Day 10: Castellon to L'Hospitalet de l'Infant, Spain

My first Coll in Spain
It looks impressive, but it is only about 100 ft above sea level!

Last night, from my pretty well sound insulated room, I hear a lot of traffic on the street in front of my hotel. This morning, leaving Castellon, I rode in heavy traffic towards town and then heading north towards N-340. I had though of riding into town and down to the beach, but the traffic discouraged me, so I took the direct route to N-340. I still rode through a lot of traffic, but the traffic was far worse coming into town and in town.

Cars coming in to Castellon - that line was half a mile long and barely moving

After I got on 340, riding was good for most of the day. There was too much traffic, and it was both hotter and hillier today than yesterday, but I managed to cover 98 miles in about seven and a half hours with little stress and some interesting stuff to look at, smell - Spain is great for smelling, and think about. Riding a road like N-340 is not anybody's idea of great touring, but, for me, it is good touring. The worst shoulders that I have seen on 340 are better than the best shoulders in much of the US. The traffic is heavy, but the speeds are relatively low so noise levels, even with lots of big trucks, aren't as nearly as bad as on a busy US highway. The drivers, with very few exceptions, are better, more aware of bikes, and more polite than the drivers anywhere in the US. Riding in Spain has been almost as good as riding in France! The worst problems here are the food and the heat.

Speaking of touring in Spain, I finally saw another loaded tourist. He was heading south on N-340 about 100 miles north of Valencia. We waved and smiled, but didn't stop to chat, so I don't know much about him except that he had gray hair, large rear panniers, a mountain bike, and a big smile on his face!

One new thing today was ridges, with gaps up to 400 feet above sea level
This gap has both the A7, the toll autoroute, and N-340 going over it
To the left, you can see the mouth of the tunnel for the train to go through the ridge and power lines going over it

The view looking west after the first climb on the first gap
That is the A7 in the foreground and the Mediterranean Sea in the background

There were four significant climbs today, three of which - the first, the third, and the last - required my granny ring. I'm good to about a 2 or 3 % sustained grade, on my loaded bike in my middle ring. My middle ring is a 33 and the largest cog I use with it is a 28, so I can get down to seven and a half mph or so without needing a cadence too low for the health of my knees. I used to use a 37 middle ring, but changed to the 33 so I could deal with speeds around 8 mph without using my granny. My granny is good for speed up to 10 mph or so, giving a nice overlap with the middle ring. There are two granny ring gears positioned between the lowest three of seven middle ring gears I use, or three between four of eight if I use the biggest cog with the middle ring. I don't normally do that. Having the overlap means less ring changes in the seven to ten mph range and having no duplicated gears means more gear choices for those long steady grades.

This was the longest climb, about 400 feet vertical
Yes, there were lots of trucks!
The climb was gentle enough to do in my middle ring

At the top of this long climb was a village with a windmill
and a wind farm with about 50 machines, some of which you can see here

The winds were variable today. Early on there wasn't much wind, then a cross wind developed pretty much like yesterday's on shore winds, then, when 340 crossed a large costal plain, that cross wind became a strong tail wind. I was cruising at 20 to 25 mph for while! Of course that fellow headed in the other direction probably lost his smile as he ground into that wind! On the whole, the wind, both yesterday and today, was favorable to going north. It was also a big factor in making the ride more comfortable.

A 'wall' of mountains parallels the coast

There is a large coastal plain about half way between Valencia and Barcelona

I wanted to get near enough to Barcelona to make it a relatively short day tomorrow. I'm about 85 miles from Barcelona at L'Hospitalet de l'Infant, which is a resort town on the Mediterranean. I stopped here because it was just about 100 miles from Castellon and because there aren't many towns on this part of the coast. When I rode into town, I worried that it might be expensive to stay here, but it is only a little more expensive than last night. This is a three star hotel right on the Mediterranean. Staying at a similar hotel in the states would be several times as expensive, but I did discover a downside. I had read that this coast was popular with British tourists and they seem to be my hotel's major clients. Supper, although a good value, was very British; under seasoned and overcooked!

Breakfast was great, definitely four star. I had cereal (muesli), several kinds of dried fruit (figs, dates, apricots), several kinds of canned fruit (pears, peaches), bacon, eggs (my choice from four different methods of preparation), broiled tomatoes, yogurt, and coffee. And that was only about half of what was available!

The Mediterranean from my balcony

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