You could hear the bells from the Cathedral, which was at the other end of Plaza Mayor from our Hotel. The noise wasn’t unpleasant and Cheryl liked to count them and let me know what the time was.
We had worked out the timings the night before and in our heads we had a well practised drill which included who’s in the shower first, packing the toiletries and zipping up the bag. The next days clothes were all laid out, we even had breakfast choices made from experimenting the morning before. The alarm was set and we tried to sleep. It took me a long while but I eventually dozed off, I remember hearing three bells but none after that until I awoke. I wasn’t awake enough to count them but Cheryl assured me she heard eight rings. I made that sound as if she was quite calm about it… she wasn’t she was frantic. In fact I hadn’t seen this frantic since she thought she’d lost her handbag in Milan. We were meant to be eating a quicky breakfast at 8 o’clock sharp as soon as the bar opened. I fumbled for my phone so I could check the time and re-assure her that she had miscounted. My phone said 0800 – feck how did that happen? I remember setting the alarm so couldn’t understand why it didn’t go off an hour ago.
There was only one bus to Avila today, at 9.00 and if Cheryl didn’t make it then we had to go to the back-up plan, I hadn’t told Cheryl what that was yet. We were both now frantic and took a few seconds to think, same plan no breakfast, no showers. By 8.20 we were ready… of sorts. We checked out and Cheryl was in the taxi and on the bus with time to spare. I could have had breakfast as this was a short day cycle but decided just to get on my way.
Plaza Mayor was empty. The atmosphere was of the quality that you only get in the mornings, before the world awakes and before the buzz begins. The skies were clear and we could see two hot air balloons floating above the City, which added to the aura this beautiful morning. I set down the cobbled street (great practise for next year). I knew this road as I ventured down here twice yesterday, once for the bike shop visit and then to buy the bus ticket. It was the way out of Segovia, Garmin and I agreed on that. I stopped at the view point and tried to capture the essence of the morning as there were now several hot air balloons towering above the roman dwellings on the edge of the settlement.
After about 7 miles I passed through a little village called Valverde del Majano, which was even more peaceful than the streets of Segovia; were all it’s inhabitants still asleep? Abades a further 3 miles further on was much the same. I was looking for somewhere to stop for coffee and a snack but the shutters were still down and there was nobody on the streets. I passed another two villages in the next 10 miles that were only slightly busier but still no bars or coffee shops open. I guess that’s just the way Saturday mornings are around here. The seat post was fixed yesterday so I had stopped in these villages anyway, just for some adjustments and some readjustments.
Although there were a few hilly bits on this road, so far there was nothing very testing. It gave me time to take in the views of Sierra de Gredos or the Sierra de Guadarrama, I’m not sure which. I passed through the Guadarrama Mountains yesterday and my destination today is in the Gredos Mountains, they seem to run into each other. The mountains were about 10 to 20 miles away to my left. The scene on my right was of shallow rolling hills, the horizon being too far away to focus. I was on a flat fertile plain and it was starting to get hot.
I got confused with the road structure near Sanchidrian. This was the intersection where I stop heading west on the small roads and take the main road south. Garmin showed my carefully designed route taking me up the off ramp and I could not work out from the view ahead how the hell I was meant to get onto the road I wanted to get on, or even which road it was that I wanted to get on. So I thought time for coffee and cake and doubled back to Sanchidrian. This village could never be counted as lively unless comparing to my experience in all the other places that morning. I found a spot with good nosh and friendly service, also got the water bottles refilled.
The first thing that Cheryl remarked on when I took delivery of the bike was the smooth surface, no tread on the tyres. She made some comment about how they didn’t look like they were of the ‘Indestructible’ variety. Well seems she was right. About 10 miles from Avila I heard a noise that sounded like a blown tyre, I kept cycling as you do when you are in denial. Feck – I did not mind changing it, it was just that my smart-ass thinking that on my shortest day, I would only take one spare inner tube with me. Where’s the sense in that?
As I changed the tube I was attacked by little skin-biting flying ant-like things, a close relation to Midgies I think!
The last 10 miles I counted down, watching the road surface as I cycled, though not sure looking at the road would help avoid any potential tyre burster. So I just prayed instead, after all this is a catholic country.
Avila is a lovely city as good looking, if not better looking than Segovia. Our hotel was within the city walls, between the castle walkway and the cobbled street. Getting there at lunch-time was a bonus,
By the way Cheryl made it to Avila ten minutes after she got out of bed in Segovia.