Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Yes, well, now we needed a rest/recovery day. So, that involved a sleep in and a tardy start for a local lap around the olive fields in the environs of Los Olivos. And... that would mean a 60km plus and easy 1,100m of 'gentle' climbing ( https://www.strava.com/activities/2775288261 ). Easy as she goes captain! Afterwards. a load of food, more hydration, and a well-earned siesta, and we were ready for the dreaded Pandera ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_o9VccThgA ) and if you would rather read about it ( https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_de_la_Pandera ).
Having breakfasted and urged ourselves onto the bikes, Uwe, Nick and I started the easy initial climb right outside the house, of 70m in only 500m up to the descent into Alcala. Andreya had wisely missed out on this day as she had a friend to visit in Malaga (Andreya has biked up this lump three times anyhow). Of course, we were now bagging these climbs for Nick and his bloody infernal book! ( https://www.strava.com/activities/2777873376 ) The 45km to the base of Pandera are as scenic as you can imagine and also on the quietest roads around. We all claimed to feel 'fresh and great' - liars! At least we had the support of Julio on his motorbike to keep an eye on us...
A quick photo stop while we were leaving Frailes en route to La Pandera - still no cars! Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
Still no cars! Nick enjoying another climb! Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
From its base in the lovely town of Valdepenas, the summit is reached in about 20km and a rise in altitude of just under a thousand meters!
Pandera in the distance - we had to descend to Valdepenas (the white buildings ) before climbing up again. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
15% plus section - Yes, it never looks that steep in photos! Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
It's a brute with three sections of road signposted at over 15% and even in the easiest gear, it seems like you've got a 53/11 combination on these parts. It's feared by the pros for a reason.
Lots of roads and 15% plus bits! Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
Grind and sweat. Sweat and grind. Then, when your heart and lungs are coming out of your mouth, there is a glimpse of the top - but it's still that 1.5km section of 15% and steeper away. Far below to the right, we could see Valdepenas - were we really there a little over an hour ago? I overtook Nick, who was deep in a Karmic rhythm of pain and heavy breathing. I know this 'little hill' very well and that you just focus on the view to the right and not to the road that ramps up like few other climbs do.
Nick and Kevin approach the very top. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
At the very top our escorts, Julio and Janice ( having driven up the cliff in their support car ) met us with drinks and food. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
There was nothing between us and La Mancha, famous for Don Quioxe, to the north (above photo) and Sierra Nevada to the south. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
Three Amigos on the top of La Pandera. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
The wild summit plateau of La Pandera with the faint and distant Sierra Nevada range over 100km away in the background. Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold
Okay - off we go down - like dooooowwwwwnnnn! Brakes and smelly rubbery stuff as we carefully negotiated the steeper parts (did we really just go up that?) Photos Credit - Uwe Leopold
Now we 'only' had to cycle back to Los Olivos back some of the way we had ridden, but with a fantastic and twisty descent into Castillo de Locubin and back up again into Alcala la Real. By the time we arrived al la casa, we had ridden 122km in distance and 2,600m of up bits. Is that enough? No, it never is, but it was enough for that day! Now, a few months after and looking back, well, what a decent day on the bike!! You really can't get any better!
Apres La Pandera refreshments and enough for today! Photo Credit - Uwe Leopold