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Spain Journal  

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Loop ride from Seville

Seville to Palma del Rio

Palma del Rio to Seville

Costa del Sol Ride

Seville to Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera to La Lena de la Conception

La Lena de la Conception to Feungirola

 

 ...Heulva where Columbus began his journey to the new world...

 

 ...statue of Columbus at Heulva...

Costa del Sol

car free adventure _______________________

 

Spain was the first bicycle trip I organized.  My son Jack had planned the bicycle ride in France and since I had not participated in the planning I did not understand the complexity of putting together a multiple day bicycle ride.  I assumed if my youngest son could do it I could.

 

The first choice for my first bike trip had been to England.  The trip was aborted because the cost of the airfare did not meet my budget requirements.  I began to investigate a trip to Spain for August to replace the aborted trip to England but discovered the weather was predicted to reach 110 degrees each day.    

 

The months were slipping away.  Both my wife and I would get a couple of complimentary weeks of vacation from our jobs for the Christmas holidays.  Maybe the month of December would be a good choice. 

 

The weather in southwestern Spain according to the web would be mild (sunshine and 65 degrees).  We found a good deal on the airfare.  The plan would be to bicycle the southwestern region of Spain or Costa del Sol!  I purchased the airfare to Spain. 

 

My wife’s mother asked to go with us so she could use the Archives in Seville to trace her Ancestry.  A woman who was interested also would accompany my mother-in-law to Seville and the two would take care of transportation to and from the Archives and keep each other company while we bicycled through Costa de Sol.     

The lady who was to accompany by wife’s mother had to pull out.  We were involved in a bike accident riding to San Diego on a training ride.  My wife broke her arm.  By the time we were scheduled to leave for Spain she had recovered sufficiently to tour on foot but would not be able to bicycle.   

 

There was a very ugly flu making its way through the United States in November.  Everyone around me got sick and I was skating along until the week before we left and I got the flu.  Maybe no one would be bicycling in Spain.  My wife and mother-in-law also got the flu!  Navidad en Espana was looking a little grim.

 

We had already purchased our airplane tickets!  How do we save the trip?  The lesson learned in all of this is that once the tickets are purchased the trip is on.  This became our "trip code" for future bicycling trips; "once the airfare is purchased we pack our gear."  The trip is on!  We had a great time in Spain.  We have used our motto on other trips that seemed in doubt.  It is the code to travel on.

 

One of the goals for the trip to Spain was to determine how to plan a bike trip out of the states.  If we did not ride there would be a lot of unanswered questions that would be pushed onto the next trip.  We needed to test the bike planning.  After it was determined my son Jack could not ride with me in Spain, I decided to do 1, 2 and 3 day bicycle trips from Seville.  We had already made an itinerary which included car trips to Huelva, Cordoba and Granada to tour and see the countryside.  I built my trips around the car trips. 

 

The plan was to drive to a city, tour and then I would ride back to Seville on my bicycle.  The only trip that would be bike first and drive second would be to Huelva.  That was a short 50 mile trek which I would use to ring out my bike.  My wife would drive to Huelva and she and my mother-in-law would tour and I would meet them in Palos de la Frontera. 

 

Our problems continued after our arrival at the Malaga airport in Spain.  We collected our luggage but my bicycle did not arrive from London.  My mother-in-law's Scooter was missing also. Important items needed to support a bike trip and transportation for an 80 year old to the Archives each day.  We modified our plans to overcame the traumas.  The scrambling only added to the excitement of the trip.  The trip was a great success. 

 

 ...palace in Granada...

 ..photographer backed into pool with the temperature below zero degrees...Alhambra

 

 ...garden inside the Palace walls...

 

 ...view from the tower of the Cathedral in Seville...

Cordoba...patio in the Mezquita.

Granada...view inside the Alhambra...



 RIDE DAY 1 - Seville to Palma del Rio - 60 miles

 

...1st morning in Spain on the Mediterranean Coast after arriving in Malaga the night before from London... unfortunately my bike didn't make the flight...

..took a quick tour of Ronda on our drive from the Mediterranean Coast to our hotel in Seville.. 

...the weather in Costa de Sol at Christmas time is in the low 70's...perfect for cycling

..after 7 days my bike arrived at the hotel in Seville and I cobbled together a 2 day loop ride to Palma del Rio for the next day...

 

Plan for the day - It was December 26 and my bike had arrived after a week stay at the Heathrow airport in London.  It was time to test my bicycling prowess in Spain.  The 7 day hiatus had changed my bicycling plans made before our trip.  I had dropped the original plans and I had punted on riding in Spain.  The daily excuses by British Airways had convinced me that my bike was lost forever at the London Airport.   

 

It was now the day after Christmas and I had cobbled together a route plan.  I would ride to Palma de Rio along part of a route from my original ride plan, stay overnight and return the following day.  The return to Seville was not in the original plan and should be an adventure.

  

The route began three blocks south of the hotel along the boulevard Paseo de Cristobal Colon heading northwest. The exit from Seville began on A-8006 which became A-436 which became a-431 to Palma del Rio.  The distance from Seville to Palma Del Rio I estimated to be between 50 and 60 miles.  The trip was actually 59.4 miles when I reached the city on my bike.  

 

Getting started - I did my breakfast routine at the Cafe de Indias across the street from the Bequer Hotel. I returned to the Bequer and put my bike clothes.  I went down to the lobby and asked for my bike from the storage room and prepared to leave.    

 

I wanted to get a picture before the start of the ride at the street corner by the hotel.  With camera in hand I pushed my bike to the spot only to find that I did not have my riding shoes on!  A little nervous!  After returning to the hotel, putting my bike shoes on and taking the picture I began my adventure.    

 

Today’s adventure - Once I got going the exit from Seville was easy.  I rode along the Quadalquivir River on the Paseo de Cristobal Colon.  The Paseo de Cristobal Colon changes names at a minimum of four times in about 5 miles.  All of the streets have a habit of doing this in Seville which makes navigation an adventure. 

 

Even following a road straight out of Seville I missed a turn and found myself on the wrong road.  The road I wanted was A431.  Fortunately I found a sign indicating that A431 was south of the road I was traveling on so I turned onto the road indicated by the sign and headed south. 

 

There was an anxious moment when a sign indicated that Huelva was 100 plus kilometers ahead.  Huelva was east and I wanted to go west!  I turned Northeast at La Algaba onto route A431 toward Cordoba a few miles farther ahead.  The way to Huelva was southwest. 

 

The route took me through flat farmland between the towns.  I passed "beside" the towns of Alcala del Rio, Villarerde de Rio, Cantillana, Alcolea Del Rio and Lora de Rio on my way to Palma del Rio.  In the original cycling plan I had conceived to ride from Cordova to Seville, Palma del Rio had been the half way point to Cordoba and the principle reason it was selected for my cobbled together plan.  As I remember the route there was nothing of great interest located there. 

 

The road was located just to the south of all the towns I rode past along the route.  All of the buildings in the towns were painted a very bright white. I assumed this was to reduce the temperature inside during the summer months. They were quite striking in the sunlight as I rode past. 

 

I also encountered a horse drawn wagon coming towards me as I rode pass Lora del Rio.  The driver and companion looked like the Amish people I have seen in the US.  I waved hello but did not receive a response.  They stared at me but no response.   

 

The wind was stiff and directly into my face as I rode.  I was getting a bit tired so I stopped at the entrance to one of fields and enjoyed a power bar to bring me back.  After my short break I was back to my quest of cycling to Palma del Rio.

 

Palma del Rio as were other towns along the route a short distance south of the highway. I entered Palma Del Rio across a long old stone bridge over the Quadalquivir River.  The bridge supported only two narrow lanes with no shoulder. 

 

I entered the bridge behind a string of cars and cranked toward the other side.  I wanted to exit the bridge before another car entered behind me.  I would estimate the bridge was about a quarter of a mile long.  I made it off the bridge before another car entered the bridge.

 

The city looked nothing like the map I had gotten off the web.  I used the signs along the street that had the name of my hotel on them to help me locate the hotel.  Actually I followed them as far as I could and them when it appeared that I was lost, there were no more hotel signs posted, I asked a lady getting into a car “Hotel Castillo.”  The woman told me to go back to the last intersection I had crossed and turn left.  Sure enough I was about to turn the wrong way before I stopped to ask!  

 

I followed her instructions and when I reached the end of the block saw the hotel.  When I got to the hotel I could not get into the hotel lobby because the front door was locked!  Oh great!  Had the place gone broke?  That could not be true because I had booked the hotel in Seville before I left. 

 

A sign in Spanish on the door appeared to say “check at the bar.”  I walked around to the side of the building and found the bar.   The bar had people in it but I did not want to leave my bike in the street while inquired so I went back to the reception entrance.  I saw two cleaning ladies outside another door.  I went down to where they were standing and asked, “reception?”  “si” was the reply. 

 

I went back to the bar and went inside.  I asked “hotel Costello reception.”   “Si” said the bar tender and motioned me to the reception entrance to the hotel.  I got my bike and went back to the front of the hotel.  He let me in the door and told me in broken English that a person who spoke good English would be in shortly. 

 

As we waited he told me that it would rain tomorrow.  I asked about the road I had chosen to return to Seville on.  He said the road I had selected to ride back to Seville on was “muy mal.”  He found a note pad and with a pencil drew a wavy line across it and said “road.”   Oh great!

 

Today’s landscape - The ride took me through farm country with many planted fields.  In several fields there were olive trees as far as the eye could see.  I passed one area which raised cotton.  I had noticed a white furry substance blowing along the road and I had assumed it must belong to a large animal that had been hit by a car.  I had encountered a lot of road kill and thus made the association.  One field was being harvested by a large combine-looking machine which, I will assume, was a “cotton picker” or “cotton gin” on wheels.  I also passed a large corn crop. 

 

It is December!  Orange trees or groves were evident everywhere also.  I forgot to note that there were orange trees all along most of the streets of Seville.  They were filled with oranges.  We had asked why they had not been picked and we were told that they were not ripe.  They were a bright orange but needed a few more months before they would be ripe.     

 

I also saw some trash along the road.  We had been struck by how clean the Spanish cities were.  On the road on a bicycle you have time to pick out everything.  There are a large number of plastic bottles along the road.  They must not pay to recycle plastic in Spain. The trash in California has been reduced significantly since recycling of plastic bottles has become profitable.  Maybe Spain needs to adopt recycling of plastic?  I saw a broken tub dumped along the road.  I saw a stove that was dumped also.  They reminded me of the trash I saw dumped along the road in Hawaii.  That was really disgusting to me.

 

Bicycling notes - From Seville until about 20 miles before I turned off at Palma Del Rio, the shoulder of the road was wide.  Signs were posted along the road indicating that cyclists would be using the road and drivers should be careful.  I saw eight other bicyclists in the sixty miles to Palma Del Rio.  Two of the cyclists were old people on “wonker” bikes and six were young cyclist like me!

 

The shoulder on the road disappeared but the road itself was one and a half car widths wide that allowed the cars to move over as they passed without a problem.  When there was not a car in the other lane, the cars or trucks would pull into the other lane to make sure there was plenty of room to pass. Jack and I had the same experience on our ride through France. 

 

I used the old tried and true method of finding directions by asking the local population.  I was lucky and found a lady who spoke English so I had no problem finding the hotel.  It has been my experience that when bicycling anyone I stop and ask for help will do so.  Some stop even when I am looking at a map.   

 

It took 6 hours for me to ride sixty miles.  That is a ten mile per hour average.  The road was flat for about 40 miles, small 5 percent grades for about 5 miles and flat for the remainder of the trip.  The wind had been very stiff and into my face for the last 30 miles.  I cleverly stopped about 10 miles from Palma del Rio and consumed a power bar and rested a bit before I continued. 

 

When I got to my room at the hotel in Palma Del Rio I experienced chills.  I had the same experience on the first day of an aborted ride up the coast that Jack and I had attempted earlier in the year.  At one point I thought I would “bonk” on the ride from Seville to Palma Del Rio.   I think the chills are the result of over exertion and when I finally stopped my body reacted with the chills.  I got into bed under all of the covers provided and watched TV while I waited for the hotel restaurant to open. I had recovered by the time I went down to dinner.

 

Post ride activity - I arrived at the hotel at 3:30 PM and was in my room in about 45 minutes.  I selected 60 miles to make sure I had sufficient daylight to make it to Palma De Rio and I had sufficient daylight. 

 

I was starving after the ride but Spain does not serve dinner until 8 o’clock.  Dinner is served between 8 to 10 o’clock and if you miss a meal you are hosed! 

 

At 8 o'clock I went down to the hotel dining room.  I  selected the same fish that my wife and I had in Seville which we were not impressed with.  It did not seem as bad this time or maybe I was hungry.  In addition I had tossed salad, fish soup and flan for dessert.  No one in the restaurant spoke English but they had an English menu so I was able to translate by pointing my finger. 

 

After dinner I returned to my room and prepared my bike for the next day ride.  I watched a bit of TV and went to bed.  I plan an early start tomorrow to return to Seville.   

  

return



 Two day loop ride - DAY 2 - Palma del Rio to Seville - 65 miles

 

...the Becquer Hotel in Seville was our home away from home...all of our tours and bike rides began here..

..it was December but the streets of Seville were lined with orange trees filled with fruit that appered to be ready to pick...

...we toured the Meziquita in Cordoba while we waited for my bike to arrive...

...the bridge over the Rio Quadalquivir on the way into Palma del Rio 

 

Plan for the day - December 27 I asked the “guy who spoke English” what route he recommended that I use to return to Seville.  He told me that the bartender was correct.  The road I had selected was not good for bicycling.  I asked if I could ride to Ecija and then along A443 to A92 using A92 to return to Seville.  He said that A443 was a bad road also.  He suggested that I ride back to Seville the same way I had ridden to Palma del Rio.  I told him that I did not want to retrace my route if I could avoid it.  He then suggested that I ride along A431 (the road I came in on) to Lori Del Rio and then take A458 to the Autovia (A92) and take it back to Seville.  That should prove interesting since we got lost returning in the car from Cordoba using A92 to enter Seville attempting to find our hotel.  

Today's plan would be to ride back along A431 to Lora del Rio and take the road A457 south to Carmona.  At Carmona I would take the Autovisa (A92) to Sevilla.  I asked about directions to A457 once I got into Lora del Rio and he said “everyone knows the road to Carmona.”   “That’s great but do they speak English,” I thought!  He is talking to the guy who could not order his dinner the night before!  He then gave me directions from the hotel to A431.  I asked if bicycles were allowed on the Autovia and he said he did not know. 

Getting started - I slept well.  Breakfast was at 8 and I got up at 7 to make sure I would be on the road by 9.  At 8 o'clock the sun was still not up or it is not daylight.  I thought Andalucia was on the same latitude as Fresno, California and I thought the sun came up about the same time as in LA.   

 

I went downstairs after I had taken a shower and prepared my bike for the return trip to Seville.  The lights in the hotel were off everywhere, but three people were in the bar.  It was 7:45 and I had learned last night that 8 o’clock meant 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock, but did not mean 7:45.  The bar tender who had let me into the hotel arrived and turned on the lights.  I said “hola” and he responded in kind. 

 

I sat at the bar until 8:15 and realized that maybe I had misunderstood so I asked the bartender “breakfast?”  He responded in Spanish one word of which was “American.”  I assumed he was talking about coffee so I responded ‘American.”  He returned with coffee looking very much like the coffee from the Cafe de Indias.  Very dark!  I asked for leche and he returned with a cup of milk which I used to fill my cup and cut the strength of my coffee to something a little weaker.  He then asked if I wanted a “baguette and mermelada.”  I responded “si.”  He returned shortly with a half a baguette and melocoton mermelada.  Something I had asked for but did not get at the “Cafe de Indias.”  I finished everything, all being very good and returned to my room to prepare to leave. 

 

Being concerned that I would “bonk” on one baguette I ate a power bar which is something I do not enjoy.  Power bars are not very appetizing to me.  I carried my bike down stairs to the lobby of the hotel and went to the front desk.  I paid for my room with a credit card and went over my route one more time with the fellow at the desk. 

 

Today's adventure - Attempting to exit Palma del Rio I missed the turn which would have taken me back across the bridge that I had ridden across on the way into town.  But what was new?  All of the cars on the street that the hotel desk clerk had directed me to take to exit Palma Del Rio, turned left at one of the intersections.  I continued straight along the street on which I was riding.  I thought I should have turned with the traffic but continued for two more blocks.  The traffic had dropped to zero.  I turned around, went back and took the turn with the rest of the traffic.  I followed it and was delivered to the bridge that would return me to A431 the road I had taken from Seville to Palma del Rio. 

 

Not quite as lucky with the traffic as I had been on the entry into Palma del Rio.  I was followed onto the bridge by two trucks and there was traffic coming from the opposite side of the bridge.  The bridge was so narrow that there was just enough room for two cars to pass.  If a bicycle is added I am not sure.  The truck was determined and the truck and bike going north bound met a car headed south bound and squeezed through.  I was riding on the small rocky shoulder of the bridge.  All made it through without harm. 

 

The A431 was about half a mile from the North end of the bridge.  I reached the intersection and turned left retracing the route I had ridden the day before from Seville.  The joke of jokes occurred when I completely missed the turn off to Lora Del Rio.  I only came out of my trance  when I saw a sign which read “Lora del Rio” with a red line drawn through it!  Part of my being lost in Spain training had taught me that that meant you were leaving the town or city.  No more Lora del Rio! 

 

I turned around and returned to the road that I had been instructed to use to enter the town.  A sign at the turn also had an arrow pointing to Carmona with the number of the road A457.  This was a relief because I was concerned that I would have difficulty finding A457 and the exit from Lora Del Rio. 

 

I followed the road signs through the town and out the other side.  I only had one apprehensive moment when I passed one of those convoluted Spanish road signs with a “D” shaped road indication with an arrow at the end which was labeled “Seville.”  It appeared to me to be pointing in a different direction from where I expected to find the A457! 

 

To this point the road signs to Carmona had included Seville.  Had I missed a turn?   Fresh from the experience of ignoring my instincts getting out of Palma del Rio (riding two blocks before returning to take what appeared to be the correct path from town!) I ignored the sign and rode on.  A mile further along the path I had taken I entered a roundabout which listed my road and my towns.  I was on my way to Carmona!  

 

The hotel manager was correct about the condition of the road.  The road was newly paved and had a large shoulder.  The road was level for the first ten miles and I cranked.  The wind was zero or behind me and I flew along the road.  My phone burped so I stopped and called my wife.  She told me she had not tried to call me.  I told her where I was and where I was headed.  Then I was off again. 

 

I met two groups of four riders who were riding on the opposite side of the road.  I waved at the first and pounded my fist at the second.  Both groups responded in Spanish.  As I rode on after passing the second group I began to think what if pounding your fist in the air over your head meant something other than “I am going for it” in Spain!  The group may have yelled “fuck you too” to me in Spanish” as I passed and were now deciding whether to turn around to catch me and kick my Yankee ass!  I did not see them again but I was traveling so fast they would have been exhausted by the time they caught me. 

 

I passed an old man on a bike that I waved to also.  He was not dressed as we younger riders.  I had also said “hola” to a lady crossing the street in “Plemo” and she responded.  On the way to Palma del Rio I waved and said “hola” to two guys in a horse drawn carriage but they only stared at me.  Maybe they were relatives of the Huelva Sopranos.  It’s tough being a friendly American!

 

Just before I reached Carmona I encountered several 5% half mile hills which took a little of the wind out of my sails.  I had decided that I would not eat until I reached the Autovia (A92) which may have been a mistake to consider on future rides.  I could see Carmona several miles ahead on a hill.  I was running out of gas but I wanted to hold on and eat at the Autovia just to prove I was a guy!  The entries onto the Autovia and into Carmona were on long hills. 

 

I rode onto the Autovia and stopped.  Leaned my bike against a guard rail, got out a power bar and sat on the guard rail and ate.  As I said earlier, power bars are not my favorite, but if you could get them down they seemed to be working and that was what counted. 

 

I had looked for a sign indicating that bicycles were not allowed on the Autovia.  I had seen what I had interpreted as the “bikes Ok” sign driving to Granada.  It is a bicycle in a circle without a line through it.  But what if the rule is that if you do not see a sign allowing bicycles that it automatically meant no bicycles allowed!  As I munched my power bar and watched the traffic roll past on the Autovia I suddenly saw three cyclists on the opposite side rolling along the shoulder in the opposite direction.  They were drafting on each other heading east away from Seville.  My worries were over!  I was allowed to ride on the Autovia!

 

I finished my snack, sucked some water out of my camelback and mounted my trusty steed for the ride to Seville.  I discovered looking at the level (inclinometer) on the handle bars of my bike, that the road was level or slightly downhill ranging from zero to almost 2%.   This proved to be true all the way into Seville. 

 

It spitted a little rain a few times but only enough to dampen the road.  The road was wet for about 4 or 5 miles riding into Seville.  I remained dry!  My wife called me on my cell phone and told me that they had a bit of rain in Seville.  I told her that I had run into a small amount of rain but I remained dry.  

 

I had developed a strategy for moving to the shoulder of the autovia when it intersected with another road.  My strategy worked well until I got into Seville.  At the intersections inside the city it is possible to select one of three exits.  There was a street to my left, one to my right and one going straight ahead.  I had hoped to continue on the road that I entered the city on but found myself faced with the situation where I would be required to cross over two lanes of heavy traffic to continue so I exited.  My exit dumped me onto Avenue Kansas City. 

 

Avenue “Kansas City” was becoming a favorite land mark from which to navigate Seville.  I knew that the Avenue Kansas City would cross Calle de Luis Montoto which would dead end into Carretera de Manendez Pelayo which would lead to the road along the Quadalquivir River.  The Reyes Catolicos had a Pizza Hut restaurant at the corner where it crossed with the avenue along the Quadalquivir River which became a "land mark" during our stay in Seville.  I turned onto the avenue Reyes Catholics and rode the remaining two blocks to the hotel. 

 

Today’s landscape - In France the cities are built on the river.  You rode down into the city or town and rode out the next day.  In Spain the cities are built at the top of the hills.  You ride up into the town and leave on the downhill the next day.  I discussed this fact with Jack after we returned from France and he said that must have been why the French kept getting their ass kicked because they lived in the valley!)

 

I would assume the hill top living had something to do with protecting your property.  I guess the French just said “come on in take what you want because I am not walking that far for water everyday just to keep you out!”  Those French! 

 

The scenes from the hill tops were beautiful to look at from the road.  From the Autovia I could see a town of white buildings along the hill side with the steeple of a church sticking up from the center.  I am sure that all of the buildings were white because of the heat (110 degrees) in the summer. The Spanish are conservationists. The white cuts down on air conditioning costs.  The hotel key had to be inserted to turn the lights on in the room.  It was not possible to leave a light on in our room when we out of the room because we took the key.  It was a very effective idea.

 

Bicycling notes - When I got my room at the hotel the fellow at the desk noticed the “beer mirror” that I had attached to my sun glasses and asked me about it.  I told him that a guy in California would make you a mirror if you sent him a beer cap.  He picked up my glasses and took them over to two other guys standing near by and began discussing the mirror in Spanish. 

 

After a bit he returned my glasses.  He then asked “when you get to Seville, you will be a little tired?  He was holding up his hand with his fingers close together slowly twisting his hand back and forth to emphasize his point.  I started to tell him that a ride of 80 miles would make me tired, a ride of 60 would not, but I thought I am not going to try and impress this guy so I said “si.” 

 

When I rode onto Autovia I looked for a sign indicating that bicycles were not allowed.  I had seen what I had interpreted as the “bikes Ok” sign on the way to Granada driving the car.  It is a bicycle in a circle without a line through it.  But what if the rule is that if you do not see a sign allowing bicycles that it automatically meant no bicycles allowed! 

 

I stopped immediately after turning onto Autovia to eat a power bar.  As I watched the traffic roll past I suddenly saw three cyclists on the opposite side of the Autovia rolling along the shoulder in the opposite direction.  They were drafting on each other heading east away from Seville. My worries were over!  I was allowed to ride on the Autovia!

 

As I rode along the Autovia there was a line that marked the outside edge of "right car lane" of the Autovia.  About a 12 inches from the white line the road dropped off the depth of the asphalt to the shoulder which was a different color (light gray) and appeared to be rough.  At first I rode on the raised asphalt and clung to bit of road on the outside of the white line.

 

The traffic was very courteous and moved into the other lane to pass in most cases.  After a few miles, however, I thought I would give the shoulder a try.  The concentration required to maintain the edge was tedious.  I moved onto the shoulder and found it to be fine.  The exposed gravel I thought would be rough was not.  On my aluminum bike any little rock can be felt by the rider!  The shoulder, although at a different level, was smooth!

 

The conversation I had with the hotel folks when I arrived from Seville about the return route I had selected makes me suspect some of the routes I had selected to ride in Spain, before the "lost bike phenomenon" may not have been bicycle friendly.  The route from Huelva and the route from Antequera had many roads designated “SE” which I believe means "county road" in Spain. 

 

We drove from Estepona to Ronda, Ronda to El Coronil and then El Coronil to Seville.  All of these roads were fine for bicycle riding and they are all marked on the map like those the hotel clerk said were bad.  It could mean that the Ronda area has sufficient tourist trade to support the maintenance of the roads.

 

I bought an earpiece for my phone to use in Spain.  My wife is my technician and figured out how to have the phone turn on after two rings when the ear piece was plugged in.   I put the phone in my riding shirt pocket and held the ear piece in place with a head band which allowed me to talk on the phone without removing my hands from the handlebars. I could talk on the phone as I rode.  Bren called me several times while I was on the road and we discussed my progress and she related her plans for the day we discussed what they were doing at the time.  The earpiece was very convenient!   

 

Post ride activity - When I reached the hotel I put my bike into the hotel luggage room and went to our room to dump my gear.  My wife and my mother-in-law were out touring which was part of the earlier phone conversation as I approached Seville. 

 

I came down from the room and went to the restaurant next door.  Actually I sat on the street at a table and ordered “aqua con gas” and wrote in my journal about my latest adventure!  The "voyage from Palma del Rio."  

 

When I finished my bottle of water I called my wife and she told me that she and her mother were in the gift shop of the church.  The church is called the Cathedral and is the second largest church in the world.  We decided I should cleanup and meet them for lunch before 3PM.  The shops closed for two hours at 3PM.  We had quickly adapted to the Spanish routine of lunch between 1 PM and 3 PM and then dinner between 8:30 and 10 PM. 

 

I went to the room, showered, dressed and struck out for the restaurant.  I arrived at the restaurant (this was the ice cream place we found when we were lost on our first day in Seville). I called my wife to tell her that I was on station looking for a table.  The ladies arrived just as a table opened.  As we set down my wife said I have a new story to tell!

 

As she was walking through the courtyard of the church (Cathedral) she was struck on the left shoulder by a large amount of soft white material which covered a large portion of the front of her sweater, the overflow coming to rest on the black bag she was carrying over her shoulder.  She quickly understood that a pigeon flying overhead at a proximately 10 stories up had relieved itself, and as fate would have it, the timing was perfect for a direct hit. 

 

As can be imagined my wife was repulsed and approached the attendant at the door of the Cathedral and asked to be let into the church so she could go into the restroom and remove the mess.  The attendant at first confused, quickly realized what had happened and begin to laugh. 

 

My wife said not funny in Spanish to which the attendant responded “not funny” in English but she did not stop laughing.  By the time my wife met up with me she had removed the results of the assault and was now immersed in the humor of the event. 

 

First there was the dip in the pool at the Alhambra at zero degrees while backing up to take a better photo and now “shock and awe” at the church in Seville!  It was decided that this event should be referred to as “shit happens.”

 

We enjoyed our lunch, did a bit more touring and wandered back to the hotel to make our 9 PM dinner plans.  Costa del Sol is fun.  I had proven to myself that  bicycling in Costa del Sol in December is a good choice!

 

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Costa del Sol ride - DAY 1 - Seville to Jerez de la Frontera - 61 miles

 

 

 ,,,on the opposite corner of the street from the Bequer was the Cafe de Indias which became a convenient spot to start our day...

 ...unexpectly the temperature dropped to zero during the night in Granada forcing everyone to dress in their warmest clothes... 

 ...we toured the Castle in Granada while we waited for my bicycle to arrive from London...

 ...the roads were flat from Seville to Jerez de la Frontera...the shoulder was paved and the surface was good for cycling... 

 

Plan for the day - December 29 - Today begins the Costa Del Sol ride.  The Costa Del Sol ride will be the only ride that I planned in the States that I would be able to do in Spain since my bicycle was lost the first seven days after we arrived.  The Costa Del Sol ride would take me back to Malaga where we catch our flight to London and then home to the States.  The ride will take three days.  

 

The first day I will ride a 61 mile leg From Seville to Jerez de la Frontera.  The second day I ride from Jerez de la Frontera to La Lena de la Concepcion which is about 65 miles.   The final day I will ride 60 miles along the coast to Fuengirola where our exit hotel is located.   The hotel in Fuengirola is near the Malaga airport and we will drive to the airport in Malaga from this location.  The ladies will leave Sevilla the day I am riding from Gibraltar to Fuengirola and drive the coast route touring as they go to join me.  We will take the following day to pack the bicycle, tour, etc.  The following morning we head for the airport to fly to London. 

 

Getting started - I prepared my bike for the ride the night before.  I loaded my luggage into the car for the upcoming exit by the ladies from Sevilla two days later.  In the morning I did breakfast at the Café de Indias (the Starbucks of Spain) and returned to the hotel to work on my bike.  I had developed a saddle sore on the ride to Palma Del Rio and decided that it was caused by an incorrect angle of my bicycle seat. 

 

I got my bike from the hotel luggage room and adjusted my seat and made an adjustment to the handle bars which were also askew.  I had noticed the day before when I was riding that the handle bars were still wrong.  When I finished my repair, I left the bike leaning against the wall in front of the reception desk of the hotel.  I went upstairs to put my bicycle helmet and other riding garb on which I had left in the room.  Since I was leaving the Hotel Becquer, I had practiced an exit speech in Spanish the night before which I planned to give to the hotel staff before leaving on my bike. 

 

When I returned to the lobby my bike was gone.  I approached the desk where the lady who manages the hotel lectured me on leaving a bicycle in the lobby of the hotel.  She had had one of the staff return my bicycle to the luggage storage room.  I interrupted her and informed her that I was leaving and that her worries were over.  I was so nonplused by the encounter that I forgot to say anything to any of the other members of the staff, many of whom had been very helpful during our stay.

 

Today’s adventure - The route South out of Sevilla is found by riding along the Qualaquivir River until you reach the NIV (Which I believe stands for National Highway 4!) which is marked as the exit to Cadiz.  I went out to the street in front of the hotel and took the wandering route from the hotel to the street which ran along the Quadalquivir river, Paseo Los Delicias.  The one-way streets do not allow a direct path to be taken.  When I reached the river, I turned east onto Paseo Los Delicias (or Colon, each street has numerous names).  I rode east on soon picked up the signs indicating I was on the route that intersected with NIV.  The signs were easy to follow and I soon found the exit to the NIV and turned South toward Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz.

 

The road had a wide shoulder and signs indicated that bicycles were welcome.  The shoulder was smooth except for about 3 to 4 miles of road where the small pea gravel on the shoulder was exposed and the asphalt had eroded making for a rough surface.  The poor surface occurred on one of the long downhill runs which made one hope that a blow out did not occur.  It made me think of Jack on the 508 ride in October when he was concerned about a tire repair that I performed on his bike.  He did not want to use the tire I had repaired on the downhill legs of the race!

 

During the trek to Jerez from Sevilla I approached an intersection where the road I was on veered to the left and the second road went “derecho.”  The roads seperated in a “Y.”  To continue along the side of the road I was on I was forced to ride through the center of the divide between my road and the road that went to the right.  It was on an uphill grade and I cranked through the center part of the intersection at the best rate I could muster.  Just as I reached the safe area between the two roads, still exposed but just inside the cross hatched marking between the two roads, a semi truck passed within feet of me on either side.  One took the road I was on.  The second took the road to the right.  I was in a three foot area between the trucks and the light disappeared as if I had passed into a tunnel.  I cannot believe they had not buzzed me on purpose.  During the time I spent between them, I just calmly rode on as if this happened to me all the time.  All of my LA traffic experience had come into play!

 

In contrast, while stopped at the bottom of one of the hills to take on some water and eat a power bar a truck driver blew his horn and gestured to me indicating that he wanted to know if I was ok.  I waved to him which satisfied him that I had stopped on my own and had not had a failure. 

 

When I reached Jerez De la Frontera I entered the world of the lost which had been my custom throughout the trip.  I had my mapquest maps with me, but confronting a three dimensional version of the city was immediately confusing.  After riding about a mile into the city, I attracted the attention of someone walking by and asked for directions.  I pulled my map out and after a bit of pointing and hand movements I got the directions I needed.  The map predicted the street I was on would dead end but my experience in Sevilla had taught me that what you perceived and what was real were two different things.  The point being that just because the street dead ended on the map did not mean that a jog slightly to the right or left would allow one to proceed. 

 

The directions I believed I had gotten from my "Spanish map reader" was that I had some distance to go before I raeched my turning point.  I continued to ride along the street until I believed I had got "some distance" and I came to a dead end.  I made a 90 degree turn to the left as directed by the map.  

 

I had studied the “mapquest” location of the hotel in Jerez (I call it Jerez because that is what all of the road signs show for the city and I am becoming so Spanish!).  Based on my map reading, all of the streets went the wrong way once I got near the hotel.  The streets were one way into the center of the city from Sevilla which had been my route.   When I reached a location which did not allow me to ride toward my hotel I thought, “why fight it.”  I walked my bike along the sidewalk to the hotel.  I walked about five blocks and I was there!

 

Today’s landscape - As for the area I rode through, both sides of the road had fields extending as far as one could see.  It was much like driving through the San Joaquin Valley in California.  I saw one orange grove.  This is contrasted with the acres of orange trees I saw on the ride to Palma Del Rio.  I saw one cotton field.  Again, there were multiple cotton fields on the road to Palma Del Rio.  There were a number of very large plowed areas which I assume were to be planted and several fields of short green grass which may have been hay crops.

 

I rode by the ruins of a castle with walls.  The place was hugh and only one wall was damaged.  It was located in a field and a herd of cows were grazing around it.  The farm buildings was near by and they made an interesting contrast with the old strycture.  I found it interesting  that there is so much history in Spain that a site like this had been abondoned to the elements.    

 

I saw a number of animals killed along the road on all of the routes I had ridden in Spein.  At least 5 dogs, several birds, some of the birds appeared to be hawks, a couple of rats and a rodent which looked like a large rat.  A lot of fresh kill which was a bit gory.  On my ride to Jerez de la Frontera I saw a complete skeleton of a very large animal adjacent to the road.  It looked too large to be a dog and too small for a horse.  Every bone appeared to be there.  I also saw a large, long legged white bird on all of my rides.  The bird always seemed to be near water or standing in water.  I was told by my American ornithologist what type of bird it was but as I write I cannot remember her input.  My mother=in=law, however, went on the web and told me it must be a Mediterranean Gull.  I declare it to be a Mediterranean Gull! 

 

The area I was riding through was rather flat with no foliage close to the road.  I wanted to stop and consume a power bar, but I wanted to eat my lunch somewhere with a view.  I had ridden for several miles looking for a spot and had seen nothing larger than a blade of grass growing.  I found a spot just across a bridge where the shoulder of the road dropped away for about two feet and there was a small grove of about five trees growing close to the road.  A more accurate description would be they were bushes rather than trees.  I stopped and sat on the bridge and ate my meal. 

 

Bicycling notes - Let me note, while I am thinking of it, that I laid out the routes in the States to be 60 miles each day.   I assumed an average time of 10 miles an hour or six hours of riding.  We would be in Spain at Christmas.  The Winter Solstice would be the 22 of December which would allow about 8 hours of daylight.  Thus I would have about two hours for being lost and flat tires.  On the trip I had no flats and I probably averaged about 12 miles an hour so I reached my destination with time to spare.  My time was spent waiting for the hotel restaurants to open or doing my “muy mal Espanol” stick trying to locate the hotel.  Anyway, for future rides, the time line worked and I had plenty of daylight to work any problems.   

 

My odometer had not worked all day.  It had sprinkled the day I rode from Palma Del Rio to Sevilla and I assume that must have been the cause of the failure.  Before I started to write down the day’s adventure at the hotel in Jerez De la Frontera, I reset it and brought it back up so it is fine. It just got wet and turned itself off.  Its absence was a real bummer.  I had no idea how far I had ridden or how far I had to go to Jerez De la Frontera.  The distance to and from keeps me company on a ride and helps the time go by.  I also miss not knowing how well I am doing on the hills.  I could be giving all my time away without knowing it.  I get a boost from knowing that I should not be in pain because the hill is not that difficult and I can turn off the little voice that tells me am tired and need to stop to rest or at least slow down

 

There were three climbs between Jerez De la Frontera and Sevilla.  One was a 5% grade and was about a mile in length.  The other two were shorter but rounded up to 6% before I reached the top.  I have a level on the handle bars of my bike that my wife had given me that allows me to know the grade of a climb.  It is reassuring to know why you are struggling on a hill.  Several times on the ride in Spain when the road looked flat and I could not accelerate I looked at the level and found that I was actually climbing.  The same was true on the downhill.  Sometimes the road appeared flat and I was patting myself on the back for my bicycle prowess only to discover that I was going downhill.  I also found that you could be getting a boost from the wind on the uphill which was supporting progress.   I would think the hill I was on must not be difficult because my speed had not dropped off significantly only to look down and discover that my level indicated I was on a 4% grade.  Only the wind can support this type of effort.

 

I discovered that the surf socks that I used for after ride shoes had started to rub a blister on my foot while walking several blocks to find dinner.  The blister did not appear but lessons learned, “do not tour in surf socks!” 

 

Post ride activity  There was a young fellow at the reception desk who spoke ok English, and they did have a room reserved for me.  My room was on the fourth floor and I proceeded to carry my bike up the stairs to my room.  The receptionist told me that there was an elevator, but the elevators in the hotels did not provide enough room for a bicycle even when it was standing upright on its back wheel.

 

When I reached the second floor I found that it was under construction!  The place was pretty well trashed.  When I got to the third floor I found the same.  I was beginning to think that I was in trouble when I reached the fourth floor and found it to be what I had expected.  Bascially, not under construction. I found my room and entered.   The room was what you would expect for the price, basic but clean.  I went into the bathroom and turned on the light.  It did not work!  I then tried to turn on the TV.  It did not come on! 

 

I remembered a recent bike training ride that my wife and I had made to San Diego.  We divided the trip into two riding days staying at the Marriott in Laguna Beach at the end of the first leg.  We entered the hotel with our bikes and went up to the desk.  During the check-in process a young woman at the desk commented that she thought bicyclists camped out on their bike rides.  I responded that there were two sports, bicycling and camping.  I only participated in bicycling!  I thought to myself, I am camping tonight in Jerez!       

 

I got out of my riding clothes and took a shower in the dark!   I put on my street clothes and went out on the streets to look for food.  I had passed a McDonalds sign on the way into the city so I thought how about French fries.  I walked about ten blocks without finding the McDonalds.  I passed a Pizza Hut but no McDonalds. 

 

I walked back toward the hotel and past it a few blocks looking for a place to eat.  I came into a large square at the end of which was a restaurant called “Pepe Eito’s.”  I had noticed signs advertising the place during my Mc Donald’s quest so I thought what the hey!  Let’s give it a try!  The inside was packed so I took one of the empty tables outside.  The waiter came by and I ordered a bottle of “aqua con gas.”   He brought my water and I ordered pasta with Pepe Eitio’s special sauce.   I figured no TV, no light in the bathroom, what is the likelihood that the food will be eatable.  Zero!  

 

It began to get dark and it was rather cool.  I waited for some time and then I caught my waiter and asked about my food.  A short time later he appeared with my pasta with special sauce.  It was great, or I was very hungry, but I think it was good food.   After I finished, the waiter was again absent.  The waiter was having a rough time because I observed some of the locals becoming very upset by the slow service. 

 

I was getting cold.  So I got up and went inside the restaurant and waited for the waiter to appear by my table.  After another wait he showed up at my table and I could tell he was not pleased because I would assume he assumed he had been stiffed.  I started out the door when he spotted me.  He smiled broadly and came toward me.  I went back inside with him and gave him the money for the bill.  He gave me my change, I gave him a good tip which really made him smile and I left to walk back to the hotel.

 

I was still hungry after the spaghetti experience.  I decided to go out and find a grocery store and see if I could get some snack food to top off my meal.  I went down to the street and walked along looking for a grocery store.  I knew what I was looking for from my experience in Sevilla.  A grocery store is one of the less obvious places of business in Spain or at least in the inner city.  The philosophy could be that if you sell food that one prepares for oneself, that population will find you no matter how obscure the location.  Tourists don’t fix there own!  Restaurants are out front! 

 

After a couple of blocks I found what I was looking for located back off the street in an alley about 50 feet from the main street.  I went in and looked at the junk food.  It was all from the States.  I picked up some potato chips (Lays) and “Texas” style nachos chips.  I bought a small bag of the nachos chips because I was not sure about the “heat.”  I carried my stuff to the counter and two locals were waiting to pay but a guy who looked like the owner came up to the checkout counter and basically waved the clerk and the other customers away and took my order.  Not sure why but maybe he was impressed that a tourist would be in his store.  Also don’t forget I am becoming so Spanish! 

 

I took my purchase back to the room and ate it all.  The nachos were great.  I should have bought the big bag!  After my snack I sacked out.  It had been an interesting and enjoyable riding day.

 

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Costa del Sol ride  - DAY 2 - Jerez de la Frontera to La Lena de la Concepcion

 

     

..our favorite food in Spain became tapas...we started in  the Tapas bars in Seville and moved up to tapas restaurants..

 ...the road turns right after the tree ahead and then begins to climb...there was significant climbing on day 2 on my ride south to the Mediterranean Coast...  

 ...the photo I took of Gibraltar as I rode past on my way to the hotel in La Lena de la Concepcion...  

 

Plan for the day - December 30 - Today would be the second day of my Costa del sol Ride.  The ride would begin in Jerez de la Frontera and end in La Lena de la Conception on the Mediterranean Coast near Gibraltar.  The distance would be 116 km or about 68 miles. 

Getting started - I went down to the hotel lobby in search of breakfast at fifteen minutes to eight.  I had learned on the trek to Palma Del Rio that “God helps those who help themselves” when it comes to getting a meal at a hotel in a small town in Spain.  There was a different gentleman at the reception desk.  “Habla English” I asked.  “A little” was the response. 

 

I asked if the hotel had breakfast and he responded “but of course.”   How silly of me!  He said “coffee with cream.”  I responded “American Coffee.”  “Espresso” he asked.  “No, coffee” I responded.  He then asked if I wanted a “baguette and mermelada.”  I said yes and he disappeared. 

 

I created text for my journal on the back of my mapquest sheets while I waited.  He soon returned with a glass full of coffee and a small pitcher of milk.  “Oh great” I thought, another “Spanish eating experience.”  I diluted the coffee with the milk, added sugar and took a sip.  It was great! 

 

I realized that this was the mistake I had been making in Sevilla for 14 days.  I would ask for Café Americano and they would bring me espresso.  Then I would ask for milk to fill the cup to the brim.  They always gave me these strange looks and now I understood.  I ordered espresso and then cut it with milk.  If I wanted coffee with milk why did I order espresso?

 

I hear him talking with someone in the next room.  The conversation stopped and he walked past me out the door.  I thought, “this hotel is really classy.”  He has to go to the grocery to get a baguette!  He soon returned and appeared at my table with a plate containing the oblong baguette that was better than the long skinny ones I was served most often in Sevilla.  The mermelada was melocoton.  Not one but two melocoton mermeladas!  I was in hog heaven.  I asked for a second cup of coffee, drank it and returned to my room to put on my bike gear. 

 

I decided that I should eat a power bar before I left but could not bring myself to eat it.  I carried my bike downstairs and stopped at the desk to pay my bill.  After paying the bill I pulled out my map and asked how to get to the route I had chosen, A381.  He told me to go straight down the street, under the railroad tracks (viaduct) and turn right immediately. 

 

I also asked about the road itself since I had been told to avoid the road I had selected for my return to Sevilla in Palma Del Rio.  He told me that the roads were very flat and that at one spot there was a climb but “no problem for a bicycle.”  Famous last words.   

 

Today’s adventure - I left the hotel and walked along the same street that I had walked along to get to the hotel.  I walked west along the street.  I quickly reached the end of the one way street and decided to stop and eat my power bar before I started my ride.  I did not want to bonk after ten miles. 

 

During my energy consumption I decided to walk down the street toward a sign to determine if it contained information about my route.  It did, indicating the direction to take to find A381 and I saw a railroad viaduct that the hotel receptionist had indicated that I would have to pass under before turning onto A381. 

 

I finished the power bar, got onto my bike and rode under the railroad tracks.  A roundabout on the opposite side indicated A381 immediately to the right so I turned onto the street.

 

The street was surfaced with cobblestones and my aluminum bike I were having a very uncomfortable ride.  I spied a service station on the opposite side of the street and rode in.  I asked a fellow who was standing by his car by pointing to A381 on my map to confirm my decision to take the street in front of the gas station.  He did. 

 

I returned to the washboard (I wonder how many people know what a washboard is?) and after a few more teeth rattling blocks was rewarded by a smooth street.  The road was downhill out of the town or city which was typical of the location of the cities in Spain. 

 

As I rode out of the city I heard something bouncing along the road with me.  I stopped slowly, checked the tires and looked for something missing from my bike. 

I dismounted and found that my rear light which was clipped to my clothes trunk had   dislodged.  I rode back down the road about 100 yards to retrace my path and located the light at the bottom of the cement ditch that ran immediately along the side of the road.   

 

I leaned down to pick up the light while holding my bike upright on the road.  Not an easy maneuver.  It was quite a stretch, and as I worked two large trucks and several cars passed.  If the light was lying in the road it would have been history. 

 

I tested the light and it worked fine.  No apparent physical damage so I clipped it back into the sleeve at the rear of the bag.  I also pulled the drawstring from the water bottle pocket at the rear of the clothes trunk tight around the light just as a secondary safety measure. 

 

I continued for about fifteen more miles and stopped for my second power bar of the day.  I was about half way to La Lena De la Concepcion.  I thought I would call my wife and tell her about the day thus far.  As I reached for the phone it rang.  I let it answer automatically and relayed my position to my wife and told her I had entered an area of low hills.  I told her that I assumed from my conversation with the hotel clerk in Jerez De la Frontera that the worst was over.  I told my wife I would call her from the hotel and rung off.

 

I finished eating and continued my ride toward La Lena de la Concepcion.  I climbed a couple of small hills.  Since putting an inclinometer on my bike I know that most hills on a major highway are 5%.  I stopped on the flat to take a picture. 

 

A short time after I continued, the road began to climb through a series of hills with 5% to 7% grades.  I had ridden about 39 miles.  It was my assumption, based on the information that the hotel guy had given me, that I could expect only to have to climb a few hills. 

 

At first I attacked each hill and climbed to the top as fast as I could.  Then I reached a hill with a 5% grade that was three miles in length.  It took the wind out of my sails and at the top I looked around me and saw nothing ahead but more hills.  I realized that I would be climbing for some time before I would reach the last of the climbs and descend to La Lena de la Concepcion, which was on the beach.  

 

As I continued on the way to La Lena de la Concepcion I flashed back to the “Seven Sisters” or “Seven Bitches” that Jack took my wife and I on during a ride in San Francisco.  On the ride from Jerez de la Frontera to La Lena de la Concepcion I again felt like I was riding on the “Seven Bitches.”  I climbed one hill after another with little time to recover after each climb. The climbing continued for the next 10 miles.  During that time I climbed a 10% grade (very short about 100 yards) and several 7% and 8% grades. 

 

I had my second forty mile an hour descent experience during the Costa del Sol ride.  I reached the top of a climb and I was tired.  Injury was not on the top of my list of concerns.  The shoulder was not wide and the road was not straight to the bottom.  It did turn a bit and the road was hidden from view around the corners.  Traffic was light so I moved onto the road (my half) and went for it. 

 

As I started the descent I saw a truck climbing up behind me.  I let her roll and never saw the truck again until after I had started the climb to the top of the next hill.  I leaned hard into the turns and found myself in a roundabout at the bottom which was unexpected, but I had decelerated sufficiently to hold the road.

 

I rode through several tunnels on the road to La Lena de la Concepcion.  I was surprised that the Spanish had cut tunnels through the hills to reduce the grade to the top of a hill.  It had appeared to me as I rode that they just laid their roads to the top of the hill without concern for the grade. 

 

Some of the tunnels I encountered were on a 5% grade and the grade actually continued through the tunnel.  For some reason I thought the tunnel would level out once I entered it, but it did not.  This may be true of the tunnels in the States as well, but I do not know. 

 

The shoulder along the sides of the tunnel appeared to be minimal but that could be just an illusion because of the wall.  The noise level was very high.  In one tunnel, which I would estimate to be about half a mile long, the noise was deafening.  It also had a slight bend in it which meant that you could not hear or see what was coming behind you.  I was relieved when I reached the exit.       

 

The A381 dumped me onto the coast road I knew from my mapquest maps that I had to turn south to La Lena de la Concepcion. I turned off east/west coast route, the N340, onto the N351 that took me directly South.  As, during the exit from Palma Del Rio, I almost missed the turn off at a very large intersection.  Fortunately, I stopped and read all of the signs and then actually got off my bike to walk back to a sign that I could not read from my current position. 

 

When I reached La Lena de la Concepcion, I decided to follow the rule that I had adopted on my bike trips in Spain.  If I was confused about location, I stopped and asked someone.  A guy was walking past along the sea wall so I asked him for directions.  He did not speak English and indicated that I would have to ride back north. 

 

I got back on my bike and began to ride north along the street but the wind was very strong against me.  I decided that I should try again because I had ridden a long way and to ride up hill against this wind would do me in.  I entered the parking lot of a hotel along the street and approached a fellow standing by the door.  “Mi Espanol es muy mal. “ I said.  Without missing a beat he replied “My Spanish is not very good either” in a British accent.  

 

We both laughed and I told him I was looking for the Hotel Mediterranean.  He said I am not sure exactly where that is but he said the receptionist at the desk spoke perfect English and would help me locate the hotel. 

 

I went inside with him and we talked to the lady behind the receptionist desk.  She gave me directions, and I did not have to ride north.  I simply had to ride east to the hotel!  She suggested that I ride to the tip of the peninsula that La Lena de la Concepcion was located on and ride around to the opposite side where I would find my hotel.  The British guy told me I could cut the trip in half by going directly east a few blocks down. I thanked them and hopped on my bike and rode south.

 

I decided not to try the east route because I was sure that finding the end of the peninsula would be easy.   The traffic was heavy at lands end because a large number of people were driving across the causeway or bridge to Gibraltar.  I did my “ugly American on a bike trick” and cut traffic to the opposite side of the street and broke into the open and headed around the end of the peninsula. 

 

I rode back up the other side passing gun emplacements which I assume were left over from World War II.  After about a mile up the other side I located the hotel. My second riding day of the Costa del Sol Ride was over. 

 

Today’s landscape - The first 20 miles along the A381 was again like riding through the San Joaquin Valley in California.  This time however I saw more farm animals.  Before the bike arrived from its tour of Madrid, we had commented on the small number of farm animals we had seen on the farms as we drove between various cities in Andalucia. 

 

Now as I rode along A381 I saw cattle, milk cows, horses and sheep in numbers. To digress, I did see two donkeys hobbled at an intersection eating the grass along the road on the trip to Palma del Rio. 

 

The crops on the ride to La Lena de la Concepcion were again difficult to determine because there were a large number of plowed fields.  It was December so the planting season must be in early Spring. I did see another field of cotton. 

 

After reaching the coast road I approached a sign which read “izquierda” to La Lena de la Concepcion!  I took the exit and rode with the traffic on a four lane road.  After a short ride of about two to three miles I saw Gibraltar on my right.  It just came up out of the sea like Mount Hood in Portland.   It was just standing there alone without any surrounding landmass to give one a perspective.  I rode over to the sea wall and decided I would have to use the remainder of my film to take the picture.  I stood for a few minutes just taking in the view.

 

My room that evening had a balcony that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea.  As I sat there I could see fish jumping, boats of all types cruising by, and sea gulls diving into the water after the fish.  I wished I had my binoculars.  If they were not so heavy to carry they would have been fun to have.  I saw a flock of about ten pink birds flying by.  I assumed they were flamingos but cannot confirm that.  It was very pleasant, beautiful, and relaxing. 

  

Bicycling notes The weather was sunny and mild all day.  It was perfect riding weather.  There was no wind.  The road surface was good with a "small" but useful shoulder.  The traffic was moderate but bike friendly.  

 

During the energy food stops on the ride I consumed power bars plus a couple of the peanut butter crackers that I had bought at Costco for the trip.  I had included the crackers in my riding diet because the GUE and power bars, plus the water supplement that I consumed during a ride sometimes made my stomach a little ugly.  

 

The crackers turned out not to be the solution. The crackers were a little heavy and I think there was a competition for body resources between support for the legs and support for cracker digestion.  Anyway after two attempts at cracker supported mid-ride meals I aborted them.

   

The climbing on the ride was difficult.  The Spanish build their roads to match the terrain.  I first noticed this on the drive from Ronda to Sevilla.  During construction, if a hill is encountered, the road goes straight up the hill.  No switch backs just go to the top.  If the grade is 5% ok, if 10% ok, just go to the top.  As a result I could see the top, or my goal at the bottom of the climb and it could be miles away.   A bit defeating. 

 

I longed for switch backs.  There is something wonderful to see a bend in the road on a hill which allows you to fantasize about being at or near the top of the hill.  Even if you are disappointed over and over again there is always the hope that the next turn is downhill! 

 

I only saw two places in Spain where the hill was cut to reduce the grade on my ride to the coast.  Both were at tunnel openings to reduce the grade before entering the tunnel.  “Sporting of them,” I thought. 

 

The other aspect of the Spanish roads that made bicycling difficult was that the distance on the downhill side of a grade was not long enough to allow you to recover.  I would top the grade and ride down a shorter distance on the opposite side and begin going up again.  The short down hills were the result of a group of foothills at the bottom of a big climb, each being a bit higher than the last as the road approached the final climb to the top.  I had not recovered from the climb up each of the smaller foot hills before reaching the last big hill in the series.  It was quite exhausting!  After climbing over the last "big" hill in the group it was a roller coaster ride down the other side.    

 

In Spain I had a small piece of luggage that mounted on a rack (arm) that attaches to my bike seat post.  The trunk was used to carry bike clothes and clothes I changed into at the hotel.  At the rear of the bag was a pocket for a water bottle which had a cloth strip for a tail light clip. I had my tail light hooked onto the bag as I exited Jerez de la Frontera.

 

Just outside of the city I heard something bouncing along the road with me.  I stopped slowly, checked the tires and looked for something missing from my bike.  I dismounted and found that my rear light become unclipped and fallen off.  Bouncing along the cobblestones must have caused it to dislodge, but there was also the possibility that I attached the bag to the rack at the hotel I had placed the light in a position which allowed it to jump off my bike after a few miles. 

 

I rode back down the road for about 100 yards to retrace my path looking for the light.  Not finding the light I reversed direction riding along the same route.  Two large trucks and several cars passed as I retraced my steps.  If the light was lying in the road it was history.  After riding a bit further, I spied the light resting at the bottom of the cement ditch that ran immediately along the side of the road.  I stopped and got off my bike, and leaned down to pick up the light while holding my bike upright on the road.  Not an easy maneuver.  It was quite a stretch, as traffic continued to pass on the narrow road, but I latched onto it.  I tested it and it worked fine.  No apparent physical damage so I clipped it back into the pocket at the rear of the "clothes" bag. 

 

The pocket had a drawstring for the purpose of securing a water bottle.  I pulled the drawstring tight around the light just as a secondary safety measure.  When I reached the hotel in La Lena De la Concepcion I found the light swinging by the drawstring. 

 

Everyone smokes in Spain or at least there are a large number of smokers.  Before I left the hotel in Jerez I saw a woman lying on a couch in the lobby smoking while she watched TV.  I assumed it must have been the wife of the clerk who fixed my breakfast, and I assumed was the person who he had talked to earlier before stepping out. 

 

I was surprised that since she was in the next room from where I ate breakfast that I did not get a headache from the second hand smoke.  Typically in the States when I encounter a smoker my nose immediately begins to stop up and I get a headache. 

 

In Spain the smoke did not have the same foul smell as the smoke does in the States and no ill effects.  We talked about our reaction to the smoking and came to the conclusion that they must put an additive in the tobacco in the states that makes it more toxic.  Later, discussing this with my daughter, she said that during her stay in Spain that people would ask if you had US cigarettes because they were superior.

  

Post ride activity - I carried my bicycle inside and introduced myself at the desk.  There was a large group eating in the hotel’s restaurant.  There were two tour buses outside and I assumed they were about to take that bus.  The hotel receptionist said that she was giving me a room upgrade at the same rate.  It was all I could do not to pull the old "weak eye" on her.   I carried my bike up to my room and settled in. 

 

I sat on the balcony of my room overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and wrote in my journal for the day.  I went back down stairs and got a second bottle of “aqua con gas” and returned to sit on the balcony.  I called Jack and left a message to the effect that I was overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the temperature was in the 70’s, and I was sorry he was not with me.  

 

My riding clothes were becoming very rank after two days of riding.  I had carried a bungee cord with me in my camelback because I never knew when another bungee cord experience would surface.  I was ready.  I threaded the bungee cord through my clothes and tied them to the balcony railing where they blew in the breezes of the Mediterranean.  I was now the real ugly American with my laundry hanging from the balcony of a three star hotel!  It should be noted that my clothes did not smell bad the next morning.

 

I ate dinner at the hotel in La Lena de la Concepcion.  No running around trying to find a restaurant in a strange place.  I was also tired!  I was the only one having dinner, which I found to be typical on my Costa del Sol ride.  There were two other guys in the place both from the States but they were drinking at one of the tables.  I did not talk to them but I could tell from the conversation where they were from. 

 

There was a small dog running loose which I assumed belonged to the hotel staff.  When my meal was served the dog came over, sat by my table and stared at me.  He obviously thought that I would give him some food.  I ignored him, assuming that one of the hotel staff would come over and get him.  That did not happen.  After a bit the dog became frustrated and began to bark.  I thought this would surely bring support from the staff but it did not!  They just ignored the dog.  I finished my meal and ordered dessert.  After a while the dog left, as did I.  I went to my room and hit the hay as they say in Kentucky! 

 

return



 Costa del Sol ride - DAY 3 - La Lena de la Concepcion to Fuengirola - 63 miles

 

 

...we grabbed lunch at the Plaza de Potro during our tour of Granada while waiting for my bike to arrive from London...

...the temperature in Seville was in the high sixties and low seventies for our December adventure in Costa del Sol...

...we toured the Alhambra in Granada while I waited for my bicycle to join me in Spain...

...we continued to get lost in Spain.  I had more success riding my bike I would assume because it is easy to read the road signs at 5 miles an hour...

 

 

Plan for the day - December 31 - Today would be the third and final day of my Costa del sol Ride.  The ride would begin in La Lena de la Conception on the Mediterranean Coast near Gibraltar and be complete when I reached Fuengirola. The cycling distance for the day would be 63 miles.

Fuengirola is a suburb of Malaga and we would leave for London from the Malaga Airport the following day.  Tonight we would celebrate New Years Eve at our hotel in Fuengirola.   

Getting started I woke up and went through the routine of putting my bike gear together and packing my clothes into my bike bag.  I am tired.  I was still suffering from the ride the day before.  The ride through the hills must have taken something out of me.  I thought that I had slept well but I was still dragging.  Maybe a few turns on my bike will bring me back.

 

I went downstairs to wait for the start of breakfast.  Breakfast at the hotel was a surprise!  There was meat, cheese, rolls, juice, fruit, bread, coffee, etc.  It made up for dinner which had cost 15 EUROS and was nothing special.  My wife was right.  Tapas is the only way to go for dinner in Spain. 

 

After breakfast I brought my bike down from my room and went to the desk.  I paid for my room and asked the clerk about the route I had chosen.  I planned to ride N340 along the Mediterranean coast to my destination Fuengirola.  He asked if I planned to take “Costa N340.” I was not sure what that meant but I said yes.  He said “Costa N340” would provide a beautiful view of the coast and he began to give me directions from the hotel to "Costa N340." I would take A383 from the hotel north (the Mediterranean Sea was South!) to the N340.  I would then take the N340 east to Fuengirola.

 

Before I left the hotel I had decided that today there would be no heroics.  I would chug along on the hills until the adrenaline kicked in.  I would be very conservative on the 5% grades.  I would not ride as I had the day before and crank in my second ring until I was exhausted on the hills.

 

Today’s adventure - I went outside, crossed the street in front of the hotel, got on my bike and headed North on the A383.  I quickly found myself on a hill climbing away from the Mediterranean Coast.  The hill from the coast began with a 5% grade which increased after a mile to 7%.  I could see the top of my climb miles ahead.  The road took a slight turn to the North West which allowed me to see the cars and trucks as they came over the hill heading south to appear at the zenith and then grow in size as they raced to my position their assent.

 

I had moved to my third ring immediately when the climb began, unlike the day before, and was cranking slowly to the top.  I remembered what my son Jack had told me about the first Death Ride in Northern California in which he had participated when he thought he was doing well until a man walked past him up the hill!  I kept looking over my shoulder to see if someone on foot was gaining on me. 

 

The hill transitioned into a 10% grade about a quarter of a mile from the top.  A grade change like this one is as bad as someone yelling in a marathon that I only have two and a half miles to the end when I thought it was only half a mile to the end!   I had a good rhythm on the 7% grade but now on the 10% grade a voice in my head took over my thoughts.  The voice began, “You could stop now and take a look at the glorious view.  That is why you came to Spain you know.”  Thanks! 

 

I had to reach back and get something extra to finish the hill.  I decided to get my mind off my legs and I began to concentrate on my breathing. Since my legs were already screaming at me I thought lets see if we can lower the breathing rate in an attempt to forget how far the top is from my current location.  One, two, three…..one, two, three as I slowly covered the remaining few hundred yards. It was obvious that my 5% training in California did not prepare me for the 10% grades at the end of the climb.  I had climbed the Santa Susana Pass at least 4 times in the last two days before leaving on the trip as part of the flat riding I expected in Espana!  Santa Susana has a maximum grade of 5%!

 

The wind was blowing very hard when I left the hotel but appeared to be blowing west to east.  I had a lot of time to observe the foliage bending to the wind on my climb from the beach.  Since I was going Northwest the wind was pushing me sideways on "the climb" which I have decided to name the “Agony of La Lena De la Concepcion.”

 

When I reached the top and started a short descent to the N340, I continued my conservative riding.  I was convinced that the macho riding of the day before had sapped my strength or at least made my muscles sore.  I would not make the same mistake today.  I would ride into that zone that riders get where progress is everything and the body parts and problems are pushed into the background. I would use my third ring and enjoy the view.  I am a downhill specialist! 

 

I coasted down the other side and quickly reached the N340 onramp.  I looked for signs saying no bikes allowed.  Finding none I entered the highway.  It was New Years Eve and the traffic was light.  Great for bicycling!

 

When I had intersected with the N340 highway the day before, it was a zoo!  The traffic was heavy and in a foul mood!  The time of my arrival meant that it was after work commuter traffic.  I had to play mongoose and snake with the drivers and the large number of enter points to the highway meant I had to stay on top of my game!  I had been up to the task!  I did not get hit!  The light traffic was quite a contrast as I entered the N340 today. 

 

I reached a section in the road as I rode along the coast where the N340 split into a “Y” as the road to Jerez had done providing me with my "truck sandwich experience."  One leg continued almost due East along the coast and the second Southeast.  Unsure as to which leg I should take I pulled off the road and pulled out my map.  I looked at the map and convinced myself that I should stay on the leg of the “Y” that went due East.  From where I stood I would have to cross over the two lanes of traffic that was headed Southeast. 

 

I moved to the shoulder, waited for a break in the traffic, and moved toward the Eastern leg.  A car traveling along the outside lane approached and competed with me briefly as I moved to the shoulder of my selected route.  He was angry and blew his horn as he drove past me.  I want to note that it was the only car horn that was directed at me while cycling in Spain.

 

The road was flat, a few rollers, but I maintained my discipline and did not go for it.  I assumed the adrenalin would kick in soon and the ride from the day before would be behind me.  As of now it had not.  After a few miles (20 mile point) I reached a sign that read N340 Costa to the right.  I saw that the main N340 route started to climb in front of me so I assumed I had slipped the noose.  The Costa route turned South.  I rode South for about half a mile and entered a roundabout and found that my exit was at a right angle to my entry point.  I reached my exit point from the roundabout and looked up the road to see a climb ahead.  I had not escaped as I had thought.  The grade was 7% but it only lasted for a mile.  I worked on my breathing and cranked to the top in my third ring. 

   

The adrenalin kicked in and I was beginning to crank.  The flat road helped a bit also.  I actually found myself going 30 miles an hour on the coast due to a slight grade and a very strong wind at my back.  I thought this must be how Lance Armstrong had felt as he followed his team in the Peloton!

 

I rolled into the outskirts of Estepona where we had spent our first night in Spain at a Marriott on the Mediterranean Coast.  The road was blocked for construction.  I was rerouted into the town and immediately got lost on one way streets.  I stopped, pulled out my map and asked one of the locals standing at a newsstand for help.  It did not work.  After we looked at each other for a time trying to fathom what the other was saying, he gestured that I should go back the way I had come into the city.  

 

Using my Jerez De la Frontera experience I walked along the street in the direction I had come.  I saw a couple of John Arms and approached them with “habla engles?”  “A little” was the response.  I asked “carterrera N340?”  He looked puzzled and after saying “carretera N340” several times he said “road?”  I responded with “yes.” 

 

I could not get in the habit of saying “si.”  I also realized, thinking about it later as I continued to ride that, “three four zero” means nothing in Spanish, or if it does it does not mean what I want it to mean.  He told me to turn back in the direction I had been riding and ride until I reached a roundabout.  Take the road marked N340 Costa from the roundabout.   “You want Costa for bicycle” he said.   After “gracias,” I rode away on the single lane, cobblestone street being chased by the cars behind until I reached the roundabout.

 

I reached the roundabout.  I rode around it and entered the N340 approaching a 5% grade with zero momentum.  After I struggled over the crest of the hill I encountered a line of cars waiting for a light to change.  I did the same thing I do in LA, which is to work my way along the right side of the cars until I reach the traffic light.  As I approached the light I came upon a drain with large holes in the grate running parallel to my bike tires.  The holes were large enough to consume a significant portion of a tire.  I was travelling fast enough to bounce across the opening and stay upright.  I had been lucky and looked for and checked out the drains in the street the rest of the way. 

 

Estapona was larger than I had realized.  I had ridden into the older part.  I entered the new part farther east along the coast.  It was very commercial.  The N340 was a four lane highway along the coast with commercial property on both sides.  It was the highway I had driven on from the Malaga Airport to the Marriott where we spent our first night after arriving in Spain.  I decided to stop at the Marriott (the Playa Andaluza Resort) to see if a room was available at the rate I had received on our arrival.  

 

I saw the same Marriott signs that I used on our arrival in Spain but I knew where I was going this time so I basically ignored them.  When I reached the guard shack, the guard said he could not let me in without a reservation.  I told him the scam I wanted to pull and after a little persuasion the desk folks agreed to let me in and to determine if the rate was available.  They were unable to give me the "special" rate.  I thanked them for their efforts and rode back to N320 for the final miles to Fuengirola.   

 

The signs along N340 indicated that I was entering Fuengirola.  I began to look for somewhere to ask for directions.  Again there was an old section and a new section.  I rode off at the first exit and found a hotel.  I asked at the reception desk and the lady produced a map and directions.  I got back on my bike, rode back to N340, and, as instructed, took the next exit and rode about two miles to the beach.  At the beach I turned East along the Mediterranean.

 

I missed the hotel (so what is new) and rode to the far end of the beach front.  I assumed I had passed the hotel so I turned around and started back.  I stopped once again and asked for directions, got them and started again.  I found the hotel exactly where the lady at the hotel where I had stopped for directions had marked on the map.  The problem again was the landmarks for real did not resemble the map. 

 

I had completed my Costa del Sol adventure.

 

Today’s landscape As I waited for the start of breakfast at the hotel in Fuengirola, I looked out the front of the hotel at the Mediterranean Sea.  The sun had not surfaced above the sea and I watched it creep over the horizon.  When the sun popped up over the horizon it was a bright orange half-circle that grew into a ball.  When the sun had grown to full size it appeared as a large, bright orange ball sitting on the Mediterranean Sea.  Muy bueno en Espana!

 

Just west of Fuengirola, I saw a nude woman standing on some rocks located just above the beach.  I just caught a glimpse of her as I rode past.  In that brief moment I observed, she had long dark hair, full breasts, a slender waist, firm thighs and legs, sported a light tan, had a small mole on her right cheek, a well manicured pubic area, red toe nails and long finger nails.   She was trying not to be obvious as she stood on a high point of the rocky coast line in plain view of the coast road.   Having difficulty staying upright on my bike while holding my hand to cover my eyes as I rode past at 2 miles an hour, I accelerated on toward Fuenigorla.

 

At the completion of the third day of riding the hotel I had reserved for New Year's Eve was located in the coastal town of Fuengirola. I arrived and discovered that the town looked a little unorganized, meaning that it looked as if it had grown up rapidly and sprung from the earth to support a tourist population that was hungry for a little coastal experience.  After riding through the town after I arrived I found that it was much like Estepona.  I would guess the southern coast of Spain is a bit unorganized after centuries of travellers enjoying this area.  

 

Bicycling notes Today I stepped out of the front door of the hotel to test the "coastal" temperature.  It was comfortable without a thermal shirt or a jacket.  The weather had been sunny on the Costa del Sol ride.  I would guess it was 50 degrees in the morning and in the low 70’s by noon.  For the ride from Sevilla to Jerez De la Frontera I wore a thermal shirt under my riding shirt.  By opening the vents on my Gortex jacket I was comfortable.  I dressed the same way before I left Jerez de la Frontera and I was hot all day even with the front and the sleeves of my jacket open.  It must have been 10 degrees warmer that day.

 

Before I left the hotel at Gibraltar I told one of the desk people that I was very surprised by the weather.  He said the weather was typically better than it had been.  He said it never rains in November and December.  They typically have their rain in March.  I told him that I had been watching the weather reports for Spain on the web and it had rained every day for three weeks before we left the States.  He said, “Yes but do not forget this is the year that Europe has had the record heat and the weather has been anything but typical.  Rain at this time of year is unusual!”

 

I would describe the road along the coast as being very much like Highway 1 along the coast in LA.  Businesses and homes in some places hugged the road reducing the shoulder.  The road was flat accept for the 7% hill following which the road became flat again with a few rollers that had gentle climbs.  The shoulder was in good shape.  A guard rail accompanied about 25% of the time, but that was the only concern to a rather stress free ride.  The shoulder was very wide in places and was never less than three feet wide.  The shoulder was relatively smooth, sometimes with gravel but with very little debris.  I saw glass along the shoulder at the most five times during my ride in Spain (325 miles on the bike). 

 

When I had intersected with the N340 highway the day before heading for Gibralter, it had been a zoo!  The traffic was heavy and in a foul mood!  The time of my arrival meant that it was after work commuter traffic.  I had to play mongoose and snake with the drivers and the large number of enter points to the highway meant that I had to stay on top of your game!  I was up to the task!  I did not get hit! 

 

The water drain grate that I encountered on the ride was scary.  All of the grates that I had encountered before had been placed with the drain "slots" placed at right angles to the tires.  After the experience of having my tires sink in the drain, I began to look at each grate I approached.  I found about 10% were not at right angles to a bike tire.  This was the only place in Spain, Estepona, that I encountered this problem but it may be common.  I became much more cautious approaching each grate not wanting to do a header as a bike friend in LA had done.  I was riding with my friend in California when he took a header while attempting to cross a railroad track that crossed the road at an angle.  His front wheel had dropped in between the tracks in Ventura County at a crossing.  He was in the emergency room for about 4 hours while they stitched up his face!

 

When I am cycling in traffic I coast along the curb approaching the front of a line of cars at a traffic light.  I did this maneuver throughout my ride in Spain and the drivers did not punish me for it.  During the "bike tire grate trauma" I reached the second car as the light changed and I coasted along the side of the second car.  The first car pulled away and the second car seeing me hesitated so I accelerated to go in front and squeeze through.  The "anti-bike-tire grate" appeared between the street and the curb and my tire could sink into it.  I did not realize the slots in the grate were bigger than my tire until I was bouncing across it.  I had sufficient momentum so that my tire did not fully sink into the grate.  My front tire hit the far edge of the grate jerking my handle bars slightly sideways and the back wheel only jarred a bit as I bounced across.  I remained upright and I was able to avoid being hit by the second car which was moving closely on my left.  Neither of the two tires blew out and I rode on.  I was still in the hunt!  I had been lucky!

 

I carried my cell phone in my bike shirt pocket and placed the ear piece in my ear under my helmet strap.  After ringing twice the phone would automatically pick up and I was on the air.  I loved this feature of the phone.  About half way up the only climb on the N340, it was 7%, my phone rang.  It was my wife asking what credit card to use to charge the Seville hotel bill to.  My mother-in-law and wife were to leave Seville and meet me in Fuengirola that night at the hotel.  My breathing practice must have worked because that night when I asked my wife if I sounded as if I were dying when she called she said no. (Should I use the old weak eye here?)

 

As I rode along the N340 I encountered a cyclist going in the opposite direction and he waved to me.  When riding in a strange land I appreciate friendly gestures.  “It makes me believe that I am safe and I am among friends.”  I do not believe the cyclists in the US wave that much to each other but in Spain I looked for the acknowledgement!  I am working on waving to all the cyclist I pass in the US. 

  

I decided to note all of the cyclists I saw while in Spain to gauge the country’s interest in bicycle riding.  I saw a bicycle racing team as I rode along the coast road.  There were eight riders drafting on each other on the opposite side of the highway.  They were moving at a fairly good clip down the opposite side of the road which was divided by an island.  I derived the team idea because they all wore the same color of riding jersey.  I rode past two other bicyclists who were dressed in bike clothes.  The dress of the cyclist indicates to me if the rider is using the bike for transportation or out to improve performance.  They were not wonkers!  Both riders were on the opposite side of the road.  I saw two cyclists as I sat relaxing on the balcony of the hotel in Fuengirola.

 

Post ride activity I rode into Fuengirola at 3:30 PM.  I had ridden 68.7 miles from La Lena de la Concepcion to Fuengirola but who's counting!  The last 3 or 4 miles of which was riding through town looking for the hotel. 

 

I had rented what was called an apartment hotel in Fuengirola which I believe means that some of the rooms or suites are rented for a long period of time and others are rented to folks staying a short time.  Anyway it was the cheapest that I could find along the coast near the airport so I took it. 

 

I checked in at the desk and went up to my room.  It was on the eighth floor so no way I was going to carry my bicycle to the room.  I got on the elevator, I turned the bike up on its back wheel and went to the eighth floor.  When I got off on the eighth floor there was paper scattered in the hall and the walls were being painted.  The smell of drying paint was in the air.  Since I found "hotel repair in progress" twice in the hotels I selected on my ride I must assume that this was the slow season for tourists in Spain. 

 

I walked down the hall to my room and went in.  The place consisted of one large room and a bath.  There was a sink and stove at the end hidden in a little alcove.  There was a balcony with no opposing buildings to obscure the view.  Our balcony looked out over the Mediterranean.  It was roomy but nothing great.  I would await the girl’s review of the accommodations. 

 

The last telephone call I had with the girls indicated that they were on their way down the coast touring as they went.  Since they were hours away, and we were in a place where we could fix food, I went out to find a grocery store.  I forgot that it was Christmas so when I got to the big grocery store it was just closing.  I continued down the street which ran along the sea shore looking for groceries.  I found one of the small grocery stores a few blocks down and bought breakfast food.  I bought rolls, cereal, milk, coffee, plus the best champagne they had.  I brought my booty back to the hotel and waited.

 

Since I had missed the hotel on my trip in, I decided to call my wife and help her find the hotel.  I called and told her I would stand on the street where she could see me as she drove along the seashore.  I gave her land marks to look for as she approached my position.  We were set. 

 

Unfortunately my wife passed the exit I had taken and turned further down the N340 highway than I had.  She had to loop back after she entered Feungirola before she could turn onto the street along the seashore.  When I did see her I motioned for her to turn into the street next to the hotel but guess what.  The street was one way against her.  Not something I had realized having ridden my bicycle to the hotel!  She turned on the next street and circled back to the street where the hotel was located.  The ladies looked a little worn from being lost again but we unloaded the car and headed for the room. 

 

They were not impressed with the room but everyone said what the hey!  We are in a so-so room in Spain.  We could have been in a so-so room in LA!  (The room was actually not bad.)  We found that we had to pay to get a remote for the TV.  The running joke became that to shower you must pay extra to have the water turned on, same to flush the toilet, etc.

 

It was New Years Eve and we were on the 8th floor over looking the Mediterranean coast!  We had a terrific view of a large part of the town and the coast itself.  We were drinking champagne from the best I could purchase from the small grocery that I had found on our hotel balcony.  There were New Years Eve parties in progress at the hotels along the street below the hotel. 

 

At midnight the place erupted in fireworks.  We could see fireworks over the Mediterranean originating from ships anchored off the coast.  There were fireworks above the city that had been launched in various parts of the city.  It was quite a show and lasted to a lesser degree all night. 

 

Cycling in Costa del Sol had been a great experience even though British Airways had kept my bike for 7 days.  (P.S. British Airways compensated me "well" for the delay in delivering my bicycle!)

 

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"car free adventure"