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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Leg-Powered Entertainment

For about the past month or so I have been going completely ape shit with the bike riding. I pedal for over two hours a day, five and sometimes six days a week. There isn’t much rhyme or reason to my training; I just get on my bike and ride as hard as I can. I left my pulse rate monitor at home and I don’t have a computer on my bike so there is not much of a way for me to gauge my progress. I haven’t really thought about it much. I just love to ride and there are some fantastic areas to explore just south of town.

A new section of the beach bike trail has just been completed which connects to the trail from Valencia. This begins in the middle of town on the south end of the Ciencias complex. You can get on the trail here which takes you to the edge of Nazaret, an old neighborhood near the port. There is a pedestrian bridge over the highway and after you ride over this there is a new trail that goes farther south to Pinedo. There is a new bike bridge over the Turia River here that is very welcome because crossing on the vehicle side of the bridge was always a little frightening. From here the trail goes along the beach at Pinedo.

On weekends and holidays the beach is crowded and I usually forgo the bike trail for a back street where I can ride a lot faster. It’s hard to beat the scenery at the beach, however, so sometimes I sacrifice speed for bikinis. Yesterday I also broke up a dog fight. A dog that was off-leash ran up to a guy who was walking his dog. Both where medium size dogs and the off-leash pooch began to get aggressive. The guy started swinging his dog around by the neck trying to keep the two mutts from making contact. I saw it all happening as I was riding down the boardwalk. I stopped and shouted at the off-leash dog. He immediately stopped and ran away. You just have to know how to talk to dogs.

Just past Pinedo is a brand new section of beach and bike trail that is just beautiful. The bike trail is wide and completely separated from the pedestrian path. This new section is probably about three kilometers long. It ends abruptly in the sand. Past this there is a cool abandoned factory that looks like a movie location for the end of the world. I walk my bike through the sand and rode through the factory. There used to be an open gate on the other end of the factory but it was closed yesterday. I looked for another way out, but, short of climbing over a three meter wall with my bike, it looked like I would have to back-track around the factory. As I was riding back I noticed that the metal gate I passed on previous rides had a hole in it. I was able to wiggle my bike past the gap in the fence, climb through myself, and continue riding south.

Immediately south of the factory the trail continues, but only for another half kilometer or so. You need to get back on the highway and ride for maybe two kilometers until you reach El Saler where the trail picks up again along another great beach area. This is also where the sand dunes begin and the entire area is being preserved as a nature reserve. The beach trail ends at a gravel road that has a chain across it to keep cars out. I can either continue south along this road or go a little inland and take a trail that goes through the dunes and marshes.

This whole area is like a dream-come-true for anyone with a cycle-cross bike. The gravel roads are hard-packed and fast so you really don’t need a mountain bike which seems to be the overwhelming favorite among most cyclists who don’t have road bikes. There are few places that you can go on a mountain bike where I can’t follow on my cycle-cross, and my bike is loads faster on the bike paths and gravel roads. A road bike is useless on anything but the paved surfaces so my bike is a great compromise. I still bristle at getting passed on the highway by racing bikes but as my fitness improves it is getting harder and harder for the racers to get by me.

South of the El Saler public beach is a huge expanse of sand dunes, deserted beaches, lagoons, marshes, and trails. It looks that at one time they were planning to develop this area for commercial and residential use but changed their minds and made it into a wilderness sanctuary. There are abandoned roads zigzagging all through this area. There are also lots of trails for hikers and bikers. I find something new to explore almost every time I ride through. I am often asked directions down there and they definitely have asked the right person. I probably know this entire area as well as anyone.

I should probably be exploring another side of Valencia’s outskirts. I already have ridden a lot on the north end of the beach but I have yet to go inland towards the mountains.

I carry a backpack water reservoir that holds about two liters. On some days this isn’t enough and it isn’t even summer. I also carry two spare tubes and a tire patching kit. I haven’t had a flat in a long time, although my folding clown bike has a flat right now that I’m too lazy to fix. I usually carry along a bag of nuts and dried figs and dates just in case I go completely overboard and bonk-out somewhere far from home.

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