Prowling my world, camera in hand

18 July 2019

Week 27: cycling off road, choir, Aigues, Busot

Filed under: — Administrator @ 05:09

July started with some nice weather; while the rest of Spain was sweltering in 40C heat, here on the Mediterranean coast we enjoyed the sea breeze and stayed between 30 and 35C most days. But it does not take many km inland before the temperature goes up significantly, something I noticed a lot when cycling in the mountains. When you drink 3 liters of water and do not have to pee during a ride, then you know that you have been sweating.

On Sunday I did a different kind of bike ride. I usually stay on paved roads, but this time I wanted to explore a gravel track that follows an abandoned local railroad. There is a network of such tracks around Spain, since many railroads connecting smaller towns have been closed in recent decades as the people move to the big cities. The rails get ripped up, the track gets hard gravel, and it becomes a nice outing for cyclists who do not like to share the road with cars, and for hikers. And since trains cannot climb steep hills, even in our mountainous areas the grades are gentle, no more than 3-4%, thanks to the tunnels. So I decided to ride the nearest such Vía Verde (“green road”), connecting Agost with the mountain Maigmó, 22 km long, with an ascent from about 200 meters above sea level to 650 meters, with six tunnels along the way. But first I had to get there–the starting points is about 25 km from my house, and the last 5-6 km are on field roads like this one:

As I approached Agost, the views became pretty. The field track was a challenge for my road bike, even though it has relatively wide 28mm tyres:

The views got prettier and prettier but riding on this surface became too challenging for a road bike, and the inevitable happened–I got a pinch flat and had to replace the inner tube in the midday sunshine, with no shade anywhere nearby. But the vineyard sure looked pretty:

Finally, I could see the Agost train station. It is a small station with no facilities, along the Alicante-Albacete line, and trains stop there only on request (and only the slow local trains):

The Vía Verde starts next to the station, but I decided not to push my luck. I had only taken two spare tubes with me, and having already used one just to get there, I did not feel like risking getting more flats on this trail, since it is not accessible to cars, so if I got more than one flat, there would be no other option than to walk several km to a place where a taxi or my wife could pick me up:

I took a picture of the vineyard next to the station and made a mental note that I do want to ride this trail, but it will have to be on the mountain bike we just bought. I rode home on paved roads (and as luck would have it, I did have another flat less than 10 km from home, the first time I can remember having two flats during a short 50 km ride):

On Sunday afternoon, as is my habit, I walked down to the beach to have a pint and look at people. This time, a rather spirited game of beach volley caught my eye:

The serve:

During the week, I stopped by the Eastern European grocery store during a lunch break to buy some Polish goodies. A man was inside the store, while his two doggies waited in the entrance; one clearly more adventureous than the other:

The first of two random architecture photos. This is an abstract of the office building in which I work:

The second architecture photo–our house in strange light, a combination of the dusk light and the streetlights:

On Wednesday night, the choir of the parents of the European School of Alicante in which my wife sings (despite the fact that our daughter graduated six years ago) had a joint recital with an amateur choir from a small town near Benidorm, called Finestrat. This is the Finestrat choir; they did not sing very well, but they did give me a nice photo moment:

Then it was the turn of my wife’s choir. While they are amateurs too, they have a professional director (we all chip in to pay her), they have been singing together for several years, and it shows–they sing pretty well:

My wife in full voice:

A smile towards the end:

On Thursday after work, I was out cycling as usual, passing a summer library on the beach, with offerings for all ages:


This small roadside cross has been at this spot for at least 10 years (that is when I first saw it), with flowers being changed at regular intervals. I always wonder how a fatal accident can have happened on this particular road–it is a place where people drive slowly because of the state and narrowness of the road:

Then Friday evening arrived, which meant pizza from Tutti’s. As always, I had a beer while I waited and photographed the other people in the restaurant. The bearded man in this image is there almost every time I go:

Going out to restaurants here is very much a family affair. No need for babysitters, you just bring the children even if it is 10:30 p.m.:


On Saturday I did my usual Aigües-Busot bike ride. Right after the road starts going uphill, there is a crumbling wall by the side of the road, making for a good place to stop to pee if needed. Then I noticed a blue bowl on a tree against which I had leaned my bicycle:

Raising the camera above my head, I could see that the bowl was filled with nuts. I know bird feeders but this was the first squirrel feeder I have ever seen:

In Aigües, like elsewhere in the world, the pride weekend was being celebrated. In a piece of delightful irony, the rainbow flag was placed just at the entrance to the town’s main square, 20 meters in front of the church. I wondered what the Pope would have to say:

Eight km from Aigües is the second town that I visit on this ride, Busot. Like Aigües, Busot has a pedestrian main street leading to the plaza with the church and three bars. I think these umbrellas are Busot’s version of the rainbow flag:


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