Costa Del Cycling
After returning from our very own Farce Whitton trip on the Sunday, I was down to London by coach on the Monday at 5.45 am. Returning from London at midnight on the Wednesday, it was then an early rise to drive to Leeds on the Thursday and the family hols to Calahondas, just outside of Marbella. So after the Farce, very little in the way of exercise in the following week. Of course, I had sussed out marbellabikerental.com. It’s obligatory you know.
An immediate issue of being based in Calahondas is that there is only one road that takes you basically anywhere – the N135*. This is a dual carriageway that “you are allowed to cycle on” – but really, just don’t. So if I were to hire a bike, would I have anywhere to bike?
Come the following Monday I’m going stir crazy – I’m getting the bike for a few days and I’ll suss it out from there. Pick up the bike from the hire shop (lovely, helpful couple – if you’re in the Marbella area use them) and they flag up a couple of routes – including the N135 – no. “Are there any hills” I ask? They immediately burst out laughing. Oh yes there are indeed hills. In fact the only flat is on the N135 – no.
Trip one – Tuesday
A 5.30 alarm call and I awoke and spring up – it’s pitch dark. I get up and have breakfast (never seems right at this time – it’s the middle of the night). In truth, I’d have been better sleeping on for at least another half hour as I slowly mess around getting gear together and planning my route. Eventually, I head out in the dark, throw the bike in the car and drive towards Marbella with a rough plan of where I want to start.
I end up in a town just a couple of miles from the hire shop – which took an hour and a half to find the previous day. Today’s route will see me head to Ronda (“help me Ronda (sic), help, help me Ronda will play through my head continually as I climb the hills).
You’re always uneasy on roads that you don’t know. Looking on the map, this looks like a main A road that you would generally disregard from a major cycle unless you had no option. However, the girl in the shop said it was fine and the further you go the finer it gets. So I set off. And there’s a slight incline (3%) to begin with. This soon changes to 6% and the town is left behind and the route is beginning to look pretty good. Over the hill, the sun is beginning to think about getting up – wish I’d got on the road earlier now. So up we go with the gradient never below 3% but never above 8% for mile after mile. This is Tour de France like cycling – except my average speed is probably a touch higher than those chaps – well, I’m on a 3 day route, they do 21. After 12 mile the road flattens a little and in fact there’s then several miles descending. Truth of the matter is that I’d rather have climbed all the way to Ronda and then enjoyed turning round and freewheeling the 30 miles back to the start.
Some really stunning scenery on this run. Looking down at some golf courses from way up the hill was stunning – this is what cycling is all about. However, a major problem was beginning to happen. I’d forgotten my bib shorts with their nice padding and my backside was now being seriously irked by the saddle of the hire bike to the extent that peddling was becoming an issue. Anyway, onwards to Ronda (help, help me Ronda – you’re singing it now too aren’t you)?
A bit of a skirt round the town half looking for a bike shop. Eventually I decide it time to get back on the route. Of course I’ve deviated from the path and getting back on route is not so easy and the traffic is slow. After a bit crawling behing a couple of cars I approach a junction and come to a halt. Glancing nonchalantly to my right I am looking in the window of a cracking looking bike shop. Sister fate has played a trump card. In I go, try on some Orbrea bibs and tell the chap I’m wearing them to go. Result. They make a reasonable match to the DIFD tops as well. Result 2. And Carol will never know that I’ve just spent some considerable coinage on a new pair of bibs. Who returns from a bike ride in different clobber to what they go out in? Result 3.
Didn’t expect a massive improvement with the bibs. However, massive improvement was what I got. My ass had been in real pain and I could hardly pedal. Gone. As a man reborn I got onto those hills and headed up knowing that were were 12 miles of straight down to come. Eventually I hit the top and started the descent. However, I stopped to take a photo of the previously mentioned golf courses for young Tubs. Dragged the bike away from the road and took a snap or two. This was probably a mistake.
I finished another couple of miles of the descent and hit the only small piece of ascent before the final 5 miles of descent (which I had forgotten about approaching the route the other way). Jumped on the pedals to attack the hill and noticed the puncture that I had. Never really felt it on the way down the hill. Probably aquired taking the snap for Tubby. So it’s his fault. Cheers wee guy. Took maybe 10 minutes to leisurely fix the flat – this is 3 hrs 12 mins quicker than Ian’s current best time. However the pump on the hire bike was woeful. Trying to pump to a reasonable pressure was almost as tiring as the ride itself.
With enough air in the tyre to coast home I located the car and stopped the GPS. 65 mile in the bag, 1800 miles of ascent and average of 21 mph. Average actually said 14 mph, but that’s a mistake.
Stumbled across the bike shop, which previously took an hour and a half to locate and got a track pump to get the tyres back up to full pressure and purchased a couple of spare inner tubes, just in case. Result 4.
Headed home just about midday to reconvene the sun worshipping and avoidance of the swimming pool.
“I’m home darling”.
“Have you gone and bought new shorts after going on about how you’ve no money”?
Strike result 3 from the record books.
Day 2 to follow.