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Not such a big bike ride…

We arrived back from Spain on Thursday evening. We were relieved that we were able to get out when we did! We thought we would post some pictures taken during the days when we were actually doing some cycling! We also wanted to thank you for your support comments and encouragement while we were away. It really meant a lot and helped us to stay positive and grounded (metaphorically) during the time in our Malaga hotel.

Campsite in Estepona
Steep push into Alora
Great view from the Hotel in Alora
From Alora to Lucena
Need to smile more….
The roads were quiet!
Ride from Antequera to Malaga
Happy times..

We also wanted to thank those of you who sponsored us. We managed to raise £1500 in the short time we were away in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice and Hospice Africa and though we couldn’t achieve our goal of reaching Norway we are hopeful that when things settle down again we will be able if not to start again where we left off exactly but to take on a new long distance cycle-touring challenge. One with less dual carriageways and flatter terrain! We like to think of this as a dress rehearsal!

Love and best wishes to everybody

David and Lesley


Last night in Malaga: hopefully

Today is Wednesday 18th March it seems impossible to believe that our flight to Gibraltar was on the 8th March, how much life experience can 2 people pack into 10days! Seriously though 10 days of what was intended to be a 100 day trip, never thought I would be so keen to get home after only 10 days!

Just taken a break for the 8pm applause, tonight followed by an audition of Viva Espana! The emotional release and adrenaline this provides is difficult to describe on paper, but to watch neighbours from all the flats opposite clapping and shouting, tonight the taxis at the train station could be heard joining in! Love it!

So in 10 days we have climbed the Rock of Gibraltar, Dave rebuilt 2 bikes and 8 days ago we set off! We have battled with dual carriageways, unintentional off road riding, tent pegs bending as we pitched the tent on what amounted to hardcore in estepona and then Marbella, where we altered our route off the coast into the hills. We then had some lovely but challenging cycling, hauling 100kg up the hills! Pushed bikes into Alora, if you have been there you understand, if not then go! We have cycled through olive groves, citrus groves and mountains!

Once arriving in Malaga we have made use of our camping gear and played many games of rummy and Uno, Dave is the rummy champion and Lesley is the Uno queen! We have eaten in our room, applauded with the Spaniards at 8pm, read books, listened to podcasts. It turns out that Dave is able to stay still better than Lesley! I have paced up and down and felt like a caged tiger!

So now for some figures!

6 days in the saddle

Cycled: 233 miles

Climbed: 15,500 feet

Time in the saddle: 22.5 hours

Thats all from me for now!

A bit more from Dave: The word Travel apparently derives from the word for a 3 pronged torture instrument. It has felt painful at times! The whole concept of a journey without predetemined stopping places has felt strange but is probably very much the way to go. If you have the time of course.

Alora was a great example of this. Lovely town super hotel and completely off the beaten track. Other places such as Antequera would also have been wonderful in different circumstances.

It requires a very different mindset to slow travel but I think we could we could get used to it!

Today we also managed to find somewhere to store the bikes which was a big relief. Whether we will actually see them again is impossible to say. The receipt could have very well said: Received from customer One Large Beach Ball (as we cant read Spanish) but it seemed genuine.

Tomorrow we pack up and hope and pray that our flight isn’t cancelled.

Hopefully the next blog post will be from good old Blighty!

Malaga day 2

We are coming towards another day in Malaga. I think we are getting used to it now! We went down for breakfast to find the room empty but lots of food! For a moment we thought we might be the only guests but it soon filled up and felt more normal. We are only allowed to walk outside if we satisfy certain criteria. Fortunately that includes going to buy food. Yesterdays supermarket wasn’t quite up to Waitrose standards but todays was much better though we had to wait to enter; one customer out one in! Well stocked shelves and no panic buying. More masks today though. We would have liked to stretch out the time but the police are entitled to levy on the stop fines if you are out without a valid reason.

Sushi for lunch!

We are still trying to sort out getting the bikes back to the uk with a lot of assistance from Nick and Carrie in Wales. Unfortunately it is not going to be easy to sort. The best solution would seem to store the bikes here and then sort a courier later. We are still working on it!

Reading and social media keeps us occupied. We actually ventured out again this afternoon to get some more exercise and some Vit C tablets! The Uno also made an appearance; I wished it hadn’t. Lesley has the luck of the devil!

We also explored the option of coming home sooner and it did seem a goer initially but then the prices got stupid.

We have also taken part in a moving group activity. At 8 pm all the citizens of Malaga open their shutters come out onto their balconies and applaud for 5 minutes. We had been told that this was to show appreciation to the medical services but it also seemed to be a gesture of togetherness and unity in face of adversity. It made us smile and holler along with them.

Another picnic style tea with a bit more wine and this time some dancing! Nice

To add to Dave’s wise words: Uno is amazing! Dave thrashed me at Rummy! Feeling smug about the unnecessary water bottles I have carried that kept hot water hot for tea at lunchtime and the camping mugs, bowls and cutlery that we have now used, especially for the freshly ground black pepper we were able to sprinkle on our salad

Malaga: Ghost town

Many of you will know by now that we have sadly decided to come home. In reality we had no choice. 2 days ago we arrived in Lucena, after a long hard day, which I only managed with a lot of support and encouragement from Dave. Diverting inland to avoid busy roads made the cycling much harder, but the hills were beautiful in a rugged / barren fashion. Cycling through olive groves, smelling the olives, citrus groves and the fragrant blossom. Villages nestled in the hills. Cafes or garages along the way for coffee, chocolate or lovely plates of food. In Alora we were the only people in the restaurant, in Lucena we couldn’t find any where open to eat at 7.30, it was quiet but not shut down, we did manage to find a bar for a beer, but food was brought from a supermarket.

That evening we knew that the ride was not possible as a number of borders were closed and Spain had announced a state of emergency. Dave booked the next available flight from Malaga. By Saturday the situation had changed again, people were only allowed on the road if buying food, gas, pharmaceuticals or going to or from work. The roads were noticeably almost deserted, made for a lovely ride back to Antequera. We were lucky to be able to stop for both coffee and lunch on the way, I had chorizo, fried eggs and chips, Dave had scrambled egg with asparagus and cod ! This was the last time we have been able to eat in a restaurant. Antequera is a beautiful place, but we were not able to explore, other than what we saw on the way to the supermarket, which was an amazing one (Gemma and Abi would have loved it!!)

Today we cycled over the mountains (again) back to Malaga, we were joined by wind and rain. I don’t know whether it was carrying heavy legs or a heavy heart but I did walk up all the steep sections, especially when heading into the wind! On a normal bike, without luggage it is a spectacular cycle! On the way down I was joined by swallows dancing across the road in front of me. I always try, and find the good things to remind me of how lucky we are!

Malaga is like a ghost town, few people wondering around looking for the supermarket or looking happy as they carry dinner back! The hotel lobby and restaurant (closed now) full of people eating the food they had purchased. Yes drinking wine too!

So now we need to sit out the next few days. We have food, wine, beer and chocolate! We are still hoping for an option to keep our bikes, but with no bike bags and shops all closed this may not be possible.

We are both well and have had an amazing winter training camp in Spain or a dry run! I know what I won’t take next time!

Thanks for following our blog which has been a lot shorter than planned! This is not the last post yet!!

A bit more from Dave: we are sat on our hotel bed drinking cold Cruzcampo from a plastic cup. It wasnt meant to be this way! The last few days have been very mixed. The cycling has been the straightforward part. Load the bikes start peddling and follow the bike computer map which we programmed the night before. Ride up some hills down some hills and enjoy the views which have been spectacular in many ways. The traffic has been very quiet and the road surfaces excellent which make a nice change from North Yorkshire. Just stopping at a roadside cafe for lunch or a drink and enjoying the local food has been a joy. Not pre planned just impromptu. Very few people speak English away from the coast but almost everybody we have met has been friendly and helpful. We would certainly like to come back and spend more time in the region when the current crisis has settled down (hopefully)

In many ways it has been an emotional rollercoaster; we still dont know for sure whether we will actually fly home on Thursday. As I type a bus has pulled up with nobody on it!

We are safe and it is just a matter of keeping occupied over the next 3 or so days. Neither of us are very good at doing nothing. We did bring a game of Uno and its likely that will make an appearance soon. I might even start writing a book!

Spain is hilly

We have arrived in Lucena after 2 hard days in the saddle. Yesterday we rode from Marbella to Alora. 3200 feet of climb! Perhaps the pyrenees have been moved? It was like climbing a col in the French Alps! Some fantastic views of hillside towns and some exhilarating descents. We had aimed to reach Altequera but instead decided to stop in Alora which is a lovely town built on a very steep hill. We had to push the bikes up the final few 100m. Hotel very Spanish and not at all corporate which made a nice change. Today we had another hilly day with almost 5000 ft of climb. Dramatic scenery citrus groves and olive groves. The smells were amazing. Lucena seemed very quiet. Most restaurants dont open until 9 pm!

The world around us seems to be going crazy. We are trying to stay positive but it seems likely that we will need to make some big decisions in the next few days.

Day 2 a change of plan

Yesterday we cycled from Gibraltar to Estepona. The first part of the trip went fine- straightforwardly crossing into Spain and starting to follow the Eurovelo 8 towards Barcelona. We headed inland and some gentle climbs before heading back to the coast road. We joined a dual carriageway which became busier to the point that we felt we needed to exit and find a different way to the campsite. Easier said than done. Having cycled along dirt tracks and asked the local police for help we finally managed to find the campsite. We managed to get the tent up and had a nice meal at a local restaurant. The next day we rejoined the A7 which was now very busy and we decided that we needed a different plan. To cut a long story short we have stopped in Marbella and spent most of the afternoon looking at alternate routes which dont involve heavy traffic. We also spent some time looking round the old town which was lovely. Tomorrow we will head inland away from the dreaded A7 which will mean some climbing but also a chance to explore more rural Spain. It will take us longer than we originally planned but will be a lot more scenic. We will probably need to stop more often too but then it was always going to be about the journey rather than the destination. We will aim for Valencia then take stock. The EV 8 is more cycle friendly from there. Heres hoping!

Gibraltar Arrival!

The final preparations are over and we have safely arrived in Gibraltar! After a week of goodbyes to friends, family and pets. Not to forget my car, which was sold the day before we left! Bikes were dismantled by Dave, Titan was packed in a cardboard box and 25 metres of bubblewrap (to be recycled!), Dora in an old bike bag purchased by Nick H for a small sum!

Vicky moved into the house to look after both the house and the cats and is looking forward to using the coffee machine and dishwasher! She already loves the cats, who seemed to know that we were leaving and were both very happy sitting with Vicky as we left! Peter drove us to the airport hotel in Manchester, having the only vehicle that could easily carry the bags, backs and us. Thanks Peter.

A night in The Clayton Hotel or rather half a night! Dropped at the terminal by shuttle, to find no trolleys in site… we eventually hauled bags, bike bag and box to “self check in” and bag drop. Lesley kept back in security meant a fast walk to the gate, only to be sat waiting on the tarmac waiting for a slot to fly over the sea and avoid the striking air traffic control over France!

Arrival in Gibraltar, the taxi, the hotel staff all amazing. Dave has reassembled his bike (Titan), now for a beer watching the sunset!

1 week to go!

In 7 days time we will hopefully be in Gibraltar. Coronavirus permitting! It has been a busy week in many ways; Lesley retired as a GP on Thursday after 28 years with Priory Medical Group so lots of finishing off handing projects over etc.She had 3 leaving do’s with various teams and it has been an emotional time.

David has also finished work and starts a 5 month sabbatical to enable us to do the ride. More hours on the turbo trainer and also outside. Yesterday David did a practice full kit pack. It felt important to know that we could get everything we are planning to take into the panniers. Success with room to spare. 20 Kg total weight followed by a 30 mile ride in blustery winds to make sure I could get up the hills! We also did some kit testing with our new stove and cooking gear. I also took my bike to bits to make sure it will go in its box for the flight.

An important aspect of the trip was to have someone to look after the house and our cats while we are away and we are really lucky that one of Gemma’s friends Vicky will be living in our house while we are away. Vicky moved in today to get used to the place and get to know how everything works.

The next few days will spent seeing friends and ensuring that we have absolutely everything we need (or think we need) before we head to the airport on Saturday

2 Weeks to go!

2 weeks today we will have arrived in Gibraltar!

This week we cycled over to Spa cycles, Harrogate to have our bikes serviced. Dave has a Ti- tourer titanium bike known as “Titan”, Lesley has a Spa Wayfarer now named “Dora the Tourer”! Training this week has otherwise been on Zwift as we avoid the end of storm Dennis which also prevented another night camping in the garden.

Final choice made on 2nd navigation device and a Wahoo Element Roam on order to join the Wahoo Element Bolt.

We have one last week to work before Lesley retires from Priory Medical Group and Dave starts his sabbatical from Haxby Group.

Here is the link to our Virgin Money Giving website:

3 weeks to go!

In 3 weeks all being well we will be in Gibraltar! We booked the hotel last week and will fly out on the 8th March and stay 2 nights before heading North into Spain and joining Eurovelo 8 which runs from Cadiz along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. We are still acquiring the last pieces of gear (this week bubble wrap to pack the bikes for the flight, superglue, zip-ties and a small tarpaulin amongst other things). We managed to get out on the bikes this afternoon despite Storm Dennis; actually it wasn’t too bad apart from a squally 10 minutes. Next week the bikes will be serviced and we have 2 more weeks to work before Lesley retires from Priory Medical Group and I start a 5 month sabbatical from work. As the days go by the trip it is beginning to feel more “real”. We will meet up with family and friends before we go and will use the blog to stay in touch whilst we are away. We aim to post every week before we actually leave so more to follow including links to the Virgin Money Giving website.