Gibraltar To London

Gibraltar to London Day 11: Ychoux to St. Ciers

Distance: 88 miles

Total Distance: 785 miles

 

I left Ychoux early, covered in insect bites and itching like mad. I soon joined a track leading off-road, which is always risky. It was impossible to know until it was too late whether it was a nice, easy, scenic track or an impossible slog through thick mud and sand. Unfortunately this turned out to be the latter. For about three miles I ploughed my way through deep rutted fields, the mud up to my ankles and getting caught up in my bike mudguards. I had no option but to drag my bike through, stopping every few metres to catch my breath.

I was tossing up my options in my head. Should I push on and hope this would end soon? Or should I cut my losses and go back, and try to find another route around? Stubbornly I continued forwards and eventually reached firmer ground. Read more

Gibraltar To London

Gibraltar to London Day 10: Urt to Ychoux

Distance: 68 miles

Total Distance: 697 miles

Another relaxing start to the day as I waited for my cycling companions to arrive. Sioni and Joanna were holidaying in the Pyrenees not too far from Urt, so decided to drive down with their bikes to join me for a few miles. They rocked up to the town centre around 9am. It was good to see some familiar faces after all this time cycling solo. They kindly oiled my rickety bike chain for me and even gave my bike a service – completely free of charge!

We set off at a comfortable pace, crossing the huge bridge over the River Adour. Chatting the whole way, it was a real pleasure to have some company and it perked me up massively. They’re pro cyclists with a lot more experience than me, as well as better bikes and a lot less baggage, but they were happy to slow down for me. It certainly made a nice change from talking to myself. Read more

Gibraltar To London

Gibraltar to London Day 9: Erro to Urt

Distance:  55 miles

Total Distance: 629 miles

 

Today I finally reached France!

It was a chilly morning waking up in my field in the heart of the Pyrenees. As I stretched and smelled the air, the fields were shrouded in mist and the grass covered in frost. I had left behind the heat of Spain for sure. Read more

Gibraltar To London

Gibraltar to London Day 8: Cintruénigo to Erro

Distance: 90 miles

Total Distance: 574 miles

 

My toughest day so far.

I woke up in the trash dump I had fallen asleep in, firmly resolved to change my planned course and escape the busy road. Through a brief map consultation I managed to plot a safer, more scenic-looking route which took a wide detour to the west. It would add a few miles onto my day but one thing I’ve learnt from multiple endurance adventures is that if you’re not having fun, there’s simply no point. It might take longer but at least I wouldn’t be in a constant state of anxiety. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 7: Sigüenza to Cintruénigo

Distance: 80 miles

Total Distance: 464 miles

 

Breakfast didn’t appear until 9am so it was a late start. I spent the morning riding leisurely through a narrow, winding gorge, the cliff faces to either side pockmarked with caves. The old empty villages were full of ancient stone buildings and windmills stood out on the surrounding hills. Although the day was warm, the heat was nowhere near as oppressive as I’d become used to. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 6: Loranca de Tajuña to Sigüenza

Distance: 58 miles

Total Distance: 384 miles

 

After a cup of coffee and a farewell photo I was all packed up and ready to leave my generous hosts. We connected on WhatsApp and promised to keep in touch and I left the house as they were beginning their first spliff of the day on the balcony.

I rejoined the road and heard Alberto shouting after me as I sped down the hill. I was still laughing at his madness. On every adventure I embark upon I always encounter some overwhelming generosity from strangers and it never fails to touch me, but these two ridiculous characters were something else. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 5: Laguna de Peñahueca to Loranca de Tajuña

Distance: 80 miles

Total Distance: 406 miles

 

It was as if I’d only closed my eyes for a second. Having drifted off beneath a beautiful sunset, I woke up to an equally stunning sunrise. I packed up and headed back to the road, finding myself stuck behind a farmer and his sheep plodding slowly along down the dirt track, sending up a cloud of dust behind them. No one in this part of the country seems to be in any hurry to get anywhere.  Life moves at a different pace.

I proceeded to follow my standard routine – wake up at sunrise, set off right away, head to the next town for coffee and breakfast before continuing on until nightfall. Lillo was the town I elected to stop in today. I resupplied and got some caffeine in me and as the day warmed up I headed north. Navigation was easy and didn’t leave much room for error – mostly just heading north on long stretches of open road – but seeing a road sign telling me Canada was just one kilometre away had me feeling uncertain. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 4: Puertollano to Laguna de Peñahueca

Distance: 89 miles

Total Distance: 326 miles

 

I slept late in my big, comfortable bed and had a leisurely breakfast, drawing it out as long as possible before I had to get back on the bike. I justified my laziness by telling myself a big breakfast would make me faster and more energised. To be fair this was probably true. I made sure to steal plenty of snacks from the breakfast buffet on my way out to fuel me throughout the day.

Reluctantly I set off, heading out of town back into the barren countryside and sure enough, with my full stomach and rested mind I was feeling good and making fast progress. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 3: Bujalance to Puertollano

Distance: 75 miles

Total Distance: 237 miles

 

Last night was one of the worst sleeps of my entire life. As if the traffic and the drunk people passing by overhead weren’t bad enough, not long after laying my head down I was startled by a pair of headlights appearing from the darkness and coming to a stop just metres from me, shining right in my face. Read more

Gibraltar to London

Gibraltar to London Day 2: Almargen to Bujalance

Distance: 87 miles

Total Distance: 162 miles

 

I slept like a baby. In fact I slept so well I only had to press snooze three or four times before rolling out of my sleeping bag. The best thing about cowboy camping is that you can be up and on your way within ten minutes of waking. I set off just before sunrise, enjoying the cool morning while it lasted. Although I had my lights on, I had to ride at a slower pace than normal as the road here was a minefield of hidden potholes.

I rode into the village of Almargen, where I filled up on water and waited until it was light enough to see without lights. I had been hoping to find somewhere to buy a coffee, but being a Sunday everything was closed. I’d made the difficult decision to go stoveless for the duration of the journey, mainly to save time and weight, but also to save myself any food-based decision-making as it meant I could eat exactly the same meals for three weeks straight. In general this was not a problem for me, although the one thing I did crave was a morning coffee. Alas, my caffeine fix would have to wait. Read more