Grinding Through the Mountains to the Rock

October 27, 2021

We left the charming town of Ronda this morning eager for the last leg of our our trip. All excepting me. I needed a Covid test and I needed to have the sample taken this morning in order to have the results in time for my flight two days from now. Canada seems to be one of the last places to not accept a rapid Covid test for fully vaccinated travelers. Instead, Canada insists upon a more expensive and longer to process PCR test for everyone entering the country. Most nations consider this overkill but Canada seems to want to continue to make travel as difficult as possible for its residents.

The result found me in a small clinic trying to explain to the Spanish only staff using Google Translate why I need a test that morning. It did not matter to them that I had researched this ahead of time, contacted their lab and confirmed every detail. Another rider even stopped by the clinic the night before to confirm that both the test he and I needed could have their samples taken the next morning.

We showed up half and hour before they opened to make sure we were at the head of the line only to be told that everything we had been told was wrong. My friend could not get his test at all and it took a lot of pleading and sorrowful looks to get my sample taken. To complicate this I did not know my European cell phone number and had to go back to the hotel to get because the online service to provide the number was down. Another trip back down the street was required to get the cash the technician demanded even though all the information we were given said they would take debit cards. About an hour after everyone else was on their way, I finally got onto my bike to begin the last 100 kilometers of my journey.

The ride was beautiful through the mountains with steep climbs and headwinds that were made more pleasant by the spectacular scenery. My reward for all the climbing was a 10 kilometer downhill run from the top and onto the moderately hilly coastal plain towards Gibraltar.

The last few kilometers passed through the industrial port city of Algeciras, Spain with its refineries and chemical plants. If I did not know better I could imagine that I was in New Jersey.

Eventually the chemical plants gave way to scenes of The Rock in all its limestone glory. A quick pass through customs and a ride across the airport runway put me into the city itself with its hectic traffic, hilly streets and death defying drivers zipping by at expressway speeds. One last uphill grind delivered me to the end of my 3000 kilometer journey and a glass of champagne with my fellow riders. One more epic bicycle trip finished and I am proud to say that I was able to ride it EFI! (Every Fabulous Inch)