Málaga to Antequera - Eating Our Way Around Andalucia - 2022 - CycleBlaze

October 12, 2022

Málaga to Antequera

Fiesta Nacional de España/National Day of Spain

Deciding that sleep was important, we didn't set an alarm for our first real biking day.  After breakfast of fruit and yogurt that we'd kept in the hotel fridge, we had a 10:30 start. Traffic was very light, thanks to it being a statutory holiday. And we had dedicated cycle tracks to exit the city. Despite it being a holiday, we noticed that most restaurants and cafes, and a few small grocery stores were still open.  

Once we got out of the commercial area of the city, things went a bit wonky thanks to Komoot.  It sent us on a strange track through a residential area, including the first of many times we'd go the wrong way on a one way street.  I later realized that it was just trying to avoid busier streets, but that wasn't necessary today. 

Up Up Up!  How smart is it that the biggest uphill of the trip is on day 1?  The climbing just kept on going. Our steepest uphill was 15%, and the steepest downhill was a sporty 20%. Lunch was leftover pizza at a wonky picnic table in the middle of a big climb.  We were starting to see some views though, there was very little traffic, and the weather was perfect.  

We were grateful for a water tap at a scenic overlook in Almogia.  And especially grateful because that meant we didn't have to descend into Almogia, or climb back out of that town.  At the same stop, we had some fun taking pictures on a podium they'd built for bike races.

With most of the climb complete, we stopped in the town of Villanueva de la Conception for cold drinks - the first of many orange Fantas for me on this trip. Not something I'd drink at home, but it hit the spot on a hot day. 

After our break for drinks, we rode up past El Torcal, a beautiful mountain. There were lots of people out for a holiday hike.  Our 1350 m+ climb complete, we zoomed downhill to Antequera on a very scenic road. We were threatened by grey clouds, but didn't have any rain. 

On the way down to Antequera, Komoot suggested we take a shortcut on mountain bike trails. This was the first of many times we'd ignore the route suggestions. 

On the last bit of our descent, we saw signs for the GR7, one of the European grand randonnee hiking routes. Wikipedia tells me that the Spanish portion of GR7 is 1900 km long.  Hats off to anyone who walks the whole thing.  Although I like hiking and backpacking, I'm happy to be on a bike here, covering a bit more ground each day. 

It was an easy downhill entry into Antequera, past the local boules pitch.  Not sure what they call bocce/boules in Spain. Antequera is a pueblo blanco - a white town, noted for its many churches and its alcazaba dating from the era of Muslim rule. 

An aside: I'm familiar with using the term Moors to describe the Muslim people who occupied Iberia, but that seems to have fallen out of favour, at least in most of the interpretive things we saw in Spain. The internet seems divided over whether the term is racist because it has been used in a derogatory way in the past, or whether it's just historically imprecise because it doesn't refer to a specific ethnic group (Muslim Spain was not a single period, but was led by a succession of different rulers).  Regardless, the more specific terminology used in Andalucia for lots of the buildings we saw seems to be calling it the Nasrid or Nazari dynasty rather than Moorish. Fun fact: The name Andalusia comes from the term Al-Andalus used by the Arabs to describe the area. And the Nasrid dynasty was the last of the Muslim rulers in Spain.

Bike issues today very minor - Gail’s front brake was sticking a bit, and my brakes were squeaky for part of the day, but quieted down after being used on the steep downhills. So far, so good!

By Canadian standards, we had a slightly late arrival to excellent Hotel Número Uno in Antequera. This was the first of our many 2 star hotels that provided clean and safe accommodation for a great price (under $50 CAD in this case).  Our bikes were safely stowed in an associated building across the street from our hotel - it seemed to have been a long-closed restaurant. 

The hotel's car elevator. Not too many of these in Canada, I don't think.
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Exiting Malaga via cycle tracks on a quiet traffic day
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The uphill begins. Good thing Gail can strap a pizza box to her rack.
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Pizza lunch on a structurally unsound picnic table. But we were grateful for a spot to stop.
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Yup, the hills were steep.
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Views starting to appear.
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I win!
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We had trouble interpreting this sign. One possiblility: 'Caution - aliens have abducted 3 motorists in the past 5 years'. Or 'don't let your drone interfere with a helicopter'. But apparently it has something to do with motorcycle speeds being enforced using drones. That icon is a motorcyclist, not a bicyclist.
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El Torcal
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Almost there. And it's pretty much all downhill, too.
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Fixer upper house on our route - one of many in Andalucia.
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Antequera's alcazaba
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After getting cleaned up, we had beer and tapas on the main square of Antequera, then dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. We ate squid and also porro aqueterana, a local dish suggested by our server, who I think was also the hotel owner.  It was like a super-concentrated salmorejo (which is like gazpacho, but made only with tomatoes and bread, no other veggies).  It was very tasty. 

Porra antequerana
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Sadly, we had no stops for ice cream or treats today. We’ll need to do better tomorrow. 

After our big day, we didn't have much trouble falling asleep.

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Today's ride: 56 km (35 miles)
Total: 66 km (41 miles)

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