It took me a about ten minutes to get out of Caceres. A bit of pavement driving outside the hotel, back up the one-way street towards the Plaza. I crossed the Plaza as the pedestrians do and dropped onto the road on the other side, going the correct way on the one-way system. A straight road with a few roundabouts to cross over and I was at the edge of town. Then it hit me. It was freezing! The wind that blew across the long straight road away from the town was ice cold. My exposed arms felt it the most, my legs were kind of cold but I just dropped a gear and moved them faster. The day was forecast to be another scorcher, hence the early start. I left off the base layer for this reason but never bargained for such a nip in the early morning. The temperature did slowly rise as the morning progressed but it was still a bit chilly after about an hour if I was in the shade.
Only one main road to travel today, the EX-100 and I was on it pretty quickly. No busy intersections to contend with and little chance of the Garmin and I having a disagreement. I stopped for breakfast at the little town called Puebla de Obando which was just short of halfway. We stopped here last time in the middle of a short but torrential downfall, the weather was always going to be better this time with zero rain predicted. By the time I’d reached this place most of the day’s climbing had been completed and the cold wind had turned into a warm breeze. I was feeling pretty happy with myself and was looking forward to a little snack. I ordered a tostada jamon tomate and a cafe solo. It was a busy place considering it was only about 9.30 in the morning. I sat outside and caught up with the text messages I’d received whilst on the road, read some news and checked out the rest of my route. The food and coffee were excellent and only cost two euros. The bus that Cheryl was travelling on passed me as I was leaving the breakfast spot. I had less than thirty miles to go and it was mostly flat or downhill so we should have the afternoon to spend in Badajoz together.
The temperature rose pretty quickly this morning and after ten miles the road flattened off and became very straight. Twenty miles to go and I can see at least eighteen of them stretch out directly in front of me. It was the monotony of the road more than the heat that made the last twenty miles seem longer. I had plenty time to think. My mind wandered back to yesterday and the guys on Camino de Santiago trail. The exhaustion on each of their faces were still clear in my mind; the old man off his bike, the hungry guy with the horse and the solo walkers. I thought why would you walk out here by yourself, and in this heat. When I pondered about it more, I thought ‘Is this not what I am doing? It is just like what am I doing? What is it I am doing?’ I mean ‘What AM I doing?…. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?’ – Were these walkers looking at me and thinking the same; why would you cycle out here in this heat, and all by oneself? At least if there is a bit of madness I’m not alone.
The last 4 kilometres into Badajoz were via a busy dual carriageway, I guess I never paid enough attention to the detail at the end of the route. The dual carriageway had a hard shoulder…. but it wasn’t a motorway. It wasn’t the way the Aldo and Mac navigated out of town last time, I remember routing it for them to avoid this road. It wasn’t a motorway, at no point was there any sign saying cyclist not allowed. I’m not sure why it had a hard shoulder type thing but I reckoned this wide lane at the side of the double carriageway was safer than the narrow space I had been cycling on all day and the red gritty covering meant a better surface for cycling. I thought about coming off at the next roundabout (what motorway has roundabouts? – none). I thought about trying to find another road into town but it was at the end of my day and it was TFH. Besides this road wasn’t a motorway.
For over two years I had been pronouncing Badajoz and Caceres like any other English speaking, British tourist would say it. When Cheryl was on the train the previouis day, she heard the correct pronunciation, at least in the local dialect, She didn’t recognise her next two destinations…. Caa the-es and Badahogh
In Badajoz there had done a good bit of landscaping done around the river. The City looked better for it but it was still a dump.