A day that almost broke me

Oh dear! What a day. I knew it was not going to be easy when it started raining as I was packing the bike. Never mind, I thought, time to take out my new wonder cape and put it to the test. Turns out it is as good as I expected and, while it does not quite work to cover me completely, it is a vast improvement on the blue one. Well worth the few extra grams.

So, if the #1 thing to go wrong for the day was the rain, and it rained only for an hour or so, the #2 was the wind. Sadly the wind was consistent all day and going from south-west to north-east just as I was trying to make my way from north-east to south-west. I blamed the wind most of the day for my lack of progress, only computer analysis of the GPS data showed that the wind accounted for only half of the story.

Route 2,849,968 – powered by www.bikemap.net

The #3 thing against me was what I had expected to be fairly flat terrain, and indeed could be mistaken by the naked eye as being flat, was in fact a growling steady ascent for 40 out of the 50 miles covered.

Sadly that is not the end, #4 must go to the route. Unfortunately there are only two roads that connect Miranda de Ebro and Burgos and do not involve a detour to Portugal or a visit to the Mediterranean. They are the AP-1 and the N-1. The AP-1 is a motorway so no-can-do for bicycles, not that one would want that either. The N-1 is the national road that links Madrid to Irun (border with France I passed a few days ago).

If you think I was taking my life in my hands, what about the wee chap at the bottom?

Now, the problem with national road is that they are very good. I was told by a couple of bike tourists on the ferry from the UK that over the ten years before the crash they have been completely overhauled. The other problem is that due to the charging mechanism trucks tend not to use the motorway and decant in great quantities onto the national road system.

What do you think its the life expectancy of a snail crossing the N-1?

The result is that you are condemned to a two yards strip at the side of the road and your next door neighbour is, more often than not, an articulated lorry going at 50/60 MpH.

On the whole that did not depress me too much, I guess I got used to it. So much so that I had time to swerve occasionally to avoid killing the many snail intent to cross the road.

Now I don’t know what is that attracts snails on the other side of the road but I suspect that not many of them make it to the promise land. The one pictured above I turned 180º so that it might live to fight another day.

My day on the N-1 did get better, the rain stopped and the scenery improving made a difference but then I run into problem #5, lack of food.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I had the last of the food I owned last night and I was planning to do some food shopping but there was no food shop coming out of Miranda de Ebro apart from the bar where I had breakfast. The easily reachable adipose strata in my body must be running low as, for the first time I was running on empty.

By the time I reached Briviesca, roughly half way, I felt I could not push anymore and a combination of tiredness, the contemplation of the fact that I was just half way, and the dark clouds at the horizon made me head for the train station.

To be honest that was not the first thought, I went into town and had some food while at the same time checking what kind of place this was. It was not very exciting so I elected that it was not a great idea to spend the night here. So, back at the train station the chap at the ticked desk told me that there was a train I could catch that would load my bike, but not for another 3 hours. The trip to Burgos was 30 minutes on the train and I reckon another 3 hours on the bike. I looked around and decided that three hours in an empty room waiting were not a good use of my time, I turned around and went with the ride.

Note that it was not the thought of cheating that stopped me from taking the train, just the fact I had to wait for the train, does that make me very morally compromised? I think my decision would have been different if I had not had something to eat before getting to the station.

I had to stop another time just at the top of the last steep hill, circa mile 40, for sustenance, but in the end I got into Burgos in 2 hours and 40 minutes, roughly an hour faster than the train ride would have been. I also learned a very important lesson:

 #5 Never ever start a riding day without emergency pick up food in the bag.

I got in Burgos at half five after 5 hours and 45 minutes of riding and 8 hours in total since I left this morning. I’m taking tomorrow off, doing a bit of tourist stuff in Burgos and a bit of bike maintenance then another four days to Salamanca.

Per il babbo, torneremo assieme.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Douglas Mackenzie says:

    You’ve done half of Europe!!! Keep it going. Inspirational.

  2. Shirley Harrison says:

    It’s not a race; it’s not a competition. Be kind to yourself. X

  3. Ramona says:

    Quoto il commento precedente…abbi tanta cura di te stesso e take it easy. Buen camino, come si dice da quelle parti! Un abbraccio.

  4. Raimondo says:

    é come andare a vignola, sembra pari, ma se non spingi sui pedali non vai avanti col vento contro
    diventa come andare a Lama…
    Forse è solo un pensiero piacevole, ma andrei volentieri a Compustela a 75 anni…..
    Ho visto che sei veramente vicino alla plaza mayor
    a sentirci ciao

  5. Cathy says:

    This post made me chuckle. The pain of days like these contrasts perfectly with downhill wind at your back belly full sunshine. And you get to connect with the big things in life like the existential question of snails crossing the road 🙂

  6. Jimmy. says:

    Lack of food does wonders for the waist line and
    does not deter a hardy Scot.
    Keep going Alex , things
    could be worse.

  7. Mike, Helen and Liv says:

    Alex your posts have made us laugh and we are in awe of what you have achieved in so little time! We have a feeling that your experiences of some of the bed and breakfasts of Europe will rival the exploits of Bill Bryson. Keep chasing the warmth…but most of all keep safe. With all our very best wishes. M,H and L

  8. julca says:

    Credo che l’Africa se ne starà lì ancora per qualche migliaio di anni,perciò…tola dolza!!!
    In quale parte della Spagna ti troverai tra il 5 e l’8 dicembre?

    1. Alex says:

      Spero in Marocco, il piano e’ di finire la Spagna a fine mese.

  9. Julca says:

    Mi sarebbe piaciuto raggiungerti per il ponte dell’8 dicembre e farti un saluto…forse era un’idea un pò ardita.

  10. Iqbal says:

    Were the snails not tempting enough to eat?

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