CRAZIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE
At 7:30 on Sunday of September 3rd, Johnny and I found ourselves in Granada’s Plaza Rotary, watching as people gathered. Eyes met, each trying to discern the special modifications made to one another’s bicycles and the gear they carried. Although it wasn’t a race where cyclists burst into full-speed, there was an unmistakable tension in the air. The police led the way, weaving through city traffic, guiding the race through Granada’s center until we arrived at the Sacromonte Abbey.
Overcoming weather adversities
The early kilometres hinted at what the day had in store: cold and rain. Unanticipated when we planned for the race, however, we were already cautioned about the adverse weather conditions in the pre-race briefing. As we advanced, we traversed dense, forested areas with raindrops occasionally falling from the sky. However, it wasn’t until we reached Beas de Guadix that we faced a 15-minute downpour that left us soaking wet.
We stopped for lunch in Gorafe to recharge and warm up before venturing into the Gorafe desert. Fortunately, the rain stoped, and the sun remained hidden, providing ideal weather conditions for cycling. We moved through foggy and windy stretches, and as we did another brief food stop in Hinojares, nightfall began. With our lights ready, we started the ascent towards Gor.
A pivotal decision in gor
We reached Gor at 11 at night, had dinner, and decided to take a break to sleep. We were not certain that we could cross the entire Sierra, with 85 kilometres and almost 2,000 meters of elevation gain still ahead. We didn’t had heavy sleeping bags for outdoor sleeping in that cold, so the decision made sense to us. By this point, we had covered 255 kilometres with over 7,000 hm.
A “fresh” start
At 5:30 in the morning, we began pedalling, still in darkness and a biting cold. Though daybreak was upon us, the sun remained hidden. As we ascended, the cold grew even more intense. We reached the route’s highest point at 2,400 meters by 9 o’clock in the morning and without stopping we started going down as there were only 6 degrees. We were headed to Gergal, gradually experiencing the warmth and the sun as we descended to lower altitudes.
Following nearly an hour of descent, we had breakfast in Gergal and continued on to Tabernas desert. We encountered long downhill stretches and flat terrain, a relief for our weary legs. As we advanced, the heat became increasingly noticeable. In the Tabernas region, the temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius, a huge contrast to the earlier cold of the Sierra in the morning.
We decided to have dinner in Rodalquilar and, following a huge meal of pizza, gnocchi, and pasta, a long night awaited us. The plan was to avoid sleeping and push as far as our bodies would allow. We left the restaurant around 11 at night, passed through several coastal towns, and embarked on a route that took us to Vela Blanca, a small port that we had to cross before reaching Cabo de Gata town and tackling the salt flats before Almería city.
Pain and Resilience
We believed that this 30-kilometre flat stretch would provide a rest, but we found sandy beach parts where we had to consume extra energy to go through. At times, we had to push our bikes on foot. It was then that the discomfort that I had already felt during all day in my knee evolved into pain. With great effort we arrived in Almería. It was 3 in the morning, and we searched for a 24-hour pharmacy. I needed an anti-inflammatory to continue.
Upon leaving Almería, what seemed as an ordinary uphill climb on the map turned out to be a challenging ascent that I’ll remember forever. Sixteen kilometres with a 750-meter elevation gain took nearly 3 hours to conquer. It wasn’t an ordinary trail, but one filled with loose rocks, making it super technically demanding. Fortunately, it was nighttime, and the temperature was ideal. By the time we reached Enix, it was 6 in the morning, and our minds struggled to process what our eyes saw. Our legs wouldn’t allow us to go faster than 10 km/h on flat terrain, and so Johnny and I decided to rest for an hour.
Upon waking, my knee pain had returned, and it was ever more painful, but we decided to continue. Daylight had broken, and we stopped for breakfast in Enix. Ahead of us was a 24 kilometres of uphill with an elevation gain of over 1,000 meters, including the Pico Morro del Feo at 1,441 meters. It was exhausting, as the pain in my knee worsened with each pedal stroke, but I persevered. Eventually, the pain forced me to stop just a few meters from Fondón
Johnny’s solo journey
I talked with Johnny and told him to continue if he felt up to it. He decided to go on solo. I was picked up, and we went straight to Capileira to wait for Johnny at the finish line. He arrived around 10 at night, at a slower pace than expected. Johnny told us that he had to stop multiple times to eat and regain strength since not only did he lack leg power, but he also faced steep inclines that forced him to walk and push his bike.
Embracing this epic journey, facing countless obstacles, we rode the most challenging terrains and in relentless weather conditions. Though my personal odyssey had come to an end, the tale of our long-distance race will endure as a story of courage and unwavering determination. What began as a race became an epic battle against nature and adversity, a struggle that we will remember forever and I am sure it won’t be the last one…