Córdoba - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 17, 2019


We’ve been thinking about today’s ride to Córdoba for several days, checking in on the weather forecast obsessively to see which way it would go.  It’s looked clear that rain will be in the picture, but there’s been some question about just how wet it will get and when it will start in. With the significant drop in temperature we’ve also seen, neither of us is enthusiastic about the idea a 39 mile wet, cold ride.  

So that’s one question for the day.  The other is the choice of our route.  There’s a via verde of theoretically decent quality that we could ride most of the way to Córdoba, or we could stick to quiet secondary roads.

Rachael and I aren’t quite of like minds on this.  I’m more inclined to ride, and more inclined to ride on the via verde.  Rachael definitely doesn’t relish 30+ miles of dirt, especially if it’s wet; and she’s not sure about riding at all of its going to be raining the whole way.  She’s done the research and has learned that a bus is available, that takes bikes.

We discuss it over dinner Saturday night, and punt the decision until the morning.

This morning, the weather forecast is improved.  If we get an early start it looks like we should be able to make it in to Córdoba dry - rains aren’t predicted to arrive until one or two in the afternoon.  We decide to bike, and to stay on pavement.  We decide to leave more or less immediately, skipping breakfast at Cafe Roma.  After downing peanut butter sandwiches (and the cold coffee Rachael picked up for herself last night), we check out of the hotel at 8:30.  It’s pretty cold still - 42F - so for the first time on this tour we start out with long pants and warm gloves.

As we wheel our bikes out the door, we are discouraged to find that it’s misting.  So much for the forecast!  We decide to stick with our plan though, and put on the pannier covers as a talisman to hopefully ward off the rains.

Outside the Plateria Hotel, layering up for a cold, possibly wet ride.
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Layered up, we’re ready to roll.  I’m done first, so I tell Rachael I’ll wait for her in the square, two blocks off, and pedal off on the cobblestones.  In the square, I have a brief conversation with a passerby who looks at me and my bike with bemusement.  Frio, I exclaim!  Frio, he concurs.  

I take a photo of the damp square, as documentation of how brave Team Anderson is for starting out in such conditions, and then wait.  A few minutes later I’m still waiting, so I bike back to the hotel.  No Rachael.  Crap.

Plaza de España is cold and damp this morning. It’s lightly misting - too lightly to show in the photo, but enough to be worrisome.
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Who knows?  There are multiple possibilities, but the most obvious is that she misheard or didn’t hear me about meeting in the square, and has started the ride trying to catch up with me.  I decide to chase after her, and bike as far as the Genil Bridge.  If she started off, she certainly wouldn’t cross the bridge and leave town without connecting up.

A few minutes later I reach the bridge.  No Rachael.  Crap x 2.  

In a bit of a panic, I head back to the square.  I realize my phone is on Airplane Mode to preserve its charge so she won’t be able to contact me, and when I turn it off I find a text saying she’s in the square, which is good news.  I bike back toward the square: and as I near it I hear Rachael rather desperately calling my name from somewhere up a side street.  I bellow back, probably waking the neighbors, and we finally succeed in reuniting.

A comedy of errors.  She somehow got lost trying to find the square, and went back to the hotel hoping to find me.  She then went back to the square, found the gent I’d had my brief chat with, and he pointed to the direction I’d biked off on.  And so on.  Great fun.

No harm, no foul.  We finally start biking out of town, together, at 9:10.  So much for our early start - it’s taken us 40 minutes to cover our first hundred yards.  At least it isn’t raining, yet.

A mile later, we come to the turnoff for the via verde.  Always the wit, I suggest that it’s not too late to take it, but Rachael nixes the idea.  It looks wet and muddy, and besides that it looks like there’s more traffic there than on the pavement.  Good point.

Hard to argue that we should take the via verde when it’s buried in traffic.
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We ride.  The weather evolves.  It’s generally misty for a few miles, then dries out.  Then mists.  Then lightly rains.  Then mists.  Then more than lightly rains.  The one constant in all of this is that the sun never comes close to breaking through, and it’s cold.

The first half of the ride actually isn’t bad at all.  We have a bit of help from the wind, it’s fairly flat, and we make good time.  The second half though is a different story.  We come to a fairly short but spiky climb, then drop down steepy on the other side into a cold, damp wind.  Then, repeat.  Then, repeat.  Then, repeat.   Then, repeat.  

After the fifth short, spiky climb, we’re both feeling a bit done in.  The cold is getting to us, we’re getting just a bit hypothermic, we need to get to shelter.

It’s too wet for photos, and there’s not much visibility anyway. When we stop for Rachael to crawl over the railing and hide behind an olive tree for a minute though, I decide to unpack the camera for a quick shot for the memory book.
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Ron SuchanekSounds like winter riding in Portland.
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10 months ago
Finally approaching the last of the five spiky hills, I can’t take it any more and stop to pull the camera out again. It’s obvious that we’re biking through beautiful country, if we could only see more of it.
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Patrick O'HaraNice shot, Scott,
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10 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraThanks. At this point I still wasn’t too cold yet, and was mostly unhappy about imagining the great scenery I was missing. We were tempted to come back this direction the next day on a day ride.
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10 months ago

We arrive in Córdoba before one.  Right on schedule, and an hour earlier than the rains are due to begin.  It’s not our fault that they actually began so much earlier than forecast!  We’re happy at least that the ride into the city is reasonably easy, as we pick up a bike lane not long after entering city limits.  I get a bit of a thrill as I see the famous Roman bridge and the Mezquita come into sight, and a few blocks later we both get a bigger lift when we arrive at our hotel.

Once we stop, my hypothermia becomes more apparent.  When we check in at the hotel I’m even less coherent than usual, and can hardly hold the pen to sign the registration form.  

Twenty minutes later though we’re showered, warmed up just enough to get by, and are sitting down for lunch at the nearest bar we can find.  And an hour after that we’re back in the room, in bed, under the covers for the next hour.  Sightseeing can wait.

Sorry.  No video today.  It just wasn’t the day for it somehow.

At our hotel in Córdoba.
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Doesn’t everyone wear their shirt, coat and pants to bed?
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For dinner, we walk the short distance to the Patio de la Juderia, a restaurant I’ve wanted to revisit for fifteen years after we dined here in 2003.  After all this time, it still rates as our most memorable meal ever.  If you’d like to know why, you can read about it in our first visit to Córdoba.

The place is still the same on the outside, but inside is quite different now with a small flamenco stage and a nightly show.  We made reservations in advance, which is a good thing - the show is sold out.  We enjoy our dinner, the show, our reminiscences, and chats with our neighbors - a British couple who now live in Perth, Australia; and a Swedish father and daughter who now live in nearby Tavira, Portugal.  Afterwards, we walk quickly back to our hotel room and dash under the covers again.

The Patio de la Juderia: September, 2003
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The Patio de la Juderia: November, 2019.
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Revisiting the scene of the crime. Note that my wallet and credit card are at hand, ready for action.
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I forgot to take photos of the main dishes, but the eggplant fries we had as a starter were definitely special.
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The flamenco troupe.
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Not bad, but I’m afraid the performance we saw in Seville may have ruined future flamenco performances for us. I doubt we’ll ever see a better one.
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I believe I remember running up to this intersection fifteen years ago, a bit panicked, wondering which way to go to find my way back to the restaurant and Rachael.
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The west wall of the Mezquita.
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And the south wall. Our hotel directly faces it on the opposite side of the street. We’ll have a peek inside tomorrow.
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One of several drying racks in our hotel room. They worked surprisingly well, and everything was nearly dry by the morning.
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 1,800’; for the tour, 1,728 miles, 53,900’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 1,727 miles (2,779 km)

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Lyle McLeodGlad you and Rachael reconnected. After our similar experience of separation a few weeks ago we have made the decision not to put phones on airplane until we are actually on the road together and minimal route finding is required.
Sounds like a cold day. We are finished our trip and packing the bikes this morning.
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10 months ago
Jen GrumbySo glad you had a nice warm place to stay and a great meal after such an uncomfortably cold ride!
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10 months ago