Well this is it. Today is the last stage of any cycling tour that The Cyclist and I will do, so he says. This one has taken it out of him. Not jst the Vuelta but the two before it. Italy was hard as he also used it to get to peak form. Le Tour two weeks after Italy finished was tough but he lived it and was in the peak form he wanted. Spain was hard. He loved it and hated it all at the same time, but the last days of Cycling have been completed by determination rather than desire. He has noticably lost weight this last week, using the reserves he really hadn’t got to battle the mountains. His stomach is concave and his 30″ waist jeans are hanging on his hips and his cheeks have thinned. This, he tells me, is what three Grand Tours does to you and if I want to get thin I should ride 100miles every day. Mmmm, i know that if you don’t find time you have to make it but that would be a tall tall ask if I made the time !
We are heading South to Madrid from a town called Segovia. It is a world heritage sight due to its Roman history and the huge Aqueduct that they built. It is quite magnificent andnit would be nice to be able to stay a while and explore. The Cyclist asked if I wanted to hang around to take photos while he got off but I refused. Not today. Of all the days I didn’t want to lose him today, especially as he had only plotted two way points for todays ride. The start point and the finish. so if I lost him i wont be able to get back on route.
This stage started with a Mountain ride from Segivoa to 1880M. He knew there would be a small climb, but not to climb 100m in a short space of time. This is because he had plotted a different route that the actual Vuelta. The Vuelta is using mainly motorway into Madrid and this is not practical for us, nor allowed. Actually the road up the mountain was lovely and wooded. Who would have guessed that in the middle of baron Spain just north of Madrid, there would be a ski resort! You could see Madrid from the top and on the descent. It looks huge and I can feel trepidation already. I really hate driving in cities. I don’t like Birmingham so the Capitol of Spain doesn’t seem tempting.
We got to the outskirts of Madrid and i lost him. For once my Garmin was avoiding motorways but this was a superfast highway heading for the centre of Madrid without any form of hard shoulder or pull in until after a junction. the junction was for a motorway so I knew we wouldn’t be taking that i diced precariously by stopping and waiting for the cyclist to catch up. I got a call from him just then to say I should have taken the slip road. He said that was where his Garmin said to go. There was no way off apart from junctions and sometimes those were onto roads that you couldn’t get off and on at. I said stay there and I would go up the road and come back as soon as I could. even coming back i had to go at least 2Km further as the island was some way down the road.
Rather than go to the next island I got off at a little slip road into a town. I could see that there was a road back on to the other side so I just needed to use my wits and find out where it was. This was not a simple get off go round an island and get back on situation. By heading in the general directions to go in the opposite direction I found a way back into the other side of the highway. As I sailed past across the carriageways I could see the cyclist let me know were he was. As I came back Round I s isn’t take the motorway slip but pulled up just after as that was where I had seen him. I got another call telling me I had gone wrong again. He said I needed to be on the right of the concrete barrier. But we really don’t want to be on that motorway surely. You are on a cycle and it is in the wrong direction for the centre. No. He definitely said he needed to go on the motorway and cycles could around Madrid. Very skeptively I set off again for another ten minute drive to get back round to where he was. This time I phoned as I approached the junction so I was sure to go where he wanted me to. As I approached him he shouted down he phone that this was a bloody motorway and don’t stop as there are cars behind you.
I didn’t stop at that very pint but further down the long slip road I did pull onto the hard shoulder to wait. Tis was a motorway. Cars were tear arsing down it and I needed to follow a cycle to know where to go as the Garmin kept recalculating and recalculating its route as it really didn’t want me to go this way and so I had no idea of how far I was supposed to go along. I waited until he was really close and I pulled off to enter the motorway. I went as slow as I could bearing in mind it was a motorway, and had to pull over on the hard shoulder as a junction was just in front. If I went sailing past that might be the wrong thing so I needed to know. As he eventually caught up with me this time I didn’t pull away. How could I? I needed to see where he was going. He shouted and was shaking his head as he had to go around me. He went up the slip road and as I had the window open I could here he was shouting all the way up. At the island I waited for him then right by the side of me he was off. He was so cross he had ridden up the slip road and not seen that there was a kerb across it. He hit the kerb with a thud and he was off over the handlebars. He got up and was now really really cross. He told me to pull off the road so I went around the corner and stopped. He walked around to me obviously livid. The force of hitting the kerb had caused the tyre to blow out and the wheel to buckle. He said that was it. It was all over and his heart was on the floor.
The next minutes I am not going to write about but let’s just say we were both upset. I had to follow a bicycle as I had no idea of where I should be going and it was on a motorway. What was I supposed to do? Once the bike was on the car he came round to me and apologised acknowledging that it Would have been difficult and he shouldn’t have shouted. He asked about driving in to Madrid which I said yes to as at least we would have done what we set out to do.
So we drove into Madrid final 19km to the finish. We have come so far, not to finish would be awful. The route in was very convoluted and once in the heart of the city there Nowhere to pull up or stop. The city was rammed and a busy hive of a place. It was a Very nice city. And The Cyclist said it had whetted his appetite and now he is intrigued enough to come back on a city break to look at the architecture. He also said that now having driven it he could see that trying to get in on a cycle with me trying to follow would have been very difficult. Madrid was certainly not Paris. Paris may be Busy but you can stop and you can navigate it.
We now needed to head out of the city on our 5hour drive north. There was a Buffalo grill just off our route so as we were going to be in the car for a long time and arrive late I added it to the sat nav. This was the Worst one we had been to ever. Admittedly this was on,y the second of all 7 in Spain (5 being in Madrid) but there were many French ones to consider too. It did us for a fuel stop both for us and the car as it was next to a petrol station, so off we set.
On the motorway i put a movie on the ipad and hooked it up to the car so that the sound came through the car system. It was a Kevin Costner movie and was quite sad really. I sometimes had to tell The Cyclist what was happening on screen as he only had the sound to go on.
After the movie The Cyclist said he didn’t know what to do next. I told him he could do talks for the WI now. They have speakers come and tell them things. He turned his head to look at me and after a time said “you’re having a laugh aren’t you!” I told him that they relied on people like him to tell them interesting things and he could do a little slide show to show them all the places he had cycled through. No. Still no takers on that idea then.
We arrived weary at our hotel and checked in. It was getting on and as I was not at all hungry I needed to get the a cyclist fed. All the kit, bottles and other paraphernalia was left in the car. How nice. Now to enjoy a day to catch our breath tomorrow and the forecast isn’t rain so I’m looking forward to it. Going on the ferry home from Spain will make a change from the 1000 mile rushed drives we have had previously. Yes, it is more expensive on this ferry, but I’m glad i booked it as The a cyclist is so so weary. It is as if his subconscious has told his body it can rest now and it’s all shutting down on him.