Lost in Teruel

Teruel, unknown territory for most of us – but this forgotten corner of Aragon (Spain) – between Valencia and Madrid – doesn’t disappoint for one moment ...

...even if after a week, and 3000 kilometres of riding, we saw only half of it.

We, yes. There’s 3 of us. Hubert on the Ténéré 600, Gaia on the XT and myself on the new Ténéré 700. Three different bikes and 3 different aproaches to one region, as not everyone has the same interests and there are so many things to discover. To avoid long, ‘where-to-next?’-discussions we had decided to split up. We all followed our own instincts and would meet up in a week’s time, somewhere yet to be decided.

Gaia loves cool, fashion, design, history, people and art. She has a soft spot for colours, patterns, structures, lines and design. She makes pictures, collects impressions. She’s an evening person. She decides to go west. 

Gaia

I follow the road until I discover the castle of Perasence, majestically dominating the top of the red Rodeno rocks and the plains below. The castle was restored in 1987, but was already built in the Bronze Age. It survived all through history, just until the kingdom of Aragon.

It has a simple elegance in its design, but with all the different levels and stairways it looks like a maze. And the view from the top is just incredible.

Since I’m in love with the layered rocks I set off again. I follow the rocks, pointing Xtina south …

I ride until Pinares de Rodeno where the pine trees merge with the sand- and limestone. The recent rain accentuates the bright green against the dark red rocks ... the colours here are so intense.

There are also caves here, with prehistoric rock art, and amazing views right across the river valley. It’s a fantastic place to stop and just enjoy.



Hubert, not shy of taking the less travelled road, decides to go off road, whenever he can. There’s plenty of tracks here in Teruel and even if they are not always accessible, when they are, they never fail to impress.

Hubert

I think I’m lost, but I don’t care.
I ride through valleys, over rocks, in the sand, on the road ...
I slide, I jump, I braaaap ...
Then I stop, and I breathe ...
... And I go again

I’m amazed by the ever-changing landscapes. The variation and the colours: the blue, yellow, grey, red and green...
This Teruel terrain fits me like a glove, and so does my bike. We feel as one. 

So I ride, and I ride... and what they say is true: I just want to ride my bike, and nothing else matters.

PJ

From where we start I quickly end up in Alcaniz. Just before I’m there I stop at Motorland Aragon. Even if you’re not interested in motorsports, most of you probably heard of Aragon circuit, with its long straight and famous wall, hosting MotoGP and World Superbikes. No wonder it’s located just outside Alcaniz – home of motorsports. Yes, I said ‘home of’. Because from 1965 Alcaniz was, like Monaco, a city with an urban racetrack. You can still follow the old Guadalupe circuit around the town – there are signs and images all along the streets and corners.

Of course Alcaniz has more to offer than just a lost racetrack. There’s historic architecture such as the church of Santa Maria la Mayor, or the old town centre, and the last pieces of the ancient city walls.

But cities are not the main characters in my stories... winding roads are. And the corners and landscapes that capture your soul. I’ve been in love with Teruel and its roads for almost 20 years.

I’m on first name terms with the A226 to Cantavieja and further beyond. 

I adore the meandering of the 1512 to Tramacastilla, the emptiness and straight long roads around Monreal del Campo. And I’m determined to come back with a story about the most remarkable Teruel road …

Gaia

I always say, things never stay the same. 

The Motorcycle Diaries website depicts the A1701 as probably the worst road in Teruel, but of course it has changed. Now the asphalt meanders beautifully along the hillside. Upon Entering Mosqueruela I notice a building that looks unfamiliar. I discover it’s an ancient laundry place. There’s a serene atmosphere here and I can imagine female voices and splashing from the past. The water in the pools is so clear, that it almost invites to take a bath… 

But it is freezing so I head off.

I’m on my way to Teruel. 

Before arriving in the city, I spot the biggest airplane parking I’ve ever seen, now I know where all the cancelled flights of these years have gone … 

The centre of Teruel feels busy. Although it is the least populated province capital of Spain

I get lost in the small city streets. Just remember there’s limited access to the centre, so better to discover by foot. I spot the Torre de la Iglesia de San Salvador and admire the colours and graphical outside walls. Through a small door, I enter a staircase following the outer walls. Arrived at the top floor, there is a fantastic 360 view over the city. Just be warned: the clocks in the tower have a deafening ring.

I cross the main square to arrive at the church of San Pedro. Once inside I’m amazed by the dark blue ceiling with golden stars. Everywhere around I see incredible details. There are also the Amantes de Teruel, a kind of Romeo and Julietta - Spanish version. 

The light that falls from the ceiling catches my eye. It leads my vision straight to the hands of the Amantes. They lay in a perfect harmony and love for eternity, it’s so romantic

To get out of the city center I follow the remains of the aqueduct. 

You can’t access it anymore, but I can’t leave without capturing the beautiful arches…

PJ

Don’t know what led me to cross the city of Teruel on a hot day, although in summer, every day is a hot day here. Cold in the morning, baking hot in the afternoon

Luckily there are always clouds. I have since long a fascination for clouds. Maybe they are another reason I like Teruel so much.

I’ve crossed the province from north to south by now, but I still haven’t found ‘the perfect road’. The one that will make it to my top of my list. I came across plenty that are almost perfect, but the special road I hope to find didn’t pop up yet. I haven’t ridden them all, so there’s still hope. 

And at the same time I have been discovering so many fascinating new places. And I’m not alone.

Hubert

From time to time I think I’m not in Spain. The landscape here looks like the Wild West. I see canyons and riverbeds and huge walls rising up next to me.

Eroded hills with marvellous winding tracks: the Rambla Barrachina. If you know to find the entree, you’ll just be loving it!

Anyway, so far every day has been different here. From the rivers to the mountains, from perfect surfaces to the worst, from trail to road, to trail again...

I follow the sun, dusk till dawn. And when I climb one more track I’m amazed of where I end up! This is the village of Albarracin, it’s pretty crowded in the centre, but from here it looks like a miniature Chinese wall, with hidden houses and a blue church rooftop, fragile like an eggshell in the evening light ...

Another thing with Teruel in the summer is that it is scorching hot. Wherever you are it beats down. So I look for some refreshment and I think I just found it: the Rio Tastavins and a wonderfull natural pool!

Gaia

Everywhere around Teruel there are little ruins: Instagram territory.

If you’re not afraid of snakes there are thousands of posts waiting for you and lost places to be discovered. Some are small, some bigger, like the convento de los Monjes Servitas – once a monastery, then a hospital, until being destroyed in the Carlist wars …

The ruins are accessible only on specific times, but it’s worth a visit as there are many sculptures that remain exposed to the sunlight. 

But not only churches lie in ruins. From a winding road I spot an abandoned industrial building softly reflecting in a laguna. I check out the buildings. It’s an old coal powered electrical factory. The main ruin is inaccessible but upon entering one of the side buildings I’m completely shocked. The walls of the room are covered with crazy mathematical formulas

It’s like a scene in my worst nightmare … Most probably it was a set for a movie or a series. The dust floating around in the light makes everything even more surreal. 

Hubert

It’s almost a week since we split but I’m still going ...

Black soil, olive trees, yellowed fields under the cloudy sky. I have the impression that there are no dirt roads left to be discovered. That’s good, as I think I can even see my destination from here!

PJ

I guess I finally found Teruel’s pearl! The perfect road! And even I think I’ve been here before, I never rode this road in sunny weather – it even has a new surface on several places. The road I’m talking about is the A1702. A riding Nirvana, on the same level as the Grossglockner, the Schwarzwaldstrasse, the Sapri coast road ...

Yes that’s a bold statement, but it has all you can wish for: perfect flowing curves, fast ones, slow ones, incredible views, changes of altitude and it’s so quiet ...No wonder it is called ‘Ruta de Silencia’

Whether you’re on the upper part around Ejulve, or the southern part towards Cantavieja, it’s impossible not to be in admiration for a road like this. You cross so many different landscapes; it totally blows your mind.

Along one of the best sections of the road, it meanders on the opposite side of the Organos de Montoro – limestone rocks pushed up vertical by tectonic movement, imitating the shape of a church Organ.
And while you’re here, don’t miss the Te70, a little road leading from the ‘Ruta de Silencia’ towards Aliaga. The surface doesn’t compare to what we were served before, but the view from the top is spell-binding.

As one can see, Teruel is nothing but unexpected and always delivers more than it promises. Especially if you’re on two wheels.

From Fonfria to Cedrillas, from Peracense to Mirambel, over the Maestrazgo to Javalambre, Orihuela; Ojos Negros, Tronchon, Alcaniz and El Castellar…

It’s just wonderfull to get lost in Teruel!

To see Gaia's Trip and download the GPX file click here!

To see PJ Route and download the GPX file click here!

 


 

 

 

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