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Chapter 10: Bikepacking the Altravesur-El Burgo to Ardales

17th April 2019

You can see my YouTube on this ride here

I left my wild-camp outside El Burgo at around half six in the morning, it was still dark. After a short while on the trail I came across a rather bedraggled fox, it stared, ran a little, stopped, stared, ran a little more, and repeated this a couple of times, very strange!

The route was on badly eroded soil, sometimes one lane had collapsed completely from water erosion. I found it very interesting as this eroded soil had once been vertical, now horizontal, so the different coloured layers of soil and rock, laid down over millennia, changed as I walked aside it. I wondered which layer was from what sort of event and wished I had my own personal geologist with me to explain the mystery.

It was uphill for many kilometres riding through rolling hills with the mountains in the distance. I was heading for a town called Ardales. The wind was building, when I reached a crossroads, quite high up, the wind was gusting at 20 knots or so.

Turning left at the crossroads took me through pine woodland. At this point I hadn’t seen another human being since the night before. I like it like that sometimes, makes me feel like I was the only survivor of a catastrophe!

The woodland went on for many kilometres, as I sat and took a break, another mountain biker stopped for a chat. I wasn’t the last person alive after all! The wind was building, the woodland was getting less dense, through it I could see the mountains getting closer. I stopped to do a Facebook live in the strong wind, which was probably around 30 – 40 knots by now!

Even though there had been many wild-camping spots in this woodland, I didn’t think it a good idea to stop now what with the strong winds and it was way too early. I could see Ardales in the distance, surrounded by mountains with a wind-farm above it. I wondered if it was always windy here.

Eventually came a fantastic decent for several kilometres, with wonderful mountain views in all directions. I raced down this twisty steep road into Ardales. As usual the town went steeply uphill. I stopped at a restaurant for a coffee, sitting with around six old gents. As long as I start speaking to them, I find that I get on OK with these strangers, otherwise they just stare at the random gringo!

On asking where I could stay for the night, I was pointed to some apartments just around the corner, they looked really nice, but at 77 euros per night, they ought to be! So I set-off for a Hostel called El Cruce, that I’d spotted the night before when searching, whilst in El Burgo. It was just out of the town. At first, due to it being Easter the lady said that they were full, but a nice senorita got on the telephone and after ten minutes she’d sorted me out a room, but for only one night.

So very kind of her! The restaurant at El Cruce is huge, and popular, the rooms are upstairs. I wasn't permitted to take Bay into my room, I had to leave him in the restaurant, so I bungeed him to a wall and locked him up! He was tucked well away, so I wasn't worried about leaving him. The rooms were modern, clean and plenty good enough for me, especially at 28 euros a night! The heavy winds were continuing into the night, so I was glad of the room. Although at the rate I’m spending money I won’t be getting to Valencia, it’s getting silly! But heigh-ho, let’s have tapas in the restaurant too!!

I had been totally wiped out by my ride the day before after getting lost en route to El Burgo. I was definitely suffering from mild sunstroke. I had an excellent sleep that night but woke up still tired and feeling a little worse for wear. Anyway, I had to leave, there was no room at the inn! So I set-off for El Chorro, the land of the Caminito del Rey. Good news, the winds had died down. They had buffeted the Hostal all night long.


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