Page 40

Link to Index of Pages



DAY 127

Cordoba to Seville 

While the dinners had been fine, even special, in Cordoba, the breakfasts had not. The second breakfast was like the first, only this time it wasn’t even in the bag. The bags were there, we just had to fill them ourselves. The choices were exactly the same as before: the same big breakfast rolls shaped like footballs but flat on one side and flat in flavor as well. (I’ve wondered how they could be baked and yet remain almost totally colorless as well as tasteless. In my book these are right in the same category as the hockey pucks of Chile.) There were individual pats of butter and packages of peach jam, boiled eggs, individual servings of sliced cheese and raw ham wrapped in plastic wrap, bottles of juice, cereal and milk and coffee. We had learned the day before to take two plastic cups, one for coffee and one for cereal. We were provided with teeny tiny spoons, smaller than Baskin Robbins tasting spoons but far flimsier, that we had to use to open the roll, to spread the butter and jam and to eat the cereal. People had a good laugh at the funny antics of others pretending to be eating huge spoons full of cereal.

Needless to say no one tarried at breakfast. We were rested from our layover day and ready to ride again. The first part of the ride was easy, maybe the easiest miles we’ve had, helped in part by a gentle tailwind. I rode behind Ruth for awhile and had no trouble keeping up which amazed me, but later I realized it must have been that tailwind. Ruth is like a living legend among us, she is the only woman to have ridden every mile of the Odyssey to date, an absolutely amazing feat. She mentioned to me that she was having trouble getting motivated to ride that morning. But ride she did and of course she finished as she always does.

While the going was easier than usual, visibility was poor due to a thick fog. At 24 km., in the village of Almodevar del Rio, we should have been able to see an ‘incredible fairytale castle’, but we could not see even a hint of it. Eventually we did ride out of the fog but there were no more castles on our route. The good miles went on and on and I was to Checkpoint at about 65 km. before I knew it. I had a snack there and was chomping away when a group of our strongest riders flew in. They had been racing and dripped with sweat but were elated from the race. One of them checked his odometer and announced that they had averaged 45 km. an hour. I thought I’d check mine to see how it compared; it didn’t. My average was 22 kph., pretty paltry.

I must have hung out too long at Checkpoint for when I got back on my bike something had gone wrong. Then I realized it was the wind. It had changed and now was a headwind. A lot of plodding lay before me but the roadsides brimmed with colorful wildflowers so I was entertained. I was trying to find the perfect spot to take a picture, one where every color flower bloomed in profusion. I didn’t find it. If the red poppies were there then the blue flowers weren’t. There were gorgeous displays of yellow daisies with yellow centers and white daisies with yellow centers and little yellow flowers and blue and red and even a sunflower or two that had gone astray from a farmer’s field and one lone lavender poppy. It was an agricultural area, there were many fields of sunflowers and grain, some of corn and beans, and one of poppies with lavender blossoms and one of asparagus. There were a few orange and olive groves too. Saturday must be insecticide day I decided because many farmers were spraying their crops.

For a long while at the end of the day we had to cycle over some of the worst roads we had seen on this trip and that was not fun. It was making me angry. How could the roads be so bad I wondered. Even the patching where it had happened was poor. But then things got worse and I forgot all about the rough road. The sky had looked threatening all day and became darker and darker. It was obvious that it was going to rain. And did it! The storm began with crashing thunder and lightning and a few drops of rain. I wondered whether I should stop and take shelter from the lightning but there were trees and tall electricity poles so I thought the lightning would chose to hit them. I was so close to camp, maybe I could make it before the rain started in earnest. I continued to ride and realized that I was now in the countryside and there was absolutely no place to take shelter. The thunder crashed and the lightning flashed all around me. Suddenly it started to rain heavily, buckets of rain. I stopped to put on my raincoat and boots and was drenched before I could even do that. Back on the bike I struggled on through the driving rain and wind. It was a torrential downpour, the hardest rain I’d ever seen. It stung my face as it hit so I turned my head hoping the helmet and the visor would take most of the rain. Then it began to hail as well as rain! It was really a terrible storm. The streets had turned into canals filled with muddy water which the cars threw high into the air as they passed. I had to ride through the water not knowing what lay beneath, and trying to time it through the worst of the water so that I could avoid a muddy drenching from a passing car. The cars all had their lights on because visibility was so poor, but my red flashing light was on my Kamelback under my raincoat and I wasn’t stopping in that downpour to rig up something else. I thought my reflective triangle would shine in their headlights and provide some protection. I could not see what was happening behind me anyway, I could barely see what was before me. I had my head down and turned trying to keep the painful rain and hail off my face when movement at the side of the road caught my attention. It was Odyssey cyclists who had stopped there to shelter under an old carport. I stopped to join them but nearly fell in doing so, my left foot stuck to the pedal because the rain boot had snagged, and my pack falling off the rack on that side, perhaps blown off by the wind. That was a bad moment because if I had fallen it would have been into the lane of traffic and there I would be, trapped under the bike with one foot still attached. I had visions of having my head run over before I could get up and out of the way. But luck was with me, I freed my foot and didn’t fall. I walked across the road and joined the others under the shelter. It was drier there but it was too late for me as I was already as soaked as if I had been swimming clothes, shoes, and all. Their plan was to wait until the rain abated, but I was getting cold and the downpour continued. I left then, slogging through the storm, and within minutes cycled safely into the campground.

What a soggy sight it was. But I found a good spot, it seems like I always do, and parked my bike there to save it until the rain stopped and I could pitch my tent. Meanwhile I would take a shower and put on dry clothes so that I might be warmer. The problem was how to get the clothes out of my bag in the locker without getting everything wet. It was raining so hard that it rained right into my locker when I opened the door. I decided to leave the bag in the locker and just quickly snatch whatever I could reach and that was my pajamas! But my fleece was on top too so together they would do.

My strategy worked. I had my shower and was warm, the rain stopped and the sky cleared, the sun shone warmly and suddenly everything seemed a whole lot better. I pitched my tent in the sunshine and my little neighborhood soon filled, others knew a good spot when they saw it too. Poor Jim Higbee had ridden into camp earlier, before the storm I guess, and pitched his tent. After the storm he went to his tent and found it had filled with 4 inches of water! His computer bag had 2 inches of water in it. He quickly dumped that out and found to his great relief that the computer was not wet and still worked. He was telling me this story when he noticed the high ground I had chosen and he decided to move his tent and join me. He suspended his wet tent in the air to dry, and hung his other things too. He was all set by bedtime.

Adios! Alice 

DAY 128

Seville Layover Day 

After only one day of riding here we were with another layover day! It began with a disappointing breakfast; we were back in the basement where we had had a very inferior supper the night before, but this time there were no chairs! We had to stand to eat and the food was marginal: football bread, boiled eggs, cereal, hot milk, orange juice and coffee. In Spain we have been fed boiled eggs every day but salt and pepper are never available to make them palatable.

I had decided to spend the day in camp. I had a sore throat, I was tired, and I was behind on writing for the web page. No one could believe it but I couldn’t be persuaded to change my mind. As it turned out I enjoyed the day which alternated between sunshine and rain, and did not feel sorry for myself about missing seeing another cathedral or whatever in Seville. I got all my wet clothes washed and dried and wrote a couple of daily accounts for the web page. When I became sleepy I took a nap, what a luxury!  In the evening Karen-Ann cooked a special dinner for us to mark the one-third point of the Odyssey and also I think to save us from another disastrous dinner in the basement.

Adios! Alice



Seville's Guadalquivir River                          Traditional Andalucía Dresses



Cafe in Rome                                        Roman Soldiers - Will pose with you for a Fee

    Odyssey Riders


Today's Music:

Previous Page (Page 39)     Next Page (Page 41)

Link to index of Pages