Monday, 25 February 2013

Andalucia Bike Race day 2

Last night at dinner some funny Spaniards gave us a local dessert/candy thing. It was like crumbly marzipan. I think they're the weirdest guys here, one has a big beard and seems to tell lots of jokes and for the most part has been wearing children size compression socks only over his calves (flourescent pink) and 70's style little running shorts. I can't talk to him enough to "get it", but I'm pretty sure his motif is just a mockery of mainstream.

We had a good breakfast, lots of euro styles to people watch, a Saeco coffee machine that has a lineup all morning long to do several hundred cups (if that thing broke there would be a riot), and good conversation with Dave and Thomas. Cindy went back up for a nap and I sat down with Iwona and Natasha, and mostly we talked Mongolia. Sounds interesting...

It strikes me that a very good hand full of people I've kept in touch with the best started in TransPortugal.

We started out through fields which got bottlenecked beyond belief at obstacles that shouldn't be obstacles. I had to remind myself to find zen like inner harmony at those times, and enjoy biking in Andalucia with Cindy. We were in a giant queue, with clowns going left and right to jam it up more, for mud crossings of creeks I could have ridden on my road bike. My analogy for the day is that mountain biking skills here are equivalent on average to human rights in Africa. Adjectives such as abysmal, inadequate and disappointing come to mind. At times I felt disdain, as in the quality of disdain a French waiter can only muster... here is some singletrack offering itself up for consumption (gourmet food) and you plebians can't even ride it (and you want ketchup with that??). Our new business idea is Cindy can do mountain bike skills camps here if enough machismo can be forgotten to take instruction to make it work.

We walked up and down some really big hills. Generally speaking, even in the walking lines, I'd ride. Both up and down. And chat. Not really to be difficult, but it's because it's possible and to show it can be done even at walking speed. Even the Spaniards joked about it being a walking race "vee valk up, vee valk down".

Highlight reel of the day section... Cindy first: we come down off this giant descent, with me behind. There's lots of guys ahead of Cindy. The trail drops to a road. We're going parallel to the road above the road, then turn left on a poorly constructed trail that goes straight down to the road in an erosion maximizing way. It increases in steepness as it approaches the road, then the road is flat, but with a gully right before. Not even flat, it's acute angled toward the hill. All that is meant to describe that it's a perfect endo creating situation. The guys are all walking, Cindy goes down the middle, and as it gets waay behind the saddle, she just pops the front wheel and does the last few feet that are basically a drop off. All the guys are amazed!

Erik's highlight of the day... we're approaching what I assume is a large downhill, as there's a guy walking up the hill towards a road we crossed with his shoulder looking like it was just dislocated. We get to the large descent which is awesome. Single track, sketchy dry dirt with marble rocks on top, one line, everyone walking. I ride to the left exposed edge side between the scrub foliage and the trail. A line of 5 guys hears me biding my time behind, they stop and look, and I squeeze by as they motion for me to. The front guy is still walking, and slips right when I go by. On a steep descent, my forearm on my handlebar is at approximately the same angle as a handrail. The guy who slips instinctively reaches out and grabs my arm for support while I'm rolling. He says "solido, estable!" (Solid, stable). All the 4 behind witnessed it. Once he let go (probably only a second), I carried on. Awesome.

Lots of nice singletrack after, which is where I got a few of today's action shots. After the next long climb, singletrack was interspersed with some marshy grass and bogs to complete everyone's chain suck issues. Last downhill was great, lots of nice rock features, lots of fun. We came into the last last downhill with the steep alluvial fan descent and Cindy made it... almost all the way. Her knee then hit a sharp rock stuck in the ground, so our last 5 minutes was trying not to bleed too much and going to get stitches. I washed 2 bikes, zoomed to our hotel 2km downhill, showered, got changed, brought food and clothes, tried to zoom 2km back uphill, and Cindy went from medical to Kate's room to change quick. Massage was great.

Ate dinner with Jon and Kate. Got caught up on their day (stuck in lines too) and Shawn and Scott apparently had a crash where Scott cracked a rib then they softpedalled rest. That sucks.


  1. I love your "human rights in Africa" analogy - really drives home how bad it must be! Glad to hear that you're managing to find some moments of zen in all of it. Hope Cindy patches up ok for tomorrow!

  2. Nice summary Erik, keep going !! nice job Cindy you are a machine !!! Say hi to Jon and Kate, nice job keeping a 4th place on day 2.