After a month of problem-free plain-sailing, it’s finally gone to shit. I’ve been forced to accept how beholden I am to the weather. First headwinds sucked my spirit and now rain and cold have conspired to bring me to a halt. I’m in Ronda writing this (a real-time live-moan), and I’ll probably be here for a few days at least.
After meeting my mates and their daughter in Orgiva, I knew the forecast looked pretty horrendous, but it looked as bad a few weeks ago in Portugal and it didn’t really come to much. I could have kept cycling rather than jump off the bike after only a week of easy riding. So this time I decided to dismiss the forecast as overly pessimistic and head back west over the mountains towards Gibraltar/Jerez/Seville. A day riding along the Costa del Sol was more than enough to persuade me that touristville is not where I want to be riding.
I spent a night with a Warm Showers host in Malaga, which was much more picturesque than I had been led to believe, and set off again under grey clouds around 10 o’clock the following morning. By 10:10 it was hammering rain and it didn’t relent until around 1pm. The campsite I was aiming for was rubbish (hilly, muddy, lumpy pitches and no wi-fi which scuppered my plans to plan a route for the following days) but the rain relented for long enough for me to pitch my tent at least. Some fellow British cycle tourists showed up after an hour or so, but it was too cold and wet to sit outside socialising, so instead I lay down in my tent for about 15-hours, sleeping, reading and listening to audiobooks or the rain battering my tent. I’d also run out of reasonable food by this point so dinner was crisps and sardines.
The following day was supposed to be dry, and thankfully it lived up to it. My clothes and tent were still damp from the day before though, but I was distracted from that misery by huge mountains. They are really hard work, but the views are so great and I had stocked up on chocolate biscuits in a mid-way town which gave me enough power to get through. I was also looking forward to a (warm, dry, electrified) hostel in Ronda to spend the night but on arrival it turned out to be closed. Out of ideas, I roamed the city using maps.me and eventually ended up at a snooty, overpriced campsite. By the time I’d erected my tent it was pissing it down again, so another 20 hours in the tent awaited me, this time with no food, while I hoped for the rain to stop. It didn’t and I had to pack my tent away in the rain before heading off to another hostel just down the road (I should have used my brain and my phone the previous afternoon to find it, but it didn’t occur to me).
Ronda is apparently a beautiful town, spanning a huge gorge which my hostel is inconveniently located at the bottom of. Pouring rain, 15-20% gradients, decades-old cobbles and a 50kg bike with shit brakes and slick tyres are no fun. I imagine it will be even worse on the way back up! I’ll probably be here for 3-5 days (I may move to a private room in town though) so you can expect a glut of posts reflecting my bad mood and probably some booze-inspired non-sequiturs on twitter or Facebook. Joy!