“Go back, go back!”
Andrew is shouting but it’s too late. Friedel is already in the midst of the mud that’s washed over the back roads of Andalucia during the recent heavy rains. Once across the worst of the mess, we stop to inspect the damage.
From the front it doesn’t look too bad….
But from the side it’s obvious we’re in trouble.
These wheels aren’t going anywhere. The good news is that we’ve managed to plug our wheels full of mud next to an irrigation channel, so after a mere 30 minutes of “spray treatment” using our water bottles as pressure washers, we’re able to hit the road again. On we roll, through olive groves, and past castles.
We stop briefly in Jaen for a night, to see the city and admire the cathedral.
Then it’s out early the next morning, following a bike route to Granada suggested to us by cyclists from Jaen. Pedro and Andres, we’re sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet you, but we wouldn’t have found this beautiful road without you!
Andalucia is mountainous. There’s hardly a flat stretch to be found and the climb out of Jaen towards Granada proves to be one of the tougher ascents of the trip. At our hill-climbing speed of about 5km/hour, we see Jaen slowly shrink out of view behind us.
After an hour, we reach a small plateau. It feels like we are cycling in the sky itself.
We look at this local map, and we quickly realize our climbing is far form over. To paraphrase a quote from the Wizard of Oz: “Toto, we’re not in flat Holland anymore!”
Time for some sustenance. At this local bakery, we pick up a bag full of muffins and half a kilogram of coconut macaroons. Our cyclists’ appetites have returned!
On the way out of town, we can’t stop marvelling at the small-town life that we see all around us. Sometimes it feels like Spain is in a time warp (in a good way), with images that have been all but lost in other parts of Europe, like these two little girls going to do the morning shopping.
As the day progresses, it only gets more interesting. Our road runs out. Literally…
We get our first view of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
And we climb ever higher, stopping to admire the views. Andalucia is hard work on a bike, but the scenery is your reward.
And there are some friendly locals too
The mountains keep coming. They’re steep and long enough that it’s soon clear we can’t cycle from Jaen to Granada (a distance of 90km) in a day. Instead, we find a spot in a pine forest to set up camp. Andrew cooks supper by lamplight, and we rest our legs for the next day’s adventures.