Why dutch people shouldn't go cycling in the mountains and forget they aren't flat..
This weekend I leave Cádiz behind for a little break in the national park of the region. In El Bosque I find a nice hostel and in the morning I go to the tourist information office. They tell me that the starting point of the short trekkings in the park is Grazalema, a village about 17 km's away. I decide to hire a bike: 17km isn't very impressive, especially for a Dutch girl with quite some experience with cycling in the rain. Or so I think. And I smile politely to the woman who wishes me "fuerza" when she gives me a bike and a helmet; yet I'm on my way to Grazalema.
After 30 minutes uphill in the first gear, I start wondering how long it will take me to get there like this and if I'll get there anyway. Hey, there's a map along the way. Eeer... are you kidding me? No? As an optimist I thought that for every meter uphill there'd be one downhill. Turns out that Grazalema lies 1103m higher than El Bosque. Bup! I've gone 400m's up now... Maybe I'll need to walk at times then, but I'm determined to make it to Grazalema, and so I will! While enjoying the beautiful mountain views and refilling my bottle with fresh water along the road, I don't seem to get any further walking, cycling, walking. and cycling again. Untill... after 3 hours my stubbornness finally gets rewarded: the last 4 km's to Grazalema are downhill! Only later I realized that my way back starts with 4 km's to climb.
At this point I'm ready to admit that cycling back is not my best option and either is trekking at this moment, so I ask the waitress of the lunch café in Grazalema if there are busses back to El Bosque. Yes. Good! When? In 3 hours. Pfff, I'll try to get a ride for the first few kilometers uphill then, the rest of the way will be downhill anyway. When I see a van for delivering packages, I ask the driver if he can help me out and 10 minutes later I'm at the starting point of my way down with my bicycle in my hand. Or... hey! The helmet of the bike-rental shop is still in the van! As fast as I dare I race back down to Grazalema hoping to find him there. Yeah! There he is! And there he goes... With all the strenght I have left I go after him, I follow him out of the village, waving and shouting, hoping that he looks in one of his mirrors once. He doesn't. Aw, I lost him, and so I walk back (uphill of course) to the village. Hopefully I can take my bike with me in the bus later.
In the centre I have a coffee with the Australian guy who was at the tourist office too this morning. We chat untill the bus leaves, and at sunset I'm on my way back. With painfull muscles and with the bike in the luggage compartment. Without a helmet, but with a big smile on my face: it's been too long since something like this happened. I can still do it!