Boxing day and I pitched camp just outside Marbella, having managed to find a nearby McDonald’s and collect my messages just before they closed. Amazingly I was only a stones throw from the main road, but tucked away in this field I enjoyed a quiet night and a wonderful evening sky. ->
If ever I needed reminding of how quickly things can change, once again my plans were thrown into disarray, but this time in a very pleasant way. I had contacted through Warm Showers an English lady living here in Spain, way down the coast in Sotogrande. Mandy was offering to sort me out with a bed, food, drink and my washing before I crossed over into Morocco, which was a really wonderful gesture. My plan had been to simply follow the coast road all the way down from Malaga and I would then of only been a handful of kilometers from Algeciras. However Mandy suggested a much nicer way to arrive at her place, via a town called Ronda.
So I left the main roads and headed out on the back roads, again inland. The climbing started immediately and continued all day – in fact for one and a half days I climbed and climbed, all the way up to Ronda. Now I love climbing, but this was taking the mickey, never have I ever climbed so much with almost no relief, as I topped out on no less than four mountain summits, the highest being the Puerto del Viento at 1190 meters.
Was it worth it? Mandy had offered me a lift from Marbella and at the time I was kicking myself for being so stubborn and riding, when I should be willing to take the easy option now and again. At the time I really wished I had accepted, but looking back I realise I would have missed some of the best scenery of the trip and there was a 15 km descent on the other side of Ronda that sweetened all that climbing. Plus the overnight camp was rewarded with yet another amazing sunrise and I was up and off before the mist had risen, a truly great spectacle which sadly my picture does not do justice to. ->
I worked really hard on the second day, wanting to make sure that I would arrive in Sotogrande on day three in reasonable time (and in reasonable shape!) but in all truth I was burnt out and by the time I got there just after lunch, even the smallest rise was making my legs scream in pain. Mandy was working and a little after 2 pm came and met me in the village, by which time I had explored the beach and dried out my tent from the early mornings frost and ice. This trip is amazing in many ways, but none so more than when I’m at a low point, another door opens up for me. Mandy has opened this particular door and I’m now enjoying a well earned rest with really good company. More later…