Andalucia - Day 2 - Tabernas to Fondon
- Distance 60km
- Max Elev 1044m
Andalucia - Tabernas to Fondon Ride Profile
Our second day was to be a long one and would be the first of our climbs up into the Alpujarras, the pre curser to Andalucia's Sierra Nevada National Park.
The ride from Tabernas was nearly all downhill following the motorway down towards the coast and Almeria. We hardly pedaled for several kilometers, before turning off towards the small town of Paulenca. The town lies at the lower end of the Andarax valley, which eventually reaches the sea at the coastal resort of Almeria. Although not as well known as Guadix, it also has a number of cave houses. Being a bit lower than Lubrin, the orange trees were blossoming and the scent was heavy in the air as we wound our way into town. Here we turned up the valley and started our gradual climb.
We wound our way up the main N324 road towards the spa town of Alhama de Almeria. Near the end of our climb we happened across the Los Millares. We called in at the visitor centre to learn a little more of this historical site.
Los Millares is considered one of the most important European archaeological sites of the Copper Age. It covers a vast area on a spur between the Andarax River and the Rambla de Huechar. This position provided excellent natural defences, close to the copper mines of the Sierra de Gador. The villages were well fortified with several walls and lines of forts to control the territory that was not protected by the gorges on the other two sides.
The Necropolis lies outside of the main village and comprises of approximately 80, poorly preserved tombs, one of which has been recreated to show what they were actually like. The members of the same clan would be buried here along with their personal goods, many of which can now be seen in the Almeria Museum.
We walked around the ruins in the warm sunshine as bees and insects buzzed around the natural flower meadows on the uncultivated ground between the ruins. The feeling of standing in the middle of this village, which thrived nearly 4000 years before Christ was a humbling one.
After this brief interlude we continued on, turning off the Alhama road for a long downhill back into the Andarax valley, which is very green and cultivated. Arriving at Tarique we stopped by the side of the rambla, flooded with spring snow melt waters, to eat our packed lunch.
We then had a steep, first gear climb back up the valley side to join the N348 at Illar. The ride was pleasant until we reached Canajayar. Here the road was a superb, typical Eu funded highway with long straights and sweeping curves at a constant 8% gradient. We actually find these to be the worst type of hill. You seem to make very little progress. They are demoralising and sap your will. The climb went on and on.
We stopped to brew up at one point. At each brow we were convinced that we had reached the top only to find the road winding ever upwards. The last 10 kilometers were numbing and we were only driven on by the need to reach our camp site. Finally after about two hours we crested the top and enjoyed the brief, fast descent down the other side to reach Fondon.
To get to the camp site we had to cross over the river, which was in full flow over the ford and impassable on our bikes. Instead, we had to unclip all of our panniers and carry them and the bikes up some steps and across the river on a rickety and swinging, cable suspension foot bridge.
The Puenta Colgante site is the first camp site in the Alpujarras, approaching from Almeria. It is close to the village and the setting next to the river is nice. It is basic with gravel based pitches. The toilets were reasonably clean, but only had hot water in the showers, not the hand-basins. Of course it was too cold to use the pool, which was closed anyway. There was a bar / restaurant on the site, but they were both closed. The price was 3.5 euros per adult + 3.5 for the tent and 3.5 for services = 14 euros per night total. Expensive for the standard of what was provided, but we figured it would pretty much be what we would have to expect.
The pitches were marked, but most of them were reserved by Spanish families and had a variety of caravans, awnings, sheds, covered sitting areas, etc. It all felt a bit like being in a shanty town. You got the feeling that it needed some love and attention. In the summer it would be a manic place to camp. We were not impressed and wouldn't recommend it. There is in fact another site at La Molita about 4 kilometers further up the valley signposted off the road just before Fuenta Victoria. We didn't have a chance to see the camp site, but the town certainly has more facilities than Fondon.
The following day we slept until the sun rose at about nine. It was cold (there was thin layer of ice on the table), but quickly the temperature increased. We took the well signposted tour around Fondon village, bought very cheap veg and fish and spent most of the afternoon feasting, writing the blog and researching our route for the next 6 weeks.
In the evening we ate at a restaurant in Fondon (full menu del dia including wine and coffee for only 9 euros). Here we met Jacob who was cycling around the Sierra Nevada, on a weeks holiday from the Nederlands, having flown into Almeria that morning. He was averaging 70 km / day so it was likely we wouldn't see him again.
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