Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Alcanar by bike

It was time this morning to prepare a sermon for this coming Sunday. Then I cycled around the district to check that my legs were OK from yesterday's resumption of activity before lunching on green salad with an experimental hummous, made using lentils as well as chick peas, olive oil, a whole lemon, plus a lime which had remained hidden from sight for several weeks and was quite tough to peel. I was pleased with the outcome, and resolved to get some more limes to go with the lemons I bought yesterday. None in the local mini-market, however.

After an hour or so of TV Olympics, the bike called to me again, so I road up the Costa Norte, on through the Jardi de Sol de Riu, carried the bike across the barranco to Catalunya on the other side, and rode the  well appointed Cami de la Costa (replete with both cycle track and jogging path) from there into the holiday resort of Las Cases d'Alcanar. The beach along this 2km stretch is entirely limestone pebbles and in the middle of the day, not well populated. In a couple of places on the beach war-time pill-pox defense installations sit. They have been overwhelmed by coastal erosion, and look incongruous, albeit intriguing.

After a couple of kilometres of coast road lies Las Cases d'Alcanar, a big village with a small harbour serving as a marina for a few hundred boats, and a wide promenade with a scattering of attractive looking restaurants. They were all full, as it was Spanish lunch time. The village has a campsite near the N340, and numerous holiday apartment blocks, but it gave the impression of being less densely packed, smaller and more spacious than Vinaròs. I also noticed how few advertising hoardings were visible around the streets, making for a relaxed appealing townscape.

With 10km behind me, I called at the Spar mini-market to get drinks to carry with me, then headed out of town towards the N340 highway, whose very busyness isolates the village. You can turn straight off the road to get to the town in either direction, by there's no modern junction of flyover to make this safe. As I couldn't see if there was a road on the opposite side which I could take that would end my on my way towards Alcanar, it took me an age to figure out how to cross safely, and find the country lane I needed. No tunnel, no flyover to cross the N340. I guess few people bother to cross here.

Anyway, by riding around the area, I identified my country lane opposite, waited for a quiet moment and ran my bike across to the other side, From there, it was mostly uphill through orange orchards, and past quarries and chicken farms for 5km to get to Alcanar itself, a hill town with a mediaeval heart overlooking the plain with a view of Vinaròs, about 10km away. The town revealed more of interest than when we'd driven through it to L'Ermita de Remei nearly three weeks ago.
There are lots of narrow streets and an historic town plan dating back to the 16th century if not earlier, for that is when the Parish Church of San Miquel was built. It's a town which has changed its appearance as well as expanding its boundaries, thanks to the wealth created from limestone quarrying on the east side of the Montsia mountains which define this coastal area.

On the 8km ride back to Vinaròs on the straight roads that intersect the vast orchards of the plain, my left pedal worked loose, making me nervous as I rode down the busy N328, unable to effect a repair. Mercifully I spotted a side road which followed a barranco down towards the sea. This enabled me to limp the last few kilometres of the journey, down to an intersection with the N340 which was less of a hazard to cross, and this landed me back in Zona Saldonar where I'm staying. A 22km round trip, much enjoyed, and enough energy left to cook paella for supper.

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