Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Long Live Rock...stage 20...Marbella to Gibraltar

Buenos dias! A slightly later departure than usual this a.m. for three good reasons:

1) Top-notch breakfast in hotel to be set about,
2) Only about 50 miles or so to Gib, and
3) Was dreading getting back onto the shoulder-less A7/N-340!

Sorry to the late breakfast arrivals about there being none left, hah-hah!
I trundled away from the lovely hotel in beautiful downtown Marbella, half-expecting the local sheriff to escort me to the county line to make sure that the impoverished and less-than fragrant likes of me don't come back...
A strong roundabout game in Marbella. As one would expect.

"You're so vain, I bet you think this photo's about you!"
In all honesty, there were only a couple of iffy stretches of road...that's was a huge relief. Cheers Espana.
What are you waiting for? Gib ain't gonna come to you, mate.

On the quiet roads the shoulder (or lack of) is no issue.
After cresting a climb about 35 miles in, the target was in view...just. Cue a shout, get in! Let's finish this, please!
Nice to see you, to see you...nice!
You might reasonably expect that in such a circumstance that navigation would not be an issue, right? Me too, hah-hah! Google Maps suggested a route away from the final stretch of Autovia, and of course like a fool I thought, "Why not? It's always worked-out well previously. Why, thank you Google!".
You couldn't resist one last dig, could you Google Maps, hah-hah!

After some horrendous climbs back up from sea level, it was the sanity of this for the last 7 miles. Legal too. Probably.

Time for one last piece of random roundabout detritus.
There was no queue or fuss at the border: look at the passport and away you go, and cross the runway along with loads of others.
Ororgraphic Lift. Adiabatic along now.

Hoping that my EasyJet chariot will be here on Sunday, not least in the light of this...
Eh what? ATC shirkers, hah-hah!
Anyway, it was a quick tour around Gib's one-way streets trying to get up to speed with the tons of scooters and cars and pedestrians and trying to find my hotel.

That done, the next item of business was to drop-off luggage and then set-off up The Rock for a few photos. I knew it was steep but there's ramps at 20%...although without the panniers, the bike seemed like a feather so up we went!
A terrific amount of nautical shenanigans occurring.
All very 007 sounding: actually they did use this as a location for one of Tim Dalton's efforts, no?

O'Hara's Battery is about 1400 feet up and the highest point open to El Publico. Plus I was happy not to have any more vertical effort, thank you.
People had warned me about the apes- yeah, yeah they're nowt. Really?

I hope those Haribos choke you, hah-hah!
I saw them go after three other punters too: they will open bags in a flash, the sods! Put me in mind of perhaps Sellers' finest Clouseau moment:

Aside from keeping marauding simians at bay, the other issue was coercing another tourist into taking a few photos of me wearing the different charities' jerseys.  Sounds easy, right? You try it sometime.

Invariably people behave as though they've never held a camera in their lives, with predictably tragic results despite the perfect subject matter, ahem.

You then have to lie and say what a great job they've done despite them blindly ignoring my explicit commands on where to stand, what to include in the shot, what button to press, hah-hah! Then you have to wait until they've sodded-off before collaring someone else. Preferably someone with a DSLR slung around their necks!
Please take the shot before he takes the bike too!
Back down to the hotel and it's reduced more jersey washing for me, excellent.
And the view from tonight's acco. "Norman Stanley Fletcher...".
I had a decent stroll around Gib: it is a funny old place. There, who needs Rough Guides, hah-hah! Dinner was a decent fish & chips and it wasn't a late night for me...zeds ahoy, pleased that there's no need to wake early although I still will of course, hah-hah!
Casemates Square sort of alive!
So that is pretty much it. It was only a series of bike rides stitched together, not something big or clever. That said, I would rate seven or eight of those days amongst the most difficult that I've had cycling, as you might have gathered by reading this daily whinge-fest, hah-hah!

This is why it was worth doing...
Way beyond what I hoped we could achieve- you amazing people.
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So where we on the last stage and what did we do? Here you are for the final time...
Lovely Marbella to Gib...
And the slog up to O'Hara's Battery. That's it!
Right then, I'm off to shuffle around the streets of Gib in search of an agreeable spot for a long lunch.
I'll raise a glass to you all in a bit...cheers Ears!

The best introduction by my great mate Whisperin' Bob! Met him in Nashville once you know, lovely man. "So as I said to Bob..."

'Nuff said. You all rock!

The ride is dedicated to Mr Dave Adam. Go on Dave!

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Ray Of Light...stage 19...Calahonda to Marbella

My acco seemed to be 24/7 as far as the bar and food being available: I wandered down to get some desayuno at 6.30am and there was already too much noise: there were even a couple of Coppers in there too, hah-hah! Crime can't crack itself, Ken...

To be fair though, your average Spanish Juanny delights in pretty much shouting at his mate, even though he's probably no more that 2 feet away. Breakfast (coffee and the least-sugary option) was rubbish though, apart from the top-notch freshly squeezed naranja juice...just the best!
Sorry Repsol but you went AWOL when I was starving!

Daft goats.

Not long since the lighthouse switched-off.
Full disclosure- since you *might* have heard me whinge about unfavourable winds, today was the opposite...a helping hand which was lovely. The idea was to reach for Fuengirola (about 85 miles) and see how we felt.

The knee wasn't totally onside with this early-doors but after an Ibuprofen and some of that Voltarol gel nonsense, things were doable. Just because I had ditched the inland plan via Granada and Cordoba because of the vertical aspect, don't assume that the coastal route is flat: 4500 feet later...but these are climbs that give you the best views, so bring it!
I don't care if it's Xtina Aguilara, just keep left!

Good work.

Love the rip-off, still loathe the band, hah-hah!

Good bridging, Sir.
Like wot I said yesterday, funny old thing this N-340 road: it'll lead you through horrendous towns that kill you with incessant stop-start from traffic lights and crossings and lunatic pedestrians and drivers who assume that everyone has the ability to communicate via telekinesis, to the most extraordinary and unspoilt beaches not 5 minutes away. Amazing!
Good job that I ain't afraid of hei- oh, yeah actually I am.

That was where the views and the photos stopped as the route mutated into a sorta Autovia to take me around to the north of Malaga before making it plain that I had to route through it, which took a while...
Behold the evidence...bicycles welcome, one and all! Still no horse racing, mind.

Er, so I was sorta on an M-Way then? Anyway, time to do one...

Before we do though, behold that lovely hard shoulder though...less of that later.
Anyway, after a lot of faff I made it to Fuengirola and celebrated with a white chocolate Magnum. Still sensational. Reckoned that there was still enough time and energy in the tank to try for Marbella. It would mean a shorter last day too...let's go!
The N-340 morphed into the A7. Not really that much fun. Behold the lack of hard shoulder!
There was only about 15 miles to Marbella but it was not a pleasant experience: there was very little space for a cyclist and my right pannier now has some grey paint on it from the barriers. Matches the manky paint that that berk left on it when he reversed into me a fortnight ago, hah-hah!

And before someone thinks that I was cycling on a road where it was prohibited, no that was not the case as a couple of Police cars passed me without a problemo.

The view from tonight's acco! It really is a brilliant hotel though.
All that nause done, it was a a case of hoping that Trivago would deliver me a hotel pronto, and what do you came up trumps! Massive room, everything works and the restaurant was spot-on, so all's well that end's well.
That is as tidy as it gets. Streamlined operation, hah-hah!
All being well, it'll be Gib tomorrow. Nowt taken for granted: the whole premise has been guided by  a 'one day at a time' attitude: not sure if anyone noticed, ahem...
Sooooo close!
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Possibly her finest effort. Aside from this year's Eurovision, hah-hah!

Monday, 7 October 2019

For A Few Dollars More...stage 18...Sorbas to Calahonda

Yeah, just a standard beautiful sunrise shot. How nice must it be to know that the wevva will be nailed-on fantastic?
Breakfast was er, a minimalist affair at my er, minimalist acco, so I was glad to see a Repsol after ten miles or so.
If I could've waited a few miles, then this would've fit the bill.
Of more concern than food (no, really), was whether the N-340a that shadows the AutoVia was a proper road, unlike yesterday's lunacy.

There was some old lad who was walking the other way, and I asked him if the surface was good to Almeria? Si, si. No idea how he knew me, just answer the question, old-timer! I could've kissed him: he did move off a bit lively, hah-hah!
Now *this* is how Camino Vias should be.
This area was where Leone chose to film the exteriors for some of his 'Spaghetti Westerns' too: not that much of a stretch to see Lee Van Cleef fixing some poor sod with a steely stare, hah-hah!
Fantastic, hah-hah!
From there navigation was about as straightforward as it could be- go through Almeria and turn right when you see Da Med!

The nature of the N-340 is that it'll take you through some awful towns and industry and commerce with all of the traffic that goes with it, but then it reels you back in by dropping down to the coast and making you grin...
Someone did well to put it down there.

Could've walked right in- who luvs ya, baby!

Not a massive fan of tunnels via bike- no dramas though.

Smooth surface, loadsa room, view...this'll do, thanks.

Yup, I'm sure that someone, somewhere must know what it means?
As I said, the N-340 routes alongside the motorway for stretches...there was one unfortunate occasion when our road was moving and the grown-ups were not.
Looked worse than it was, walking wounded thankfully.
I had no acco booked for tonight but the plan (yeah, right) was to steal as many miles as I felt good for and see where that landed us. Just like Team Ineos, innit? Cofidis, more like, hah-hah!
Old school vs new school.

Aah, Granada land!

Too many bridges? Thought so.

Love the Positive Mental Attitude, hah-hah!
Funny old thing was that every small town or village or whatever, was water, no food. Miles were ticking by and it's always on your mind, trying to make your best guess how long you can keep on keeping on. Have no doubt, if things got desperate then I would knock on some poor sod's door and ask for a drop!
The coastal climbs are 100% worth the effort. Blimey.

See above.

Who you kidding?

This was right beside the hotel that Google told me was available. Yep, closed for the season. Still, it looks nice, doesn't it?
And the view from tonight's acco: the not at all shabby Hotel El Ancla in the magnificently monikered, Calahonda!
So that's another ton done, we're a bit nearer to the finish line and for that my knee is rejoicing. As am I for the terrific donations...'stuck record' time I realise but it's true. Good on you all.
Today's stats! Alright, a gnat's todger shy of a ton but I ain't riding around the car-park just to get that, hah-hah!
How great are these movies?

Right then, wagon rolls early-doors tomorrow again I hope...cheers y good-night!