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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Freedom Is...

Freedom is sometimes just another word for having an afternoon off on a beautiful sunny day in the Spanish countryside and discovering a lot of cool places that were heretofore unknown to you. Freedom like this is a luxury most of us don’t often allow ourselves. This is unfortunate because very often the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is simply deciding to take a new route home. This was the case for me on Friday and I enjoyed it so much that I did the same thing again on Saturday. Sometimes there is nothing that makes you feel freer than deliberately trying to get lost on a bicycle in a strange place.

I was already a few kilometers out of Valencia on Friday when I was looking at the spire of a small village church out in the distance peeking over the rooftops of Burjassot. I had noticed the church before on several occasions and I tried to think how I could get there on my bike. It’s not always easy going from point A to point B when you are out in the country in Valencia. I have been on similar quests in which I had to portage my bike over stone walls, through irrigation ditches, or under wire fences. The real strengths of bike travel are usually only apparent when you can actually ride the bike and not when it is like a weight around your neck.

I have been out to this western side of Valencia many, many times and although I always enjoy the ride I am rarely as adventurous as I ought to be. I stick to my route there and back, and that is that. Even on this trip I didn’t start off by saying to myself, “I’m going to get thoroughly lost out in the sticks and I don’t care how long it takes me to find my way back home.” I simply hesitated as I clipped into my pedals for the ride home. It was such a spectacularly sunny and warm day. I didn’t really have anything to do. I was wearing my heart rate monitor in anticipation of doing some sprint work on the way back. And then I just went off in another direction, not really thinking much about it. I thought I would see a bit more of Burjassot.

As I was riding down a hill on the back side of the village I was treated with a great view of the vast coastal plain to the north, and there was my little church a few kilometers away. I could make it there in a half a down sprints. As it turns out the village is called Carpesa and the church is the Parroquía Santos Abdon y Senen. I didn’t have my camera with me on that day so the pictures will have to wait until the next time I am there. There is one café in the village in the little square adjacent to the church. I didn’t stick around even though I was sort of hungry.

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