On my birthday my wife suggested I took the bike away for a couple of days. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, the following morning I set off, for a weekend in the Valencian mountains. Unfortunately, the then-current Covid restrictions meant I couldn't leave the Communidad de Valenciana and cafe, bars etc closed early causing a few issues, more of that later.
After a hasty packing session, I was ready for the off. It was a simple plan, as are most last minute, to ride inland of Valencia and find some of the reservoirs I have heard about.
I had no reason to set off early as I wasn't going very far from home, so had a leisurely breakfast with my wife and set off at around 10.30 am, heading inland towards the village of Planes for a coffee and cake. After Planes, it was Alcoy and then onto a bigger road towards Valencia, before heading inland on a motorway to cover some miles.
Just beyond Utiel on the N111, you come to the Embalse de Contreras, which was the first dam/reservoir of the day. The old road weaves its way down and over the Puente de Contreras, which crosses the Rio Cabrial and also the border between the Communidad Valenciana and Castilla La Mancha, this caused me a little trouble as I wanted to take pictures from the other side but due to the Covid restrictions, I was not allowed to cross the border. I could have broken the rules briefly, and did, to turn the bike around, but left it at that, it gave me an excuse to go back another day.
Puente de Contreras
Heading back to Utiel, I then took the CV390 towards the second reservoir of the day the Embalse de Benageber, passing through the countryside there are occasional restaurants, which started me thinking about lunch, it was starting to get late but most were quite busy and I didn't fancy sitting inside on such a nice day with dozens of people not wearing masks, so pushed on to the Embalse.
Between Utiel and Embalse de Benageber on the CV390
This one is a little bigger than the first with a tunnel just before, so the first real glimpse is as you pass through and see the water on your left and the open valley on your right. I had a little walk around to take some pictures before setting back off through the next tunnel and around the reservoir.
Embalse de Benageber
Embalse de Benageber
Embalse de Benageber
Rising up from the Embalse de Benageber, the road follows the side of the reservoir for a good few miles before passing through a short tunnel, over a ridge and down into the next valley.
Stopping in the village of Tuéjar I looked for an open bar/restaurant as it was around 4.30 pm and time for a very late lunch or early dinner, much to my surprise most were shut, the one still open had stopped serving food. The current Covid restrictions had all non-essential businesses, including bars/restaurants closing at 6 pm, which I hadn't really thought too much about as I was enjoying the views.
Following the CV390 until its end at the junction with the CV35 I turned right towards Valencia and out of the mountains, this way the places I passed through would get bigger and I had a better chance of something being open. I stopped in Chelva, then Losa de Obispo, there was a bar still serving but they had no bread left, couldn't do hot food so offered me a plate of Russian Salad, not really what I was after so I passed. At this point I was starting to think about heading home, instead of booking a hotel if I couldn't get anything to eat, it was going to be a problem.
A few km's further along I spotted a Lidl sign and headed for the supermarket, 10 minutes later I was sat by my bike in the car park with a litre of orange juice a litre of water and a selection of treats from their fresh bake counter including a mini calzone pizza, cheese straws, doughnuts etc, I possibly went a little overboard and had to pack some in my pannier.
Once fed and watered and feeling much happier I opened the Booking.com app on my phone and booked a hotel for the night. Ad Hoc Parque Golf in Betera, was a great place to stay, very comfortable, with good facilities although I didn't use most of them.
After finishing off my snacks and taking a well-earned shower I fell asleep watching TV.
Waking up bright and early for a new adventure, breakfast in the hotel was a little basic and expensive as they could not put on their usual buffet, but it was adequate and tasty.
Breakfast at the Ad Hoc Parque Golf
Heading out of Betera on the CV35, back the way I had come the night before, the weather was glorious, if a little cold at around 8 degrees. Past the Lidl that saved the trip, through Losa de Obispo, before finally turning left onto the CV3960 towards the third and final reservoir of the weekend, the Embalse de Loriguilla. This was another old road through the countryside, but has some great views so is well worth it. Rounding a bend the beautiful shimmering, blue, water came into view. Helped by the early morning sun, it looked stunning, and I half expected to see a small touristy town with boats for hire, no such luck. There were quite a few cars and a couple of minibuses though as it is an area popular with hikers, mountain bikers etc.
Unfortunately, you cannot ride over the dam, you are instead, directed down the valley and over a small bridge before climbing the other side, I did stop for the obligatory photos though.
Embalse de Loriguilla
After a little walk around and across the dam I checked Google Maps and headed for the village of Chera via the CV3960, this became a little problematic as I couldn't find the road, it seemed to just go to the offices at the dam but no further despite the fact it appeared on Google Maps. After a little more investigating, it turned out that the gravel path the hikers were taking was in fact the road. Heading up the gravelly hill, I started to wonder whether it was a good idea or not but carried on anyway. As it turned out it, was a great idea, it was about 20km of mostly well-graded gravel road, wide to start and then narrowing as I got further from civilization, but really enjoyable. There were a few moments of trepidation and what if's, but it all went well, I will be better prepared next time. The gravel road wound its way up and over a few hills and around others in small valleys but most of the time the views were superb, I just need to go back now to enjoy them some more.
I was relieved once I arrived at the village of Chera and took the CV395 to Sot de Chera for lunch, this road is superb clinging to the side of the valley as it winds along, it's not far, but superb. Lunch in Sot de Chera was a simple affair sat outside a typical Spanish bar in a small village. Bread, Bravas, Queso Frito, Café con Leche and a coke, what more could you want.
After the break, I retraced my steps, back through Chera and on to Requena, after the initial tight twists and turns it opens out a little into a fast-flowing road with some superb bends, great for the GSA. From Requena, I took the N330 south and then headed east through Alcoy and back towards the coast and home.
All in all, it was a superb couple of days away, visiting places not too far from home, that I had not been to. I have plans to return though.
Total distance: around 700km
Enjoy the video.