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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Albufera Nature Park

Albufera Nature Park hastily toured

I rode down to the Albufera nature park south of Valencia again yesterday. It was a lot easier this time since I figured out how to pick my way past all of the new construction in that area. They are renovating the entire southern port area before the America’s Cup begins this year. Once you are beyond the construction detours the road is beautiful for cycling. The highway looks fairly new and it has a wide shoulder leaving plenty of room for cyclists.

I must have seen over 500 cyclists along the route yesterday. I started out at eleven in the morning and by that time almost everyone else was returning to Valencia. There were big groups of club riders flying along the opposite side of the highway. I thought for sure that I would get passed going south by a peleton. On my side I only passed a single other rider all the way to El Perelló.

This resort town is about 14 miles from where I live, at least as the crow flies, or Google Earth flies. I scooped out this entire park on Google Earth before I left. El Albufera is a huge wetlands preserve. It reminds me of South Carolina’s low country. There are lots of dunes, sea pines, and saw palms and every sort of wading bird you can imagine. I was planning on dawdling on my way back and check out some of the back roads. I wanted to get pictures of as many of the bird species as I could. Maybe the next time I go.

I rode down around El Perell√≥ just briefly. There is a great beach there, although I still haven’t seen any places that might be good for diving. I started back north and was planning on stopping for a coffee in El Palmar a few kilometers north when I was passed by a line of about eight riders.

I don’t like getting passed. I don’t care if I am riding a cycle cross bike that isn’t built for speed and I don’t care if it is a group that is passing me. I got in the rear of the peleton and drafted for a bit before they pulled away. At one point they were about a half kilometer in front of me when I decided to turn on the gas. I stayed within a 100 meters of them all the way back to the port in Valencia. No matter how hard I tried I wasn't able to reel them back in but I thought I did well considering I was chasing eight riders on racing bikes riding in a slip stream line.

This was the best workout on a bike that I have had since I can’t remember. I plan on getting in bike-racing shape really soon. I’m still happy with my choice of a cycle cross bike but I wish I still had my racing bike. The cycle cross is definitely the right choice around town. The cobble stone streets in some parts of the old town would beat you half to death on a racing bike. I also like the fact that I can explore unpaved roads. Looking at the satellite photos on Google Earth I can see that I have a lot of off-road ground in the Albufera park.

If anyone knows how to take a photo of a Google Earth screen please let me know.

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