Monday, 28 March 2011
Day of Rest
It started with the bridge. There is only one bridge connecting Cádiz, situated on the tip of a long and narrow peninsula, to mainland Spain. On my map the bridge and the road leading up to it were highlighted in red. For cyclists, red means: stay away, unless there is no alternative. So I examined the alternatives. There was one: a 27-kilometre detour, all motorway, around the Bahía de Cádiz.
The math was fairly simple. All troops to the bridge! However, finding the blasted thing proved somewhat problematic. I got lost in the backstreets of dreary Puerto Real. Fortunately, I ran into a mountainbiker. 'Ah, the bridge,' he said, his eyes turning slightly watery. 'Can't cross it on your bike. They made it cars-only a year or two ago.' I managed to suppress a little blasphemy. 'So what do I do?' I asked him. 'Swim?' 'There is another way,' he said. 'A gravel road that runs parallel to the railroad track, all the way around the Bahía de Cádiz. I'll show you how to get there.'
He must have found a secret entrance, I thought as I tried to keep up with him. It turned out he had, but first we had to trespass someone's property and climb a low wall. Not funny, when your bicycle, with all the bags strapped to it, weighs as much as a grown woman. Alone again I set off, carefully slaloming the crater-like potholes.
Upon leaving Cádiz, I was greeted by the Levant. I had always thought of the Mistral and the Levant as pleasant phenomena: a welcome breeze after a scorching day, something that makes life in the arid parts of Europe just a bit more liveable. Little did I realise that the Levant is more like the hold-your-hat-where-are-the-children kind of wind. It would put any Dutch autumn storm to shame.
But Cádiz hadn't finished with me yet. All of a sudden I found that the work on my gravel road had spread like a nasty infection. Now really having no other option I ducked red-and-white tape, opened gates that were supposed to remain closed, crawled through a ditch, all the while smiling innocently at frowning roadworkers.
More than three hours later I found myself back in Puerto Real. Exhausted and feeling like a criminal. So much for a good old day of rest in a picturesque town...