Ronda - Andalucia, Take One - CycleBlaze

September 19, 2004 to September 20, 2004

Ronda

I was surprised when I recreated the map for our ride to Ronda - it was longer and harder than I had remembered.  If we were doing this ride today we would undoubtedly take it slower, with an overnight in Ardales or El Burgo.  Back then of course we were much more time-bound and trying to fit too much into our days.  Most of our early tours were like this, pushing the edge and just a bit too ambitious.  It’s a wonder Rachael put up with it for all those years.

Also, I was surprised looking over the photos to see the one of Rachael pushing up a hill.  This would have been pretty early in the day still, well before we came to what we thought would be the real work of the day - the climb from El Burgo to Ronda over Puerto del Viento, the Pass of the Winds.  I’d forgotten how challenging the first part of the ride was, and mostly remember the final climb.  By the time we got to El Burgo we were already hot and tired, and wishing we could just stay in pretty El Burgo instead of climbing the pass ahead in the hot afternoon sun.  It’s a good illustration of Lessons Learned #5: Go slow; see more by seeing less.

I’m not surprised about the photographs of the landscape though.  Andalucia really is stunning, one of the most beautiful places we’ve cycled.  The colors, the texture of the land, the olive groves contrasting against the red or creamy soils - fantastic.  

Such awesome cycling. This reminds me too of how pleasantly surprised we were by the roads - in great condition, and much quieter than we had been afraid we might find.
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This was supposed to be the easy part of the day.
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Gaitanes Ravine, near El Chorro. The scar across the cliff face and the bridge spanning the ravine are the famously precarious El Caminito del Rey. It’s been reconstructed and tamed since this photo was taken, but at the time it had a reputation as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. Just look at that walkway - just a plank, no railing. Terrifying to imagine.
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El Burgos. Such a beautiful little place. Couldn’t we stop here?
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El Burgos
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Surprisingly again, there are no photographs of our climb over the pass of the winds.  I remember it well enough - a steady climb, not too steep, but hot and exposed.  It’s probably another spot where none of the photographs conveyed anything so I didn’t retain them.   Here though is a photo I took from our second pass through, when we crossed it in the other direction.

We stayed two nights in Ronda.  I had a few ideas for a day ride we could take from here, but we decided we’d just spend the day exploring the town and hiking a bit.  A wise choice - Ronda is an amazing place, well worth taking your time in.

I remember this well. This was in the pre-GPS days of course, and we chose a poor route through town with a fair amount of pushing up steep cobblestone streets.
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Taking a short hike out of town was an excellent use of the layover day, and gave us a chance to see the town and its amazing cliffs from the outside.
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Puente Nuevo, the New Bridge, joins Ronda’s two halves by spanning the sheer-sided chasm of the Guadalevin River.
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Attending a flamenco performance was one of the highlights of the tour. In my mind, I can still imagine hearing the clapping and slapping of the chorus. Wonderful.
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Ride stats today: 58 miles, 6,400’; for the tour: 93 miles, 11,400’

Today's ride: 58 miles (93 km)
Total: 93 miles (150 km)

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