Monday, May 16, 2016

Camino Mozarabe - Day 0 - Mollina to Cordoba

If I ever have an idea to do another 110 km ride again someone please stop me, especially on day 0. Turned out to be more like 125 km. The idea was to quickly get to my starting point. It almost broke me even before I start.

First mistake was to let Google map out a walking route. Should have map out a cycling route instead. At least the gradient and terrain wouldn't be that bad. The only good part is that it simulates the Camino better with dirt and trails. What I got was everything in one day.

Left at 7:30 am from Mollina and arrive in Cordoba at 7:30 pm including all the rest stops, about 2 and a half hours longer than expected.

Olive groves are everywhere here and goes all the way to the horizon. Hills are not particularly steep but 7 to 10 degrees are not uncommon. Bike tires get the brownie treatment whenever there are mud. It had semi slick tires unfortunately but hey, can't expect much from a starter MTB. At least it can take the knocks of the rocky terrains. Rest point besides a couples of towns are basically under on olive tree.

A few bad decisions makes the ride today worse. Not checking the route often enough led to an additional 5 km and trying to take a short cut led to dead end in front of a river with no bridge, another 7 km extra. By the end of the day even the water is running out. The last 30 km is bare without anything towns. The last few hills I actually had to push the bike up even though it would be ok to cycle up in normal circumstances. That's fatigue and low water setting in.

Finally, from the last hill, Cordoba appeared in the valley. First bar even before the river I got in desperate for water, and coffee. The bar owner family was celebrating the birthday of the son who just turn 43, grandfather, wife and kids huddle around. Kid's first word when I step into the bar was 'Chino!'. They even gave me a piece of the lemon cake. Nice!

The old bridge in Cordoba looks new (after restoration), not like the romantic  bridge that I had last seen 23 years ago. Not nice.

Urghhh! The hostal near the main attraction in Cordoba, the mesquita (mosque) is full. That means it would be a logistic challenge for me to do a quick visit tomorrow. I may have to skip that as that areas is really crowded and no place to park the bike. Not sure why so many people around. Could be an event/festival. Many houses seems to be showing off their flowers inside and there is many lines for different houses with people queuing to go in (to drink and enjoy the flowers?).

Not me. I am in dire condition without a place to sleep so I rode further in towards the train station and someone in between found a one star hotel with a restaurant below. 30 euros a night. Not bad. Time is already 8:30 pm. Shower and a quick bite and hopefully I am still functioning tomorrow. If yes I will probably adjust the distance to around 50-60 km per day instead of the 70-80 km originally planned. Mileage difference may be small by it means a lot on the bike.

Surprisingly carrying a backpack does not feel so bad. Just hills. They are the bane for cycling.

Let see what happens tomorrow...

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