5am. A rooster opens up conversation with a braying donkey somewhere on the hillside. I put them on “snooze” and roll over. I planned to be up early for the longest ride of the trip so far (60 miles) and there was chill in the air as I stepped out into the Algo morning. I intended to take my time since I knew that it was going to get a lot hotter as I neared Seville.
I have resolved to stop at each petrol station and buy cold water. I have two plastic bottles on board and am drinking like a fish but in this sun the water quickly heats up and after about 40 minutes it is almost undrinkable. I do drink, of course, until there is a top up. But it is pretty blahh! I wonder if I had steel bottles I could sit by the roadside and make tea. Now there’s an Englishman abroad.
My prep notes told me that I should check that I have everything I need at El Coronil since after that point, for another 30 odd miles,there are long stretches of notmuchness.
As the sun rose I rolled along at a great pace through grand rolling masses of golden wheat fields and sunflowers, just breaking out their yellow fanned faces. I have fallen in love with these Spanish roads already. I careered downhill at 30 miles an hour safe in the knowledge that there won’t be a pothole somewhere to tip me on my arse.
I did, however,notice a slight front wheel wobble which I put down to an imbalance in the bagging area and so I pulled into El Coronil to fix it.
This delightful little town is a kilometer off the main road. Cars whip by the junction on the A376, heading for Ronda or Seville, not realising that down the hill is a gem. I suspect that it is really a modest little white washed town as many of them are but someone had a grand scheme. You roll into El Coronil along an avenue of palm trees!
I am losing track of the days already. Today is Sunday, and at 11 am in El Coronil, prayers said for the day, the gentry find a shady spot in the square to trade newspaper stories and diagnose creaking ailments. Bars are starting to open. People hail their friends for intense exchanges as if they haven’t seen them for all of a few hours.
I sipped a coke, ate honey and tostados, and wiped dead flies from my shins. This is the life.
By 1.30 I had about 12 miles to go to Seville. I messaged my hostess from a petrol station ( cold water) to say that I would be early. No problem. I was beetling along.
Oh, how pride comes before a fall.
My plan was to enter Seville by a route that would take me directly to my apartment and by some fortitude the sliproad from the service station took me straight to the junction that I needed. I couldn’t believe my luck. But the Mr.Garmin and I had an exhcange of words. He kept telling me to u-turn and after a couple of these false starts I realised that I was going round in circles. When Mr. Garmin is clearly wrong you have to take over. I was going towards the city come what may. I was only 5 miles away. What could go wrong?
To enter Seville on a bike you need to know where you are going. Take this from someone who has now experienced it. Cycles are banned from the major A roads into the city even though you’ve been on them for the last 50 miles.
So it was that I found myself at a roundabout facing A roads to Malaga, Jerez and Seville and the only other option, somewhere called San Pedro. San Pedro it is then. Go forward.
“Okay, take the road,” said MG.
I began to feel a little uneasy as I bounced along a dirt track, cratered like the moon, between sheds and shanty shacks. I could hear voices and laughter but no-one was around. I hoped that I wasn’t foing to attract any attention. I just kept going, bouncing, dodging the worst realising that this was probably the last place I should be right now.
A dog thought I was sport and chased me for me a while.
I checked MG. ” Keep going,” he said, “there’s a cave up ahead where we can watch these Cherokess go galloping by.”
I stumbled out onto a minor road physically unscathed but my bike was limping. Back tyre flat !
By now it was 35 degrees, I’m by the roadside doing the job on a sleepy road into Seville. I noted that in the 20 minutes that I stood there I was passed by 6 vehicles of some sort. One asked if I would like a lift in his truck with the bike and 3 more stopped to see if I was okay. It needs no further comment.
I needed a break now, though. It was baking hot and my water tasted like I’d done the washing in it.
Back on the road and whipping up speed iI let MG take over again.
“Who got us into this mess?”
“Shut up !”
I just love siestas. Sunday siesta Seville. Six lane highways and hardly a car in sight. Straight to the door. It had taken me 2 and half hours to work out the last 12 miles.
My hostess, Barbara, greeted me with a smile and handshake. I’d kept her appraised of my travails during the afternoon. She didn’t seem to mind my oily fingers.
And then, as if as an angel from heaven (if you do that sort of thing) she had cold water in the fridge ! A bottle of Cava for later to celebrate my arrival ! And two local pastries to keep me going ! How thoughtful. Perfect.
I am in Seville at last. 68 miles in 5 and half hours of riding….. For me, that’s fast.