Fat Camp [fat kamp]; noun: A desperate attempt to quickly get back into shape after being gluttonous and sedentary since the summer solstice. Usually involves many miles of biking over a week or two around the winter holidays.
Erik and Lindsey mistakenly agreed to join us again, thinking that Spain would be “easier” than our Arizona bike tour last year. Jajaja! (That’s “Hahaha” in Spanish). Although we did fewer miles per day, the massive amount of climbing and chilly morning temperatures made this a Fat Camp to be reckoned with. For details on the route and logistics, see this post.
The route offered a lot of variety.
We climbed from the coast through dry, olive-tree-covered foothills to the city of Granada. We skirted the base of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains, visiting many small white-washed villages, perched high above the valley floor. After cresting a 7,000 foot pass, we dropped into a dry desert region that reminded us of red rock scenery that you would find in Southern Utah. And, as we headed West, the land turned lush and green similar to the California coast.
Given that it was winter, we were the only tourists in all of the small towns we passed through, but we did see a few in the larger cities, like Malaga, Granada, Ronda, and Tarifa. We spent our 2-3 rest days in these larger towns, so that we could explore and checkout the tourist attractions.
Thankfully, the locals were extremely friendly…
Most of them only spoke Spanish to us, so we got a chance to brush up and revive our language skills. The frequent use of “vale”, in seemingly every other sentence, threw us off for a bit. But Erik got the hang of it and, towards the end, was frequently throwing “vale” at us like a local. Muy bien, Enrique.
And, to our surprise, the Spanish were extremely kind and patient drivers. We couldn’t believe how long the drivers would wait patiently behind us until the road straightened out and they could pass safely. Muy bien conducirs de Espana!
And, we had a great time off-the-bike too…
New Years Eve in Granada was a blast. After joining some locals in a bar for sherry and their free tapas, we headed out into the streets. The tradition is that, when the clock hits midnight, you eat one grape each time the church bell rings.
- Ronda – This picturesque town was a gem and our short day rides from the fortress city were gorgeous.
- Guadix- The only time we’ve ever slept in a “cave house” (like the locals) and had a pizza party.
- Morocco – Our day in Morocco was interesting, informative, and delicious. We visited Tetouan & Tangiers, rocking the casbahs markets & ports. But mostly, we fell in love with the tasty treats…. dates, nut pastries, couscous, buttermilk, and sweet mint tea.
- Tarifa – We ended the bike tour in Tarifa, a beach town near the mouth of the Mediterranean. Randomly, some old friends of ours, the Herskowitzs, were staying there for month with their boys to study Spanish. It was great to catch up with them over dinner and then watch a flamenco performance together.
Maybe we had too much fun…
Frustratingly, we don’t think that we dropped any weight from Fat Camp. We had no chance against the on slot of jamon, queso, leche, pan de dulce, and chorizo. Luckily, I’m starting a 6-month leave of absence in February to do a bunch of bikepacking, so I’ll be extending Fat Camp for some time. Look for updates from us in Mexico in February!