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10-01-2024 | Eveline van der Hek

Where's the sun?

Today's winter weather is beautiful, a stark contrast to the relentless rain we've had recently. While I've managed to steer clear of the Tacx, the prospect of a New Year's dive in the front yard (a Dutch tradition), looms ahead. I can't escape it. If only I were in a warm, sunny place like Spain. My mind drifts to the Costa del Sol, where I enjoyed a week of post-summer bliss this fall.

cycling in Malaga

During a spontaneous trip, my only cycling gear was a water bottle. Days were filled with exploring Torremolinos and Malaga, savoring fish, hiking, and more fish. A quick visit to friends led me to a bike rental shop with Orbeas and Bianchis. Opting for a simple Orbea, I mapped out routes on Komoot. The recommended one led through mountains and along the beautiful coastal stretch.

cycling in Malaga

Decathlon's lifeline

With more than 100 kilometers and elevation in shorts, discomfort set in. A visit to the local Decathlon provided a quick solution. For less than €200, I acquired cycling essentials: shorts, shirt, socks, gloves, and sneakers. Equipped with a phone holder, I relied on voice navigation through my Shokz, saving battery. Improvisation became my ally!

Leaving Torremolinos wasn't remarkable, but the Andalusian hinterland was stunning. Cycling proved a wonderful way to explore. Komoot led me to the coastal road—a Marbella Nightmare. Lacking an emergency lane, I crossed to the other side of the guardrail. The narrow concrete strip was fraught with obstacles, forcing me to rethink my route through beachside neighborhoods and boardwalks. With 40 miles left, alternatives dwindling, the challenge intensified.

cycling in Malaga

I decided to call the bike rental company to indicate that I could not return the bike before seven o'clock and to ask about a suitable route. The friendly girl told me that you can't cycle from Marbella to Torremolinos at all. Yes, through the mountains. I explained to her that her colleague had recommended this route to me and that through the mountains meant riding in the dark for at least an hour. With no lights on the bike. She advised me to take a car. No longer very friendly, I explained to her that I had not rented a car but a bicycle. Suddenly, exploring your surroundings on a bicycle wasn't fun anymore.

Google to the rescue

Embracing the day's theme of improvisation, I turned to Google Maps with my power bank in tow. Miraculously, Google understood my need and guided me out of Marbella on cyclist-friendly roads. A few minutes before sunset, I made it home unscathed.

cycling in Malaga

Remarkably, a cycling app led me onto a freeway, while Google Maps catered to my cyclist needs. I also learned that cycling in sneakers and flat pedals is not ideal; my feet were on fire within an hour. Decathlon's affordable gear, especially the pants with a back zipper, proved a wise choice after a hundred kilometers.

As I gaze outside at the cold, sunny day, I can't help but yearn for the warmth of Spain, even if only for a short while.

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