I woke with a headache and needing a pee. Once back in bed, a cockerel with a particularly shrill call kept me awake for an hour or so before the radio alarm went off. I was not feeling too good. At 9.30am, I nipped out to buy ‘crunchy nut cornflakes’, milk and donuts from a supermarket.
We packed up and left just before midday after having been to the supermarket again for more supplies to last a couple of days. It was good to get out of Requena. People were not too friendly there. We shot along, only stopping for some water and lunch, before coming to the top of a huge hill overlooking a nuclear power station in the valley.
We hammered down the next hill, getting very wobbly on the corners and leaning right out to keep stable. Dan stopped ahead and pointed back at something in the road. I saw it at the last moment. It was a tiny snake which went for me and bit my boot! I went past it, stopped, looked back and watched it slide away into the verge.
The remainder of the ride that afternoon was dull until the last 12 kms in Almansa. We came into a wide open plain, flanked by an enormous escarpment, with Almansa’s small castle perched on a rock loomed in the distance. We cruised at about 26 kmh until we came to a service station on the edge of the town for a coke and a rest.
In the town, there was a bicycle race happening. A small crowd was watching it but a few heads turned as we passed through. Even a couple of the racers turned to look at us. Our fluorescent mountain bikes loaded with bags and bottles were in stark contrast to their racing bikes. We stopped to buy a couple of sticky buns.
Soon, we were on the road again towards Yaclas, passing a couple of mangy, shabby looking dogs. We had to cycle quite a way out of town to get away from any houses so we could wild camp. It was hot and sweaty along that road until we found a small re-entrant to pull into. We had a supper of soup, pasta sardines, tinned tomatoes, biscuits and tea.
Both of us were covered in salt from our exertions, so before turning in, we sponged ourselves off and dried off. This was the start of how we learnt to keep clean with a small amount of water. We each poured about a pint of water into one of cooking pots and used it to sponge the ‘critical’ places! Everything else could was low priority and was only washed if we had enough water left. It’s amazing how little water you need to keep quite clean. I used a good dose of talcum powder to prevent any sticky dampness. I had learnt to carry talc with me in the army where they teach you the importance of keeping yourself in good order in the field and particularly your feet!
It had not been a particularly good day. The roads were not very interesting, the people were unfriendly and much of the scenery had been dull. We decided to head to the coast to spend a few days lazing around before we met Dan’s friends Steve and Simon in Granada. Penny has been swirling around in my head.
Distance 98.75 kmh Average speed 12.9 kmh Time 7 hours 35
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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