TransAndalus. Day 5: Instinción to San José (Cabo de Gata)

I had been really looking forward to starting today: 3,200’ of climbing over 14km, up and over the Sierra de Gador. It didn’t disappoint.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

  • Total Distance today: 122.79km (76.3 miles)
  • Total elevation gained today: 7,753 feet
TransAndalus. Day 5. Map

TransAndalus. Day 5. Map

TransAndalus. Day 5. Elevation Profile

TransAndalus. Day 5. Elevation Profile

 

The Sierra de Gador Climb

It was cloudy and mostly cool but the sweat was dripping off me. Over two hours of constant climbing; grinding upwards on gravel. The gradual ascent ranged from 4% – 12% and was never too difficult; it was just slow. The views were mouth-watering. Upon reaching the summit it was dark. There was thunder overhead and I expected heavy rainfall, but it didn’t come.

Over just 10km of riding, I saw snow-capped mountains, I saw the Mediterranean coast, and I saw the Tabernas desert. It made we wonder how three such diverse environments exist in such close proximity. Spain, and Andalusia in particular, is incredible!

The descent in to Enix was a breeze and mostly on the road. I pulled in to a café and the owner was English. It was the first English I had spoken since the flight over here! I filled up on a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. It was comforting.

From Enix, I cruised all the way to Almeria (give or take the odd climb) over a mix of tarmac and (mostly) very rough and rugged tracks. I had seen photos of the white greenhouses that dominate much of Almeria’s countryside, but seeing it in person really shocked me. At first, I thought it was the sea, when in fact it was just a sea of plastic white sheeting.

The Almeria Coastline

I entered the city of Almeria through what looked and felt like a slum, past cave houses and streets littered with glass and rubbish. I was fortunate to not get a puncture here! I passed straight through the city, to the harbour and rode a long a flat, smooth cycle path along the ‘paseo maritimo’. With the Mediterranean on my right, it was a stark contrast to the previous days; rolling without effort!

Several sections of thick sand made it difficult to pedal. I had a number of comical falls as I struggled though, but it was great fun. The sun was finally coming out and the sand stuck to my sweat.

Cycling in Cabo de Gata

In Cabo de Gata I stopped and ordered pizza in a restaurant. No more than one minute had elapsed since I had sat down and my rear inner-tube just decided to let out a shriek of air, and flattened instantly. The worst puncture so far; it took over an hour to fix. The tyre levers bent with the heat then one snapped. My first attempt at patching the hole was futile. The hole was just too big and the tyre went down as soon as I inflated the tube. I switched it out for my last remaining spare tube (which was also patchwork with repair patches).

The coastline and coves of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park were a real highlight, made all the more special by the late afternoon sun. I had left myself with insufficient water again and really struggled during the last 30km. I cursed the short, steep climbs that wound through the cliffs and foothills. Just 5km from San Jose my rear tyre blew out again. Another puncture. Another nightmare. It was baking hot, I was dehydrated and having to fix another fucking hole was the last thing I needed. A Spanish couple offered me water while I did the best I could with the inner-tube. I was there for the best part of the hour before making my way to San Jose while the back tyre continued to deflate. I rolled in to the first hostel, exhausted and thirsty; very fed up.

I took a trip to the supermarket and treated myself to a variety of fruit and cold drinks before taking an hour’s nap on San Jose’s beautiful sandy beach.

That night, still in a frenzy of adrenaline (and hunger), I couldn’t sleep. It was almost midnight when I made the decision to head out for beer and tapas. It was a good night.

Time mis-spent fixing punctures!

Time mis-spent fixing punctures!

View this ride on Strava

See all photos from today on Flickr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *