When I sat down in the hotel in Valencia and planned the remaining few days of the trip I knew that cycling day 47 would be the crunch day. If I managed to get to Seville by the end of Sunday then I knew that there would be only three days of average-distance cycling left between completing the journey or not before the end of cycling day 50. Fifty days is what I always said I would need to cycle from cape to cape. It was nothing more than a back-of-the-envelope calculation (in fact it wasn’t even that detailed; I just took the estimated distance of 5,500km and thought, yes, I should be able to do that in 50days) but there is now a real prospect of me doing just that. I’m not being complacent however; any number of things could happen between now and Wednesday evening to prevent me from achieving the goal. I clearly hope they don’t…
I met my cousin, Richard, last night in Lucena and an evening of wine and tapas ensued. Actually, I’m in the process of having an evening of wine and tapas tonight without him being here in Seville so perhaps it was never anything to do with him in the first place. I did, however, wake up with a thick head and crawled out of bed and the hotel room in order to rendez-vous with him over breakfast.
Apart from the distance, the issue with cycling from Lucena to Seville was always going to be the route. The Andalusian powers that be seem to have left the slice of the geographical pie that sits between the A4-E5 motorway and the A92 motorway bereft of anything as far as roads go. And roads do tend to ‘go’. My issue was that I was heading for that geographical no mans land as I cycled from Lucena towards the west. At the start of the day things weren’t too bad; I made my way to Puente Genil with no problem, then to Matarredonda and El Rubio with little fuss. It was a pity however that I took the wrong route from El Rubio which left me heading south on the wrong SE (for Seville) road. I lurched back in a clockwise direction by taking some unsurfaced back routes towards the road where I should have been in the first place. It was all very reminiscent of being back on the Vias Verdes on cycling day 46. Eventually I managed to find Lantejuela and then Marchena where I paused for lunch.
Two things had changed since leaving Lucena; firstly the preponderance of olive trees. They never quite disappeared but they definitely thinned out to the point where they were just another one of many crops in the fields. Secondly, the architecture. I passed through many small towns made up of what we would call terraced houses back in the UK. These terraces however had tall windows, the lower floor windows caged in (because of the running of the bulls?) and the doors bordered in a yellow-orange strip against the otherwise whitewashed exterior walls. Very attractive.
After Marchena there was no road heading directly west so at that point I needed to head south west to Arahal and then north-west to Seville itself. The wind direction wasn’t helping in the least. I did think that at some point during the day either my direction of travel would change or the wind direction would. Neither was willing to budge and it was an afternoon-long war of attrition between me and the wicked Iberian wind of the west.
Like many of the Spanish cities through which I have passed, Seville is ringed by a wall of almost impenetrable motorway so I once again called upon Google Maps to guide me through to the city centre which it did, admirably. But it was worth the fight. Such a lovely, relaxed place in a way that Barcelona & Valencia never were. It’s almost as if the city knows that my trip is nearly at an end…