When I woke up the next morning I knew it would be a different day than the last 3. I had 100km ahead of me, 40km of which were still unknown. But then I would be in Granada. Everything would be different from Granada onward for the last 60km. First, I knew for sure it would be all paved. But the icing of the cake was that my local group from Motril would meet me and ride the last part of the journey back to my final destination. How awesome was that!
So I was leaving my hotel in high spirits. The air was crisp and fresh. I loved it. It was shaking the tiredness out of my body. I had been riding 18.5 hours over the last 2.5 days.
Exactly for 1.6km I was breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the smooth way to Granada. And then I was facing just the same as the last two days. Gravel. But this time I was not really faced by it. I rolled (or better stumbled) with it.
It only can be for another 40km.
With an extended gravel section and a ride across a field (!!!), I finally made it to Granada.
I was so excited to meet the group. I greeted them as we havent seen each other for years (it had been barely a week). The first stop was for coffee. When I took my sunglasses off, they were not shy to tell me how exhausted I looked like. Yes, the last three days made an impact on my physical appearance.
But it didnt matter. I was on the home stretch. No matter if headwind, punctures or gravel were ahead, there was absolutely nothing that would hold me back. We took the last 60km easy. By now, I knew the route. Everything felt familiar. I truly felt like coming home again (although I only had been living here for four months).
Once, I saw the Salobrena hill, I had to hold some tears away – it became a bit of an emotional moment.
When I reached the beach, I was sitting there for a long time taking it all in and making sure it was not a mirage.
Why going through this hazard?
It is tough to explain why I put myself through all this hazard if there was a very convenient bus from Madrid to Motril. Why would I want to ride my bike almost 600km while having trouble finding a path, getting lost, dehydrated, hungry and fatigued, eating at the curb of the gas station and hoping to get through this journey safely?
Why would I want to put myself in a vulnerable position, completely out of my comfort zone?
Because it brings me back to basic appreciating the things that truly matter. During that kind of trip, the problems of daily life lose its significance, fundamental values gain importance.
Such an adventure gives me also a huge sense of freedom and full responsibility. But because exactly of that it is also scary: I am responsible for every action; every decision I make is fully mine – whether I am getting lost or having decided on the wrong route.
This complete exposure of my own actions makes me truly feel alive. I learn more about myself how I deal with adversity, how to solve problems, how I adjust my expectations and motivate myself throughout the day to keep going despite the strong headwind, the forced route changes or the untimely puncture.
It teaches me life lessons in a nutshell.
It teaches me what really matters in life. And it teaches me to appreciate the little things that are easily forgotten in a world of abundance.
I cannot describe the satisfaction and the overwhelming feeling of achievement when I saw the beach, the end of almost 600km of an unknown journey. An experience the numbers cannot grasp – finding a path that does not exist, withstanding meteorological forces, defying harsh terrain while intimately exploring a raw version of a new country and discovering an unedited version of myself.
It is such an enriching experience that I am longing for more – a new adventure, a new excuse not to take the bus.