Monday, July 28, 2008

Last ride in Spain

We returned from Menorca on Saturday night, straight back into real heat. In the past no matter how warm, I used always sleep under a sheet. Here it's on top of the bed and that's it.

Sunday morning and I joined my cycling club for my last ride. It was El Torcal de Antequera club's turn to host the get together of clubs from towns in the district. We rode out to meet other clubs as they rode to Antequera.

We all rode together and back to the Plaza de Castille for the traditional desayuno, breakfast, of mollete, aciete, jamon and now that it's hot refresco (cold softdrink) instead of cafe.

It's a real feeding frenzy.

With the club demon, 73-year old Pepe. He is all but a neighbour.

These three have played a big part in making me welcome in the club. Left to Right: Jorge, Manolo, y Roberto.

Then it's pay back time for when the other clubs take us out for a 'race' around one of their local circuits. Club Ciclista El Torcal takes them up to their naming source - the El Torcal National Park. It's only 12km from town, but after 8km it gets serious. This was my Caraterra de Montana ride when first here, but once we get to the top of that ride (which includes a stretch of 16% climb) we turn off for the last four kilometres to the top - never less than 9% , with a 14% section. A nasty little bugger. And to top it off , it was hot - like 40 degrees. Some of the jokers from other clubs actually turned up with their mountain bikes to help them make the climb.

It's solid going, as Juanjo, owner of the local cycle store - Ciclos 2000, shows.

It's a grinder alright.

Just about to crest the last of the climb. And yes, that is the Mad Max number plate.

I was having fun. Really.

I got to the top pretty well. So I should with the training I had recently done for the L'Étape. And it was my last chance to flex some muscle with my companeros. Deb rode one of the vans -Yep, the club has three vans all sponsored by local businesses -and a chance to get a few shots of some of my club mates.

A couple of important jokers here, all standing. On the left Juan, who took me under his wing on my very first ride with the club, he speaks no English. In the centre, Jose Antonio, a good bloke and club captain. He speaks no English. And, on the right, another Jose Antonio who became my real riding buddy, especially on Saturdays with the strong boys and on club Sundays. He speaks no English.

I admit, I felt a bit of aprehension on the ride down, but that quickly went when the brakes worked OK. On this stretch of downhill I hit 73.2 kph the first time I came down -when I didn´t know the road. I hadn´t gone close since. On this, the last time, I gave it a nudge but could only crack 70.06kph (yep my new computer, the old one was stolen on the bike, produces two decimal points). But my mate, Jose Antonio, and I both passed the club president who had done the trip on a scooter.

So that's it. I was lucky to find a good club which I really enjoyed. There is actually three clubs in Antequera, plus a triathlon club. But the time has come. Who knows, we might all meet again.

aka Max

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