Mon, 11 Oct 2004

Defeated by the wind

Yesterday I took the decision to abandon the group and get back early to València, after having completed 200 kilometres of the cycling trip.

The first day was very tough, as we started nearly at sea level and went up to 1.400 metres at some points. Most of Saturday's journey was climbing up, sometimes during 15 kilometres without a single small rest in the road, and when the bicycle bags were heavy and full of food. We should have tried to find a lighter route for the first day, but it's quite difficult in that area. We already changed it slightly to avoid climbing the road to Fredes and went to Boxar, discovering that the route to Boxar wasn't easy either. After lunch and a few more hours of steep roads, we arrived at Morella, which was packed with tourists... we had to open our way through the crowded streets on our way to the square where we wanted to rest. Not long after, we set off for our final destination, Iglesuelas del Cid, and found that the road from Morella to Cinctorres was a lot harder than we imagined. We stopped in Cinctorres for a few minutes to eat some chocolate cookies, which are the secret to keep on pushing the pedals, and continued our way up, after being warned by the people in the town that we had some 6 or 7 bad kilometres ahead until Portell.

After the first 3 or so it was clear we wouldn't make it to Iglesuelas, as the Sun was quite low already. When we were mostly there, the real problems started for me, as it seems I had too many cookies and my stomach didn't like it. Also, given the lack of real cycling training in the last too many months, my left quadricep started to get annoyed by the constant activity, and hurted quite a bit. In Portell de Morella, we had dinner and looked for some shelter where to sleep, and found a nice place with a roof in the main square of the town.

At 11 or so the three of us were inside the sleeping bags, but we were too near the town's bar, and there was a lot of sound. Also, we discovered that the square was used by the young people to meet before going to other towns spend the night, so we couldn't sleep until they all were gone. At 4AM or so, two girls came back from their night, one of them crying loudly because some boy had been bad to her. They didn't notice us, so they kept talking loudly and crying, until I kindly asked them to go away, which luckily they did.

A few hours later, at dawn, we got up, packed again and set off to Iglesuelas without having much breakfast. The landscape in this area was beautiful, and after climbing up a mountain, we could enjoy the sight as we descended. I didn't know Iglesuelas is so cool, it's full of small palaces, streets made of stone and cool buildings. We had breakfast there and continued our way towards Gúdar and Rubielos de Mora. In the middle of this was Linares de Mora, which we couldn't imagine would be so terrible.

An hour or so after leaving Iglesuelas, we finally met with Kiko, who joined the group, and started to climb the Puerto de Linares. We started to have strong wind against us, and my quadricep said "enough" after 1 hour of cycling on the steep roads with very cold wind.

When we finally made it, going down to Linares was nearly worse than the climbing, as the wind literally blew us from one side of the road to the other one. I have never ridden a bicycle I had so little control over, it was really scary, but luckily the heavy bags behind us probably made less difficult to stay on top of the bicycles.

At that point, I was completely out of fuel, with a very bad cold and muscular problems in my legs, but above all, my morale was at minimum. I started thinking about the possibility of abandoning, as Kiko's parents were near the area and could easily pick me up at some point in the road. When we stopped in Rubielos to have lunch and I thought how much I had suffered, I took the decision to end the adventure there, not being too sure of how my legs would react to the third day.

Once I was back at home I've realized I took the correct decision because the cold is quite bad and my stomach isn't getting any better. Too bad I'll have to deal with some mockery when the rest come back, but I already knew that when I took the decision...

Next year, I hope we retake our plan to do the trip to Mallorca, which will be quite plain and nice...