Spain: Albacete to Baza – lessons in less than the best weather (with small child)

This post starts a mini-series telling the tale of 2 fat-bikes, a trailer and a 3 year (plus his parents) in southeastern Spain in May 2016.

Some more touring time was (is always) needed – a few weeks before departure the time ‘appeared’ and some hurried decisions about ‘what’ were required.  We took advantage of Logan‘s explorations and got as far as ‘something in Spain’ before booking flights.  We didn’t actually get much further than that until we got to Madrid.

What followed was three weeks of travel by bike, neatly bisected by some reasonably yucky weather – particularly with a three year old in tow.  Mostly because I couldn’t cut the photos down beyond a certain point there will now be 3 blog posts, including some thoughts on transporting babies and toddlers off-road for any length of time.

Getting out of civilisation always takes a bit of doing - in our case a media distancia train from Madrid to Albacete (much to the consternation of the conductor who felt that fat tyres not fitting in the racks provided really wasn't the done thing)
Getting out of civilisation always takes a bit of doing – in our case it turned out to be a Media Distancia train from Madrid to Albacete (much to the consternation of the conductor who felt that fat tyres not fitting in the racks provided really wasn’t the done thing)
Heading for the hills - following Logan's Altravesur route
Heading for the hills – following Logan’s Altravesur route from Albacete to Granada
Gloves? Socks for hands were requested ;-) (must be chilly as he normally needs to be blue-lipped to admit to needing more than a t-shirt and shorts)
Gloves? Socks for hands were requested ;-) (must be chilly as he normally needs to be blue-lipped to admit to needing more than a t-shirt and shorts)
Following an altitude-maintaining traverse above Alcaraz there's some walking - helping us past a couple of steep pulls and he enjoys being useful
Following an altitude-maintaining traverse above Alcaraz there’s some walking – getting us past a couple of steep pulls and he enjoys ‘helping’.
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Logan’s route sticks as closely as possible to the GR7 trekking route. We would have enjoyed this descent much more if we hadn’t been trying to get a sleeping toddler in a two-wheel trailer down it too. Not to spoil the punchline of the upcoming trailer post, but it would have been somewhat easier with just one trailer wheel to deal with!
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All things pass (with a significant parental stubborn streak, brute force and a heavy sleeping passenger). Better times followed
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Free-form journeying has to be a little more cautious with Bryn around – though the food shopping that followed our emergence into a town the next morning wasn’t quite as desperately needed as had been anticipated the previous lunchtime when contemplating dinner from the dregs of the food bag (it’s amazing what you can combine into a meal)
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Topping up the toddler with peanut butter – surprisingly difficult to find in rural Spain. Something overly sweet and guaranteed to induce vegetable rejection in comparison? Much easier…
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The smallest village has a playground, and sometimes wifi to keep the adults happy too
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Our Alpkit Ordos 3-person tent managed the increasing downpours well. Even if we’d planned to spend every night indoors having a shelter like this with us would have been worth packing for peace of mind
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More thanks to Logan for pointing us in the direction of the GR247. It’s well signposted and without toddler pretty doable as is. We ended up making some adaptations due to the trailer and rain (available as .gpx files if needed)
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Heading south rather than north meant some team effort was required on this stretch of hairpin single-track.
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There’s a network of huts only for those that don’t arrive by car. This one was very welcome
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Some spare daylight allowed us to de-soak the tent and get a brew on
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The next day we mostly managed sunshine and no rain. Bryn chose his spot at whim from Thule Chariot CX1 and Yepp Maxi (along with walking). Descent always un-nerves us…
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Some trail markers have a little customisation!
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Sans toddler we ‘might’ have considered hauling our bikes/gear up the steps. It’s amazing how far from our minds that is with a different ‘frame’ and less to prove ;-)
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Semi-sideways rain and sodden ground favours rapid arrival somewhere dry (mostly from the adult perspective – the toddler still thinks this is ‘fun’ – thankfully)
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This is (definitive) ‘dry’ :-) A couple of hours spent dripping on the floor while re-warming all concerned with food and beverages in a local ‘Almerzo’ bar was well-spent when the bar-tender leads us to the ridiculously cheaper (when you’ve got it to yourself) Posada el Perchel.
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A day without rain (in hindsight) – weaving a path through a glorious mountainscape
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limestone earth-bones protruding
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A pause to imbibe – with Bryn in the trailer behind me, a solo moment for her with space just to savour – without sometimes impatient interruption.

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After some evening hill-climbing to use up unspent energy and his mother supplied with tea, it’s down to the serious business of pre-dinner book reading at the refugio
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This refugio became our home for most of a day and night – after balancing wet weather, progress requirement and the goodwill of our smallest companion
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This, like most of the refugios on the GR247, had been refurbished in recent years (including space for bicycles and a trailer!)
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The following morning…  It was pretty soggy
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With plenty of slick, clay-like mud
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Thankfully (amazingly) our bikes worked just fine with extraordinarily little fuss
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The day ended with a good old-fashioned sodden-clothing explosion.

More to follow – the 2nd half of our Spanish adventure, and some reflections on keeping up our adventures con-toddler.

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