The Ride, part 5(end of the line)

The last few days of riding became a ritual. Toledo led to Puertollano, a straight 100 mile ride, bored as sin. Arse really starting to ache now. The five minute break something to look forward to. Kick down stand, find a bush, an open field, wherever, pee. Drink some water, re-apply sun tan lotion. Eat some nuts, fruit, energy bars, more water. Take a few photos, have a look at the map. Have another look at the map. Square everything away and ride off.

My first siting of a cactus and a cruzcampo(regional beer) sign meant I was nearing the South. Spirits rose.

Puertollano, a former coal mining town, one main road, industrial and slightly worn. A dinner of ‘Paella del Señotiro’, great mouthfuls of rice and shellfish, protein, carbs, energy.
The difference here being the prawns were already de-shelled, great for old people and tired cyclists. There was a feria on that day and we were the only people eating at the restaurant. It sunk in that they had kept it open just for us, as the coffee was served the metal shutters were already on the way down.

Dread had set in, the next two days would be a double dose of mountain ranges. The Segovia ride had tainted my spirit when it came to these cumbersome rock creations. I left early to try and dash over the Sierras Madrona and Morena. Things went  smoothly, the upward climb broken into manageable segments. The valley between the ranges a breathtaking 20 click ride through flat moss coloured farmland dotted with chilled out cattle.

50 kilometres from Cordoba and things went haywire. Due to a navigational decision made earlier, a b-line through a most original cobbled town had to be made. The road unknown by the locals, the farmers on the other-hand re-assured me I was on the right route. Sure enough it was, but the houses sitting empty on the hilltop did not bode well with me. The road  seemed to be gradually degrading the further I went. Another farmer and another re-assurance. Barely a road by now, it wound down and around the bend. Then straight into a lake!

To ridiculous a situation to process. A dead end, scenes from deliverance played out in my head, Spanish style with almond and olive farmers. It was 13:15 and lunch was now not on the cards, at least not until I was out of this shit storm. A forced protein bar later and it was off 12 km back from whence I came, whilst looking hawk like out for the mischievous farmers so I could kick their asses. No luck, an alternative route took me reluctantly south, then north and finally west.  The signs for Cordoba counting down the miles like blood from a stone.

The meal planned for the night was supposed to be a real treat. The ride that day had ripped me a new one and  I am not sure anything was going to perk me up. We ended up at a place I remember avoiding the last time I was here. Grilled meats being a speciality, mine a pork loin served with two sauces. The red one, cumin, cayenne, paprika and olive oil. The green one, parsley, oregano, olive oil and plenty of garlic. The sauces intense flavours were needed to digest the dried out pork. Not interested anymore I fell asleep while still working on a dessert of Pastelón Cordobés(a flaky pumpkin pastry).

Cordoba-Fuengirola

Wet and Windy, olives groves for miles, kingfisher birds, another non existent road. Chasing the miles led to another late lunch. A Tuna and mustard roll, gorgeous. Food had become at this point simply a necessity, indulging in anything too rich or developed  could no longer be acknowledged. Taste profiles broken down to a bare minimum, as if all resources were now focused on the ride. Tuna has to be tuna and just that, my can of peaches I had after, pure in thought and energy.
Lip smacking good, the ride rolls on.

A beautiful new road that could have been ridden fast, except for the most energy sapping, soul destroying wind. The wind farms all around should have given it away. It was the last day of the ride and nothing would stop me now. I shouted at the invisible enemy, told it to stop, pleaded and even worked out a zig-zag riding style to cut through it. When I hit the final mountain range the wind had died down. As per, the nonchalant corner turned into a huge climb and up I went. Not the hairpin corner climb of Segovia, but a straightforward ascent, onwards and upwards.

You finally hit the summit, time again for that downhill rush, releasing that emotional, physical energy you expelled while pushing yourself up. Tight, clenched and frustrating, it  all flows out, taken away by the rushing air.

The road ahead is never straightforward, maps may direct you but can never tell the true path to the destination. The sun wavers and starts on its downward arc. Hills keep on popping up, they test your limits. You hope to see the last one. You push harder now, nearly there, where is the water? Natural landscape turns urban, you know the river you’re following leads to the sea, to the beach, to the end. The champagne cork pops, hugs and kisses, southern sand and cool water.
Made it.

“G.N.”
Thanks for reading about my ride across Spain, an important factor to this ride was to gain donations for the charity ‘Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’. I have known a few people over the years who have fallen due to this illness and wanted to give this charity a helping hand. If you are tickled pink by my shenanigans and reckon you can donate a little or big something then click on the banner below. Thank You.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

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One Comment on “The Ride, part 5(end of the line)”

  1. June 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    awesome!

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