Hours in the saddle: 3hrs 15min
A running source if amusement for me so far is bed covers. There seems to be a huge obsession with providing a large number of covers at each place I stay. Even in Malaga where it was 30 degrees, they provided one sheet, two blankets and an overcover. Last night it was the record...6 blankets, a sheet and an overcover. Its a little cooler here but nor that much! I ended up with just the sheet, and put one blanket on when it cooled down in the wee hours of the morning. I haven't checked how many I have today. I do miss my duvet though,..sheets just aren't the same, you can't get cozy in them. Perhaps this is why my sleeping is so erratic... well bad..here.
So another wet morning. On with all the layers again. After a very healthy breakfast of a banana sandwich and a cherry coke, as a poor coffee substitute, I set off. To say my heart and my legs weren't in it today is probably an understatement...even physically my heart rate never truely got going, staying in the 60/70% max which is so not where it should be. It was also a day of things not being quite as they seem.
There were 3 possible routes to Cordoba to choose from today. The original which went up into the sierra..but the road turned out not to be good past a certain point so that one was scrapped.
Route two was a short direct route, straight along a single carriageway road to the city. Boring and very few kms.
Or three..do the first part of the original route and then drop back down to the main road before the bad road started. Then up to the Medina Al-Zahra and into town via a back road.
Option 3 sounded best..a bit of the countryside, a bit of quick roads but still getting some extra kms in and see some sights.
I ended up with option 4 when I took a wrong road in the sierra, and found myself back on the main road not 15 k from where I started. So much for option 3.
The rest of the cycling day proceeded in the same fashion. Added to which there was a lovely headwind which always puts me in the best mood :|
On the plus side, all the eye could see were lines of orange trees, and along with it the smell of orange blossom (finally pinpointing the beautiful smell that I kept encountering so far!!).
Once on the main road I spied a castle on a hill..not hard to do, this was a valley after all, and this awesome castle was on a big lump in the middle of it. I got all excited thinking it was the Medina that I was aiming for..impressed that I could see it so far away..the Medina was some 50km away.. and wary as the lump would be something I would have to climb. I needn't have worried. As I slowly got closer to it, I was like wow it looks so close, it really is awesome..perspective is amazing as there is still 20 odd kms to go to it. Then I descended a hill..and I lost it. How you can lose a huge castle is beyond me but I did. Until that is I looked behind me. And there it was. It wasn't the Medina. It was what turned out to be Almodova castle. And I missed it. An awesome castle and I went straight past it. Sigh. In my defence it wasn't on my Michelin map, which it should be as it was the most impressive castle I had seen so far.
The middling weather also didn't help. It wasn't warm and it wasn't cold. But I got increasingly uncomfortable in my layers. So I pulled over into a side road off a side road, thinking that would be a good secluded place to 'adjust' what I had on. It was....until the local police drove by. The look they gave me was priceless. Probably the most excitement they had in weeks. (Just to note all modesty was intact at that point thank god, not that it was ever not! A change of layering is all!).
I think what sums up the day for me though was when I turned off to go up to the actual Medina. Only a 3km detour up, and then round back into Cordoba and I couldn't do it. I couldn't physically work up the energy for it. The thought of a climb and then navigating the city streets was too much. It's so not like me to back away from a climb but I did. In hindsight it was probably a good thing. Cordoba centre is a massive maze of cobbled streets, and, importantly, very little GPS signal. Not good at the best of times or with the best state of minds.
But as always the world is a better place after some food. I didn't care what, just as long as it was a lot, though felt a little guilty as I hadn't really deserved it after the flimsy few kms that I had managed today. After a little siesta I thought it was time to have a look around, get my bearings, find a cash point etc. I hadn't realised that the strange noise that had awoken me was actually rain. A lot of rain. Not having the umph to care I still ventured out and wander about. Cordoba has a very different feel to the other cities so far. Can't quite place what that is yet. It has a very open feel to it. I think that that is due to the setting of where I am staying..right next to the immense Mezquita and also to the river. It still has the maze of back streets behind that, but it has a brightness, an openness, even in the rain, that I haven't seen so far.
As much as I am all at the ready for rain on the bike, I am woefully unprepared for it off it. My "unpractical shoes at the best of times" shoes turn into a sogfest in seconds and a slipfest soon after if not before.
Lesson from Cordoba..don't tread on the black marble on the street if you are in unpractical shoes.
So when heading out in the big time rain for dinner I donned my Rapha cycling jacket. I feel a bit of a knob wearing it off the bike. Not that I don't love my Rapha jacket, I really do love it it's awesome. I love it when it gets wet as it looks like water on a ducks back. It's my best sales buy ever. I am just reluctant to wear cycling kit off the bike. Cycling Lycra for sure has no place off the bike as far as I am concerned. It's a necessary evil on it if you are a roadie but to voluntarily wear it off it??! Anyway I digress, so rain jacket..the only waterproof thing I have. Soggy shoes, with socks to keep them a little less soggy (??!), and my cargo pants. I should have just gone the whole hog and put my water resistant cycling leg warmers and my booties on really. But no...draw the line....preserve that little bit of dignity you have left...
For food I decided to indulge a little, find a good place and have some good food, have a good end to the day and that. All the 'good' places here seem to have a 8pm opening time so to a bar I went to pass some time. Came across a random bar with 'how bizarre' song pumping out. It was a sign as that is so my favourite song of that age and it takes me back. It was then followed by 'freak out' so you kinda catch the drift of what kind of place it was. Brilliant stuff and cheered me up no end. My chosen venue for dinner tonight was a place called Regadera. Not necessarily Spanish, though locally sourced, but nouveau food. And good too. Tuna tartare with wasabi for me please! Really good attentive service. Some kinda carrot for pudding too..carrot cubes, with ice, and coconut ice cream and cream. So shouldn't work but actually does! Am sure it's one of my five a day too....Cor and a whole lotta booze too. Sherry and coffee to finish (if you're gonna do it, go the whole hog. Tomorrow can be a supermercado food day in recompense).
It's funny, I wasn't going to write today or at the most write the minimum and defer to tomorrow. It seems I have written more than most normal days. But I guess the more you don't want to the more you have something more to write about,
Day off the bike tomorrow, and I intend to make it a proper rest day completely rather than just off the bike and spending that same time and more walking round the city streets, which is not resting my poor legs. 2 weeks in deserves some recoop time. Up til now has been warm up. Full on days coming soon....