My rest day in Ronda had me refreshed, and happy to have taken a hotel as the Spanish weather was anything but Spanish (but what can one expect in early February). Being in a tourist town was also a refreshing break from making a fool of myself with my 10 Spanish words every time I wanted a meal.
The morning ride was a cheeky 600m ride up to Puerto de Lifa.
Followed by a much cheekier 600m descent from Puerto de Lifa on some challenging singletrack, a little river crossing and some lovely scenery.
This was much more of what I’d expected from the Transandalucia. Despite my lack of MTB experience the white knuckle descent was generally do-able with only the occasion bit of walking down hill. Probably about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
The river crossing would be a great place for a picnic in Spring or Summer, but at 3 degrees on a sunny winters day I thought it best to just push on and stay warm. The next 450m climb the ideal way to stay warm.
The coming hours I climbed through olive groves then I zoomed the 600m downhill over the last 8km to Ardales with a super tailwind just as a storm approached. Being the softy I am I once again took refuge in a hotel for the night. Spain is one of the few countries I’ve travelled in where its still possible to get a single room. At €20 B+B and a three course meal for €10 I was very happy to be indoors and miss the storm.
The next day brought a series of short climbs up the the reservoir above El chorro and stunning rugged views of this beautiful part of Spain.
And what goes up, must come down. I had no idea going downhill could be such hard work. The 350m drop in less than 2km was heavy on the wrists to say the least. Sadly the photo’s don’t do this awesome goat track justice. Stretches like this are when you really feel the difference of a sleek backpacking set up rather than bulky panniers snagging on rocks and trees.
I pushed on to Antequera that day and arrived broken after another day with 1500m climbing.
The beautiful morning ride out of Antequera was spoiled with a puncture moment, not a problem usually, but with cold hands and tyres covered in mud and gravel, it took me a couple of attempts to fix the puncture properly, you’d think I’d be better at this by now. Though the backpacking set up did save a lot of hassle compared to panniers.
The afternoon brought more climbing, scenery and my first glimpse of things to come.
I once again arrived in town tired, broken and cold as I peddled into Ventas de Zafarraya marking the end of the Malaga stage of the Transandalucia and another day with 1500m of climbing. I turned up to the small hotel in town just as the restaurant was closing and asked about a room. Apparently the hotel was actually closed but with a little smiling, looking pathetic and a little smooth talking by the barmaid on my behalf to her boss, I was allowed to take room for €15 if I was prepared to let myself out without breakfast in the morning…..Deal.
After a quick shower I hobbled next door to the pizza place. The waitress in her best ‘you stupid tourist’ Spanish tried to explain that two kebab burrito’s is an aweful lot of food for a skinny lad. I insisted that I was very hungry so did want two. Twenty minutes later she looked very disappoint as I handed over two empty plates and asks for the dessert menu. She’d obviously never met a hungry cyclist I guess.
Cheers to cyclists everywhere, and to our buffet destroying skills 🙂
Coming soon, cycling in Granada…..
Note : I haven’t included detailed info on the route or accommodation as both are very well covered by the data provided by the volunteers @ www.transandalus.org (including Transandalucia GPS tracks)