Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Cycling from Huddersfield to Gibraltar Day 16.

Ronda to Moroccan border via Gibraltar

Well its my last day (16days) and I should make it today as its around 70miles to Gibraltar should be quite easy although I'm not out of these Mountains yet! Someone told me that its all downhill from Ronda, but the same person told me it was all down hill after the Pyrenees !! Ummm... :-)

One noticeable point when heading out of Ronda was 5 mins after setting off from my hotel. I came to a bridge stopped to look over the side....... Well!! Ive never seen such a Huge drop down, it was making me dizzy just looking over the wall of the bridge. And my thoughts were that maybe it is all downhill at that stage!

I'm heading out of town on the A369 towards Gaucin. And after around 20mins I'm climbing uphill so much for the downhill all the way, when I reach that particular hill top I have a downhill bit "Great I'm thinking" but as I'm freewheeling down this hill my speed is 12mph, I'm thinking probably get out to about 20ish mph now just freewheeling... but no my speedometer starts to go slower ?? What ! I'm thinking. How can this be I'm going downhill and my speed is slowing down, not that's weird and to date I'm still not sure why?

Its not long until I'm going uphill again, but heading up, my speed actually increases, (This makes no sense at all to me) was my thought.. was I dreaming ? lol. After more cycling the views were Fantastic of all the Mountains and villages, and there were more descents rather than ascents, around lunchtime I cycle into Gaucin and stop at a petrol station to to up supplies, there are plenty of motor bikers out on these roads, also lots of cyclists in these Mountains (It is Sunday by the way, so I reckon everyone is out and about).

When I get to Gaucin, I have to make a decision do I take the A377 to Manilva, or the A405 towards San Roque? The latter was taken towards San Roque, and I think it was the best choice as it was mainly descents all the way down, I must have been just freewheeling about 10miles down... it was unbelievable how much height I must have gained the previous day!

I'm just back on the flat after that long ride down (I didn't have my helmet on neither) oops! and heading towards Gibraltar, its nice and sunny again now on the final run in, a couple of hills in between but nothing too strenuous, on one of the hills I see 2 cyclists just on bikes (No panniers etc on their bikes) seems like they are out for the day. On the hill I overtake one of them he starts to talk in Spanish, I say "I'm English" and he says "Alright mate"....

I'm gobsmacked! I ask "Are you from England" he replies "We live in Gibraltar" Its father and son, as we all seem to ride at the same pace we get chatting and I let them know where I'm going and where I've come from (They are well impressed what I've done on my own in that many days) "Thanks" I say, but I'm going to get the ferry over to Africa and cycle on that coastline, they tell me that I should turn right before going to Gibraltar and cycle to Algeciras to catch the ferry, but I tell them I have to go to Morrison's first, to see the general manager there (Gary) as I have been keeping in touch letting him know my progress along the way down here, so I will be having my photo at the store when I get there. The father and son inform me that I could be pushed for time to get to Africa if I decide to go to Gibraltar first, rather than later on..

I still decide to go into Gibraltar first to call in Morrison's as planned. I will then try to sort out a ferry to Africa if poss! The father and son cycle with me right into Gib, so that was great to have a bit of company on the last 10miles or so, I roll into the centre of Gib around 2pm. I have my dinner at Morrison's, paid by the deputy Mgr (Mark) Thanks Mark. Then soon after this Gary the Gm arrives, I ask them where I can get a ferry to Africa from, the look on their faces (as If I've not done enough lol)

I get the info but its a 10mile cycle to the port, after my dinner I'm off again, down to the Port to catch a ferry to Africa (Wha hooolo!) I'm excited I've got to Gib, but the thought of going over to another Continent is a real buzz, seeing as though I have cycled from my front door at home. I arrive at the Port at 5.25pm, its very hard to book tickets as there are so many desks/windows to book tickets at, everyone of them I ask for tickets they send me to the next window ! Eventually I get to the right window/ticket desk, to ask how much to Tangier, he replies "Too late 5.30pm last ferry, no more tonight" Damn! so then I ask "What time next to Ceuta and what time last one back?"

6.30pm was the next ferry to Ceuta and the last one back from there was 10.15pm.. Perfect I thought, how much ? Think it was about 50euros - I'm booked in, got my tickets there and back for those times, I'm very excited now.. Its around an hour to do the crossing, so looking like 7.30pm arriving over there, back to ferry port over there for 9.45pm ready to board at the 10.15pm return time.... this gives me about 1 hr to cycle as far West as poss hoping to touch the border then 1hr back in time to catch last ferry back (Great!! )

I arrive over on the African coast and I'm off the ferry and onto a main road (Coast road heading West, its still sunny although it will be getting dark in about 45mins so I don't hang around, I'm flying down the coast road until I cycle into a town called Benzu, I go through this little town and at the other side the road ends along the coast.... the only road then is a lane that heads up through a tiny village and up into the Mountains, I cycle on up here past the local people who are giving me some funny looks and chatting to one another.. a little past this village the road is open, and winds up the hillside towards the Mountains where its starting to go dark, also there are signs saying No entry!! I carry on until I see a watch tower.. this looks a bit border line ish !! I take a quick shot of the tower, just after I hear shouting.. Oops! I'm out of here... is that at me I'm thinking, well I'm not hanging around to find out, so the bike is quickly turned around, and I'm heading back down the hill, through the village, and back onto the coast road back to the ferry to get back to Spanish mainland.

I get back to port and I am in a queue with the cars waiting to be checked through, there are dogs with the police searching cars before they let them get onto the ferries (They are searching for drugs probably) By this time its dark, and I'm just waiting along with the cars for our ferry to arrive. About 10.40pm it arrives in port, that means I will get back to Spanish mainland around midnight! It is around that time, and I'm headed out back on the main road out of the Port heading for Gib, I end up cycling along the motorway hard shoulder for most of the way back :-) Nobody stopped me though, so that was great. Its about 1.30am now and I'm cycling back towards Gib to get to my hotel for the night.

I eventually get booked in at around 2am (On the way up to my room I take a quick photo of me in the lift ) :-)) silly pic I know but I'm still buzzing about where I've got to. It was worth it to get to the African coastline even if it meant getting back to my hotel at this time. The following morning, I'm back off to Morrison's to get my photo taken with a number of staff, after that its break my bike down, pack it up in cardboard, then its off to the Airport to catch my fight home at dinnertime...

Job done.. Time to relax on the plane, so its about 4 Bacardi and cokes on the flight back.. Great to have everyone meeting me at airport when I got back.

Total miles = 105 miles.

Average Speed = 12.5 mph.

Grand total = 1794 miles.

Grand Average speed = 12.9mph.

Average Daily milage = 112.1.


  1. Dude,

    Congratulations! I really wish Id have known you were doing this as I'd have been down to Morrisons to shake your hand and say Hi. 16 days!! WOW! And then you also headed over with your bike to africa too! I literally work next door to Morrisons. I go in there all the time for lunch!

    Its nice to see some familiar sites as well on your photos. I head up into the andalucian hills and do plenty of cycling around Ronda and Gaucin, Casares etc. Gibraltar to Ronda is my planned first day for when I do your trip backwards. I'll be going pretty much the same route up to Ronda.

    Congratulations once again!

  2. Hey thanks for the reply I have only just seen it since I've been back blogging about my latest Istanbul cycle from Huddersfield. Those final mountains were harder than the Pyrenees on my Gibraltar cycle :-) Cheers.