Madrid to Atienza

Madrid to Atienza

The morning arrived. Panniers attached. I’m on the streets just after sunrise. It only took a few hundred metres, and the previous nights apprehension has gone!

First stop, a Correos de España (Post Office) 📯 to send a few items back to the UK. Well, that was a way better experience than I’ve had in any UK Post Office. Very helpful, even with the language barrier. Google Translate is great, and the app on a phone can be set off-line too! They even had bike boxes on sale for the discerning bike traveller!

Next stop, the train 🚇 Why the train … well, since the city is sizable (bloody huge!), it would take me two days of suburb cycling just to get to my start of the El Camino del Cid (pilgrims route). No thanks!

Unbelievable €6 for a train journey that’s over an hour! And the sales person said most Spanish think this is expensive! They’d better not do trains in the UK, then!

I needed the toilet 🚾 which was up an escalator or stairs … no lifts! Going up was fine, but down on the escalator I nearly lost it as the acute angle and weight virtually got the better of me. It was absolutely that close to ending my journey before it had barely started! I won’t be doing that again. Next time I’m peeing 🔫 against the wall!

I arrived on the platform with time to spare, but was standing in the wrong place for the bicycle carriage ie. the area that was marked ‘bicicleta’ carriage! The train driver observed me as he passed, but as I legged it up to the gone-well-past-me ‘bicicleta’ carriage, the twat 😠 pulled off! 30 minutes till the connecting train. Pole Pole!

Arrived in Guadalajara. Garmin (GPS) on. Follow the magenta line. An hourly later I was lost! 🙄

Eventually, after some faffing about here and there I worked out the route on the GPS was correct, just a dam freeway was over it now! After a wasted hour I got my bearings. The road was broad and quiet. Happy days!

Now, mid afternoon and I’m on the look for a wild camping spot early. As it’s my first night out wild camping, I like to get into the swing of it well before sunset! Eventually, a spot found between a couple of nurtured fields. More stealth really.

In fact, it turned out to be an excellent spot, I thought, only to be rumbled first light as a couple of hunters strolled up the ridge above me. D’oh! 🙄 Both created me with “Hola”. They weren’t fussed in the slightest! The morning vista was beautiful. Pack up and off before anyone else decides to make a visit!

As ever, after an hour or two I’m on the look out for a pleasant spot for a second breakfast ☕ Ideally with a seat/bench to also dry the tent out.

A tent 🏕️  will get wet due to the condensation build up between the two layers (inner and outer rain fly). This is quiet normal. That’s why it’s best to use a two layered tent. In a one skin tent the condensation would then build up on the only skin ie. in the tent! There’s not always condensation, though, it wholly depends on the ambient humidity. If it’s blustery night 🌬️ hardly any condensation due to the excessive airflow.

So far the route has been very good. Mainly small back roads and very few cars. People are friendly with plenty of ‘Hola’s 🇪🇸 Not so sure they see many bicycle travellers, let alone tourists in this neck of the woods at the best of times. And, considering the pandemic, I may be the first for a long time. As this is a pilgrim route, obviously not short of churches, and with that, I climb up a serious gradient to visit one and have a spot of lunch in the shade. Namely, Iglesia Parroquial de San Miguel ⛪

Not long after leaving the church I hit a steady climb up onto what seems a plateau. I pass some wonderful spots in dense woods to wild camp. But I’m thinking, it’s just too early and I motor on as I’ve not enough water 🚰 anyhow. Next, I’m on a fast descent off the plateau into Castejón de Henares.

After filling up with water at Castejón de Henares, I’m soon heading off down a track in search of a wild camping 🏕️ spot for the next night or two! It was a moderate effort to get to, but the best wild camping spots usually are. I say two, as I plan on a rest day. It’s been go-go-go since departing Perth, so the rest will be well received. Why rush!

I very rarely get rumbled (not including the night before!!), but a local farmer or hunter saw my tent. With the light drizzle ☔ this created a sheen, and then with the sun coming out, it was no better than a mirror (reflective)! He clambered up seeking me out after coming off the phone. I observed him all the while! He spoke no English (surprise) and unless I asked for a tapa’s or a coffee, that’s all he would get from me! After some gesturing 👐 I gathered he was more interested how I got up here with my bicycle? I made out best I would leave, but he did indicate I could stay. It was mid-morning, so I was graciously pleased.

It rained 🌧️ lightly through the night. Not normally a problem, until I had to push my bike on the edge of a ploughed field! A handsome stick was acquired to remove the offending mud!

Again, as is the morning ritual, discover a spot for coffee, porridge and tent drying. A play ground this time.

As I’ve mentioned I’m on a pilgrims route 🛐 The Way of El Cid! It’s proving an extremely good choice. As it meanders through rolling countryside, on incredibly quiet back roads.

Wild camping no.3 takes me up away from the road again and into wooded ground 🌳🌳 I’m staying carefully concealed this time. No tracks, signs of human habitation or mans detritus! I’m more in tune with my environment.

The nights are definitely chilly but nothing un towards. I’ve enough gear to keep me comfortable, with a few more layers to throw on if really cold. Anything under -5° I consider really cold! Actually, I think I’m cold 🦎 blooded!!

Two things heard during the night; the occasional bark from deer 🦌 making a fuss about why I’m here and the sound of gun shot … more on that later!

The days are now feeling as if I’ve never been off the bike 🚵‍♂️ from of my bicycle journeys. It also feels right to be doing it, and most importantly, it really is where I’m at most peace. Except for gun shot!

The following night I searched out for a room. Its fairly cheap at €30. Stock up on supplies and a chance for a full-on-meal away from pasta, tuna and sweetcorn. The latter never happened due to Covid 😷 Everywhere shut. Unlike Madrid!!

The Hotel Rural El Mirador in Atienza for two nights it is then!

Photos generally shot with a Fujifilm X100T. Click on photos for expanded viewing.

The map is interactive. Click on the route or icons for photos.