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Day 1.......Tarifa to Manilva Green .....88 km

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step “(or in my case one turn of the crankshaft) . - Lao Tzu

10.10 am and off I set. Destination Manilva Green somewhere north of Gibraltar. Only approx 6,500 km to go.

Conditions ideal. Overcast, cool and even the threat of a light shower. Terrain not so ideal. First 9 km was straight up a hill. In fact once I got over the cause way that links Isla da Tarifa to the mainland it was a steep cobblestoned road leading out of the old town up into the main road.

Looking north from Isla da Tarifa . Atlantic on the left and Mediterranean on the right. 6,500 km to go

Won’t be zero for long.

Looking happy now. Let’s see at days end. Looking eastward towards the Mediterranean. That’s Morocco on the right.

900 metres into the ride and I get hit with this. Who wrote the script?

At the top of the 9km climb out of Tarifa I stop to admire the view towards Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar . A group of bird watchers from Yorkshire stumble eagerly out of their campervans and the following conversation takes place

Birdwatcher 1 - “ I think that’s a Sardinian Warbler down there “

Birdwatcher 2 (excitedly) - “Where, where?”

Birdwatcher 1 - “on the right, down towards that small house”

Birdwatcher 2 - “ I still can’t see it “

Nick - “ My bet’s he’s looking at a rock”

At least one of them laughed.

Coffee #1 . 305 to go

Coffee #1 companion.

Perfect place to nest . Bet it’s warm even in winter. Radiation exposure in later years might be an issue

The sensible thing to do would’ve been to dismount. Take shoes off and wade into check depth of water. If too deep then unpacker panniers and manually carry bike across deep puddle.

That would’ve been the sensible thing to do. Instead he just rode straight in. How deep could it be after all? Erm ... try up to his cycling shorts deep. Will be interesting to see how that affects the crankshaft in due course. At least I could vouch for the waterproofness of the @Ortlieb bags. Bullet proof and bone dry despite being half submerged .

Further down the road I was clearly in a more posh suburb. These houses were double storey.

Interesting discussion could be had about this thorny issue. Doesn’t Spain own an enclave in Morocco (Melilla)? Something about glass houses and throwing stones.

Ok ok I know it’s day one. But having applauded the French and Italian drivers for their courtesy last year on my ride from London to Rome I have to say the Spanish are winning this award hands down if today’s experience is anything to go by. Outstanding respect shown by every Spanish driver. No exceptions. Long may it last.

Note to self . Don’t go booking accommodation at the top of the steepest Hill of the day and 2 km from the coastline after day 1 and having just dusted 88 km

Word of the day - La Factura ... the bill

Thought of the day - You cannot be serious.....(there were a few choice expletives in there that’s for sure)..At the base of the climb to accommodation.

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