Alcala la Real - Andalucia, Take One - CycleBlaze

October 4, 2004

Alcala la Real

At 76 miles and with 7,000’ of elevation gain, the ride from Granada to Alcala la Real was for me far and away the most arduous stage of the tour; and also the most consequential.   It breaks down into three segments.

Once we left the northern suburbs of Granada behind, I remember the first 20 miles of the ride as some of the best of the tour.  I don’t find any photos to show for it but I remember it as a ride through beautiful rural countryside dominated by olive groves, under uncharacteristically mild conditions.  We were charmed especially by passing through the quiet village of Colomera and its trash collector making the rounds with his donkey and cart.

In Colomera
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In Colomera
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In Colomera
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The next few miles beyond Colomera continued pleasant.  We stopped for some reason that I can’t quite bring back now at a small parklike spot by the Colomera Reservoir, I believe leaning our bikes against a concrete wall but possibly just laying them on their sides on the ground.  I can half picture this in my mind, but I’m not really sure any more.  And I don’t recall if we stopped for a picnic lunch, which seems probable; or possibly just for a nature break before joining the highway for the last half of the ride.

The next twenty miles, the our hotel in Alcala la Real, are clear in my mind.  We were on A-403 the whole way, a minor highway with a good surface, a decent shoulder, a modest level of traffic, and as usual no protection at all from the full sun.  The ride consisted of a series of fairly long gradual ascents and falls,and we kept a good, steady pace the whole way to Alcala to get to our hotel before the day heated up too much.  As I remember, I lead the whole way to help us set a good pace - this was in those old days when I still rode steadily without stopping incessantly with the camera.  We arrived there early in the afternoon.

And, we arrived with only one of Rachael’s panniers, which we did not discover until we were unloading to enter the hotel.  We could, of course, hardly believe it.  We really had no idea how it could have been lost or how long Rachael had been riding without it.  Thinking back, we were certain that it was with us in Colomera, but we were uncertain whether we still had it when we stopped at the reservoir.  Possibly we lost it at one of the stops, or possibly it bounced off as we raced along the highway.

The missing pannier, of course, contained our passports; so it was essential to recover it if at all possible.  As soon as we discovered it was missing, I immediately hopped back on the bike and started retracing our route.  If I could get back to it before someone spotted and collected it for themselves, I felt optimistic that I’d find it - maybe in the first mile or two.

I think I rode all the way back to Colomera, but I’m certain that it was at least back to the reservoir.  I rode most of the way there on the wrong side of the road, against traffic, so that I’d be more likely to spot it if it had fallen into the weeds.  I really couldn’t believe it was lost, but of course it didn’t turn up.  Almost forty miles later I returned to the hotel, not long before sundown, and we spent the evening considering our options.

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Ride stats today: 76 miles, 7,000’*; for the tour: 566 miles, 43,800’

* Includes Scott’s fruitless 38 mile round trip back to Colomera searching for our missing pannier

Today's ride: 70 miles (113 km)
Total: 560 miles (901 km)

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Suzanne GibsonYikes, can't wait for the next installment!
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2 years ago
Jean-Marc StrydomSorry, didn't see the pannier nor the passports. But this is eighteen years post the loss.
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3 months ago