Day’s two mountain ride left most of the group with sore legs ahead of the third day of training camp so we set out for a four-hour loop on the flat coastal roads north of Mojacar.
Trouble is, we now had a headwind worthy of the Northern Classics to contend with and there was still plenty of opportunity to hurt the legs when sitting on the front of the bunch, but after an early cafe stop on the beach front, and a chance to work on tan lines in the sun, we ventured inland and continued on the planned route.
Andalucia is both beautiful and barren in equal measure – Mojacar receives just 200mm of rain per year – and yesterday’s mountain peaks had by now been replaced by arid coastal plains, with little to take the mind off the strengthening wind. Give me hills and a view to work for over a death march into a block headwind.
So, with 35 miles on the clock we stopped for a comfort break and split the group into two, with the majority of riders opting to stay with the lead car and continuing on the original route back to Bedar, while our ride guide, James, and I, turned right into the hills for a lumpier loop to base.
We waved our goodbyes and immediately turned off the main road to Los Gallardos and into the orange groves to begin a steady drag to the foot of a snaking, two-mile, car-free climb, with the ridge above us by now offering protection from the wind and beautiful views back over the valley for company.
After a short descent we took a de-tour off our de-tour, with James, who had previously visited the area on a training camp of his own in December before returning at the start of March as a ride guide for Wheels in Wheels, keen to explore a back road over the ridge which took us back to Bedar.
We now had the wind on our back and clipped along comfortably at 55kph on a rolling road with a gradual downhill gradient which felt like heaven after the wind-restricted progress of the morning.
By now we were in the middle of nowhere, not entirely sure of the route and with only a farmer and his herd of goats for company, but this is what cycling is about – exploring unchartered territory with the wind and sun on your back, and the traffic-free road rising before you. After one wrong turn, and then another, we took a dirt road and descended into the valley, crossing the bone-dry river bed and picking our way up the track on the opposite side of the mountainside, before the tarmac returned.
James was now back on familiar territory and we climbed up the hillside on a series of steep ramps with a beautifully smooth, freshly laid road surface. With Bedar in sight we skipped past the turning for our villa and joined the rest of the group in the village for a cold drink after 90 minutes of some of the best riding of the camp so far.
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