Not masses to write about the cycling today as it was simply a case of finding the N-IV (no idea what the significance of that name is) in north-east Jerez and following it all the way not just to Dos Hermanos but the campsite itself, Camping Villsom where I have now set up my home for the night. It was a cycle of some 87 km which I’m more than happy with. Yesterday was about 76 km after the ferry ride had been deducted from the total and Thursday was 82 km. I have previously calculated in great detail on the back of an envelope that 100 days of cycling on average 75 km should get me to Nordkapp. As time isn’t really an issue for this trip (I no longer have a job to return to after the summer!), ultimately I don’t have a deadline to meet but it would be nice to arrive at the end sometime around the end of July or beginning of August as once I do get back to the UK I need to find some kind of paid work. As a teacher, it would make sense to be back for the start of September. Anyway, back to the point; hitting distances in the 80s of kilometres is fine by me.
I had a good breakfast at the youth hostel in Jerez (which does look suspiciously like a former detention centre of some kind – see the picture from my window below) and the receptionist on duty this morning was a cheery lady who more than made up for her colleague of the previous evening. I then cycled through the centre of town pausing briefly for a coffee in one of the squares I had walked through last night.
If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen the video that I posted this morning (the second one, with the commentary rather than the first one where you needed to strain your neck to see it properly – go have a look!) singing the praises of the cycling infrastructure along the Avenida de Sevilla in northern Jerez. It continued all the way as far as the edge of the northern suburbs where it did finish abruptly but such cycle paths are not really made for the likes of me travelling very long distances but for the local population. I envy the people who live in that northern area of Jerez and their ability to jump on their bike and cycle safely into the centre. I wonder how many actually do. Once the cycle path did finish I tried to keep away from the dual carriageway version of the N-IV by following a parallel track. That was a hit and miss choice as some of the route was industrial estate back roads (great!) and some of the route was farm track (not so great). After the airport the N-IV downgraded itself to a single carriageway road and I was happy to join it. There I remained for the next several hours watching the countryside fly past. The cycling was predominantly on the flat; just the occasional hill to keep me awake and for the first time, distinctly non-coastal. Indeed I even began to spot sporadic fields of olive groves. Remember them from 2013? I imagine they will become an increasing feature of my journey in the next few days although probably not as omnipresent as when I was cycling from east to west along the band of olive plantations that dominate this part of Spain. What happened next? Not sure… It was all very samey. The weather was a bit inclement from time to time so I donned my rain jacket – excellent investment from the Mountain Equipment range incidentally (see previous posts) – and removed it as required. For goodness sake, this is boring stuff! Are you still with me? I think I’m about to nod off myself… I cycled through the little town of Los Palacios Y Villafranca in search of some fruit but couldn’t find any fruit shops open (or indeed any that were closed) but I came up trumps a few kilometres to the north. Just next to the road was a shop – quite isolated – that was selling… fruit and veg. Brilliant! Staffed by several overcoated women who all seemed very jolly I picked a banana and an apple (careful Andrew, it’s getting boring again) and went to pay. A chap who was doing his own shopping who I was later informed was the ‘hefe’ or boss told the women I didn’t have to pay. ‘Porque?’ I repeated about three times. Not sure what I would have done if a reason had been forthcoming (‘because in the current economic climate, I feel that we should reach out to those people, like yourself, who are clearly suffering…’) as I wouldn’t have understood it. I thanked everyone concerned and went outside to munch through my freebies. I almost wish I’d ‘bought’ a bag of potatoes, some peppers, carrots and a couple of onions for tonight’s evening meal. So concerned was I that I might be looking a little dishevelled and in need of charity that I took a ‘selfie’. I looked rather well after my shave this morning and cycle from Jerez. I can only guess as to the real motivation of the kind greengrocer. About 45 minutes later I arrived at the campsite and busied myself setting up the tent.
So that was today. It won’t get a great mention in any future book that I write. The format of the future publication, incidentally, will have to change from previous books as I can’t really devote a chapter to each cycling day and then each day off. That would probably make about 120 chapters! I reckon one chapter per region through which I cycle so all this will be condensed into one succinct page or even paragraph. You’re probably hoping for the latter, no?
I’ve got a bit of research to do tonight. Where to stay tomorrow? In Seville (which is only 15 km away)? A very easy cycling day would allow me to devote time to finding out more about the Ruta de la Plata cycle route. Will the tourist office be open tomorrow? There are worse places to spend a day than Seville even if I have been there for two very brief previous visits. There’s some cycling event taking place tomorrow in Seville. Someone sent me a link earlier on Twitter. That could be interesting. Probably more interesting than this post… Here are a few pictures: