Day 7: Sevilla to Cordoba, Spain

The Caliph's Niche at the Mezquita

This was my first 100 mile plus day of this tour. I was aided by expressway riding with a tail wind, and I averaged 14 mph - quite high for loaded touring. I had not meant to ride the expressway - an Autovia in Spanish terms - but lack of signs kept me from finding the road I planned to ride, A-431, even though I crossed it on my way to E-5. I crossed it, but didn't know it because none of the roads I crossed on my way to E-5 were marked!

When I realized that I wasn't going to find A-431, I decided I'd ride E-5, if it was legal, and, if I didn't like it, I would exit at Carmona and take A-457 to A-431. That actually would have been shorter than staying on E-5, but E-5 was fast - I was often cruising at 17 or 18 mph and, except for entrances and exits - easy riding. It also had services, some thing which, on Sunday, might have been a problem on the backroads.

The day was gray and cool as I rode through Sevilla. I was surprised that there was a lot of traffic on Sunday morning and bars and cafes were open and doing a good business. I was running late - I overslept, not very interested in Sevilla, and knew I had a 100 mile day to Cordoba, so I simply rode through town from south - I had to go a mile or so south to find a bridge I could use - to north where I expected to get on A-431.

When I got to northern Sevilla, All I could find was an autovia and the road to the airport which was also marked as the road to Cordoba. I poked around a while looking for other options and, finding none, took the road to the airport. That road actually put me on E-5 just before the airport. there were Autovia signs, but there were none of the no bicycle/no scooter/no pedestrian signs that I had seen east of Sevilla, so I headed on down E-5. A local bicyclist passed me a mile or so later. so I figured it was OK.

The road to the airport and Cordoba

E-5 - with flowers in the median and a very nice shoulder

When I got to Carmona, I was pleased with riding E-5. It was noisy, so I had my left ear plug in, but it was also fast, easy riding. Before I reached Carmona, I had stopped at a restaurant on a service via - like the side roads on the expressway in Faro, Portugal and had a large espresso and a pastry. I also got a ham sandwich to go. This was a real ham sandwich; thin slices of ham cut from a ham on a bola of bread. It was also overpriced, but, in this case, location is everything. I still had a large apple and a yogurt drink that I bought the night before as well as 3 liters of water - two water bottles and a 1.5 liter bottle in my messenger bag along with the other food. I knew ther were at least four towns on the way, but I didn't know what services would be available on Sunday.

Actually, there weren't too many services in the first 50 miles, but starting roughly 80 km from Cordoba there were regular services. The first big one was a service station, restaurant, and hostal. It looked nice, so I pulled in to have lunch. Woops, It was crammed with families eating lunch, and lunch looked to be an almost French affair. I didn't have the time and they wouldn't want to deal with a solo, non Spanish speaking, customer, so I rode over to the gas station and had a icecream bar an a Red Bull (?) energy drink. That perked me up and I rode on.

An hour or so later, I came up another fancy place, but, by this time, lunch was over. One of the men serving there took pity on me and helped me make a good lunch from topas. It was quite good, and I had a large espresso and some good cheesecake for desert. Life was good.

The road was usually flat, but would sometimes drop down (5% grade of a km or two) into a valley and climb back out. I stopped to eat my apple after the first one of those, and to eat my ham sandwich and yogurt drink on one of the last big ones. I was tired, my bad knee was hurting, and I still had 25 miles to go when I passed a man riding on the dirt frontage road. He sped up, came up onto E-5 at the next access point and rode with me for the next five miles or so. We never talked, but it was fun to have company and it really lifted my spirits.

The other thing that lifted my spirits was the good looking field of wheat, soybeans (?) and sunflowers. They got prettier and prettier as I got closer to Cordoba. Of course part of that prettiness was due to the fact that the land got hillier and hillier and that meant the riding got harder as well.

Harvesting wheat on a hill near Cordoba

The actual ride into Cordoba was mostly a fast downhill after a long climb. I discovered a problem as I approached the Cordoba exit. There were three lanes of heavy traffic, and the exit lane was the leftmost lane. I was going about 30 - 35 mph, so I simply waited for a gap in the traffic and swerved across the three lanes to the narrow shoulder on the other side. I really wasn't close to getting hit, but one car did blow their horn at me. Similarly, when I actually exited, I was still on the left hand side of a lane of cars and I had to get across to the right. That swerve also startled a motorist . After I got into town, I realized that there were two other exits that I could have take more safely, but I had no way to know that since it was not signed.

I've now spent a rest/sightseeing day in Cordoba, something I had planned because this is such a important city. I'll include some images, like the one at the top of this page, for those who might enjoy them.

Arches in the Mezquita

A dome in the Mezquita

A column in the Mezquita

Light from the central dome

A storks nest on a bell tower in the medieval city

A statue of Maimonedes at the entrance to the medieval city

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