Avila would be the last main town before riding through the Sierra de Madrid, over a series of summits around 1100m – 1300m. That would be my plan for Saturday, first just I need to get through the 50-odd km to Avila.
The first 30 km were similar to the last few days, gently rolling arrable plains. Despite the tiring head-wind I was on course to enjoy a famous Avila T-Bone steak for lunch. Then I began to approach the climb up to Avila. the net elevation gain to Avila would be around 300m, but the rolling nature of the climb meant I would gain 30m and then descend 20m before repeating again. climbing 60m to gain 20m and be faced once more with another climb.
With the elevation came the wind and the cold once more. Eventually I made it to the famous city walls, and followed my way around them until I found a hotel. I took the first room they offered me and enjoyed the glory of a warm room, a soft bed and TV. I collapsed onto the bed and and fell into a heavy siesta.
When I awoke a couple of hours later I felt guilty for wasting my time Avila. I felt I should be soaking up the atmosphere of this medievel World Heritage site, instead of slobbing under the duvet dozing to trashy daytime TV.
But then I turned my attention to my task for the Saturday. I would be climbing some serious mountains for at least half of the day, and then hopefully camping in one of two campsites around 60-70 km from home. Besides, Avila is a day trip by car, we often come for lunch, so why the pressure to play tourist now. I should just revel in the fact that I am nearly home, enjoy my first half-day off since setting out from Santiago 9 days ago, and conserve my energy for tomorrow.