I have visited my old Mum and Dad in Alicante to catch up and get some miles in!
Route 1 - Cabezo de Plata - Garochelle
Route 2 - Cabezo de Plata - Garochelle in reverse
Every year (rather foolishly in Feb or March) in an attempt to use up my Holiday before year end I visit my Mum and Stepfather at their home in Alicante.
The act of visiting my Mother in itself is not foolish as they treat me very well and its always a lot if fun, in fact it's like a full - Board situation where I go to bed late and and don't extricate myself from my steaming pit until I really must!
No indeed the foolish bit is that it is by far the worst time of year weather wise in that region! Generally the sight of me turning up with my Bike box is enough for all the neighbours to roll their eyes take in the washing pack away any outside furniture ( some have even been known to throw the odd insult over the wall such as " here is that wanker with the bike again, shame we have been having such a good winter").
Well my visit in March 2013 was not to be any different, although I was fleeing sub zero temperatures in blighty (indeed i recently rode the sportive The Hell Of Ashdown in temperatures that felt like - 5).
As soon as I touched down at Murcia Airport the cloud found me and it started to drizzle!
I have pictorial evidence in this blog that clouds do indeed follow me around!
It's agonising when my Mum and John meet me, they are already apologising for the weather ( bless their hearts). I brush it off with stuff like don't worry I'm just pleases to see you ( which I am) or I know what to expect it will be fun just to see some blue skies......
You know I'm not going to get it all my own way!
I had a plan to do 100 km a day for 4 days, Mum had another plan and decided that this was going to be 3 days as I simply must try the Menu Del Dia in the village on Sunday, (this consisted if sitting in a restaurant with M & J and 2 friends John and Paul Sykes (affectionately known as Psycho), we have met before and I knew what was coming 2 hours of John and Paul competing for attention whilst simoultaneously trying to prove the other wrong and defend there own position on any given subject which it would seem we're always diametrically opposed, couple this with the hot debate as to why Rugby is better than Cycling in all ways possible, slip in a bit of one upmanship on ilness's and diseases and I think I have given you the picture!
I did manage to do a bit if one-up-man ship myself by trumping them with a look at my shoulder! They were a bit green about the gills it was a nice touch to do this just before the puddings arrive ( thanks Psycho for the trifle Sherry you couldn't manage).
All the while I am thinking how much John is morphing into a hybrid of Ronnie Corbett and Elton John..... I make it sound like a chore but it really wasn't because they are good Guys and it pleases my Mother to see me endure the torture with the good grace and the manners that she taught me! And Mum enjoys the sport!
So after catching up with the olds, being fed like a horse (as I'm sooo skinny it's painful), Mum and John produced my list if work for the week!
If it had a plug on it I had to fix it, configure it, install it, download it, write a pictorial user guide, wireless it ....... You gotta love em still doing this stuff in their mid 70's.
Despite this worrying workload I was able to get a good nights sleep after thermals places in, hot water bottles in the bed, woollies socks ....... Spanish property is designed to lose heat! FACT.
That night the rain came and brought with it it's old mate snow, Spain was covered anywhere over a 900 metres. It made for a very picturesque ride!
It was pissing down so I waited for it to clear up a little and started to work my way through Mums list.
It did clear up a bit but knowing that I had my rides cut down by a day I knew I had to bite the bullet and move off.
I dressed like a snowman with lots if warm gear , wearing the fine Rapha gilet for only the second time ( for the first time my clothes were worth more than my bike) I'm pretty sure I know what that says about me! ATGNI.
I had planned a route with about 1500 metres if climbing in it (route 1) and started off hoping I would not get too wet! Yeah right how stupid.
The route includes a town called Torremendo and a mountain range called the Cabezo de Plata one of my favourite routes in the area!
[annoyingly my parents house is just too far from the huge Sierra de Espuna and the Col de Rates etc in the north, how selfish of them]
Around about 15 K into the ride the rain started,I hadn't reached the mountains yet, this is the time to make the decision to cut the ride short, I didn't ..... Stupidly didn't!
When I reached the mountain a I was warm and still relatively dry, however the first of the mountains put paid to that, I was freezing and now completely soaked leg, hands, feet wise my upper body was still warm! My waterproof sealskins socks dutifully proving how waterproof they are by filling up and not letting any out! It was warm and wet I imagine what it would feel like if I had pissed in them!
Descending the first climb was painful my hands were freezing and u could hardly pull the brakes, pulling the brakes being a futile act in itself as they stopped working when the rain started.
I looked forward to a long stretch of false flat in order to warm up, however I couldn't feel my legs so this didn't happen.
There was no shortcut home now, it was back over the Cabezo de Plata and another agonising descent to follow. By this time car drivers are actually taking time out to shout LOCO at me...... From the dry car cabins.
My front wheel rims having now feasted themselves on a nice lunch of Campag brake blocks descending started to get silly, i am now considering pissing on my hands!
The brake blocks disintegrating through the very gritty water coming off the road!
I'm at the bottom if the Cabezo now and I am actually scared to look at the Garmin to see the bad news that is the distance remaining.
I needed a break! At last the rain stopped with about 20 k to go its plain sailing from here on in!
When I looked ( in embarrasment( at my Garmin figures that night I could see that the temperature of the ride was only 1 degree higher than the extremely cold Hell if Ashdown the previous week!
When I managed to open the gate at Mums house (which was no mean feat as my fingers had stopped working 2 hours ago) Mum and John greeted me with did you have a nice ride? ( they had been out for a menu del Dia a carafe of wine then came home to sleep it off! Very sensible.
I replied that it was a nice ride, and on reflection it was enjoyable, in a Sado Masochistic kind of way, the fact I survived and made the most of it ...... hell a bad day on the bike is better than a good day in the office anytime!
I was blessed with two fantastic days of weather the days following where I was able to do the reverse i of the route in the sunshine (notwithstanding the clouds following me just to let me know who is boss).
The lesson to learn is that it's not nice in Spain in Feb and March! Same time next year then?
Big thanks to Mum and John for having me stay