Malaga to Cadiz

*Long post! 2 or 3 combined into one.

They say the first 3 days of a cycling tour are the hardest. I hope so because for reasons I can and cannot control they were tough. Sometimes very tough.

Let’s start with the things I can control.

Day 0:
It started as a beautiful, relaxing day in Malaga. Strolling the beach, seeing the sights, having a cafe con leche in a square. The good life. Then evening hit and there was a birthday girl in the hostel. Then it was 5 am. Then it was noon and I had missed checkout and was already 4 hours behind my plan, and still intoxicated.

Day 1:
I got out of bed, threw my stuff into bags and checked out. I took the train to a park just outside of town and put my bike together while I sobered up and began my hangover. It was 3 or 3:30 pm before I got moving. Google had told me that I’d be able to ride on the autovia, but there was no shoulder and I wasn’t exactly riding well so I stuck to winding side roads and terrible sidewalk along the autovia. It was agonizingly slow progress. At about 5pm I pulled into a town to grab a water, and found my trailer literally about to fall to pieces. I had neglected to finish tightening THE BOLT that holds the yoke to the frame. It was gone, and it was just luck that the trailer hadn’t  fallen apart and brought me to the ground. So I found an open WiFi network and googled the word for “bolts”. “Tornillos”. I happened to be only a few blocks from a hardware store, so I bought bolts and washers and the only thing that looked strong enough to act as the missing top cap.


Maybe I’ll put a reflector on it so it looks like it’s supposed to be that way.

With that “fixed” I started riding again, but knew I wouldn’t make it to my planned destination before dark. Having not eaten all day, I decided to look for other accommodation and just put in a big second day. I found a campsite and arrived at 7:30. It was highway robbery. 17 euro for a spot to park my bike and set up a tent. I paid 15 to stay in a hostel in malaga, and it included breakfast and sangria each day! I walked to the store got two arroz con crema and a Coke for dinner and called it a day.

Day 2:
I got up ate 4 of a 6-pack of cereal bars, slugged back 2 liters of water, packed up and hit the road for a long ride. It started with 15 more km of sidewalk and side roads. Then I got about 10 km or good flat roads, and then it was straight up for a 3 hr long climb. Would it be 3 hrs normally? Not a chance! Maybe 1.5 or so. It would be fun normally. It seemed to be fun for the guys that passed me in both directions on their carbon racing frames. For me it was a challenge. I enjoyed the challenge, but I was also hungry, tired, and dehydrated by the top.


I reached Ronda after a 6.5 hr slog hoping to get my first real dinner since arriving and a good night’s sleep. I did that, as well as walking and seeing a few sights. The canyon is amazing.



Day 3:
And finally day 3… the worst day. It started with a nice breakfast. Nothing fancy; just a churro, orange juice, cafe con leche,  and some toast. Google said there was ~3000 ft of climbing in the day but the profile didn’t look like it existed. One 900-1000 ft climb and gradually down hill, or so it seemed. The day started with a light mist and high 40s temps. My legs felt good after the descent from Ronda as I started the climb. I actually had the gall to think that it might actually be a pretty pleasant day even with the mist. As I reached the top it started to really rain. Then the wind picked up and blew at 25-30 mph as I started to find out where the other 2000+ ft of climbing came in. Imagine being surrounded by 100-500 ft hills in all directions on national park roads where they just don’t seem to care about road grades. While I rarely had to go over the peak of those hills, I did seemingly endless 50-250 ft steep, slow climbs in the rain and wind as it whipped down whatever valley happened to be in my face.

I’ve been using my phone for navigation, but once I was soaked to the bone I couldn’t get the fingerprint scanner to recognize my thumb. I also apparently didn’t remember the backup password, that I’ve never used since I setup the phone. Go figure. My phone was locked leaving me without navigation, or the name of my accommodations for the night. Eventually I ran out of tries and it was wiped clean. Obviously I got it back running with the help of WiFi and a Amazon Kindle.

I managed to get to Algar at about 2 pm by stopping at gas stations and getting some directions, a Coke and milka oreo bar. Cold an wet I was looking forward to a warm shower, and getting things dried out. I just had to find the place whose name I didn’t know.

I walked into a gas staion once again, and 3 men looked at me and joked a bit about the terrible weather for riding a bike. Or at least so I gather from the laughing and the random words I recognize. I asked them about the only word I thought I remembered from the place’s name. “Tajo”. I was lucky once again and they pointed me in the right direction.  The bad news is that it was 2 km outside of town, up a hill I had no chance of riding up. I could barely push my bike up this thing. For those in Lubbock, I swear it makes “the wall” look flat. For everyone else, from someone who has gone up the Motirolo, it’s STEEP!  When I got to the top they were closed for siesta. 2.5 hours before they would return. Most people are probably thinking, “Well, wait inside.  It’ll be fine.” The problem is that there was no inside to wait in. It is an adventure camp with cabins and one dormitory building. The registration building, and process in general, is close to what we would think of in state parks; it’s separate from every other building. I tried to find other people around, but the place was literally deserted.  I ended up being the only person staying in the entire dormitory building. It was kinda creepy. Anyway, about 45 minutes or so after I got there a maintenance woman drove up to fix something and saw me as I was about to unhitch the trailer and head to town, if for no other reason than to stay warm by riding. She got me into my room, but informed me of two things.

1) I’d need to come up at 5 to check in still.
2) The restaurant is closed during the week.

Vending machine food for dinner to go with my Coke and milka for lunch. Awesome!

This is already too long, so I’ll wrap it up by saying that things happened, the power went out, I got soaked again, and I wished for the next day to be better because I just couldn’t take two of those in a row.

Day 4:
I stopped by the same gas station as the day before and bought the only road map they had of Andalucia to navigate to Cadiz.  The skies were overcast, but you could tell the sun was coming. The wind was constant, but manageable. After about 1000 ft of hills I found a spot in San Jose de Valle to get a simple but extremely satisfying breakfast. It is amazing how coffee, and toast with butter and crema de jamon Ibirico (kinda gross looking…) can be such a spirit lifter. I was done with the major hills, and for the first time I got into the big ring. 80 km to Cadiz.  The rest of the ride was nice, and nothing of interest happened except for bonking in the last 10 km with Cadiz in sight. Not having a decent meal in two days does that I suppose. I was having a good day. I followed the signs to the tourist information center and gave them the name of my hostel. They gave me a map to the hostel and my day on the bike was done. I had tapas for the first time since landing in Spain for dinner. I ate a ton, and regret nothing. Day 4 was good.

I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but maybe the experienced tourers were right.  “The first 3 days are the hardest.” If they are then I’ve got this whipped. If they aren’t then I’ve got some really good experience with dealing with some tough times.

Cadiz was a great place for a rest day. Legs are shaved, bike and trailer are tuned and tightened, clothes are washed, and my spirits are back up. Tomorrow I take a short ride to Jerez for the day on my way to Arcos de la frontera and Sevilla.



Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.


6 thoughts on “Malaga to Cadiz”

  1. That birthday girl, that birthday girl… It is best to avoid birthday girls.
    The buildings in Ronda are amazing. Built right up to the edge of the canyon.
    Definitely no room for boredom. A day of adventure is better than a day at the office doing the same old stuff. Enjoy and keep on posting!


    1. It was so much fun. We had a group of 10-15 people going from place to place. I was dancing like I haven’t done, and maybe should never do, in the last 5+ years. I paid the price, but it was worth it.
      I’ll never know if the others made their earlier departure times, or where my hat ended up…


    1. I’ll probably have random mixed up stories that don’t make sense. Lol. The days are already getting away from me. It’s almost hard to remember when that terrible wet ride happened. 4 days ago maybe… I’m glad I’m writing in the journal and then putting it together here in posts. I’d never get it right otherwise.


  2. Andrew, seems you need to become a little more flexible in regard to your schedule–b’days with hot chicks in the hostel may necessitate rethinking the next day’s bed. Otherwise: Sorry you had shitty weather. In all those years of being on the road I had very few rainy days, so things WILL look up for you! And keep re-tightening los tornillos! J.


    1. Yeah. Well that’s what I get for having planned the first week’s lodging in advance. From Cadiz, the last planned spot, on I’m picking lodging and duration of stay at will.


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