Well, here I am in Santiago de la Ribera, after what has been an interesting week of preparation and occasionally, not a little stressful angst. I have felt for a while that the prep for this ride hasn’t been as focused as last years’s and I have wondered more than once whether or not I had bitten off more than I could chew for the start of this year, not leaving enough room for the proper preparation that such an adventure deserves.
Matters began to slide last Friday when I “contracted” a gear problem. I stayed calm. I could get this fixed. Several phone calls ensured that Monday would get a result and so it was. However, after a discussion with the bike shop man who expressed some worry as to the manner of my pannier attachment we agreed I needed to correct it. This meant that I needed to at least get one more ride in to ensure that new pannier arrangement worked satisfactorily. Cue, two days of torrential rain. No training ride.
Now I was beginning to stress. I couldn’t realistically go to Spain without a trial ride of the new lugagge arrangement and time was running out. I decided that I should use my old bike instead of my new one and go with that. However, I hadn’t ridden the old one for 6 months. It was fingers crossed time but I guessed that the odds were better than my untried new bike.
Come Wednesday and the second day of non-stop torrential rain. I checked into the garage to pack the bike into the box to find that the rain had been so bad it was soaking into the concrete floor and then rising like a scum mark around the bath up my bike box rendering it one useless heap of soggy paper. This was challenging (see how calmly I approached this ? !). Potentially I could be boxless with two days to go. By some fluke and as a result of some dodgy decision making I had ended up with two boxes, one more sturdy than the other although “the other” had been my first choice due to increased space.
The sturdier box was still soaking up rain but I was able to save it by using Mrs.Monkey’s hair dryer! Phew.
Add into the mix that I was also dealing with wheel problems on our car, brought on by the Government’s adject neglect of our infrastructure ( when is this going to become an issue? ) and thus spending more time in auto garages than was good for me with 48 hours to go. Throw in a lack of sleep due to stress and you are gettng the picture. Even my coolnessity was beng stretched.
Saturday 4.00am start and I made the plane with 5 minutes to spare. Mrs. Monkey broke down on the way back from the airport and had to be rescued by the usual mobile recovery team but even this was unrelated to the week’s wheel problems. I crashed into my hotel at 10.00am and promptly went to bed. I needed some serious battery charging.
Sunday morning. Santiago, a coastal resort lapping the shores of south easten Spain, stretches stiff limbs and wakes slowly to a pale whiskery Englishman assembling a bicycle on the corner of the street by the community recycling bins. He is stripped to the waist. It is 10.30 and already hot.
Can you believe it? I got a puncture putting my bike together ! Enough ! Enough, I tell you. Ye, gods of cycling. Leave me alone. And my brakes are binding. Noooooooo ! Which Robin did I kill ?
Two and half hours later we are ready to roll….. and I hope that’s it.
A couple of beers, jámon y queso, vino tinto.
Tomorrow we ride !