Pantano de Tous
The dam of Tous is located in the Ribera Alta region, northwest of Xativa, which dams the Rio Júcar that runs for approximately 316 miles (509km) from its source at Ojuelos. It is a massive structure that we can see all the way from the mountainside of Xativa. I even recall my cousin Bader telling me about it in the early 2000s.
The village of Tous (where the dam got its name) was originally located on the banks of the Rio Júcar, behind where the dam sits today. However, in 1970, the dam's construction forced the residents to relocate to the mountain's eastern side.
Although some of the important old buildings were moved out stone by stone to the new location. The rest of the village is still intact at the original site, underwater. Depending on the water level, you can see the Tower, Castle, houses, and even the streets of the old village submerged underwater. The reservoir is massive, so I wonder what is underwater!
Roman reached out on Instagram when he saw Sukho and I riding around Xativa. The world got smaller that day. Roman has been keeping up with the OMTM rides and Dklien EBD content on social media. It always amazes me how things like that happen, thanks to the internet!
I've spent a lot of time in Xativa throughout my childhood, a stone's throw away from where Roman grew up. Then lived in the US and met all of the wonderful people of the OMTM group. Only to complete that circle by going back to Xativa and meeting Roman.
This is an excellent example of what social media can sometimes do.
Despite Roman's busy schedule, we get out on a lunch ride to the Pantano, which pretty much sits in his backyard. I'm always up for when locals offer to show me around their neck of the woods. I know I enjoy doing that and can imagine it being the same for others.
We took the back roads to the current location of the village of Tous. A massive network of farming roads with little to no traffic most days. Which is something that sets this area apart from the rest of Valencia.
Onwards to the Port de Tous, just outside the village. The main climb to the east side of the reservoir, viewpoint, and protected wilderness. It might not come as a surprise to you, but the climb reminded me a lot of Southern California. There's a significant resemblance between Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo and this area of Valencia.
Spain never ceases to amaze me with their efforts in nature conservation. They do experience wildfires and landslides, almost in the same manner as they would in California. However, there seems to be a more robust effort to maintain the land in Spain, even though people have been living here continuously for thousands of years. Not throwing shade at California, although they need it there. This is just an observation.
The road meanders up the hill, with views of the east and west. On a clear day, you can see the Mediterranean and the sprawling city of Valencia in the distance.
It is easy to see why this is a local favorite, which I haven't ridden before. The Port of Tous offers a fast escape into the mountains away from the usual roads in the basin. The roads on top of the mountain shoot in every direction, most of which are accessible on a bike.
Although the pavement ends at the viewpoint of the reservoir, the gravel roads are in excellent shape, when dry at least! It is not uncommon for the gravel roads around this area to be impassable during or after heavy rain. And unless you got good clearance, you don't want to be riding it, pure peanut butter, the chunky kind too.
No wonder the flood of 1982 was so destructive, one of the largest in Spain's history. The reservoir is much larger than it looks in the picture above. It actually extends north towards the mountains in the distance. Interestingly enough, throughout March 2022, it rained heavily for 17 days straight. Which raised a lot of concern about flooding and landslides.
I was there to witness the torrential downpour; not even living in the PNW prepared me for that much rain. Luckily, no severe damage happened to our area. However, a handful of mountain passes experienced landslides, and the valley floor flooded for a few weeks after the rain subsided.
We followed the leading gravel lines back to the Júcar basin under the Cumulus clouds and amongst the sagebrush. Occasionally passed by olive farms and watering holes that seemed to have been there for hundreds of years, untouched & unbothered.
The road loops back to the bottom of the dam, near my favorite village to grab coffee at, Sumacarcer. Home to a local legend & ex-pro cyclist, Ricardo.
This route hit all the right notes. It got views, no traffic, gravel, and good company.
Thanks, Roman, Hasta Pronto!