I’m sitting on a cushion on the floor of our apartment looking out onto the street below and sipping an iced coffee. I’m just back from a saturday spin around the lanes and I’m feeling all lovely and soporific. There’s a warm breeze drifting through the balcony doors and a murmur of voices from the restaurants below. Girona is slowly coming back to life after the afternoon siesta.
I’ve had an educational week this week. The wonderfulness of life here means that the only limitation I have on my training is how much my body can physically take. Just a month ago it was always work/the commute/cooking/cleaning/food shopping/all the little chores of being a functioning human that dictated how much time was left to ride my bike. Which was never enough. Here I have more than enough time to ride (and do a full stretch and roller routine after) as well as having time to enjoy all the tasks of being a functioning human so much so that they no longer feel like chores. The trouble I’ve got is I want to ride more than I’m physically capable of at the moment – it’s an entirely different (and slightly demoralising) frustration.
For the last 2 weeks I’ve spent 16 hours on the bike per week which is proving to be way more than I can cope with. In England I’d manage to squeeze in anything between 5-12 hours a week (including races). The result is that this week I’ve had to ease off and do around 10 much more gentle hours. After a day off the bike my legs started to cramp whilst walking to the market. I’ve had trouble with cramps before and it’s always triggered by an intense period of riding followed by a day off followed by walking down stairs and/or walking too fast. The conclusions being that:
- I’m never going to have a day completely off the bike.
- I will never take the stairs when there’s a lift.
- I will avoid walking where possible or, if walking is unavoidable, walk at the pace of snail.
In other news… I finally made it up Rocacorba! I’d been planning to get up this mountain for weeks but never quite made it for one reason or another. Yesterday though, I was determined. I set off on a ‘scenic route’ out of Girona, following the same roads as the ‘engagement ride’ to Mare de Due Del Mont. After 30 mins, low and behold, I really really needed a wee. Doh. I found a secluded track, did the deed, then had to spend the next 10 mins with my hand down my shorts trying to removed little spiky seeds which had somehow manged to get stuck to the pad. A good start!
Spikey seed free, I continued on the route to Rocacorba. The plan was to try and get a decent time up it and set a nice benchmark for future training. As one of Girona’s best known climbs there are helpful signs at every km telling you how much you’ve climbed, how much you have left, and what the average gradient is. The first half of the climb is a nice sensible gradient on nice smooth tarmac. I spotted NFTO out training – the team van was parked up on the side of the road and 3 riders came whizzing down past me. I set a nice pace and pedaled. Then an NFTO guy in an Aussie National Champs jersey came storming past. I thought he was heading all the way up like that. Yikes! Then he eased off and I caught back up with him. Just as I made contact he shot off again, doing another 1 min interval. This pattern repeated a few times. I was kindof glad when he turned around and went back down (giving me a cheery wave) – much as the added motivation was great I didn’t fancy chasing him all the way up. I realised who he was – the guy with the coolest name in the Tour Series this year – Steele Von Hoff. Very cool!
With NFTO abandoning the climb it was just me and myself going up. The road surface got worse as it got steeper and some helpful chap had decided to cut the trees and litter the road with thorns and twigs. The road was mostly in full sun. As I got higher I eased off, not sure if I had the legs or energy to maintain my pace to the top. It’s a climb that keeps on giving and hits you with steep sections just when you think you’re safe. There are beautiful views across the countryside below. But mostly you’re just aware of how blooming hot it is and how much you’d really like one more gear. There’s a Roman Church 3/4 of the way up. I nearly stopped to take a picture.
My time up was terrible – 20 mins off the QOM at 54 mins 12 secs. Rest assured, I will be back.
Yesterday evening me and Lee decided to treat ourselves to an ice-cream. We emptied our change jar and counted out 5 euros – enough for two small cornet’s with two scoops at our closet ice-cream bar (approx 100 meters away). We picked our flavours (both dark chocolate and mint) and I emptied the bag of change into my hands and onto the counter (which was just that little bit too high to make it an easy maneuver). A few people joined the queue behind us. I tried beaming at the ice-cream seller to help her see the funny side. She didn’t seem amused and, in a move entirely counter to her laid-back Spanish heritage, asked us to arrange all the change into piles and count it (meanwhile the queue is growing and we’re holding our mint and chocolate ice-creams, which are now starting to melt in the lovely evening heat). So I get on my tip-toes and start piling up 10 cent pieces, 5 cent pieces, 2 cent pieces and 1 cent pieces on the counter whilst balancing an ice-cream, watching out for drips and apologising to growing crowd of would-be ice-cream buyers.
The woman next in the queue starts trying to help us count, as I’m now starting to get the giggles and be distracted by my melting ice-cream. We’re nearly there (at 4 euros 80 cents) when we realise Lee’s chocolate ice-cream has dribbled down the immaculate counter. I start shaking and lose the ability to count under pressure, and Lee tries to one-handedly extract tiny ice-cream tissues from the holder on the counter. The random woman takes over change counting whilst me and Lee and try to wipe ice-cream off the glass. In reality we’re smearing it everywhere and the tissues really aren’t up to the job. I look around with tears in my eyes and see many pairs of eyes looking back (mostly amused/bemused). The ice-cream lady finally accepts we’ve given her 5 euros and we leave her re-counting it into the till and try to slide inconspicuously away.