In the sun

Apparently Day 2 is usually Day 1, and thus an easy ride to assess everyone’s abilities before planning the rest of the week accordingly.  However our Day 1 was actually Day 1, so James Spragg, our main ride leader, decided that wasn’t necessary.  Instead our rider briefing the night before set the ground rules, warned us to watch out for snakes and tortoises (yes really!) and informed us that Day 2’s ride would be around 50 miles, with three climbs in the first 20 miles and then the rest being “flat” and around to the beach and back.  Just to introduce you to the group a bit – there were 5 guests, James’ parents, the other ride leader Margriet Kloppenburg, and “chalet girls” Becky Womersley & GB’s Hannah Payton who would also ride with us.  Nearly out-numbered by pros, definitely out-classed! 😉

Breakfast was at 8:30am every day, with the ride start being at 10:30am to allow the chill of the morning to wear off and all the food that everyone (else) was eating to go down presumably.  It beats me how people can eat so much and then ride!  Muesli/yoghurt/fruit, followed by porridge, followed by bread, croissants…the list goes on!  I’d have to go back to bed for a few hours if I ate all that, even supposing I could eat all of that without consequences.  So I ate some ham, and the odd boiled egg (bad idea) and drank a lot of coffee.  Life’s too short for bad coffee, and it turns out that that made by the two Dolce Gusto machines available to us was pretty good, which was a relief 😉

legs lightened steed

Having time to kill, and having had a pre-trip shoe saga, yesterday I was riding with my summer shoes which turned out to have cleats with more float in them than I liked.  Possibly not good for my knees.  Having brought new fixed cleats for the shoes that I wasn’t wearing, cleats which I had brought with me just in case, I took some time after breakfast to sit down in the sun and swop them over.  Well since I was already in summer kit (hello legs!),and I didn’t need to load the bike up with anything as the support vehicle takes care of all that, some sort of faffing was essential, right?  By the way, my bike looks very different without its saddle bag on it – oddly naked somehow!

I didn’t really know what to expect from the ride, but it was more anticipation than apprehension.  I was feeling pretty good on our first ride so I was a little more positive about the thought of climbing than sometimes.  And as it turns out, they were my kind of climbs.  Long, gradual, wiggly.  My way was still slower than everyone else’s, but when it came to climbs, we were left to get on with it so I could just plod up, slightly distracted by the sound of the broom wagon behind me.  Margriet was driving and James’ folks had already taken refuge inside, so all three of them got to watch me dawdle.  No pressure 😉  I did overtake a couple of Spanish cyclists on the first ascent though, which made me feel less bad about being the weakest link 😉  And of course what goes up gets to go down, and there were some lovely descents.  The one down through Bedar was long enough that we had to put on gilets and arm warmers at the top so as to not get too cold!  I could sometimes have gone faster but that’s hard when you’re in a peloton and trying to be careful and considerate and things.  I do love down 🙂

setting out Becky & Hannah up in the hills wiggles

Official climbs done, we had our coffee stop at Mojácar Playa which, thanks to the sea wind (too strong to be a breeze!), was a tad chilly.  However coffee and fizzy orange were both restorative and traditional,  and the carrot cake consumed by others was huge.  Like four tiers tall huge, and generously portioned with it!  I passed, unsurprisingly 😉

expensive bunch tradition

The “flat” return leg turned out to be more rolling and less enjoyable than the hills as a result.  Fall off the back, catch up, fall off the back again… 😉  Where the main roads and hills tended to have nice smooth (rarely used you see) road surfaces, the back lanes (rat runs) were a lot like those I’m used to here, but dry!  So dust, gravel, potholes, speed bumps, with the odd tractor thrown in to emphasis the agricultural nature of the area.  Doable but not always enjoyable.  It’s very arid, but there’s no shortage of water so they just irrigate everything.  Anything you find in your supermarket that says “grown in Spain” on it is grown here, either outside, or in massive expanses of plastic greenhouses.  Not massively attractive but very productive!

Cycling time: 3:34
Distance: 53.0 miles
Avg: 13.9 mph
ODO: 8129.1 miles

Thanks to the honesty fridge, the first thing I did when we got in was have a long cold beer.  Also traditional 😉  The others followed suit a little later, once they’d been more sensible and drunk recovery drink and eaten cake.  All the ride bars, food, gels, drinks, etc for the week were supplied by Clif, and their marketing manager Dave was one of us riders.  As it turns out, it’s all pretty much suitable for me too, which was a bonus!  While I’m here, the other three with us were Mark, Anthony, and David, all from MDCC who run the Dartmoor Classic.  Small world 😉

Thus refreshed it was time to have a shower, enjoy the sunshine by the pool or on my balcony, and drink more beer until our 7:30pm dinner time rolled around.  Very relaxing 🙂  It was Sunday, something which had already passed me by, as time did that weird elastic thing it does when on the bike, and what with it being a holiday and the day of the week having no meaning.  So we were treated to one of the camp chef Julia’s specialities, slow roasted pork, aka “The Pig”, as fêted by Team Raleigh a couple of weeks before.  Man it was huge!  But we made a pretty good dent in it, no?

menu the pig

julia remnants

Having been warned of my dietary requirements, Julia always made sure that I had food to eat, and let me know if there was anything I needed to skip, something I was very grateful for.  I’d be even more grateful later in the week, but that can wait…

So.  Day 2 done, rounded off with a beautiful sunset, and beers in the lounge in front of the wood-burning fire as things turned chilly.  Not bad 😉  I enjoyed the ride overall, and I was pretty pleased with my performance.  I was definitely looking forward to more 🙂