From Rain to Shine

On August 21, 2009, in Helen Lloyd, The Outdoor Archive, by Gareth

Take On Africa: Latest update from Cordoba, Spain

It’s now a month since I left England on that dull grey, wet day. In that month, I’ve seen and done so much, the time has just flown by – I can hardly believe it. The cycling is going great – better than expected – I’ve now pedalled over 1500 miles since leaving home and am now accustomed to cycling day-in, day-out come rain or shine.

Trujillo Plaza Mayor

1500 miles brought me to a pretty town on a hill in the hot, arid Spanish Extremadura, Trujillo. As I’ve been progressing steadily south through Central Spain, the thermometer reading has steadily risen -I happened to see the weather on television today and it’s topping 38 degrees here.

The heat is stifling in the afternoon and makes cycling almost unbearable, especially when having to tackle a particularly steep uphill section where I can’t even go fast enough to create a small breeze. The simple solution I have found is to just not cycle then. There’s clearly a reason the Spanish have a siesta and I’ve certainly found out why! So from now on, it’s up before dawn to be cycling in the cool mornings, the added benefit is also some gorgeous sunrises. Then as the evening draws in, I can get back on the bike to cover a few more miles until sunset. It also means I get to relax and see some lovely little towns along the way, with old churches, impressive castles and remains of fortified walls. I can also enjoy an ice-cold beer or ice-cream in the plaza mayor (the central square in every Spanish town), which makes a refreshing change from my bottled water which is warm again within ten minutes of re-filling from a fountain in town.

It’s certainly not to say it’s been hot and dry all the way though. There have been a number of wet days; first in France and then again in northern Spain where the weather is known to be variable.

Fortunately I had my Marmot waterproof jacket (and I love the lime green colour – makes me visible in the driving rain too) which I’m really impressed with.

In my Marmot waterproof jacket

It’s kept me dry from the rain and even when pushing hard to make town or campsite it’s claims for breathability have been put to the test and definitely passed. The other great thing is it packs down so small, I hardly know it’s in my bag – so I don’t mind carrying it with me over the next few months, when chances are I won’t need it (not if the current weather in central Spain is anything to go by!).

I’ve just arrived in Cordoba and shall be taking it a little slower, giving me chance to re-organise, ready for the crossing over into Africa and the ensuing challenges to be met there. I’m can hardly wait!

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