I have completed the planning for my 2018 summer tour of Spain. Sadly this will be the last one with me as a member of the EU. Hope I am allowed back in after Brexit.
This year, my route covers 1500+ and I hope to raise a little dosh for a charity. Watch this blog for another post about the charity I will raise money for.
This year’s ride kicks off on the 23rd of August. Two weeks later, when I get back to Gibraltar I will be making an announcement on next years ride 🙂
I am supporting Action4Schools. But before I tell you about this organisation, let me address the elephant in the room.
I work for Save the Children International as the Global Humanitarian Technology Manager. In 2013, I completed a fundraising cycle ride from London to Africa raising money for Merlin/Save the Children. A year later, I raised funds again for Save the Children during ride 100. I will raise money for Save the Children again in the future.
For the next two years, I am supporting Action4Schools, a small NGO based in Gibraltar. As a small charity, Action4Schools raise cash for projects which have a positive impact on schools. Currently, the team is building water wells so that school students and the wider community can access safe water.
Please do support me by donating to my just giving page – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-hawkins-2018
I am self-funding my ride. I am paying for flights, ferries, hotels, meals, and beer! All money raised goes to Action4Schools to fund projects in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Read more about the great projects the charity delivers at http://www.action4schools.gi/
First day on the road and we are already famous. Some great press cover in Gib about the ride, but more importantly the Gibraltar Chronical has told the story about Action for Schools. This story is about water and as a cyclist I know how important water is when you climb big hills in the heat of southern Spain. I will cover the water well programme in more detail in a few days. Beer and pasta took priority over blog writing, so here are just the highlights from today.
Oh and hats off for Sharon. Never done long distance before. Bought a new bike just about two weeks ago. Just a handful of training rides and no more than 120 Miles and now tacking this epic!
So, here is where we went. A wee thunderstorm mid afternoon but the gentle rain was nice to ride in.
Amazing views are the result of very hard climbing.
Andalucía is an amazing place with friendly people. Every place we go to buy food, water or beer we are greeted with such warmth. On the roads, car drivers keep their distance and pass slowly. On the last hill today when we were feeling quite knackered, car drivers slowed down to ask if we were fine.
It has been quite hot out there today, close to 34 degrees.
After a night in a great hotel in Lucena, we are on the road again. The track through the Parc Naturelle was amazing. Part of the route was familiar as I passed along the same road back in 2015.
A detour was made to take on some water. Things got a little tough at towards the end as there was a lot of up hill during the last 20 miles. Some Spanish towns are well hidden until you are practically there!
Here is today’s map.
Below- The familiar route through the parc.
After two hard days where temperatures reached close to 40 degrees, we have taken it easy with a 41 mile ride.
Some stunning scenery yet again and yes it was bleeding hot!.. Lots of water stops.
The route up the N420 is not an easy one, especially with saddle soreness! On departure from the hotel, we are straight into a big hill. As you will see from the pictures we were rewarded with some great views.
At about mile 10, we stopped to help out a lady who had run over a dog on the fast highway. I can not understand why people let their pets roam such a fast road. We got a couple of toots and thumbs up from whom we assumed to be the guy who went out to recue her.
The big challenge on this route is that there was not much in the way of fuel stations along the way. The last 25 miles was very challenging due to the intense heat and the fact were down to our very last sip by the time we got to our next pit stop.
The guest house was incredible. Friendly host who spoke great English and was able to tell us a bit about the town.
An amazing view from the hotel room to start the day. Its going to be bleeding hot!
Strange rock formations – dayglow green – perhaps sulphur?
After yesterday’s gruelling ride, we were targeting a 45-50 mile ride, but hotel availability along our track was close to 65 miles, so we ended up taking easy and completed 32 miles. Think our butts needed a rest!
We arrived at our hotel by 1300 and found a municipal pool to chill next to (Swimming, beer, wine and food!)
This is my fifth road trip in this country and I hope there will be many more to come. This all started in 2013 when I completed the London to Africa ride. This year I get to share to experience with Sharon who is doing great. So far we gave done well over 400 miles covering some big hills. Sometime the temperatures have reached 40 degrees plus!
Here is the map from today. Scroll down for some stunning pictures!
Towards the end of the ride, we are navigating around a big lake – we will see more of this lake on day 8.
We are more than half way through the ride. This morning we followed the edge of the lake for 15 miles before hitting the flat country. Tomorrow its back to the hills where we will return the great scenery.
Locally produced tomatoes being tuned into a variety of tomato something’s
Into day 9 of the 2018 tour where we are engaged in a tomato squashing contest. So how does it work? well, on the roads there are plenty of tomatoes which have fallen from trailers onto the sides of the road. To score a point, you need to ride over a whole tomato and squash it. After a few I soon gave up as tomato was splatted all over my legs!
Nice view of the hills ahead – the going is flat, but that changes later
Lots of irrigation to feed the tomatoes.
Something burning somewhere. the smoke got a little thick as we passed through, but we could not find the source.
In the past, I have cycled from Miajardas to Montemolin in one hit. On this trip, we opted to split the leg so today we are on leg 2. The route was very scenic and it was great to follow the track I first took back in 2014.
Last night we stopped in the Casa Rural which had an amazing view. We were both a wee bit tired this morning and as a result, I did not do my usual final room check and as a result, left my passport at the hotel. This is going to result in a 75-mile round trip tomorrow which is really meant to be a rest day. So Sharron gets to visit Montemolin Castle and enjoy the pool. I get to ride more miles.
As the ride progressed, the wind increased from the south, which was not very helpful. As we neared Montemolin, it was so strong that even going downhill was really hard work!
Over the past few days, we have set out on the road before 0900 before the heat builds up. Today we had an extended period of cool as it was cloudy to start with.
The route today is familiar as its the third time I have been down this track. Not brilliant road surface but better than Surrey for sure. Sharron has been doing great, especially in light of the fact that she had done not much training.
Along the way, we spotted some interesting buildings. See the pictures below.
Day 12 and we are still on a route I have taken before. The first 10 miles is not great. Urban cycling is not exciting at all. Near to Don Hermas, lots of roadworks, same as last year. The seems to be a new motorway junction being built, but no progress since I passed this way a year ago. Maybe a project which lost its funding?
The last few miles of the route took us past the junction I would normally turn to head towards Arcos. This will set us up for a new route to Arcos tomorrow.
The Hotel we stopped at was in the middle of nowhere. The cafe across the road closed at 1700, so for evening food, it was a taxi ride to the nearby town.
Another short ride today where we had some cloud cover for the first part of the ride. The new route to Arcos was very scenic and more pleasant than the roads further East. The climb into Arcos was steep but easier than the other route in. After Arcos, we stopped to view the Valle1 solar plant and then had an amazing Mousakka in Paterna.
Madina Sidona is a very nice town on a very steep hill. Why do they have to put these places so hi so we have a massive climb at the end of the day?
Another brilliant hotel. Life is good!
1The final day. Total distance on this trip was 837 miles. Not quite 1000 miles, but close enough. Early start made so that we could get to Los Barios to meet up with a Gibraltar Cycle team. It was great to be escorted by Ian and the gang.
Fundraising has been a success and in the next post I will tell you more about Action4Schools and how the money will be spent.1
Early start – an amazing view from Medina Sidonia.