Day 8: Cordoba to Granada, Spain

The first bridge in Cordoba, as seen from the second bridge

The Sierra Nevada mountains in the background and Granada at the right side of the valley below them

My longest day of riding before this on this tour was seven and a half hours; today I rode for nine and a half hours. The distance was just over 100 miles, similar to my ride from Sevilla to Cordoba, but that ride was mostly flat with a tail wind and this ride was mostly mountains. I spent too many hours today cranking up 5 to 7% grades at 4 to 6 mph in the hot sun.

I left Cordoba about 9:30 AM, although I thought it was 8:30 since I had forgotten to change from Portugal time, which is US east coast + 5 hours to Spanish time which is US east coast + 6 hours. The weather was very nice, sunny but still cool. I rode across the second bridge in Cordoba, which was closed for construction, and then down to the main intersection where I turned east and headed for Granada on N-432. I rode through the very commercial - busy and boring - new part of Cordoba to where N-432 intersects E-5.

The signs say I shouldn't have been on E-5

N-432 ten miles south east of Cordoba

Although I didn't see any no anythings signs where I got on E-5 near the Sevilla airport, the were plenty of no everything but cars and trucks signs at this entrance to E-5. Oh well, I didn't want to ride it today anyway! It is interesting that, when I stopped for lunch on my way to Cordoba, I rode right past several Guardia Civil who showed no interest in the fact that I was riding on a limited access highway. I'm glad they didn't.

Santa Cruz with a combine crew staying at the hostal

Beautiful wheat, sunflowers, and, almost iridescent plowed fields

Riding the first twenty miles on 432 was really quite pleasant. It was pretty, rolling, country with lush crops include wheat ready to harvest. Later in the ride, I saw several combine crews - folks who work their way through the wheat harvest from north to south.

Then I saw a hill town, Espejo, in the distance. Things were uphill from there. I'd estimate the climb was about 500 feet vertical. On the downhill side of that hill town, I stopped at a service station to buy water and some yogurt drink. I bought a bocadello (submarine sandwich, basically) for breakfast and took half of it with me. I ate it and the yogurt drink and drank a liter or so of water. This was looking to be a hot and hilly ride.

Suddenly there is this hilltown, Espejec, looking almost like it could be in Tuscanny

The countryside after Espejec

After Espejec, 432 dropped back down to rolling hills, but they were dryer and the hills were longer. It felt more like high desert, rather than the plains between Cordoba and Espejec: It was hot and dry.

The road started climbing again and, sure enough, another hill top town, Baena, appeared in the distance. This was getting old and it had just begun...

This was a little part of the long climb to Baena


I stopped at a grocery store in Baena for another 1.5 liters of water, some cheap brie, and some "Biscut Rings." The store didn't have any real bread, and I needed something to eat with the brie. After Baena, the road was pretty much up or down, with little level ground. I stopped an hour later to sit under an olive tree - this is a major olive oil region - and eat my cheese and 'biscuits.' The next major town was Alcaudete. Yet another hill town...

I was now in Jaen province, and it was very dry and mountainous. It was a long climb to and through Alcaudete. I'd estimate it at more than 1000 feet, with grades up to 7%. A few miles before Alcaudete, A-313 intersects N-432. I stopped for a proper Spainish lunch at the restaurant there. At that point, I had come 50 miles and I was exhausted. The last twenty miles had been really hard and it didn't look like it was going to get easier any time soon. It didn't, but the good lunch helped a lot.

Mountains ahead in Jaen province.


After Alcaudete, N-432 stayed pretty level for a mile or two, then it had a long, 7% grade, downhill. Great fun, but there was only a short section of flat at the bottom before another long 7% climb started. That one lasted over 1000 feet vertical of hard, hot, and boring climbing. By the end of that climb I was looking for a place to stop. I'd been riding for almost seven hours and had covered almost 70 miles. Riding to Cordoba I had covered almost 100 miles in the same amount of time, and I hadn't had to work nearly as hard!

The last hill town was Alcala la Real. It is a spectacular sight, which, perhaps because of my fatigue, I didn't get any good photos of. I would have stopped there, exhausted, but N-432 passed by it rather than through it, and I would have had to climb up to it. Instead, I rode on for another 30 miles to Granada.

N-432, after Alcala la Real, has a lovely down hill into a beautiful valley

Colorado? It sure looks like it.

I gambled. and mostly won, on the remaing 30 miles to Granada being a lot easier than the previous 30 miles. Most of the ride was downhill or flat and none of the hills compared to what I had been climbing to get to those hill cities.

Entering Granada province - and happy to be out of Jaen Province
Those white tuffs just above the horizon are the snow covered tops of the Sierra Nevada

A stunning view of the Sierra Nevada from about 20 miles before Granada

Entering Granada near sundown with my shadow in front of me and the mountains ahead

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