Andalucia and the quest for a rental bike

It’s minus 12C in Helsinki and you’re boarding a flight to Sevilla with the essential riding kit in your bag and a grin on your face. Nice. Spain hosts one of the 3 Grand cycling tours every year and is a country full of biking culture. Visits to Granada, Sevilla and Malaga, the last two both hosting a stage in the last Tour of Spain, are scheduled. Sweet.

Bump in the road #1: the Spanish are not the Swiss, as a matter of fact I wonder if most of them have a watch – or a sense of organization. The flight, stops included, is supposed to take 7.5 hours. We clock off after 14hrs – yes, we also got the opportunity to see the Madrid airport. Renting a bike in Sevilla? Other than a bike from the public city bike service…no. My online search didn’t deliver any results and the well-willing staff at the hotel couldn’t help me either – using their best Spanglish.

Que? Flamenco is obviously a family tradition.

Next up Granada – the climb up to the Alhambra would make a nice climb-time trial by the way – at a height of 700m and surrounded by mountains the wet dream of a cyclist. The receptionist, upon the same question, looked at me as if I personified the 21st century Moorish invasion of the city all over again. She did gave me her best smile – I think she was actually make fun out of me – and said “No”. Later on I saw at least 10 mountain bikers coming back from their evening ride, however due to hectic traffic and bad timing I didn’t “connect” with the local bikers. Slightly frustrated – excellent tapas and wine softened the pain a bit – I put all my hopes on Malaga.

Rather strange biking hours they have in Sevilla.

So, Costa del Sol it was! Known for training camps of professional teams, reasonably good roads, nature parks, nice temperatures in December (16C) – this would be it. The receptionist at our hotel said .. “No”, but I simply was not going to take it this time. During our second day in the city, and after collecting two rental bike addresses style “tour around the historical city on a bike”, I got a phone number from the Russian(!) owner of the “bicycle tours” shop. I gave David from Recyclo Bike Shop in Palo Alto (5 km east of Malaga) a call and, imagine that, got to choose between a full carbon or aluminum frame Focus bike, with SRAM or Shimano group and in the exact size needed. Unlike the fanatic Spanish Catholics I didn’t go and burn a candle for the Virgin Mary but I did walk around with a smile for the rest of the day – bought a more detailed map, and started planning for the next day. More on the route I biked in the days to come, and now that I think of it… I should have burned that candle.

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By Maarten Patteeuw

Maarten is an avid road and mountain biker who lives and breathes everything rolling on two wheels. You can follow his rantings on Twitter by looking for @maapathel.