Distance: 89 miles
Total Distance: 326 miles
I slept late in my big, comfortable bed and had a leisurely breakfast, drawing it out as long as possible before I had to get back on the bike. I justified my laziness by telling myself a big breakfast would make me faster and more energised. To be fair this was probably true. I made sure to steal plenty of snacks from the breakfast buffet on my way out to fuel me throughout the day.
Reluctantly I set off, heading out of town back into the barren countryside and sure enough, with my full stomach and rested mind I was feeling good and making fast progress.
I was out of the mountains, at least for now. The terrain was completely flat and the roads mercifully empty. Although I was glad for a little bit of relief from the tough terrain of yesterday, it was monotonous. The scenery was unchanging for the entire day. Brown and yellow plains stretching for miles. Long, straight roads on which the horizon never seemed to get closer. No sound but my own breath and the wind in my ears. Nevertheless I embraced the monotony, losing myself in my thoughts and staving off boredom with some joyful singing.
I rode from one identical town to the next, each linked by identical flat stretches of identical road. Riding through the heart of the Castilla-La Mancha region, every town had a tribute to Don Quixote as its centrepiece. I tried to enjoy the moment, taking the day one mile at a time and suppressing thoughts of times, speeds and distances.
It was an uneventful day but the riding was pleasant and I was having a good time. Around 7pm I started thinking about a plan for camping for the night. I knew I would have trouble finding a spot to camp, if today’s terrain was anything to go by. I checked Google Maps for inspiration and discovered that about 15 miles ahead, if I turned off onto a dirt road and followed it for about a mile, I would come to a lake.
I’m a big fan of lakes and always try to camp by one where I can as they make the best backdrops to a nights sleep. Plus it would make a nice change from stealth camping in farmers’ fields. I had no idea what else I would find there but it was the closest thing to a plan I had so I headed lakewards, hopeful.
An hour or so later I turned off the main road, and before long I had reached the lake – Laguna de Peñahueca. Any plans for a refreshing evening swim were unfulfilled, as the lake was completely dried out. Just a flat white expanse of sand. But it was still just as beautiful without any water in it.
There was a nice cool breeze over the lake bed as the daylight faded. A hundred metres or so from the road, I blew up my sleeping pad for another night under the stars and ate my dinner facing one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life.