Spanish Loop 2016 pt2: Sailing the Tex on viaducts

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    Saturday started in heavyish (for Spain) traffic and the threat of a peage, so we headed out to Murcia and the A7; it was a relief to reach Lorca and sweep down to Aguilas on the RM11. The excellent A332/AL7107 coast road was unspoilt and empty until we reached Mojacar Playa – a long ribbon of restaurants and hotels, mercifully all low non-high-rise. The sea was even warmer than our mate’s pool and our cheap hotel was Moorish in style: domed and whitewashed – simple but cool. Beach bars provided live music and cheap food.

    Sunday was another relaxing day: we stripped the panniers off and put towels into the top-box, going inland to Mojacar Pueblo, the original Moorish hill-top town. Cruised the hippy shops playing obscure Stones albums; ate black pasta and avocado & langoustine salad overlooking the plains below. Remarkably unspoilt with a good vibe…

    No leathers in Mojacar Pueblo!

    Then off to Playa de los Muertos via the gorgeous AL5015, or the Carboneras Curves as we dubbed the route: the road grafted onto or cutting through the rocky hills far above the glittering turquoise sea. Chilled!


    Monday took us along the famous Curves for the third time before joining the A7 coastal motorway for a quick 100km blat. The A347/A337 crosses right over the Sierra Nevada and is well worth the ride: narrow with tight hairpins, flowing bends, charming villages and big feck-off castles. For me, this is what riding in Spain is all about.


    The A92 is a grand entrance into Grenada, sweeping down through a bucolic national park – I exchanged glances with a faun grazing on the hard shoulder as we sped past. But the satnav pulled us down a tiny country lane with chickens chewing tobacco, indicating that our hotel, the Granada Central, was only 5 minutes away. I cursed the bloody thing but couldn’t turn around so decided to see what transpired. Then we crested a hill and suddenly descended into small cobbled streets with the Alhambra, covered in greenery, looming on our left flank. Minutes later we were indeed at the hotel, pretty central for sightseeing. Nice one Garmin!

    Granada is good fun – a great Arabic quarter (for food and clothes); a gorgeous river wending past beautiful churches (with flamenco bars) and the Alhambra: well worth a day and night visit, especially the Palacios Nazaires and the Generalife.

    The Alhambra

    But it is a big city and I’m a country boy so after one full day there we emptied the panniers, jumped on the bike and headed for the Costa Tropical. Good call: the A4050 over the Sierra del Chaparral is absolutely stunning – my favourite road so far; I was whooping with joy at the sheer drops. Debs said that when the terror occasionally subsided it was very beautiful.


    Almunecar was a bit built up and it became cloudy and very windy so we thought we’d check out the coast road. West to Nerja and east to La Rabbita the N340 was typically uncrowded; the western section was much nicer but we eventually beached at Calahonda, where it was calmest. We passed a huge Spanish biker who’d just stopped at a bar: wild-eyed, he was shouting something about ‘la vente’. Seems that even the locals thought that the wind was a bit extreme today.

    After 2 hours at the beach we hoped that the wind might have dropped; we were taking the straightest route back, the A44. The first tunnel put us straight: it was like testing in a wind tunnel – conditions were now much worse.
    After several wind tunnels came the many viaducts – up to 500m long and 95m high.

    One of the smaller viaducts

    The winds caught the big Tex with its slabby luggage and chucked us around like a dinghy in a hurricane. Gusting from every direction and changing force and angle by the microsecond it became a battle of will.
    At one point the motorway curved westward: as yet another viaduct approached the setting sun poured directly into my eyes, reducing vision to about 5%. My regular chant of ‘feckfeckfeckfeckfeck….’ dried up; I just sighed and said ‘Really??’ Latching onto a sliver of reflection on the roof of a car 40m in front I just concentrated on aiming at that strip of light – couldn’t see the road or viaduct rails at all.
    I knew all those hours spent piloting an Elite pirate spaceship on my Amiga 1000 would come into use sometime.

    Eventually the viaducts ceased and the wind became less violent; Granada appeared on the right, nestled under the Sierra Nevada mountains, all bathed in a golden glow. Never has this country boy been so glad to see a city.
    That night Debs and I kept bumping into each other, doorways, buildings and other people: we still had our wind-legs.

    Thursday dawned sunny and windless: a quick blast down the A92, turning north on the totally empty A333 to Iznajar, a muy encantante hill-top town overlooking a turquoise lake – Andalucia’s largest reservoir. The A331 continued to Lucena but we peeled off up the CO6213 through countless hectares of olive orchards, the tiny roads providing our first pot-holes since arriving in Spain.

    View of Iznajar
    View from Iznajar

    Eventually Cabras spat us out onto the A45 and we made our way into Cordoba. Less hilly than Granada, the old town is a total maze of tiny cobbled streets and alleys. The satnav took us unerringly to a vast construction site in the middle of the maze. Turned around and tried again, more than once, but kept ending up back at the closed roads, once after riding through the central plaza, with its restaurant seating set up for business. Eventually I got off, walked through the construction site to our hotel and sorted a route for the bike.

    One of the larger streets…

    Old Cordoba is so chilled: we found cool jazz bars; the best and cheapest tapas in Spain; a superb night of flamenco and tequila; the extraordinary Mesquita-Catedral; the climb up the Catedral bell tower; and people/dog watching while drinking and eating tapas at the El Patri in the C17th Plaza de la Corredera.

    The C17th Plaza de la Corredera
    The Mesquita-Catedral

    Cordoba: my favourite city.

    In Part 3: ‘How to crash a Tex’ and ‘Conclusions’.


    Fantastic review and what stunning pictures, reminds me why I love riding in Spain so much! Just noticed the crashing reference for part 3…hope it wasn’t too serious…


    Spain is pretty amazing – nice and sunny, too!

    Some more photos:

    Calm winds at Calahonda!

    Iznajar town

    The arches of the Mezquita-Catedral

    Tapas in Cordoba

    Street art, Cordoba

    Evening in the Plaza, Cordoba


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