I left my three-day, rain-induced camp site in Málaga after I finally gave up on trying to light damp wood for my porridge. And cycled up and up, the sun momentarily appearing from behind the clouds and giving some relief to the coldness of altitude and wind. Much like the small pleasures the downhill provided for my legs; it’s those little moments that keep me going in hard times.
The route I took led me over several high passes at over 1000m each, with pretty awesome views. Reminding me of a great thing about cycle touring: the ability to stop easily at the side of the road and take a picture. So the “viewpoints” which consist of a little parking spot, and are made for motor traffic, are largely redundant and don’t actually offer the best views.
After a long day and a lot of effort, I finally reached the end of the climbs, and could descend into the city of Ronda. Was that a tear in my eye from finally reaching the top? Or was it the chilling wind blasting into my face? Nope. It was a rainstorm. And I got soaked for the first time since I left Barcelona – over a month ago. When you’re cycling downhill at 50km/h and into the wind and rain, it feels like little stones are hitting off your face. And because it was 7.30pm I was cold and wet until I went to bed. Which, by the way, was in an unused field next to the city.
The following morning I put on my wet shoes, and sitting having a nice coffee and a sandwich at a café, I wondered if there was anyone else in Spain eating breakfast with poly-bags around their feet to keep them dry. Probably not. But I’m also pretty sure nobody else slept in Ronda for free that night.
The city itself is incredibly scenic and the only city I’ve been to sitting on both sides of a gorge.
But it is a little touristy, and therefore more expensive than the surrounding areas. From here I pedalled back into the mountainous countryside, and I have to say without any doubt this was the nicest road I had been on in Spain. Smooth, hilly, curvy, with little traffic and amazing views. Just endless scenery. I had to force myself to stop taking pictures.
One annoying thing I noticed though was the startling amount of signs prohibiting access to the land, which consisted of: land. I couldn’t get my head around why people aren’t allowed to walk here.
Rants aside, I stopped at a little village, Algatocín, for lunch and met some nice locals there who were happy to speak in English with me, and apparently proud of their plants.
A strange place with only two points of interest, a church and a supermarket, both with a cross above the door. But it does look pretty splendid sitting there all alone in the leafy hills.
And after Gaucin, it was downhill for about 8km, with an average speed of 50km/h and a view of Gibraltar in the distance. But eventually the nice road ended and I was on a busy and fast road again down to the coast. But hey, it’s those little things that make me happy.