The morning started with a breakfast meeting of the Adra Procrastinators’ Club, of which Steve and I are the founding members. Should we stay put or keep riding? The weather forecast for the day was for high winds, getting worse in the afternoon. The weather forecast for the next day was for rain. We’re eventually heading to Almeria, a city on the east coast. Do we stay where we are in our hostel and wait out the weather for a couple of days or do we brave the wind for a while and ride to the next main town of El Ejido, about 20km away? We discussed things back and forth over our respective pastry and bowl of oatmeal. As we looked out the window, the wind was blowing. Do we pack up for a short ride, find new accommodation or stay where we are? We continued to-ing and fro-ing between our options for quite some time. Finally…we decided to stay put for another day and wait for the weather to improve. Then…we thought, if we made it to El Ejido, it would at least take us part of the way to Almeria, which would be progress at least. Finally…we decided to ride to El Ejido. Then…we thought…oh, what they hey, let’s just do it, let’s just ride for Almeria! So that was the decision! We went from a decision to go nowhere, to a decision to go a small part of the way, to the decision to go the whole 58km and tackle the weather head on! So that’s what we’ve done! See, the thing about days like yesterday is they reset your “can do” barometer. You think, if we can do a tough day like that in the wind and rain, we can do this! So, with that decision FINALLY made, up we leapt, quickly packed up, swiftly put the room back into a better state of order from the one it was in as the “Hanging Gardens of Thermals, Socks and Tent Paraphernalia” and we were off!
At least the sun was shining, there was no rain and the wind, so far, wasn’t too bad. The legs were a bit tired, but they’d soon get into the swing of things as we went along. As we headed up a road, Steve called a stop to proceedings and redirected us to another road that would take us along the coast. We rode past a group of road workers and bless ‘em, they all gave us big smiles, waves, “Bom Dias”, “Holas” and something else that I don’t know, but it sounded encouraging! Nothing like a friendly encounter to spur you on for the day. We rode up a hill (the quads were still talking a little bit and saying they would have liked a bit more rest, thank you very much, but they came up trumps nevertheless and powered the pedals up that hill). We stopped at the top for a drink and along came a little brown dog from round the side of one of the many plastic hot houses that dot the landscape. This little fella was practically turning himself inside out he was wagging his tail so much. At last! A friendly dog! I knelt down and talked to him. He put his ears back and wagged flat out as he gingerly came up to say hello and sniff my hand. We chatted for a little while and he was very friendly and polite. Then we got back on our bikes and rode off and…BARK…BARK…BARK…BARK!!! That little fella started shouting at us! Would you believe it. We’d just got acquainted, had a lovely little chat, he was wagging his tail flat out, but as soon as we go from two legs to two wheels, he starts hurling abuse at us! Fair dinkum! I’d love to know what dogs think when they see us. We’ve passed many a placid looking canine, walking along beside its family, paying no attention to other people walking by and then we come along and that placid pooch instantly becomes a foaming snarling beast intent on ripping our legs off! What is it!? So what was the deal with this nice little brown dog we had met so nicely, that as soon as we became a moving object, we became fair game for the shouting and the fangs!? I don’t know. (Insert shoulder heaving long sigh here!)
We pedalled on and again Steve called a halt to our progress.
“I have a feeling we just did an unnecessary detour.”
Hmmmm, those are words that one does not like to hear.
“I just have a feeling,” he said, “but I think we’re going the right way and there’s a road up here that will take us onto the road I know we should be on.”
OK, fair enough, on we go. The wind is getting a little stronger now. The hills aren’t too bad but there are a couple of steep bits thrown in just to keep us puffing a little harder occasionally.
We see the town of El Ejido and decide to stop for a quick break. This was the town we were thinking of stopping in for the day remember, but now it’s just become a quick rest stop. I dashed into a market to grab a bag of oatmeal and muesli, while Steve waited outside and had his pastry. After trying to navigate the aisles and not wanting to hold up the ride, I sprinted back to the bikes, quickly inhaled a handful of grapes, threw on an extra jacket, because that wind was starting to chill things down a bit and the grey clouds had sent the sun packing, and off we went again. At least it wasn’t raining.
The forecast was for the wind to get worse in the afternoon and would you know it, on the strike of 12.00 midday, it made its presence well and truly known! I was back to using low low gears, on the flat, with the wind acting as that Sumo wrestler shouldering me back and tossing me around. We ploughed on and for a while the wind became a mixture of head and cross wind, which was a little better in terms of forward progress, but it did tend to give me a shove sideways every now and again, which gives me a bit of a fright when there’s traffic beside me. The legs were fully warmed up now, so they were giving as good as they got, despite the effects of yesterday’s tough day and on we went along busy roads, with traffic zipping along at close quarters.
As we rode along we admired the roundabout art. There are lots and lots of roundabouts here, which as I may have mentioned can be a bit tricky for the less than balanced cyclist to navigate one handed and attempt to signal directions to traffic while desperately trying to avert a wobble. Anyway…each roundabout has some sort of monument or fountain or statue in it. They’re really great to see, if only there was more time to look at them. We passed huge big sculptures, statues of people and horses and one that looked like a temple of some sort, that I commented to Steve looked Islamic in its design. It would be worth a tour of the roundabouts, if one could sprint through the traffic to get to them and look at them closely.
With about 12km to go, we stopped for a quick bite of lunch and to consult the accommodation options online, so we could pre-book somewhere and have a definite destination to head for. That’s when Steve jinxed us.
“That wasn’t too bad,” he said, “it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.”
“Don’t say that,” I said worriedly, “we’re not there yet!”
So began the hardest 10km of the day!
We had to ride along a high coast road and to my left was all the traffic ZIP…ZOOM…VROOOM…RAAARRR…right next to me. On my right was the crash barrier and a straight drop down the cliff onto the rocks and sea below. The wind was SO strong! It was blowing full throttle and really pushing me around. I was actually a bit scared at times because I was in low gears, trying to push against that full force headwind and then a gust would push me sideways too and I felt like I was either going to end up being pushed over the side and down onto the rocks, or pushed into oncoming traffic. I just held onto that little bike and concentrated to the brink of a brain melt and did my darndest to keep it steady. Then we got the tunnels and the wind rushed down them like a …well…like a…wind tunnel! It was heavy going and that’s what it was like for the whole final 10km, just a long constant battle with the wild wind. So much for Steve’s words about things not being too bad!
We finally rounded a bend and saw Almeria in the distance. With a further continuation of the epic battle with the wind, we finally pedalled into the city. One of the first things I noticed were the road signs written in Spanish and Arabic. We hadn’t seen that before, although in the towns leading up to Almeria I had seen a lot more people in Islamic dress. So this place may have an Islamic history. Either that, or there is a ferry terminal here that we think goes to Morocco and Algeria, so that may be the connection with the variety of language and dress.
We paused briefly to check directions to our hotel and give each other a small high-five just to say we beat that darn wind once again and then pedalled off to find our room, with a nice hot shower awaiting. Our hotel has two parts – the fancy shmancy part and the less fancy, budget part. Guess where we are! Yes, we’re the budget travellers, but check-in was in the fancy part. Didn’t we instantly lower the tone of the place. After Steve checked us in, we had to walk the bikes through the lobby to unload them, so they could be stored in the basement, before we walked next door to the “poor cousin” hotel. Picture two wind-blown, sweaty cyclists in helmets, jackets and leggings, casually strolling through the marbled lobby of this swanky hotel, wheeling not Louis Vuitton luggage, but a couple of mud spattered, pannier loaded bikes. Honestly, us colonial riff-raff, who do we think we are! We got to our room though, without offending anyone too much and quickly freshened up so as to look a little more civilised and then went for a bit of a walk around the city. We’ll stay here a couple of nights and then see where we go to next.
So we made it! All 58km in the end, with some wild wind to contend with, but thankfully no rain today! There are storms lashing most of Spain at the moment, so we’ll take some time here to assess the weather situation and decide what to do next. Another slightly tough day today but we got through it in the end. With thanks to my bike for keeping m on the straight and narrow, despite my wobbles, I’ll pen a parting verse.
Oh the wind did blow
And the wind did howl.
The wind did make me frown and scowl.
The wind pushed at the front
And pushed at the side
The wind tried hard to upset my ride
“I’m not having this!” I thought in my head.
What a rude, pushy wind
I was now seeing red!
Now, wind makes me mad,
Wind I don’t like
But it was not going to beat me and my bike!
We fought that ol’ wind
My little bike and me
We didn’t go under a car
And we didn’t go into the sea.
The wind pushed us hard
As hard as could be
But we beat that ol’ wind
My little bike and me