I am always up for a burly and rugged challenge, but there is certainly nothing wrong with a smooth and mellow ride, sometimes…
One afternoon, while wandering the streets of Granada, we met a couple from San Francisco who are touring throughout Europe for the summer. They were within 30 minutes of boarding a train to France in an effort to make up some lost time. As passing touring cyclists usually do, they offered us a few things they no longer needed. I always thought of this pastime to be the equivalent of a decluttering ritual— an act of offloading place-specific things on the perfect recipient. Sometimes things of value are exchanged, sometimes it’s just a clearing place for information that might help the other cyclists in their travels. In Malawi, we met a French cyclist en route from Cairo. During that transaction, we took on a few SIM cards for countries further North and a nice waterproof map of Tanzania. In Zambia a German fellow gave us his collection of Malawi maps, and we gave him a map of Zambia and some road recommendations.
The booty that we took on from the couple in Granada included a paper map that outlined walking paths, Via Verdes (greenways), and trails throughout Andalucia. So after our big bikepack on the Transnevada, and a short respite in Granada, we mapped out an easy route that factored in a train ride, a Via Verde and some rolling hills through the foothills of the Sierra.
The Senderismo map given to us in Granada. It’s also available at some tourist information centers and serves as a valuable resource for finding gravel and single track routes through southern Spain.
From Granada we caught our first bike friendly train. Simply roll them on, put them in a designated spot, and relax.
Our first stop was the ancient Roman town of Ronda. Ronda is situated in a fairly mountainous area at about 750 meters above sea level. The Guadalevín River runs through the city, dividing it in two and carving out the steep and deep El Tajo canyon upon which the city overlooks.
We pitched our tent at a local campground outside of Ronda and spent 2 days cycling around the city and countryside.
Ronda has some pretty nice hills.
And an interesting antique museum.
An iron maiden.
Some nice cliff-side singletrack.
Approaching the New Bridge from the valley.
Carrying a delicious bottle of red back from Descalzos Viejos
, a beautiful winery set in an ancient monastery on the outskirts of Ronda. We had stopped at the winery/bodega and ended up chatting with the owners for some time… great folks!
Gin making a 70s album cover style shadow the next morning.
Packed up and ready to go. We put our leftover wine in my bottle cage and use the damp cloth method to keep it cool.
After 40 kilometers of road riding, we reach the easy part: The Via Verde de la Sierra, a beautifully done 35 kilometer greenway that goes through some fairly remote and stunning countryside in the foothills of the Sierra.
Scenes from the Via Verde…
Countless tunnels, the longer of which had automated lighting.
Once we left the Via Verde, enroute to Seville, we rolled through unending fields of grain.
A few snaps from Seville.
Soon enough, America, but first we have one more nice route to complete…