I was in Madrid for almost 3 weeks which was quite a long time to stay somewhere, but I had some lovely companies, a house which I was feeling exactly home there and people who were taking care of me like a member of their family and also so many schools to visit. I visited 10 schools in Madrid and still I should have say NO to some of them as I didn’t have time anymore.
It was quite complicated again to decide what to do or where to go. Regarding to the time I had and the original plan I had before visiting Spain, I supposed to go to Italy after Spain and then cross the Alps to Switzerland, but time passed quite quick and I stayed in Spain longer than I expected, so I should delete Italy from the plan also I should find a way to go back to Iran as it would be the time for vacation after my journey in Europe.
I was confused few days and finally the decision had been made: I will delete Italy first, I will fly out to Istanbul from Lyon and I will cycle to Montpellier from Zaragoza through Pyrenees and Andorra and then continue through Alps to Geneva where I could meet Bob McKerrow after 6 years.
Now I knew what to do and it was all about planning the journey. I have already cycled from Zaragoza to Madrid and it wasn’t that nice to ride a road twice. So I decided to go there by bus or any public transport. I told Ana about it and she kindly accepted to take me there with her car.
Everything was going well again and I was smoothly going through the path again. Everything calmed down and I was calm again as always I am not in a good mood when I am confused and I lost the path.
It was Friday May 31th. I was not in hurry as we were going to drive there and I just wanted to cycle about 40km that day. So I just needed 3 hours time to ride that distance.
Ana came over to pick me and we left Madrid at about 12 toward Zaragoza.
After having some complicated discussion with Ana while I was in Madrid, it was nice to meet her again in a peaceful situation and refresh our friendship and actually repair it.
we decided to have lunch somewhere in the nature and she already had some take a way food with her. It was around 2:30 that we were passing Medinacelly which is a kind of old little village with some beautiful historical sites. I have passed it while cycling toward Madrid, but I passed it 1am which was too dark and I was too tired in that time of night and I saw nothing of it. So it was a nice chance for me to visit the city and have a walk around and also we could have our lunch there in a little woody bench opening to a vast and beautiful view of very fresh green hills down there under our feet.
Everywhere was green as it was middle of spring and lots of poppies field all around the place. Amazingly beautiful and I was so happy to be back on the road again where my life fits to its platform.
Surprisingly I saw she had bought some Iranian food from a Persian restaurant in Madrid!! it was amazing to have one of my favorite Iranian meal there in Spain and in the nature.
It was really kind of her and I was so happy to have it even to have Iranian desert after my meal!
It was around 6pm that Ana dropped me in Zaragoza. I was so glad to load my bike, pack and hit the road again. it was windy and I had a very strong side wind which soon after changed the direction into head wind. But I was totally fine and happy.
After 3 weeks not having any exercise I should be very kind to my body to awaken it slowly and gently as I had lots of hills to climb ahead of my way.
It was really windy and I was just enjoying it. After 30km I decided to camp and I was looking for a spot to pitch my tent. I found a little road off from the main road into the fields and I followed it. Luckily it was kind of blocked and a good sign to show there wont be any car or truck passing by. After I found a nice place on the middle of field, I pitched my tent.
as time was passing, wind was getting stronger and I came to a point which I was really scared and I couldn’t sleep. I get out of my tent to fix the cover more firmly and check it carefully again. but wind was much stronger. A little mistake could tear the tent apart which could make a very difficult condition for me. Also the wind was like shouting and it was too loud.
5am and I was still awake lying in my sleeping bag and observing movements of the tent, but I was too tired and I fell asleep finally and also wind calmed down a bit.
of course I dint leave early as I slept until 9 and I think I began to cycle around 11am.
next day was a nice cycling day and I was following a small road next to the highway. As always I cycled all day and in the afternoon I went to a little village to supply some foods for dinner. Still I haven’t cycle more than 80km and I had to cycle 100km each day to be able to get to Montpellier in 6 days. 20 km less means I had to cycle another day 120km to cover the distance. But it was fine and I had to be very careful with my body. I shouldn’t over do it in first days and I had to reach to the highest performance very slowly.
I knew that from the day 3 I will have lots of hills and I had to be in a good shape then. So I was calm and cycled gently first 3 days.
a little village and I went in to get water and food supply. As always I bought milk first and some other stuff. When I left the shop there was a guy who was watching me while his little girl a long with a little boy were playing around. HE stopped and we had a short chat, my Spanish was quite good enough to answer simple questions and I was so excited to talk as well.
he asked me what he can offer? “ I dpnt knw ? “ I answered and he replied” we have hen at home and we have plenty of eggs, so you can have some if you like!”
I went back to all my old stories and memories from people’s kindness and the need I would have after I received an offer.
That’s my style to accept whatever I receive, no matter what it is !! there is a need for it and I just should take it.
I went to his house and he asked me to have a tea if I have some times? Of course I have always time to spend with people as it is the main reason I travel. So I spend around 45min in his house and we had nice conversation.
his friend also joined us and he offered that I can stay in his place if I want to sleep in a bed? It was very tempting but honestly I needed to be out, to be in the nature and to have sky and stars over my head. I needed sound of bugs and water, wind and birds. House, bed and stuff were enough for me and I just needed to be in the nature. I refused and I just asked for some information If they know a place to camp?
he said there is a bridge in 4-5 km to cross the river, right after the bridge you can find a little road on your right hand side going down to the river. He added,” there is a little kind of concrete platform which is big enough to pitch a tent. “ he continued :” I have been always thinking how nice it could be to pitch a tent there…”
My eyes was shining and I got what I needed; food, organic eggs and guidance for a nice location for camping.
I said goodbye and left the village…the little boy followed me and asked me “ can you take me with you?” this question was amazingly beautiful and strongly proving how does it effect even a child when they see a cyclist traveling. I replied “ keep this dream with you, you will be grown up then in some years and you can do it on your own.”
after 4-5 km I crossed the road and followed the little road off from the main road down to the river and I crossed the river through a little bridge to access that platform to pitch my tent.
in 20 min I was sitting there in front of my tent and my legs were hanging down and I was relax and enjoying the sound of water while sun was setting down.
That night was so quiet and peaceful and I slept so deep as I havnt slept enough a night before.
again on the road..but again late!! I was not surprised why I am late as it was so dumpy and in the morning my tent was totally wet and I had to wait for the sun to rise and shine on my tent to dry it up. It was the things I should have done almost every day, specially I was camping all nights by the river which was even worth.
It is always hard to leave when I am camping a nice place and it was the same that day, but anyway I am supposed to move on and I packed!
It was day 3 and I knew which hills will start even though that day still it wasn’t much hard but I started climbing a bit. Fortunately following the plan I had before to reach the higher level of performance for my body was working and I was fine.
all day I was cycling and again in the evening I should look for a place to camp, such a life !! every night is the same and you never know where are you going to sleep and what are you going to eat? It is kind of mystery of daily life for me, or I would say my life on the road is kind of mystery.
the main factors I should consider to find a place to camp were, being near the water as I should appreciate the sound of water and nice weather, having early sun on my tent to be able to dry my tent in the morning when it is totally wet because of moister and of course a quiet and peaceful place and definitely it should be beautiful too.
I was cycling through a very narrow valley, a very nice and beautiful one with lots of climbing routs and it was almost late afternoon and was getting dark. I should have find a place as soon as possible before it gets totally dark and of course it is so hard to find such a place in that road. The walls are just next to the road and a river the other side of road and no access to cross the river and even no place to camp. I passed a little river merging to the main one and a little road off from the main road through a very small and
tiny valley. I stopped for a little while to observe it. Everything was just great and the only thing was morning sun which I wouldn’t have it there!
I moved to find another place but just after 500m I realized that place was just perfect and it might be so hard to find another one and also is getting dark now !! I stopped to return. I was thinking if I should return? All my logical senses were saying YES but I have never followed the logic!! I was thinking about it to collect my feelings. I knew that place is just perfect, so nice, so close and reachable BUT!! To get there I should RETURN!! That’s not my style. I have nothing to reach behind and my life has been always all ahead of me. hey Mohammad “ if you want to reach something just look forward !!” I was telling myself and I forgot about it and kept moving forward to find a place to camp even though it was almost dark…
I passed the narrow valley and I ended to an open space area where I could access to the river much easier and also there was not that big danger of flood on the river basement. ( it was spring and hard to trust to camp at the river side ). Soon after I found a road leading to the river side and a nice little corner covered by trees from 3 sides and the only open side is the one which is faced toward north-east where sun will rise in the morning!! That’s just perfect and I was quite happy to have it.
lying down in my bed, looking up at stars through my transparent tent and sound of river, they are all I want in my bed rooms which bring me entire peace.
Again I was waiting for the sun, drying up and packing the bags to get ready to move forward.
I started climbing hills and practically I entered Pyrenees which was wonderful and I was so excited for it. I knew there will be lots of hills to climb but no matter when it is amazingly nice and I just enjoy it. My legs are enough strong to comprehend and do it.
after 4 days of cycling I needed a shower and I felt which I would stay somewhere I can take a shower, so that night I went to a camp site. It was the only night I slept in a camp site in my whole journey in Europe. But still I just found the closest place to the river there. That night I was too tired and I needed to sleep as much as possible, so I bought some easy food to eat which didn’t need any preparation and I just took a shower, ate and slept so deep all night.
my last hours in Spain and leaving the country where I was feeling so good with its lovely people, where I could a bit speak with people and understand them a bit more. As always it was hard to leave it and the same time I was excited to enter a new country, a new places and of course to cross Pyrenees via Andorra.
Andorra itself was not so pleasant for me as it was so busy and crowded and lots of traffic, shopping centers and noise. While passing through Andorra I saw so many billboard with a picture of an old man with a hat! Honestly I didn’t read them. It was so funny which I was quite interested on that picture and almost I saw every single one on my way but I didn’t realize what it is and I haven’t read any of those billboards!!!
I knew that I wont be able to pass Andorra as there was a very high and long pass which I should have climbed it up to 2604m and I didn’t have time for it, so I just needed to
provide my foods and find a place to camp which was so hard when it is so crowded and people everywhere. I looked at the map and I saw if I pass the main city and some little ones after that, then it wont be that crowded anymore and I just pushed myself doing it. But of course I had to prepare again for dinner. Luckily I found a big supermarket and at the last minute before they close I supplied my food and in 5km there was a park and a little road climbing in to the woods. Right after the park there was a wonderful place and so wild with a nice view over the mountains and of course the best place to stay overnight and I just camped there.
right after starting cycling in the morning I was climbing, even I didn’t have time to warm up. I slept a night before in 1400m and I had 1250m to climb where I could see snow again.
I began to climb …it is always so pleasant to see the valley underneath. In each curve of the road I would look down proudly and I could enjoy the beauty, scenery and the courage I have to go over all those passes. It was amazingly beautiful. In one of the curves I stopped to take some pictures and while I was standing there a van stopped, just at the center of the curve careless about traffic. I loved it and the guy jumped out and asked me if I want him to take a picture for me with my bike? It was wonderful to see how he is thinking and regardless of all the laws and things, he just think that I may need someone taking a picture for me!! I really love it and this is something I would see more in south in Europe.
I looked at his van and I saw the same picture which I have been seeing in Andorra, an old man with a hat!! After he took some pictures he asked “ do you like some coffee? “ of course I like to have some here, I replied. He went to his van and returned with some pack of coffees, Andorra coffee!!! And then I realized that picture is the symbol of Andorra coffee which was quite famous in Andorra!! Then I realized why I was interested on that pictures…
over the pass I descended for a long distance and everything was regarding the timing, so I could cycle few more hours and then the next day I would have just 150km to Montpellier in a flat road.
as soon as I enter France I stopped to have a coffee and check my emails but a very heavy rain started and kept me waiting for 2 hours, so I actually lost 2 hours of my time. Then I began to ride along the river downhill and I had to cycle another 80km which was easy to reach.
a flat tire stopped me and I fixed it…again after 10km another one and I fixed it again and again the third one!! I lost another 1.5 hour and I couldn’t reach to the point I was expecting even though I cycled tll 10 in the evening.
I had no choice and I had to stay there but there will be 197km to Montpellier which is quite a lot for one day, but no way!! I had to do it.
I followed a little road heading to the south-west along a river to find a place for camping. As far as I go from the main road there would be more possible chances to find a camping spot, so I did and I found a very nice one just next to the river.
The last day I had no time to rest, to eat and I had to just cycle…luckily it was almost flat and I didn’t have head wind. So I just kept cycling. My plan was to have 5-10 min rest each hour which could help my body to have a better performance in a long period of the time.
after 12 hours of cycling ( excluding resting time ) I arrived to Montpellier at 10pm. I called Cedric who was going to host me and followed the direction to his house.
I was too tired and my muscles were totally cramped but I was not worried about it as I was going to have a day off and just rest.
10 June 2013