Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Road to Bolonia - Andalusia, Spain

Taking on the third leg of my bike tour started with a fresh morning in Vejer de la Frontera.  Giving my bike a thorough examination before leaving the hostel's small garage, I gave the merry couple that own Hostel Buenavista my fondest of farewells and set out southward.  Weaving my way through the ancient, white-walled paths of the hilltop town, I made a stop at a local corner store and made my first "road sandwich" of fresh "integral" bread with local ham and cheese.  After grabbing my sandwich supplies along with some fruits and other snacks, I settled down to enjoy my breakfast in Plaza de la Constitución.  With my stomach contently filled for the trip, I mounted my seat and made my way down, or so I thought!  I come upon more of the famous stucco walled wind mills that are icons of Vejer de la Frontera though so there was a small victory in my unintended detour!  Getting back on track and winding my way downhill on a more switchbacks than my trip uphill the day before.  Onward, I charged to the sea as a sailor would proclaim to the small hamlet of Barbate.  Whilst pedaling my way and seeing road signs of upcoming towns, I saw 'Barbate' and some number for the distance in kilometers.  As a good, imperial-measurement abiding American that I was at this point still, I knew roughly about how far that was or that is what I told myself.  Going about the ride, I past small villages and kept on my way on A-314 when I started to question my estimation earlier, but on cue I came to the "BARBATE" welcome traffic circle, which is a thing in Andalusia!  Knocking around the sleepy streets of Barbate, I found the central square with welcoming shade trees and hibiscus blossoms in bountiful numbers, so what a better place to grab a quick siesta?!  I was ahead of my planned schedule, so why not kick back and relax on of the many benches and listened to the subtle shuffle of activity of Barbate and dozed off for a few minutes.  Feeling refreshed and ready, I got back on my AWOL and continued on along the coast of the Atlantic bound for Bolonia.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Mapping out the route prior to even arriving in Spain, today's ride was intended to be enjoyable and carefree.  Insert my luck.  When I arrived to Zahara de los Atunes I met a challenge.  A "NO ENTRAR" with a bridge or where a bridge ought to be stood in my way.  One of the construction workers came walking up to me as I was assessing how I should get across and told me in broken English from afar "Go around way other!" I tried my best to convince him I just need to get to Bolonia which was quite literally over a small hill from this viewpoint, however, he did not budge on his stance.  Around I went, adding on about 25 additional kilometers that I did not plan for and to add to the fun, why not some inland heat?!  Despite all that, I saw parts of Spain and learned how strong my will can truly be.  Until I saw the main route into Bolonia as the sun edged westward.  Looking up to see more switchbacks, I decided I needed a proper meal and somewhere with WiFi to assess my life at this point and fortunately there was Hotel San Jose de Valle with a restaurant at the intersection of where I was coming from and where I needed to go.  After getting some additional calories back in the system, I started my uphill battle with CA-8202.  Now that I look at a aerial map of the road, I see that from above it is not all that intimidating, but, when you have a cart pulling back on you and a tired set of legs, this was the rock and I was Sisyphus.  Struggling upward, I would say it was the last 1,000 meters, a group of Spanish bicyclists came blasting down and all shouted me a few words of encouragement and all I could do in response at this point was nod my head.  Then I reached the top and from there, it was all downhill to the beach of Bolonia!  Despite the internal and physical tribulation this leg put on me, looking back on the prolonged ride, I now know how strong my body and mind can be and plus, I got to see the stock for the famous Spanish toros and more sunflowers bowing down to the summer sun.

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