[ blog » 2023 » 09_South-West ]d20: The Void ( by Philipp Gesang, location: Puente de Genave)

The Void

Leaving Consuegra to the east I passed through Herencia, another typical "windmills on a hill" town of La Mancha. And there was wind, in fact I again had a head wind for most of the day. It was more pronounced during the first half of today’s ride however simply because that part of the country lacks any obstacles. It’s as flat as it can get. Too bad the name Spanish Netherlands is already taken, it would be most appropriate for this region.

Just as an example of how utterly monotonous the La Mancha plain is, there’s a stretch of more than 20 km leading to Argamasilla de Alba that is as straight as though drawn with a ruler over the map. Even more telling, the only settlement along those 20 kilometers is the village of Cinqo Casas that boasts of having introduced the watermelon into the local agriculture. That’s the level of boring we’re talking about. I passed through quite a few melon fields today so good on them for establishing a cash crop that actually took off. Agriculture aside I came across a few enormous concentrated solar thermal arrays in that area, so not all the radiation is converted into melons.

Sierra Morena

After more than eighty kilometers of pan flat nothingness I finally entered the hills again in the easternmost extents of the Sierra Morena. From there on it was rolling terrain of varying difficulty but nothing egregious.

The Lagunas de Ruidera were the absolute highlight of the day, a series of karst lakes sculpted by the Guadiania Viejo into a dolomite substrate. The larger Colgada laguna is partitioned on two halves by an island reachable by a wooden bridge where I spent an extensive siesta down at the water watching canoe paddlers go by.


Climbing out of the Lagunas I reached the fringes of La Mancha. No more cash crops, this is rough terrain with vast steppe-like grass cover or, in the far south, garrigue type vegetation with stubby oaks interspersed with rosemary bushes and thyme. The climate got more arid with every meter I traveled further south to the extent that at Montiel the hilltop citadel overlooks what is pretty much a desert canyon.

A short descent into the río Guadalmena gorge and I finally arrived in Andalucía while the sun was already casting long shadows. Not a minute too late as shortly after I entered the hotel a thunderstorm came down on the region with full force.

Optimal conditions today, mostly excellent roads and no delays due to repairs, so it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that I rode 205 km with 1300 m of altitude gain.

gps tracks

[view GPS data in mapbox]


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