Day 47 - Off road
28 January 2022
We were on the bottom floor. Directly across the road is a small public space. Some people turned up. Young. Two boys and a girl. They were loud. It was late. I wanted to sleep. I opened the window and asked them to be quiet. They ignored me. I got dressed and headed downstairs. The receptionist leaving saw and said she would tell them to be quiet. I told if she didn’t want to, I would go out. They ignored her.
I lay in bed listening to them. I wanted to go down. I played out the ultra-violence in my mind. Then common sense arrives. Where would it lead? Not the altercation, but the Police? Eventually, they left. The problem is this. Obnoxious people are obnoxious because no one calls them on it. There are no consequences for poor behaviour. I hate myself for being sensible.
“Senseless violence is a prerogative of youth, which has much energy but little talent for the constructive.” ― Anthony Burgess
I slept well. Eventually. Breakfast. Beautiful day. Bikes packed. Shell adjusts her seat. Screw-threaded. Just like that. Off to a bike shop. Replacement clamp, and a spare. Very lucky it was open.
We quickly jump on a trail. We wind through salt flats and tidal plains before we hit orchards. Citrus, cherry, stone fruit, and strawberries. Strawberry tunnels that go on and on. It is a beautiful ride.
We stick on the trail. It feels like a dry creek bed. It narrows and gets rougher. The sand gets so thick we need to walk the bikes. It is fun riding. Your mind is focused on the track and making decisions. Choosing correct lines.
We are used to prickly pears. Blackberry brambles are everywhere. The trail narrows. Prickly pears and brambles. Nature throws a third piece of savagery at us. The Acacia. Danger on both sides. Shell gets caught by the prickly pear. Deep in her knuckles. She tears them out. Blood running. Moves on without missing a beat. I am certain the prickly pear cowered a little. Could be my imagination.
The trail gets more narrow. Eventually, it is impassable. Trees and bamboo all the way to the ground. We have been flanked by orchards the entire way. Orchards mean fences. 6 km on a rough track to the nearest road. There was a bridge. I could climb the side?
“Grant, you can’t climb that”
“Yes I can”
“I don't think so. Look how steep it is”
“If we unloaded the bikes? I definitely can”
“It is very steep. How about you show me how it will work?”
I struggle a quarter of the way up. I slide back down.
“Definitely can’t get up there”
We ride back and there is a sawmill on the side of the trail. I forgot about the sawmill. Shell waves to a forklift driver and motions that we need to come over. He gives us a thumbs up. We are out of the ditch and back on the road. A few kilometers later we are back on the same trail past the blocked trail. Problem solved.
Coffee at Lepe. Back on some great tracks. We follow an irrigation channel for a few kilometers. Easy riding with beautiful forest on either side. Again the trail ends but this time there is a trail out. Back on to some rough trails. It is great fun. I see the MTB attraction. Especially on the downhills.
We are on a State Road momentarily before a cycleway which will take us the last 10 km to Huelva. It is an exceptional cycleway. We ride through marshes. It is impressive to see the infrastructure Spain puts into cycling.
We can see the main bridge in the distance. A freeway. Same deal as yesterday. No bikes. It is not an issue today. The cycleway crosses the river on a smaller bridge. We coast along discussing how good the day is. Just the bridge to cross and we are done.
A big fence. A guard. He turns us around. Language barrier. He tells us to go under the bridge. I look at the map. I tell Shell there is no bridge. This guy is giving us bad advice.
Unperturbed, she swings us under the bridge. Quickly realise there is no way across. There are two guys working machinery under the bridge. We explain the situation despite the language barrier. One has no solution, the other jumps out of his front-end-loader and waves us to follow.
He takes us back to the guard. I don’t understand Spanish, but I get the impression this guy is stating our case to open the gates. Minutes pass. He is not taking no for an answer. His body language is showing his frustration. Anger?
He waves us up. The guard opens the gate and tells us to wait. Seconds later we are crossing the closed bridge with a security escort. My pedaling is frantic. The bridge is about 500 m long. I am racing across. I feel like I am crossing the border. Crossing the border with 3 kg of illicit substance. A drug mule. Faster and faster. What is going on? This is not Midnight Express.
Still, I push. I can hear Shell right behind me. Does she share my urgency? Just how much contraband is she carrying? I can see the security officer opening the gate. We sail through. We made it! I am jubilant. I am not going to a Turkish prison.
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.” ― Hunter S. Thompson
We discuss the man who got us across. He will never see us again. We are complete strangers. We will never be able to repay him. Only thank him. He did this purely out of kindness. His motivations were to simply help those who needed it. Altruism. The best type of person.
“One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.” ― Jack Kerouac
We have some camping ahead of us. We hit the local supermarket for some supplies. Two-minute noodles and tuna for dinner. Shell grabbed some strawberries. Incredible.
Today was an amazing ride. So much fun. I could never be a drug mule.
Planning the next few days on the road. A scenic route away from the main roads sounds good. Longer trip. Some off-road trails. Three days to Seville. Maybe more. I am starting to enjoy the journey.
Note - A strange thing happened today. The same huge dogs are everywhere. We rode past an open gate. Two dogs off chain. They ran straight past the open gate and barked at us the entire length of the fence.
Today’s ride -