In Almeria: Day 7 - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

March 31, 2024

In Almeria: Day 7

Easter Sunday!  Our last day in Almeria, the last day of March, and if the lying weather map is to believed it’s the last day of this siege of foul weather Andalusia’s been experiencing for the last week.  Just in time, the system is moving on just when we need it to; and starting tomorrow we’re looking at what’s predicted to be a string of two weeks of fair skies and mild winds.  Back on the bikes!

Today though, it’s rain dawn until dusk.  The rains are due to taper off and cease about ten at night, but in the meantime we’re pretty content to stay in the room, enjoy a breakfast of coffee, scrambled eggs and bread with peanut butter, and wait for lunch.  There’s the resurrection procession this morning, but it starts off on the other side of town about a mile away, and we aren’t really interested in going out in the rain to find and wait for it.  We’ve already had way more of a Semana Santa experience than we ever expected to have.

So it’s a good time for indoor activities.  I’ve been running a day behind on the journal, so I’ll finally get current with that for a while at least.  And it’s a good time to start preserving the recently discovered photos from our tour in Australia many years ago that I thought had been permanently lost.

And, since we’re leaving town in the morning, it’s a good time to finalize the plan for the upcoming tour, the stretch between here and Seville.  We of course had to overhaul or outright scrap this part of the tour since we’ve taken an entire week out of our calendar by hanging out here waiting for the weather to change.  This meant abandoning the bike ride west through Malaga, which no longer fit after we took a week out of the schedule.

Plan A: Almeria to Seville, via Malaga.
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To make up for the lost week, we decided to take the bus from here to Granada and then bike west from there through Loja and Antequera, joining the Plan A itinerary at Ardales. 

Plan B: train to Granada, bike to Seville.
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And actually, if we have long memories we’ll recall that plan A here is actually a significant change from the original plan we had booked to when we flew into Barcelona over five weeks ago now.  You’ll recall we got sick, decided that we didn’t trust that we could keep to the itinerary and decided to rent a car for a month.  And then tore that plan up when we decided we could bike after all, as long as we significantly simplified the itinerary by shortening days and cutting out some of the hardest days of the tour.

So, to recap:

  • We arrived in Barcelona with a booked plan that took us from Dénia to Seville by way of the desert interior, the Alpujarras, and Berja.
  • On March 8th, in Palma, when I was perpetually exhausted and fearing I might have long covid, we decided to pick up a rental car in Alicante and drive to Badajoz over the next four weeks.  A frenzy of booking cancellations, modifications and rebookings ensued.
  •  On March 12th in Dénia, realizing after a pair of day rides that I was feeling miraculously recovered, we decided to drop the rental car out of the plan.  We didn’t go back to the original plan though, because it looked too challenging to risk.  We designed a new, easier one on the fly and embarked on a second booking and cancellation madhouse.
  • On March 22nd in Agua Amarga (although we didn’t tell you of this until several days later), we again ripped up our plan, looking at what we believed would be a solid week of biking into rain and gale force headwinds, and decided instead to hole up in Almeria for a week.

Such madness!  But there’s always room for one more plot twist before the final curtain comes down, and here it is.  At the bus station yesterday I was chagrined to be informed that yes, bikes are permitted on the bus, but no - in spite of what the Alsa website asserts, they do not sell bags for bicycles, as they did in Cordoba four years ago.  We still need them to be boxed or bagged though before they’ll be allowed on the bus.

It’s Saturday afternoon, on Easter weekend.  All the bike stores are closed for the day, will of course be closed for Easter Sunday, and in all likelihood will be closed on Monday which is also a national holiday.

After I pass this information on to Rachael, and after she rightly points out that since we’ve been here all week with plenty of time on our hands it would have been much smarter to discover this earlier in the week when resources were still available, we sit down together to consider our options.  Only these come to mind:

  • Find bagging or boxing material somewhere, and hope that whatever we come up with will pass muster at the bus station on Monday.
  • Rent a car.
  • Bike the whole way from Almeria to Seville.

Note that there would normally have been a fourth option here, which is the one we would have chosen in the first place: take the middle distance train to Granada, since this class of train allows bikes and space can be reserved for them.  Unfortunately however, the line is under construction at the moment and the train doesn’t make it all the way down to Almeria.  A temporary bus service  is in place to the next stop up the line where you get transferred onto the train, but it does not allow bikes, bagged or boxed or otherwise.

We do some research: a one way car rental is possible.  And we can at least imagine getting our bikes bagged or wrapped somehow, although in the back of the mind is that what we improvise may not pass muster at the station or the bikes could get damaged on the way to Granada.  It worries me thinking of arriving with a bent rotor or broken derailleur because a suitcase got tossed on it.

So I do some RideWithGPS research and napkin calculations and come up with a plausible route that gets us to Seville in the nine days we have available.  It just fits, with reasonable length days; and once we’ve validated that lodging is available we engage in another, and surely final for this stage of the tour, booking and cancellation frenzy.

And now that we’ve decided on it, we’re both quite enthusiastic about it - because that just seems to be part of the team’s DNA.  It will take us to parts of Spain we’ve never seen before, in particular the high route from here to Granada through Guadix that skirts the northern side of the Sierra Nevada range.

It should be amazing.  I’ll bet the Sierras have a ton of snow from last week’s rains.  Join us!  The mini-tour starts tomorrow.

Plan C (or is it E?): Almeria to Sevilla by bike. 9 days, 275 miles, 14K elevation gain. Overnights in Alhama de Almeria, Abrucena, Guadix, Granada, Loja, Alameda, Osuna, El Arahal, and Seville.
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Kelly IniguezThere's never a dull moment with you two. Excellent recovery plan!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezIt’s been pretty crazy. There’s never been a time quite like this for us, but it’s working out brilliantly. The weather finally turned last night and the next two weeks straight look to be beautiful. It should be amazing.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Kelly IniguezWe aren’t as tough as you and Jacinto so we have to be creative!
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1 month ago
Keith Adams"Our last day in Almeria, the last day of ** May **..."

Getting a bit ahead of yourself, I think.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsYou make a good point, Keith. Thanks!
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1 month ago