What a day!
The garmins magical mystery tour continues! I looked at the profile last night and Garmin connect made it look down hill so I had a lie in and finally left about 11 am. Big mistake!
Everything started well making tracks out of Butgos along the river – nice and flat. That soon changed and I was climbing up hill again. Nothing too bad but up hill. It was nice and breezy which knocked the heat off the temperature. Before long I was in the agricultural outskirts of Burgos and climbing. I was a little concerned by the sign warning about ice when if was 85 degrees but hey ho. I just kept peddling! Before long I was at 3000 ft. By comparison scarfell Pyke England’s highest peak is about 3200ft. Far In the distance all I could see was hundreds of wind turbines – the reason for which will become apparent
It was windy. Really windy and as I progressed it got worse. It made slow going. Really slow. I did about 20 miles in the first 2 hours. The route took me onto the plains of Spain. They just go on for ever – it gives you a real insight into the vast size of Spain. At one point I felt like I was in a western movie. All that was missing was John Wayne, tumble weed and the odd cactus plant. The roads were straight, the hills tough and made all the worse by the strengthening wind. If the wind was this strong at home I wouldn’t have gone out. At times the gusts made me wobble on the bike and I thought I’d go off the road. It was just a slog. Featureless roads, it was bloody hot and quite frankly soul destroying. I just couldn’t make any real progress.
Small things pick you up – so much so that a simple sign to Portugal reminds you where you are going and why. It was very apparent given the slow going that I’d started too late – but sh** happens and there’s only one person to blame and one person to get you out if it. I’d think about 45 km from home I called in a village to find a taberna. It was all closed. Luckily i saw a guy who filled my bottles and his wife gave me a small bottle of mineral water out of their fridge – typical of all the people that I have met. Kind hearted, good natured with the last miserable shit been seen in Marlborough. All day I was either on or going up and down this plateau. The wind didn’t stop all day – it was a constant headwind that as cyclists will tell you feels like someone has their hand on your chest and is pushing you back. You are so exposed on the plateau there is just no escaping it. Eventually I dropped down View below from plateau
As I came down the valley I had a nightmare – one that Tim who had cycled with me had prepared for – but I hadn’t. Until that point all the dogs that I’d come across had been restrained in someway either by electrical fences that they would cross for fear of getting a shock or were on a simple lead. This time there was a pack of them. After a few seconds I realised that
- None were on chains
- They were all chasing me!
Headwind or not – I was off. Like cavendish when he’s bursting to win a sprint finish I was out of there. Tim had some sort of pepper based repellant. I had a left and right foot.
Eventually with 30k to go I stopped for water, food and coffee. A longer stop than planned as the first bar didn’t do food. Typical scenario unfolded. In sign and body language “what are you doing here? You’ve come from where? Where are you going – oh and you are mad”
The 2nd bar owned came out to see me as his daughter couldn’t speak English. Nor could he but he’d soon rustled up a club sandwich that had everything in that you could imagine. The lot went – he was great. 30 k or so should have been an hour and 15 – hour and 30 max. But not this 30k. The most brutal finish to a punishing day ever. For the first time I wondered whether I would make it (I’m not counting getting lost). I can’t describe the feelings having realised that I had one killer hill to get up with just 9 km or so to go. I’m not religious and I don’t believe that there is any form of after life. For me, once your gone – your gone. End of.
Earlier in the week Dad text to say that he’d been to mums grave and told her what I was doing. “She’ll look out for you” was Dads words of reassurance. That’s nice I thought – but j didn’t really believe it. On that last hill all I could hear was “go on Jonathan – go on”. I’m sure it was the salt in the sweat that made my eyes water. A man wouldn’t admit anything else would they? Before long I was up it and enjoying the down hill into Palencia glad that today was over. It was without doubt the toughest of the ride so far – mentally, physically and emotionally.
In case you were wondering the 4 bottles of Heineken didn’t touch the sides and I went upstairs for a bath.
You forget little things as you go – but my water bottles haven’t been washed properly for 2 weeks. I thought all the drinks tasted funny with the same tang. I realised what It was today – mould. Luckily today’s hotel is opposite a Decathlon store so I’ve replaced them. I hope the drinks tomorrow taste better and the ride is an altogether better experience. As they say character building stuff. Interestingly, my arse and legs are showing no ill affects. The challenge today was the horrific wind. The forecast tomorrow is better. But im taking no chances – have re routed and will be away early.
Tomorrow is another day.