Today weather was perfect with clear blue skies all day and temperatures up to 24C.
Most of the group took taxi and car to Granada to visit the Alhambra Palace. Phil, Ernie and myself had our bikes loaded on a car to go to Granada to ride the big climb up the Sierra Nevada mountains towards the 11000ft peak of the Pico Veleta
Our driver Ian runs a cycle tour business in the area associated with the accommodation provided by our host Ann. Ian and his nephew James joined us on the climb on lightweight road bikes.
We unloaded the bikes about 5 miles up from Granada and about 200 meters in height above the city. April is too early to get all the way to the top and we planned to go as far as possible before the road was closed.
My injured back was improved enough for the climb but taking it steady at a slow pace which Ernie was happy to join me in. Young James sprinted ahead and Phil and Ian rode on ahead with Ian sometimes riding down to see how we were doing.
The suburban towns south of Granada gradually got smaller below us among serrated ridges and a lake. We had an early start and had started climbing about 9.00. After about an hour we regrouped at caf? for a pleasant stop in the warm sun.
We continued and the road climbed higher crossing to the western side of the ridge with Granada tiny in the distance. I had cycled the entire route previously in 1989 but then the middle part of the climb was in mist as we rode through a cloud layer later emerging above the clouds. This time I was able to see all I missed before. The snow covered peak of the Pico Veleta was soon visible ahead of us.
We passed a broken rock bridge over the road with snow-capped mountains visible behind it. Ian came back down and took some pictures of Ernie and myself cycling up using my Camera.
We continued on and up to the edge of the Sierra Nevada Ski village and the road looped round and above it passing the Auberge Univeritario where our group stayed on the 1989 visit. Then on higher to a closed road barrier which we went round as bikes are allowed. We stopped at the "Our Lady of the Snows Statue" where there was a view of the Pico Veleta peak through the triangle of the base.
We had reached the first snow at the town and as we climbed higher there were sometimes walls of snow beside the road. Our highest point was at 8600ft about 2500ft and about 5 miles short of the summit.
We descended to a caf? just below the statue for a coffee and picnic lunch in the sun which was pleasantly warm even at our great height. Our 17 1/2 mile climb had taken about 4 1/2 hours. The fast swooping descent took 35 minutes.
We returned to base to relax by the pool.
The main group had a good visit to the Alhambra Palace with a lot to see and do although they had to queue over 2 hours to get in.
35 miles for the day and 6069 ft of climbing.