Caveat Emptor; posts from my ride will all come from my iPad so if things look and go squiffy – speellings and words that don’t make sense – I hope you’ll forgive me.
I knew that Day 1 would be a challenge. It was the first day on the bike for almost a week. The route planner showed that most of the second half of the ride would be into the mountains so any normal assessment of timing would have to be extended. Going into the mountains. Sounds romantic,doesn’t it.
More than once I thanked Anna and David in my head for persuading me that I couldn’t do Malaga to Seville in two days. I’m glad that I bowed to their superior knowledge of the road.
Anyway, Malaga had entertained me long enough and it was time to head north. I was a little later setting off than planned. I just don’t know where the time went and so at just after 8.30 I set off into Malaga’s rush hour, having previously “reckied” my route out of town. Malaga has a network of cycle routes so that was a great help early on. But what I hadn’t bargained for, and who could, was an almost gale force headwind as soon as I hit the outskirts heading west. I was almost stopped in my tracks by gusts from time to time and added to that I was beginning to realise how heavy my bike actually was now that I was carrying my worldly belongings in two bags strapped to the back.
It was grinding work and I quickly assessed that this was going to take longer than planned. But, Mrs. Monkey will be proud of me, I did the right thing. I conserved energy, knowing that I ‘d need it later too, and I gave myself all day to ride the ride and worked my way through it, eating and drinking constantly, and applying the pacing ideas that I’d worked on during my training.
With the wonders of route planning these days ( Captain Cook would have loved it) I had memorised by osmosis the route to El Burgo using my route planner and good old Google Earth. I knew then that the ground would rise before Coin and be relentless for the next 20 plus miles.
The head wind eventually dropped, thank goodness, which left me to climb the mountains. Just me, my bike, and the sun.
I kept my head up ( helps fill your lungs with air), “assumed the Froome” , and just got on with it. I am sure that I spent the last 3 hours in the lowest gear I have. I climbed and climbed and climbed some more. The route planner suggested a gentle gradient. Which, early on at least, it was. But a gentle gradient for 20 miles is a long sloooowwww climb.
I was entertained at Alozaina where a local, passing the afternoon resting in the shade by a roundabout, kept himself awake by clapping his hands once each time some traffic came by. Even I got a clap. A fraction of applause for getting this far up the mountain. He even called “Hola”. I noticed that a police car got two claps. He clearly didn’t want any trouble.
I ground away. Aware of the sun but not feeling the heat, necessarily. A cool breeze, more help in keeping me cool than a hindrance to progress, wafted by now and then. Yunquera was further than I thought but I knew that after Yunquera the road ramped up something drastic. Knowing this and having to address it after 4 and a half hours are two separate things. It ramped like hell. And then the top.
I knew that from here I could just about freewheel into El Burgo.
It had been a long, long hard climb. This is how my Garmin sees it.
As I rolled into El Burgo I felt elated. This had probably been the hardest ride I had ever completed. Pah, I spit on your English hills !