Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Admin3
Massamagrell 600k 18th May – Anne’s Ride Report
This was to be our final qualifier towards our dream of getting to PBP. It was a big ask of Tony, just days after surgery resulting from his cycling accident. So we set off from Massamagrell at 6.30am and headed off towards Alborache where the first control at 75 km. There were bocadillos (sandwiches) with Spanish omelette, nuts, olives, hot and cold drinks. All this was ready for us and so it was a case of getting our cards stamped, eating, drinking and off again.
We set off from the first control just ahead of the main group. They soon started to catch us up as we climbed and climbed and climbed. I lost Tony almost straight after the first control as we started to climb. I slowed down, hoping he would catch me up. More and more riders passed me. Finally I was on my own. I stopped at what I thought was the top, waited fifteen minutes, tried to phone Tony but I couldn’t contact him. I had to make a decision; should I wait longer or continue? I decided to go on because I honestly didn’t know if Tony had turned back or was still on his way.
I decided to go on because I honestly didn’t know if Tony had turned back or was still on his way.
All the way to Casas Ibáñez I cycled solo, trying to follow the purple line on my Garmin. About 10 Kim’s before Casas Ibáñez the sky turned dark and it started to rain. I decided to carry on without putting my jacket on. A few kilometres further on it absolutely poured down and then it turned to hailstones. I quickly put on my jacket and continued up the final hairpin climbs into Casas Ibáñez. As I reached the top I was met with a headwind from hell. I reached the second control where there was pre ordered food. I tried to eat some of the paella as I sat on the bench in the square. I drank one of my milkshakes which I like to carry with me. I find these go down easily when perhaps solid food doesn’t. I still hadn’t heard from Tony. I sent him a message, explaining where I was. Again, I knew I had to continue.
So I left the second control solo and into the headwind from hell. One rider, who I later learnt was called José María, caught me up. I managed to stay on his wheel for a couple of kilometres but he was still too fast for me, despite the horrific headwind he had to contend with. And so I battled on solo. At times I looked at my speedo and I was managing to achieve a massive 12 km/h. It was soul destroying. I felt as if I wasn’t getting anywhere. At one point, with tears rolling down my face, I turned my head up to the heavens and shouted to my Dad; “Dad, please please have a word with God. Please, I’m begging, just a reprieve from this wind is all I’m asking; please please, even for a couple of minutes. I can’t do it any more”.
At one point, with tears rolling down my face, I turned my head up to the heavens and shouted to my Dad; “Dad, please please have a word with God. Please, I’m begging, just a reprieve from this wind is all I’m asking; please please, even for a couple of minutes. I can’t do it any more”.
Just after my outburst to my Dad I sat at the side of the road, I was spent. I looked at my phone and saw that I’d had a message from Tony. He had tried his best but had to turn back. Obviously he was devastated, as I was too. Was this to be the end of our PBP dream? Should I stop or continue? But part of Tony’s message said ” Come on Anne, you can do it!” So that was it. Continue I would.
But part of Tony’s message said ” Come on Anne, you can do it!” So that was it. Continue I would.
I got back on my bike and eased myself to push against the wind with just the correct amount of force. Too much and I wouldn’t have enough energy. Too little and I would be going backwards! A few minutes later a miracle happened, divine intervention, as I spotted two cyclists at the garage where I was just about to stop to pick up a Red Bull and a Snicker. One of the cyclists was José María who had passed me earlier. The other one was Paul, another Spanish guy who was strong but had tendonitis in one of his knees. He, therefore, was unable to put much pressure on one of his legs when going uphill. The two Spanish guys very kindly said they would wait another five minutes whilst I got myself sorted out and I could go with them. Thank you Dad, you always were my rock.
And so we continued the three of us for another 50 kms. With just 30 or so kilometres to go we stopped for something to eat. This was great timing for me as it was before I became too tired, when I find I just can’t eat. I ordered albóndigas (meat balls), crusty bread and a weak shandy. The place was buzzing and my new Spanish friends were great company. The world was looking brighter!
We left there after about a 30 minute stop, put our warmer clothing on, as the temperature had dropped to 7degrees Celsius. The last 30 kms were hilly but the refuelling really helped.
We arrived at the hostel and Domingo was on hand to stamp our cards. Our bikes were put away and we were ushered into the dining room where it was lovely and warm. We had a great chat about our passion for long distance cycling. José María was going to put on his winter cycling gear and leave directly after the meal to head back to Massamagrell. I could not imagine doing that at all. I went to my room, had a warm bath and sorted my things out for the morning.
I awoke before my alarm, got dressed and ate a tin of Ambrosia rice pudding. It was just the job. I took my bags downstairs, entered the dining room, had a cup of coffee and a fruit juice. I put mine and Tony’s bags into the van and let Domingo know that I was setting off.
The temperature had dropped to 3.5 degrees Celsius. I was so glad I had thought about what to wear the night before. I managed to reach the end of the hilly road (30kms) before the main group caught me up. I stayed with them until the first control of the day at 142 kms. We stopped for something to eat but I left before most of them.
A few kilometres further on, I was hit by an overwhelming tiredness. I nearly fell asleep on the bike. I kept drinking and having a nibble on a biscuit. Somehow I got to Utiel, the second check point of the day. The main group passed me just before I arrived. I mentioned to Reichel, a Spanish friend, that I was so tired and was feeling sick. She said I needed sugar and then try to eat. I took her sound advice and bought a large Red Bull! I drank that and then managed to eat most of a turkey, spinach and cheese sandwich. A lot of the group were going to a restaurant for lunch but I decided to eat my sandwich at the control and carry on. Only another 100 or so to go. I was beginning to believe that I could do this.
And so again, solo I continued. A faster group passed me and I knew it was not wise to try and stay with them but I did keep them in my sight, as the route became a little complicated at this point and these guys knew the route. They then stopped to eat at a service station. I asked them to point me in the right direction because my Garmin said I was off course. I was on course again a few kilometres further on. More climbing to do but I was about an hour within the schedule that I had planned for myself and so I was beginning to feel excited.
I was on course again a few kilometres further on. More climbing to do but I was about an hour within the schedule that I had planned for myself and so I was beginning to feel excited.
It started to rain but I didn’t care. I was climbing the hills with ease, singing to myself and I appeared to be gaining speed! Not far to go.
As I approached Massamagrell I found the course difficult to follow and I went wrong a couple of times. “Don’t get lost now” I kept telling myself. A few more twists and turns and I saw the finish, Bar Massamagrell. I rode right up to the door, opened it, pushed my bike in and was expecting to find a group of cyclists. There was only a group of ladies sat round a table waiting to stamp cards. I had arrived before the main groups and I had just qualified for PBP. But that didn’t sink in until the next day.
I had arrived before the main groups and I had just qualified for PBP. But that didn’t sink in until the next day.
Tony had said that he would be there to cheer me in but he didn’t see me because he was expecting the groups to arrive before me or at least that I would be with them. It’s not that I cycle fast; it’s all about time management, which will be so important for PBP.
I would have felt so much happier if Tony had qualified as well but it wasn’t to be this time. All is not lost because after speaking to Beatrice and Faustino, two Spanish friends who also want to do PBP, we have arranged to go to Salamanca to do a 600km Brevet in the middle of June, which is just before the cut-off date for PBP qualifiers. Watch this space!