheel, breaking a spoke. Dan slowed down and I whizzed past, wondering what had happened. I returned to Dan, who was looking very tense and distraught. With a broken spoke, the panniers and the wheel had to come off, as well as the tyre. I gave Dan one of my spare spokes, Dan then replaced it but the spoke keys we had with us were useless with the metal being too soft, slipping off the spoke nut. Dan was losing his temper and got very distraught. He repaired as best he could and we soon set off towards Teruel which was 85 kms away.
We went through some gorges and villages set in beautiful countryside before arriving in a small village. Here, we bought lunch and supper from a tiny shop which was only indicated with a ‘Tabacos’ sign. An old man with a wooden leg indicated the correct door we should use. Inside, there were a couple of hams hanging from the ceiling, and various tins of food dimly lit by a single bulb. The man and woman were very helpful and interested in our bikes.
After a good lunch of cheese, salami, bread, peaches and yoghurt, we climbed over a pass of 1270m. Dan stopped ahead and, as I caught up, he indicated a water well where he filled our jerry cans (5 ltrs for each of us). Then, a long hill into a bowl. The wind in the valley was head on and, with the weight of the water on the rear of our bikes, our progress was sluggish and tiring. We went on to a village where we stopped in the hope of finding a cool drink but we found none.
Dan was keen to reach Teruel but I was not so keen. I was happy to stop on the way and camp. A bit of friction was in the air, so I eased off and said ‘Let’s see how far we get’. We cracked on down a verdant valley, near Alfambra, which was packed with trees and crops blowing in the wind. 4kms short of Teruel, Dan’s front rack snapped. I found a piece of climbing tape so Dan could hook the bottom of the panniers and connect it to the handlebars. Dan snapped, “Don’t pull too hard because you’ll break the cross bars!” I muttered something about trying to help and Dan then sprang up, his temper frayed, to shout “Just because you’re tired and want to move…!”
The atmosphere was tense so we pushed on. After a short stop at a garage for a drink and to put on our warm tops and passing a herd of bulls, we arrived in Teruel at 8.30pm. We wandered around for a spell before ending up in the ‘Hostal Continental’ in the old town for £10 each, which included a room each, breakfast and supper.
With the bikes under their stairs and the bags in our rooms, we went to supper with a gang of Spaniards who stared at us. Four small courses and a bottle of wine later, we left, as the others watched American soaps on TV. We then went for a coffee in the town before going back to the hostal for a good wash after three days in the countryside and in the saddle.
The last notable event of the day was seeing a hearse going past us containing a coffin on which was written using letters made up of flowers the initials E.N.D. How appropriate.
Distance 106.3 kms Average speed 9.8 kmh Time 10 hrs 48
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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