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Head east, don’t die (part 2)

The Spanish Cycle: Suffer hills, heat, retreat, repeat


Page 2 of 3

They are less picturesque when you are biking. After a 120 km-day, the 3 km hill San Lucar la Mayor teetered on right before our destination of Seville was the last thing we wanted to encounter.

Seville was the first European city that Sean and I would approach entirely by bike, so to say that we were unprepared for the gigantic freeways flowing into the city would not even remotely convey our bewilderment as we reached the freeway, stopped, and simultaneously peed our Spandex at the thought of actually piloting our bikes through the madness. As we were severely dehydrated, exhausted, delirious, we decided to go for it.

I had, and after this experience remarkably still have, one theory for navigating busy traffic. You have to go as fast as the cars. Since we had climbed 3 km only minutes earlier, the highway into Seville descended rather precipitously for approximately 3 km down to the river Guadalquivir that split Seville. You can go awfully fast on a bicycle that weighs more than you when you have 3 km to gather speed.

Our speed was 50 km/h when the always-game Sean risked a glance at his cyclometer a final time. The cars may still have been going twice as fast, but it worked. We should have died, making lane changes, merging, and having our eyes water uncontrollably. All we could make of the cars were coulourful blobs of hurtling metal death. At the bottom, just within the city limits, hearts racing, but without a scratch, we decided, we really, really didn’t want to do that again. And then we got lost.

After a brief reprieve in the labyrinth of streets known as Seville, we decided we did not want to stall our momentum, and seemingly as soon as we had unpacked, we were jamming our tent poles and stoves right back into our panniers.

We headed south briefly to the peninsular city of Cadiz, as the heat inland was becoming less and less bearable, and the road alongside the Mediterranean Sea proved much smoother. Plus, there were beach showers! The potential arrival in Cadiz of “two crazy Canadian cyclists” had been predicted by a fellow traveler we had met in Portugal, and anticipated by the hostel’s owner, an avid cyclist! It would be our first — and only — brush with celebrity.

After battling winds that made biking impossible — winds so strong they had a name, Levante in Tarifa, Spain’s southernmost tip and ocean sports capital, and being stung multiple times by a jellyfish in Málàga, we finally soured of the Mediterranean’s “advantages” and turned our handlebars inland once again, towards Granada.