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day 5 Ronda to Algondales

semi-overcast

km: 58
Elevation: 964m
Injuries: tweak in back of my left knee
New cut and bruise on my leg - I really need to stop fighting with the bike, it's bigger and heavier than me, it's always going to win.
Cut from fridge cleaning on my finger keeps opening. Was watching it earlier..it pulses.. Perhaps there is something trying to get out. Knowing the state of my fridge I would say that was likely. More likely its just my pulse.

So today was hard. Mentally. Really really hard. I just couldn't get going. I thought I was all prepared for the morning..all packed, stuff at the ready just to bung it all on, breakie made, diet coke as coffee substitute. But I woke up and god it was hard..not physically except that I looked like shite (cure for panda eyes is to be so tired your black bags under your eyes cover the tan gaps). The whole thought of getting on that bike and moving just made my heart sink and I had no idea how I was going to do it.

I had already given myself several options for the days route..long, medioso, short but with a big climb (1330ish m) or an easy day along the main road and embalse. They all started the same way and then slowly all branched off. I wanted to do a big climb..after the first day I kinda felt i needed to prove to myself that I could do big climbs with the panniers and not die. So that narrowed it down to 3 routes...given the state of mind I opted for the short but big climb one..it also meant if I felt awful I could switch to the shorter flats if needed.

So bags on, hostal paid..out of town was simple and then straight onto a long descent. Normally this would be fun and a great way to kill the km but all I could feel was the cold from the shade and the strong wind (yes my friend was back) kept making my eyes water (mmhmm). All putting a dampener on my already low spirits. But I plodded on..flat route becoming more and more appealing..'just get to the next place and crash..it has a pool you know'.

But against that was the real need to do the big climb. Not doing it would set me back for the next time..so back to those good ole mind techniques I employed before the trip. Not the lovely Ricky W this time but the 'just one step at a time, break it all down and don't think about it as a whole' thing.

First target point was coffee...obviously lack of this morning had these dire consequences..something to be rectifred asap plus also breakfast number 2 would be needed before the final climb. So I set my sights on Grazalema..it seemed the mid point and If I really wasn't feeling it I could head down to the embalse from there and go along the flat.

So along I went..seemed a bit undulating and uphill mostly, not really what I was expecting but I kept plodding on through the cork forests..head still not really in the game still but coffee was coming and life would be better after that. A couple of Puerto signs can and went..meaning that I had reached a few peaks which was odd but I carried on..then turned a corner only to see a village perched up on the hill above me. It seemed after a short descent I would have to climb for my breakfast. So climb I did, finally making it to this quite a stuning village overlooking the whole massive valley and beyond.

Coffee and the largest pan au chocolat possible ordered, I sat down and noticed that I had been joined by two other cyclists. Being the sociable lass that I am (cough cough) I started asking them about where they had come from etc and it turned out that the top of the big climb was only about 4km up from where we were! I was in shock... how had that happened?! Mood visably lifted by this news and the sugar fix I jumped on the bike and headed up those last 4k. Those 4k were awesome..lovely road surface, no real wind, beautiful views across the valley (the panorama was so huge that it looked like you were looking at one of those instagram toy perspective photos). No idea on the gradient..I think there were some tough bits but really nothing was registering..the end was nearly in sight!!

Compulsory photos at the tops and of course some fighting and losing battles with my bike (see injury list). Then down the 12k descent. Such an amazing road that as soon as I started I was wondering if I could dump my bags at the accomo and then head back up it!! Such thoughts were skuppered when I got off the bike to take some photos and nearly got blown away. Damn wind was back with avengance.

So down to Zahara, that has this old castle overlooking the embalse..it also had a mini castle too which was cute. And then 10 k to Algondales..home for the night!

I don't think the owners knew really what to make of me..the old dear certainly was laughing a lot when I tried to find things in my numerous pockets and bags. Cycling jersey pockets are like hermonie's bag in harry potter..bottomless. 'Crazy English on these bikes'..I could see it in their eyes, and they are probably not far wrong.

However it seems that I have a whole house to myself!! It has 10 individual rooms, kitchen, living room, TV..and most most importantly a sofa. I cannot tell you how much I love this sofa. No idea why..I guess it is very like home after being in cramped rooms for 5 days. I might just stay on it for the rest of the evening. It even has a quilted throw on it! Wow...who knew such a thing could bring so much happiness. I love it..it actually brings tears to my eyes how much I do.
Bad news is that the pool is empty :( but I have a sofa so that is forgiven.

I kinda feel I should put a moral of the story type thing at the bottom here but to be honest I don't know what it is. This isn't the first hard day and sure as hell won't be the last. Will it be every day? Will it come and go? Will it get easier? Who knows. There is a long time to go and a lot of things can happen. So back to that technique of just taking one bit at a time and worrying about the rest later.

Posted by louisebenn 09:26 Archived in Spain

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Well done for getting and keeping going!

by Roseanne Benn

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