pushing north: mediterranean style


It was easy finding our way north from Valencia: so long as we kept the Med’s shimmering water to our right and towering peaks of the Sierra Calderona to our left we were on track.


2000 years ago Hannibal Barca passed through this same narrow strip walking African forest elephants towards Rome, for the start of the second Punic War. Now-a-days the signs towards Europe’s 7th largest city bear his family’s name, spurring Rachel and I to burst into cathartic outbursts of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat’s 1992 olympic theme-song: BARCELONAAAA…. Fortunately for the kids we could only remember a handful of words. Sadly, there were a lot of signs.



Passing through Castello de Plana we followed a disused railway, or via verdes, past lighthouses and between small garrisoned towns, protected against the threat of 18th century Corsair Pirates. (ironically, in Morocco, we’d cycled through Asilah where the pirates had departed from to collect slaves during their raids on the Iberian Peninsula).


Rolling further north we found ourselves consigned to the national route (N340).

One morning Dylan did a survey to count the number of trucks that passed in 10 minutes. It came as no surprise when he declared that 70 had charged through, taking the hourly total to 420 and making it one intense white knuckle ride. Hardly the serene image of the Med we’d slowly become accustomed to.

Most afternoons, before finding a place wildcamp, we’d peel off to a seaside town for a refreshing dip or rest on the beach; as well as topping up water bottles from the local town square’s tap. We’d expected this part of Spain to be more challenging when it came to free-camping, but in truth it was much like what we’d experienced during our ride over the centre with plenty of shrubs and trees between built up areas. On one occasion we managed to camp close to a settlement in tall grass and only 400 metres from a supermarket, resulting in chilled milk on the morning’s porridge!

Other notable ‘rest areas’ included a mandarin plantation and beside a railway track (used and noisy at night!)

A day’s ride from Barcelona we rolled through our 2000th kilometre. It was early evening and the road was thick with commuters but we did manage to find a barrier where we could rest the bikes to engage in a celebratory team hug, before musing why these milestones never seem to be reached outside cake shops, pubs, or beach esplanades.


Arriving to Barcelona was great. We celebrated with a night at Camping Barcelona and a shower! With less than 200 kilometres in Spain to go we thought it best not to arrive in France smelling like aged French cheese..


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