Written by Guest Blogger J.Hargreaves
"Full or half?" The nice lady stood in front of the pig said. "Full. I'll have full". The lady prepares to hand Peter a full baguette filled with freshly carved pork from the hog roast put on by Kilmallock cycling club. I see a flash of indecision motivated by his disappointment at his performance on today's hub tour. Indecision turns to resolve, "no, I'll have a half". Looking pleased Peter turns to me and says, "did you see that?"
Peter reflected on the speed in which some of his club mates shot up today's climbs as he generously squirted mayonnaise on his demi-baguette.
Later the Strava stats showed that he was slower up Christ the King today than three years ago.
"Only nine weeks until Dartmoor", Peter splutters whilst sharing with me one of the cupcakes from the generous post-cycle spread laid on by the club.
Not being in training for Devon's famous sportive myself I head back up to the buffet table for a second round bringing back an apple for the Duckster.
"I won't thanks" says Peter "watching my weight Jac, watching my weight!".
Well my weeks training is over and as my flight climbs above Southern Spain I gaze down at the mountains picking out mountain bike routes. Then my eyes notice a lake that is familiar. I think I can make out Grazamela and Las Palomas.
The week was terrific. If I talk about the facilities, expertise and the routes provided by Andulucian cycling Experience I will sound like a infomercial. Suffice to say I will be back.
It was a week of mixed performance. I’m afraid I made the rookie mistake of going too hard on the first day. I spent nearly 4 hours at my threshold heat rate and paid for it on the following two days where I was barely able to get my heart rate above 60% max.
Thursday I went well getting up The Beast in the middle of the pack however I paid for my efforts on Friday’s mountain time trial when I trailed in a few minutes after the others. I was disappointed that I was not able to sustain my effort the whole way up Las Palomas but I did what I could do and I kept doing it.
April, 7am, alarm goes off. Time to get up for a 9am 100km cycle – sounds grim, unless …
Breakfast at our townhouse at 7:30 is boiled eggs, fresh mango and yoghurt, and fresh baked bread (purchased from the shop two minutes away). Down stairs is our bike room with a fully equipped tool room, energy gels, homemade oatmeal bars and a fridge full of cold drinks waiting for our return.
The coffee is terrible however, so we have to stroll across the road to the cafe serving espresso and cappuccinos for €1.
What are the roads like?
Well my bike fit details just arrived in time for me to order my new frame. Yes, after 4 etapes, 5 Dartmoor classics, 5 Wicklow 200 and 5 Sean Kelly tours my beautiful Pinarello has developed a cracked frame.
My Pinarello was purchased just as financial disaster struck Ireland and like a man eating Lobster as the Titanic sank, I felt the were two choices I had with a modest financial windfall I had recieved. One was to invest the money (€5k) wisely in a steady commodity like gold or to blow it on a ridiculously expensive toy that I would not be able to afford for several years. Lobster tastes great and my Pinarello was a dream to cycle, brought me great joy and was worth every penny.
Well thanks to a horse that I have cycled past on a few occasions I am able to afford to replace my Pinarello.
Ireland remains in financial crises and my bank balance remains red so when Lord Windemere won the Gold cup by a nose he allowed me to continue to cycle in the style I am accustomed. More on this later
80 days, 8 hours and 8 minutes to go …