Day 1 Malaga to Almuñécar
I arrived in Malaga after a ridiculously early flight from Geneva to be greeted with heavy rain. It never rains in Spain ! I dropped my bike bag off and built my bike up hoping the rain would stop. It did not let up for 55km though. I was heading for Almuñécar today along the coast with a fairly easy start before the last 10km and the hilly finish into Almuñécar itself.
The ride itself was uneventful apart from a bit of aqua planing at the start. It really was not a day to soak up the views but to get your head down and get to the finish line.
85km of riding with 1300m of climbing
Day 2 Almuñécar to Monachil
Rain greeted me again in the morning but it soon cleared and I set off for the 40km grind up HC cat climb of SO-02 climb ( There does not seem to be a local name for it but I have seen it named La Carretera de la Cabra or The Road of the Goat ). I realised half way up that I had never tackled a HC climb fully loaded.
All I can say is it was a long way up and after 3 hours of climbing in glorious weather I made it to the top only to be greeted with a ferocious headwind snow rain and a closed down restaurant. I have completed this climb a few times, mostly on a lightweight carbon bike, but this was by far the most difficult.
Once at the top there was 10km or so of riding on the undulating plateau at 1300 m above sea level before heading down towards the suberbs of Granada and the last 15 km or riding into Monachil my base at Ride Sierra Nevada for the next couple of days.
80km of riding with 2800 metres of climbing
Day 3 Sierra Nevada
My warm weather get away has not proved to be so. The plan today was to cycle from Monachil into the outskirts of Granada and then on to Guejar Sierra and then upto the Ski resort of Sierra Nevada.
The first 25km or so went fine until I hit the lower slopes of the narrow north facing road El Doque to the main road upto the resort. This road is steep at the best of times but as I climbed upto 1700m the road got icier and more snow covered. The rain on Sunday was snow up here. The last 2 km were pretty much done walking and I reached the 1700m point with cold wet feet.
From here I usually take the quieter disused road upto the ski resort at 2600m. It was apparent though that the road had not been cleared of snow.
The small descent down to the A395 (The main road upto the ski resort) proved to be freezing so I aborted my attempt for the top and hit the restaurant for food and the use of their open fire to dry my feet out.
I was reluctant to leave the restaurant and face the cold but I knew I had to to drop the 1000m back down to Monachil. It was a cold and sometimes icey descent.
49km of climbing with 1800 metres of climbing
Day 4 Monachil to Malaga
Freshly fallen snow greeted me this morning in Monachil and with the prospect of climbing higher during the day I knew it was going to be a long cold day in the saddle. I set off at just gone 9am and swept into Granada before starting the gentle climb up and down to Alhama de Granada.
There was serious snow on the side of the roads and I encountered a couple of salters on the way up. Nothing like being pelted by lumps of salt while riding your bike.
After 75km of riding like this the terrain finally opened up and I could see the sea and a fantastic mountain road descending down.
I stopped for something to eat here while a loxal shepherd chatted away to me on Spanish oblivious of the fact I did not understand a word.
The 30 or so km down to the sea sped by lifting my average speed for the day considerable.
By the time I rode the Malaga seafront (unrecognisable from Sundays ride) the sun had come out and the temperature was a glorious 17 degrees
150km of riding and 1900m of climbing and one huge descent to the sea.
Back to Alpe d’Huez tomorrow and even more snow. Might give the bike ride a miss though.