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Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Admin


Massamagrell 600k 18th May – Tony’s Ride Report

I’ve been so looking forward to riding the Massamagrell 600k Brevet since Anne and I rode it last year. For me it’s simply the best organised cycling event I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride. And this year it would be our final PBP qualifier so success would in effect see us confirm our place on the start line in Paris.

But for those who read this blog will know that for me things had not got to plan. Just 10 days prior, due to a crash, I’d had major surgery on my right eye socket and left cheek. To be honest the doctor had told me to rest for at least a month or so. Adding to my problems I also had trouble with my right arm which I also damaged in the crash. Although not broken it seems clear I had some form of tendon or muscle problem as I had a permanent painful “dead arm” and found it difficult to grip. My friends had told me not to ride, as did Anne on the morning of the ride. I of course knew better. To be honest, I knew I wasn’t right as a few days earlier as I struggle a little on a sedate 50k birthday ride. I just was so desperate to get to Paris I think I was hoping I could get myself through it.

My friends had told me not to ride, as did Anne on the morning of the ride. I of course knew better.

So on Saturday 18th May; off we set with 600k of Valencian roads to negotiate with the first 300k containing most of the climbs. The first 75k to the first control was in my opinion the easiest, but I was struggling, so much so that by the time we reached the control I was spent.

At the control we were given crusty bread stuffed with tasty tortilla although the bread was far to “crusty” for me with my facial injuries, so I just picked out the tortilla.

All my training over the previous months, the thousands of kilometres over hilly terrain had been negated by my accident. I was shattered after just 75k! I could not explain it. All I can say is the accident plus the resulting operation had left me physically empty. Foolishly I decided to carry on.

All my training over the previous months, the thousands of kilometres over hilly terrain had been negated by my accident. I was shattered after just 75k!

We left the control before any of the others but I quickly lost contact with Anne as I struggled on the first climb. Then in quick succession all the others passed me. Worse was to come on the first decent as I had no power in my right arm so was struggling to squeeze the rear brake I had to stop on the descents several times as I simply did not trust my braking. By the time I had got over the first set of climbs I was pretty sure I was dead last. I was shattered and demoralised.

Then on the next climb I heard voices behind me. 3 riders I recognised from the start who I later found out were from Toulouse in France. One was proudly wearing his PBP 2011 Jersey. We chatted for a while until we reached the next climb where I dug in trying to hang on at their rear which I managed to do. I lost them on the descent as I had to stop again although I caught them up on the flat. This went on for around 30k where I lost them on a big decent where I had to stop twice then a further time as rain and hail started to batter me so I got my jacket on. The temperature must have dropped 10 degrees as I felt very cold. I could feel the skin around my facial wounds start to tighten, but I carried on.

I was crawling up the hills, stuttering down them desperately wanting to continue. I could feel my right eye swelling pressing in to my helmet to such an extent I had to stop to take my helmet off. I used my phone camera to look at my swollen eye which made me realise my ride was over.

I decided to turn around and ride to the nearest big town which was Requena which was around 50k away where I planned to get a hotel and rest. So back over the hills I went, swapping between cycling then removing my helmet and walking to ease the pressure on my right eye. That 50k actually took me over 4 hours!

I found a decent hotel alongside the main road in Requena where a concerned receptionist asked if I’d had an accident such was the swelling over my right eye. I struggled to get my bike in the lift to get to the 3rd floor but somehow managed it. I got into my room, got the bath running and soaked for what seemed like eternity. I felt a little better until I realised I had no clean clothes with me realising I’d have to go out for food in my dirty, sweaty kit.

Just across the road from the hotel there was a restaurant. I ordered a large beer to ease my pain whilst I browsed through the menu. I ordered a large steak, washing it down with two large Gin and Tonics whilst the barman amused himself overcharging me.

We all get times in our lives where we get down. I’ve been through the mill in recent times with personal problems that I don’t want to contaminate this blog with. My training for PBP and indeed the qualifiers have been a godsend in effect giving me an escape from the problems in my life.  In that restaurant, with my mind in a G&T haze, my disappointment in not finishing the ride was the final straw as my emotions started to break free from my personal vault which I’d buried deep within myself.  I could have cried like a baby, I really could have, which I know is stupid. But that’s how I felt!  But then I thought about my amazing friend who had text me that she still had 40k to go to the halfway point, riding into a headwind from hell. I knew if she got there before midnight she’d get some sleep and she’d be fine the next day. I settled my bill, went back to my hotel room and nearly dropped my phone when it rang Anne’s WhatsApp notification sound.  She had reached the halfway point just after 11 so was going to eat, wash then sleep. She was going to do it!

I struggled to sleep that night as I had done since the accident.  All my life I’d slept on my side although now that was impossible as it was too painful. So I lay awake and rested. I waited until the morning coldness had been burnt away by the glorious Spanish sun, checking out of the hotel around 11am to ride to the finishing point with a very welcome tailwind.

I can remember stopping at a town in the middle of nowhere, (Vila Marxant), asking in Spanish if they had a “menu del dia” only to be told by the owner that he did not speak Spanish. Looking around everybody was English! This truly was a “Little England”. The owner of the bar (The White Lion) could not be more helpful even letting me bring my bike inside whilst I ate. I ordered a very tasty Sunday Roast which fuelled me for the rest of my journey.

I arrived at the finish a good few hours before the first finishers were expected. I had to find shelter when the heavens opened dumping more rain on the already sodden Valencian earth, but was back though in time to see the first finishers, a group of 5 or 6 local Spanish riders.

Then just a few minutes later I thought I was hallucinating when I thought I saw Anne. I ran into the bar to see her getting her final control stamp. She had finished with the leaders in the top 7 or so of over 70 riders! Her amazing ride made up for my disappointment! I was so pleased for her!

She had finished with the leaders in the top 7 or so of over 70 riders! Her amazing ride made up for my disappointment! I was so pleased for her!

Later after getting back to our hotel rooms where at last I could soak in the bath and change into clean clothes, we ventured out to find food.  We settled for a Spanish buffet which was far from the best, but we did meet up with others from the ride picking up some useful tips about PBP.

So Anne has her place in Paris guaranteed whilst my PBP dream is not dead but in intensive care on life support. There’s a qualifier in Alicante in 11 days, but in all honesty that’s far too soon for me. I need to get my arm sorted and more importantly let my face heal. But perhaps, just perhaps I may have another shot at a 600k in Salamanca in mid-June!


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3 Responses to Massamagrell 600k 18th May – Tony’s Ride Report

  1. Roman says:

    Your blog is first rate. It was a pleasure to meet you two over tapas in Massamagrell after Annie’s impressive ride. Wishing you a rapid recovery and hope to cross paths again in the future.

  2. Hardy Swinson says:

    Tony, I’m rooting for you all the way.

  3. Ian Heron says:

    Tony, great blog – hope you get on the mend quickly. I’m also hoping to get to PBP 2019.
    Unfortunately I failed to finish my 400km qualifier at the weekend – just didn’t have the legs after 200km control.
    Was Feeling sorry for myself – read your blog and it’s brought me back to reality. Your determination to continue is fantastic – I’m going to get on with my 600 qualifier and if ok will do a final 600 to qualify for PBP. Onwards and Upwards. Best Wishes Ian

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