The Road to Cristóbal

Where/what the heck is Cristóbal you might think. Well, for once it’s a small little village in the Castilla Leon region just East of the Parque natural de Las Batuecas-Sierra der Francia. I don’t think there is anything special about this place, but the SA-220 leading to it from Sequeros is very much so!

It is the absolute best road Rich and myself have ever ridden on. At least this is the first thing we both told each other as we got off the bikes for a quick break having just ridden it. Half an hour of non stop corners from long sweepers to almost switchbacks. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we.

Today promised the best weather yet with temperatures reaching 30-ish degrees and sun all day. So we had planned a 200+ miles route into another national park and to the historic town of La Alberca which looked like it was well worth the trip.

Left the hotel as early as 9:15 for our long day and crunched some miles on an N-road first which actually climbed up to around 1500 metres and had some nice long corners to remind us how this works after all those straight roads.

Then turned off onto a smaller road skirting the Northern verges of the very impressive Parque regional de la Sierra de Gredos. Yet another one of this high mountain ranges. We’ve all heard of the Pyrenees of course and maybe of the Picos de Europa, but on our tour we’ve travelled through or past another five others with peaks often topping well over 2000 metres. Pico Almanzor is the highest in the Gredos with a whopping 2591 metres.

Our A-491 twisted and turned past the Gredos with fantastic views and a fantastic road. That was more like it!!! Another yellow and brown plain connected the Gredos with the next national park. We had a quick stop and got fuel in Béjar as temperatures climbed to mid twenties.

Great start to the day

As we headed out of the plain we stayed low at first riding right next to the Rio Landrillar. Yet another brilliant hiking area in the foothills of the Sierra de Francia. Lovely open woodland, lots of trails and devoid of tourists. Amazing.

Stopped at Las Mestas a tiny yet beautiful village. Initially we just wanted a quick bum break and see the GPS to the next leg up to La Alberca, but then we fancied a cold drink and thought we’d get our luck. Being right in the “dead zone” between noon and 4pm and seemingly in the middle of nowhere we had little hope, yet this hidden away restaurant was open and was happy to serve us. Who would’ve thought!

Las Mestas

Even had a little chat with the lady about the hot weather and what it’s normally like in England and saw two Spanish Imperial Eagles circling above. We’d never ever seen eagles in their natural habitat, so this moment was very special.

Saddled up again after two cold cokes in now 30 degrees. Oof. Yet again happy for our aerated jackets.

The road to La Alberca sported a whooping eight switchbacks in a row! Too bad the road was rather bumpy and narrow. So we took it slow as we made our way up. Still enjoyed it though as the views opened up.

A picture that makes a biker’s heart beat faster
Switchback after switchback

Arrived in the scorching early afternoon sun and parked the bikes up in the shade. Once more my new top box was worth it’s weight in gold when it took both our jackets. So we could walk around in t-shirts and only had to carry one helmet each.

What a stunning place!!! And with great biking roads on the way well worth the long journey!!! Had a little wander around and then a late lunch with bocadillos, juice and coffee.

Back on the bikes we chose a slightly more direct route which should only take 2.5 hours instead of 3.5. Enter the SA-220. I don’t know about other bikers, but sometimes I feel it and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes it all just comes together and your absolutely killing it to the best of your ability.

Well on this road it all came together. It was hot, my dash showed me 34 some point. The road surface was pristine and it was wide enough to lean the bike without high-fiving oncoming traffic. And I was in a good mood and ready to race.

Leant forward on my bike and went for it. Vroom. Corner after corner after corner. Basically no traffic whatsoever. We were all alone for the next half an hour swinging left and right in a continuous rhythm without any straight bit of road. And I mean it. None whatsoever.

Stopped in Cristóbal eventually just shaking our heads in disbelief. No idea if the scenery had been any good cause all I had seen was two white lines one left, one right and gray in the middle. What a road!!! And with so much grip I had leant the bike over more than ever and really felt good and confident doing it.

It couldn’t get any better than this so we rode the remaining two hours back to Ávila with another fuel stop in between. It was still quite enjoyable and fun, but after such a fantastic day we were tired and it was hard to get any better than what we had already seen and done.

Back at the hotel at 7pm after nearly 10 hours on the road. Showers and then a victory beer on the lovely hotel garden before going back to Soul Kitchen for dinner at proper Spanish time 20:45.

Earned it

Went for the Chuletón de Avileña and a salad to share between us. Had to try one of the local dishes before we leave. And it was awesome!

Tonight’s food porn

Then back to the hotel chilling after a pretty much perfect day.

225 miles today. Don’t think we’ve ever ridden further in a day.

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