Published on June 18th, 2019 | by Admin4
Salamanca 600k 15th June – Tony’s Ride Report
Salamanca is nearly a 700km drive away so a jet lagged Anne, who had only just returned from Canada, decided that a 8.30am departure was required. We planned to arrive at the latest during the early evening so we could get some sleep to be up early for the 5.30am registration.
I must admit to feeling nervous and had felt so for a good few days. It was indeed a long drive especially in the heat which was in the mid-30s. Around lunch time we stopped at a restaurant called El Descanso. I must say I love Spanish restaurants because you never know what you are going to find when you walk through the door. El Descanso was no exception to the rule!
Positioned in a glorious spot just in front of a shallow wide river, inside you could virtually smell the character and history of the place. Looking through the windows at the glorious green countrywide which is very different from the terracotta landscape we have in the Alicante region.
And the menu was no disappointment either! Wild mushrooms and eggs as a starter with the mushrooms obviously picked locally followed by freshly caught trout and a smooth red wine produced by the restaurant. We opted for rice pudding for our desert to top up our carb bank. And the cost of our feast? Well just 10€, we really are so spoiled here in Spain.
I think we arrived just after 6 where we both went to our rooms to sort out our kit for the early morning start before seeking out a little tapas to ensure we were fully fuelled for the weekend riding. I struggled to sleep as I normally do only managing an hour or two. Anne later said she struggled to sleep also.
We arrived early at the start although there were already a dozen or so riders waiting. An English guy from Madrid called Rupert introduced himself to us.
He told us he’d been reading our blog although I recognised him from his recumbent. It’s great though each time we meet people who are following our blog as it makes all the effort we put into it worthwhile.
The organiser arrived a few minutes later with a big stack of brevet cards. We all followed him up to a disused shop which he used as an office and with unbelievable efficiency, payments were taken and cards dished out. I was amazed how many steel bikes there were, many fully loaded with what I would call “proper” Audax bags which I had not really seen before in Spain. We were soon on our way, surprisingly on time. I think there may have been around 60 of us if not a few more. We split into 3 or 4 groups as we rode out of the city. Anne and I in the 2nd group.
Our group was full of PBP veterans of which some had rode PBP 4 or 5 times. Anne with her great Spanish skills spoke with many of them. The pace was relatively easy with an average around 24km per hour, which suited us fine. Having a quick look at the route profile and from listening to others we were told most of the climbing was in the first 300k. As I was still recovering my fitness, I planned to take it easy, keep my heartrate low on the climbs and hopefully finish the first half of the brevet relatively fresh.
Unbelievably, around the 90k mark, 10k before the first control Anne had yet another rear puncture.
Unbelievably, around the 90k mark, 10k before the first control Anne had yet another rear puncture. She’s been struggling with punctures for many months now, even though she’s on new tyres. There’s definitely something wrong with her rear wheel which we will have to investigate. She had new folding continental tyres which are extremely tight. The rear tyre was a nightmare to get off and get back on the rim again. And once we were on our way part of the tyre flipped over the rim creating a bulge although she made it to the control where we got it sorted. I’m certainly not a fan of the folding continental tyres as they always seem too tight until you get some miles into them.
The first control was Avila which is a beautiful walled city which you simply have to see with your own eyes to appreciate. But we were on a mission so no time for sightseeing, so we were soon on our way.
As we reach the first climb the group’s split. I let Anne ride on ahead as I stuck to my plan taking it easy. I ended up in a small group who eased up the climbs nice ‘n’ easy. One of the guys was a local who knew all the controls and of course the route so I tucked in behind him. 10k or so further on I saw Anne riding in the opposite direction as she thought she had missed the control. She turned around and joined us
We rode with a larger group over the bigger hills at an easy pace. I was amazed by the wildlife and the glorious scenery. I have never seen so many birds of prey, vultures and storks. The landscape really was so unspoiled. And it parts it was like England with golden wheat fields, dry stone walls, oak trees, lush grasses and meandering rivers that had sculptured the Spanish rocks over thousands of years. Simply absolutely glorious!
They planned to start the next day at 7am but we decided to start earlier.
We finished the day with another group with just under 340km under our belts. The group we were riding with wanted us to eat with them. At 11pm though that was far too late for us and anyway we had “fuelled up” around 8pm. Well I did as Anne yet again struggled to eat which is something we need to address before PBP. They planned to start the next day at 7am but we decided to start earlier.
It was just after 5.30am when we were back on our bikes again. After about 20 minutes we saw Rupert and others waiting at a garage. They were waiting for the remainder of their group. We decided to join them. We rode with them for a couple of controls again at an easy pace. I really did expect us to be passed by many but only a group of 4 actually did.
I can’t believe how cold it was! As we reached the countryside the temperature was just 4c.
I can’t believe how cold it was! As we reached the countryside the temperature was just 4c. My fingertips and toes were freezing! Compared to the Alicante Region it was so much colder!
Anne started to feel a little sick which was a concern. It’s amazing how many struggle with stomach problems on long rides. One of the organisers had dropped off the group with a bad stomach whilst at the second of the day’s controls another rider was throwing up at the side of the cafe. I bought some very tasty freshly made tortilla and some for Anne too although she only had a little. Our group decided they were going to wait for the organiser who had fallen behind whilst we spotted the group of 4 who had passed us so we caught up with them.
Now let me say that time and time again we had been told that the second day would be a doddle. We were told that it was flat and easy. We were also told that the whole route had little more than 3000m of climbing. So as we had done close to that after day 1 we believed we were in for an easy day. How wrong we were!
We rode with the group of 4 for many kilometres over rolling landscape. We had a small stop when one of the guys broke a spoke then another small break as one of the riders, Suzanna, was feeling tired so needed a coffee. With around 115km to go though we decided not to stop for an extended food break so said farewell to the group. As Anne and I headed off alone the wind picked up as did the temperature as it topped 35c! We were now riding uphill into a stiff hot headwind. Anne started to feel extremely tired. She was struggling with her stomach, possible jet lag and perhaps had over done it a little the day before as we had been told the last 300 was flat and easy. In all fairness though we must have been going well because at the next control we caught a small group of young Spanish guys who had set off at 5am.
The next control was 50k away which I pulled us to as I could see Anne was struggling a little. The wind seemed to be increasing each minute. And let me say it was not flat! As a matter of fact the last 115k was mainly up hill. Most of it was only 1% to 3% with the odd hill around 4% but with the wind and the intense heat it made it all seem so much harder. Anne was struggling and towards the end so was I. As I tired Anne seemed to pull out of her bad spell so we took turns at the front. It was great to have Anne back!
On some of the flat stretches we were struggling to cycle 18km per hour. I was sure a group would catch us so we could get on the back of them. I looked behind several times but each time was disappointed. The heat and the wind really did take it out of us. The last 20k seemed to go one for ever!
And during the last 10k I had the worst “hot foot” I’d ever experienced. I had to unclip as the pain was so bad.
It was not until we reached Salamanca, just 20 metres or so from the control that the group of 4 caught us. Can you believe that! But we had done it, finishing before 8.30pm with many behind us battling the harsh wind. We had done it.
We would both be on the PBP start line. I really thought after my accident that my dream of being on the PBP start line was over. But I had no thoughts of PBP when I handed in my brevet card. My only thought was getting my bloody shoes off!