A Bike Tour In Spain: False Starts

This is the first in a series of journal entries from our bike tour of Andalucia, Spain in December, 2010. We provide links to later entries at the bottom of this post.

Our carefully planned winter bike tour of Spain turns out to be one of false starts.

The flight is cancelled because there is too much snow. We unpack our bikes from their bags, rebook the ticket and bike home through the winter storm.

Kids Biking In The Snow

Three days later we try again. Now the snow is so thick we can’t leave home by riding our bikes. We push instead. Our normal 15 minute ride takes nearly an hour. Despite this, we do get to the airport in time and – even more amazingly – the plane actually goes.

We land in Madrid to perfect temperatures and our new Santos bikes have arrived in perfect condition, despite only packing our bicycles in plastic bags.

The next day – after a train journey to the town of Talavera de la Reina – we start cycling and for the first day, we actually have decent weather. We cruise down the hills.

Cruising Down Hills In Spain

We admire the olive harvest.

olive groves

Olive Harvest

And we stop for many cups of coffee. At just €1 each they are cheap and a good way to meet the locals. “Frío! Frío!” exclaims one elderly Spanish mama as she serves us our cafe con leche (coffee with milk) in a tiny village.

Cafe Con Leche

“Cold! Cold!”

Yes, she’s right. It’s cold by Spanish standards. But we prefer cooler weather for cycling so we’re quite happy. As long as it doesn’t rain, we think. Maybe just the thought of rain was enough to tempt fate because soon the heavens open on our heads.

This is our second false start. We have already lost 3 days of our trip to flight delays and now we will lose another 3 because the pounding rain and winds make it impossible to cycle very far. One day we manage just 30km before collapsing exhausted in a hotel.

When we do manage to cycle, it’s a bit of a struggle. But somehow – between the storms – we snap some nice photos.

We wave at the sheep, huddled against buildings for protection against the driving wind and rain.

Sheep in Andalucia

We enjoy the open, quiet roads (there is barely a car to be seen).

Open Roads of Andalucia

And we cheer when we reach the border with Andalucia.

The border between Andalucia and the Extremadura

Now it’s Christmas Eve and we’re promised sun for the next few days. We’re off to cycle some trails, and we hope that we can find some wild camping opportunities.

While we’re out in the wilderness, we next have to think about how to shorten our trip, because with all these delays the original plan of a 1,200km loop is now impossible.

After this entry, go on to Quiet Christmas Cycling, Mud & Mountains, Visiting Granada, Where Will We Sleep?, Cycling In A Painting and Reaching The Peak


  1. Graeme Willgress
    24th December 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Sounds like you’re having all four seasons in one day!! The snow is thick on the ground here making cycling interesting!I hope the weather settles for you and you find some really good places to wild camp. The photos are wonderful and I still feel jealous, lol 🙂

  2. Amaya
    24th December 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Beautiful photos..especially the cosy looking cup of coffee.
    Hope your Christmas wish for some sunny riding comes true! We’re dealing with negative windchill conditions in Patagonia and it’s tough. I can definitely relate to what you’re going through.

  3. Andres Gomez
    24th December 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    Hola amigos:
    Mañana os esperamos en Jaén. Queremos saber en qué hotel os vais a hospedar y así nos tomaremos unos cafés o unas cervezas juntos.

    Os acompañaremos un buen trayecto en dirección a Granada el día 26. Somos un grupo de Cicloturistas de esta ciudad que estamos encantados por recibiros.

    Mi telefono móbil es 657968908. Cuando llegueis a las proximidades de Jaén me llamais y me decís donde estais. Os acompañaremos hasta Jaén.


  4. Andres Gomez
    24th December 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Esta sería la ruta mas adecuada para ir en bicicleta desde Jaén a Granada. Nosotros la hicimos el día 11 de diciembre y fué fantastica.


  5. Andres Gomez
    25th December 2010 at 10:38 am #

    El tren que hace el trayecto directo desde Granada a Madrid no permite el transporte de bicicletas. Por lo tanto hay que hacer una combinación de dos trenes de categoría regional en los que sí esta permitido montar las bicicletas. Es importante advertir, al comprar el tiket, que viajaran dos bicicletas:

    – Granada—Linares/Baeza….. 14h……16.32h./// 12.30€

    – Linares/Baeza—Madrid…….17.57h….21.21h. //25.70€


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