Cycling

Cycling Day 7: Zafra To Mérida

Click here to see the detailed statistics of today’s cycle.

The day kicked off with a visit to the post office in Zafra to post the documents, clothes and zoom lens back to Britain, all 2.2 kg of them. I am indebted to the woman who served me who struggled through our conversation despite having recently suffered some personal life trauma. Naturally it would have been inappropriate to ask her about the details of said trauma but it was clear to see on her pained facial expressions and repeated sighs of exasperation with my simple wishes to send a package to the United Kingdom. I shall be eternally grateful for her having turned up at work today to serve a lowlife such as myself. [OK Andrew, I think you’ve made your point. Move on to the cycling bit please…]

Today I don’t really need to say much about the cycling because you can watch it. Zafra to Mérida condensed into 53 exhilarating seconds. Action!

But I will make a few comments… Firstly technical ones. One photograph was taken every 10 seconds on the GoPro. This equates to about 4 hours 25 minutes in real time. The aspect ratio of 4:3 was chosen so as to reduce the file size. The sunsets that I filmed back in Cádiz were recorded in 2.7k format – the HD version of HD – and they weren’t easy to handle so choosing the older format sorted that problem. However, as you watch, look at how the black bands on either side of the YouTube video move. I think I may be able to adjust the format in YouTube Capture to 4:3 but the video above is 16:9. YouTube is attempting to ‘smooth’ out the video (which it normally does extremely well – who needs a Steadicam?) and I think this has resulted in the shifting around of the black bands on either side of the ‘screen’. More expert knowledge, if you have it, would be appreciated. I also used the extra GoPro battery pack that I bought back in Estepona for the first time. It has done its job well and doesn’t affect the practicality of using the GoPro apart from no longer having use of the back screen display. This wasn’t an issue. 53 seconds isn’t long so I may try another ride with a photo every 4 seconds. I’ll wait, however, until I have an interesting piece of Europe through which to cycle. Or another long-winded visit to the Spanish post office. [Keep to the point Andrew…]

So, the cycling! It was almost all downhill. The easiest 73 km I can ever remember cycling. The weather was with me; one interesting thing to watch in the video is the sky and how, over the course of four and a half hours the clouds become greater and greater. Shortly after arriving in Mérida the heavens opened and for two hours it was heavy rain. Fortunately I was able to hide under the awning of a café in the main square and then in my room at the hostel where I am staying. You may have noticed from the GPS track (or, if you are very observant, from the video) that after a brief visit to the tourist office here in Mérida to ask where the campsite was (at the end of the conversation the nice lady serving me asked where I was from; a good sign that my Spanish is improving! She would never have got a job at the… Sorry!) I cycled the 3 km out of town to find the campsite. Practically empty, scruffy and generally not very hospitable (would I be happy leaving all my stuff there while I came back into town to explore the Roman ruins?) I immediately returned into the centre of Mérida to the hostel. This did add an extra 7/8 km to the final length of the cycling day but we all know that there are lies, damn lies and statistics (well actually there aren’t; there are just those who understand them and those who don’t… but that’s an argument for another day!) and it does help me nudge a little nearer to my target average of 75 km per day. It currently stands at 67.1, up from yesterday’s 66.2. Apologies if that kind of stuff bored you but remember, I do have a degree in mathematics…

Once the rain stopped I went to explore the Roman ruins of Mérida. Very impressive they are too. See a few pictures below.

Tomorrow it’s back to the serious cycling. It’s a slightly more challenging 72 km to Cáceres (which I will probably transform into about 80 km). Sarah Harrison on Twitter (@sarah_a_h) tells me that there is a campsite in Cáceres where each pitch has an individual toilet. Sounds interesting…

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4 replies »

  1. When we cycled through Northern Spain we stayed at many of those less desirable looking campsites (mainly due to financial constraints!), but they were all fine!

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