Benaocaz to Jimena de la Frontera - Eating Our Way Around Andalucia - 2022 - CycleBlaze

October 17, 2022

Benaocaz to Jimena de la Frontera

Biggest downhill day of the trip

I had an amazing sleep in the exceptionally quiet town of Benaocaz.  We left just before 10, and started with a screamin’ downhill to the town of Ubrique, which is a bigger place. We'd been unable to find accommodation here though.  Komoot's choice of entry route into town was a bit sporty.  More fun for me than for Gail.

We stopped for coffee (for me) and tea (for Gail) and to buy freshly made bread for a picnic lunch, since there are no towns between Ubrique and Jimena and we had another uphill to conquer.  

We saw numerous people out running, and a banner for an ultra run from Gibraltar to Ubrique in late November. Then we started our long climb out of the beautiful valley. It was pretty windy. Not Calgary windy, but definitely noticeable. At least that meant there were no pesky flies. 

Gail had an upset stomach for much of the day.  Something she ate? Or an overload of delicious cheese? 

One thing we've noticed - although the only churches that we've seen are Catholic, and there are a LOT of them, there aren't nearly as many crosses and random roadside shrines here as in Italy. I think every mountain in Italy has a cross at the top.  But we haven't seen one of those here.

After yet another good climb through the cork oak forest into Los Alcornocales natural park, we discovered that there was a restaurant on route at the top of the puerto de Galiz, and that it was open. It mostly caters to motorcyclists. We stopped for cold drinks.  We've hardly seen any other bike tourists yet, but we did see two people going the opposite directly today, I think on e-bikes, and with very light luggage.  We passed on a big downhill, and didn't stop to chat.

Looking at Ubrique. We had a big downhill start to the day.
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Banner for a local 100 km trail ultra marathon, returning this year after a COVID break.
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Perfect day for a ride.
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Los Alcornocales natural park. The name means 'the cork oak groves'.
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A recently harvested cork oak.
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Much of our climb was in the shade, and it wasn't too hot. Still, a kind motorcyclist stopped to make sure we were okay.
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The mandatory puerto photo. We passed over several cols today.
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We had our picnic lunch at the site of La Sauceda- a former town of 2,000 people wiped out by the Luftwaffe during the Spanish civil war. Strangely, there is no memorial on-site, just a hiking trailhead. And there's reportedly a museum/memorial in our destination of Jimena de la Frontera.

After our longest downhill of the trip, we reached Jimena - yet another town requiring us to have an uphill finish to the day. This is the southern limit of our little loop. We are booked into a really nice multi-level townhouse with treacherous steps throughout. The kitchen is on the lowest level, looking out on the garden. Based on an unscientific poll of overhearing people as they walked around, it seems there are a lot of Brits here. Holidaying, or with homes here?  Who knows.  But we are only about 30 km from Gibraltar, so it makes sense. 

Near the end of the longest downhill of the trip.
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Our street in Jimena.
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Nice living room.
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And beautiful garden.
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While the ailing Gail napped, I went out for groceries, and bought eggs and veggies for a scrambled egg dinner. And found local-ish craft beer at a second grocery store.  We still had some of our lunch bread from Ubrique, so that completed dinner.  

I don't always like to read peoples' tales of unpleasant encounters on the road - sometimes I wonder how the other person might have described the situation. And I like to ask 'what was my role in creating the situation'. But here's one where I think the other party would say 'yup, that sounds right'.  The conversation has stayed with me and made me think, so here goes...  Our 75-ish British neighbour was outdoors on the street chatting to someone on her cell phone when I went out for groceries, and she was still outside when I came back, but no longer on her phone. In passing, I said 'hello, how are you'. She said she was fine, and asked me how I was. I replied that I was 'good'.  Pretty basic stuff. That`s where it got weird. She immediately tore into me for saying that I was `good`, telling me that she HATED when people said that. `She hadn`t asked if I was a good or bad person'. Apparently I should have responded that I was 'well'. She went on, describing her disappointment with the general state of grammar in the world today.  I was too gobsmacked to even reply.  I was rescued from the awkward situation by Gail opening the front door. I rushed in and closed the door.  I wish I`d had a witty reply, but I was just tongue-tied. I hope that this woman was simply having a bad day, and that she doesn't always share her grammar concerns with complete strangers who give the wrong answer to 'how are you?'. [After I returned to Canada I did some Googling. There are a surprisingly large number of websites concerned with grammar and editing that have touched on this question. I`m satisfied that it`s completely okay to respond to `how are you?` with `I`m good`, although I did find one website that thinks it`s wrong. I have become aware that it`s my go-to response, and I suppose that's unlikely to change.] 

We spent some time booked places a few nights into the future. Early to bed, and fingers crossed that Gail will feel better tomorrow. Our big downhill today can only mean one thing: we need to climb out of here tomorrow.

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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 275 km (171 miles)

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