Monday 30 May …Baza to Guadix

Bicycles not permitted on Autovia

A 53km ride and first 25km uphill. Coming out of Baza was a terrible climb into a headwind. The gradient steep for about 5km and on a limestone rock road but we conquered it and lapped up the views from the surrounding mountains and valleys. Correction from yesterday, the Orange groves were almonds trees, they are everywhere today as far as the eye can see, in different stage of growth. Are almonds the new superfood or is it the almond milk production and gluten free products? It is a big industry here in Spain.

The mountains are stunning, a mob of sheep with a few goats as we pass by a road alongside the highway. There are shepherds, up ahead is a man with a shepherds crook and 5 dogs just strolling down the path towards us. We stop for a chat … we work out he has 600 head of sheep … they look extremely healthy, and are not bothered by us, just happily grazing and keeping up with man. Although he can’t speak English we may be the only conversation he’ll have all day.

We keep following the highway on the path, a road house stop for a coffee, no villages here. Later we bypass to the village of Gor sitting in a valley, what a lovely sight a great downhill into the town … oops we have missed the turnoff to the square and ridden through the town.

We have come to the end of the ascent and looking to the next 25km of downhill. We come ‘off course’ as garmin gets tired and wants to go to sleep. All’s good we see some paths that should take us in the general direction to Guadix … road signs on highway verify. I can see we are off course but not far away as we go along dirt roads then double back. Another attempt on another road … double back again … perhaps the other side of the highway … double back … back on the other side different path … dead end at phone towers. Our course is near as we look below over the rugged mountains that we have climbed to a spaghetti of roads and highways … Guadix not far in the distance.

By this stage we realise we have explored all options and have to go on the highway. ‘I’m sure it is the N-432 where we saw the bikes are allowed’ a nice big shoulder, within 5 minutes we are stopped by a police patrol car. They are quite angry and we can’t communicate other than one said ‘are you crazy’ after some google translate asking them how can we get there, we have tried all the side roads that came to dead ends. After some time, 2 policemen on motorbikes say follow me … one in front and one behind escorted us on the road shoulder for the 5km off the Autovia ‘no problem’ they say; Garmin then indicates it’s ‘course found’ we finally get to our accommodation, without a stiff fine and in the ‘lock up’.

We are troglodytes tonight … for a bit of fun we are booked into a cave house.

Anyone following my strata can get a laugh out of the back tracking we did today. 11km over.

Although I’ve mapped tomorrow’s ride I’m feeling a little anxious.

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