Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Leaving on a jet plane

By Stuart Lowe on

I woke and packed. I rode over to San Fernando train station. I was able to show the full itinerary of my train trip to the lady at the ticket office as Thomas had sent it through to me. It was really easy. Thomas had also checked that there was free space for my bike so my bike had tickets too. The train arrived from Cádiz on time. I changed just south of Seville as Thomas had told me. I got to Málaga by early afternoon. The flight home was around 9pm but I had to bag or box my bike somehow and get to the airport.

The first bike shop I tried to find from Google Maps didn't exist. Or if it did I couldn't find it despite going all the way around the block. I headed back through central Málaga and eventually found a bike workshop and cafe. This felt like the right place. I sat in the cafe and had a curry. I got 10% discount because I'd arrived by bike!

Does Bradley Wiggins know he is a salad at the bicycle themed cafe in Málaga?

After food, the guy running the bike shop offered me a large cardboard box that he'd had a bike delivered in. I then spent a bit of time with tool taking my bike to bits, cutting down the huge box, and packaging it all up with bubble wrap and parcel tape from a Chinese bazar around the corner. My rucksack was taken out of the IKEA bag to be hand luggage. My pannier bags were put inside the IKEA bag for hold luggage. I then had to lug the whole lot across central Málaga to the train station to get to the airport. That was the hardest part. After four months of carrying me and my bags, I was now carrying the bike and bags. That isn't easy. I had to keep stopping for rests. Just before the station a kind couple offered to help me which was very nice of them.

I got a train to the airport. I'd been expecting there might be issues at the airport but everything just worked.

I rang my dad via Skype. He told me my sister has gone to pick me up from Manchester which was odd because my flight was to Leeds. He told me I better ring her but then Skype stopped working for me. Minutes before boarding I was able to find out that he'd actually got it wrong and she had the right airport after all.

The flight itself was very busy. No doubt the end of Monarch and the recent pilot disputes meant every flight in the south of Spain was jammed full. Passengers were getting in and out of their seats to chat and were holding up the flight in the process. Once we were airborne the crew ran out of most refreshments and food so people got a bit tetchy. The couple sat next to me weren't talkative and the man across the aisle said something about "it's political correctness gone mad" and I decided to sleep instead. It was the worst flight I'd been on in a while but I was going home. My cycling was done. I had completed the Atlantic coast of Europe.