Day 8 – …..Days like these

“Nobody told me there be days like these” John Lennon

We stayed at a hotel with the most stunning view of the Navarro plain last night. I didn’t quite put the two and two together until this morning when after the fourth round of hourly church bells it was actually time to get up to a much worse sound.

“Is that rain heavy?”

“It isn’t light” was the typically British understated reply.

Still not to be deterred we donned our wet weather cycling kit and headed off. Watching one of the team members literally slide down an alleyway resulted in us getting off the bikes and gingerly making our way to the main road on foot. Safety is a paramount concern that would end up repeating throughout the day.

The weather started to deteriorate as we settled into our familiar riding group and soon the rain cloud ahead was being lit up quite literally by lightening with the ominous thunder following. Having looked into this before we knew we had to get off the road as the storm moved ever closer. Whilst everyone in the group had no issue with the rain lightening on a bike is not a good combination.

We were lucky enough to find a stop where we could take shelter and had to replan. The storms were forecast for the next two hours so we took the decision to get back into the van and go down the route to escape them rather than risk us getting colder and suffering from that which is so easy to do if you plan on being outside for the bulk of the day.

Having cleared the storms and had an early lunch we then got back on the bikes to continue to Ariza.

We did at this point realise that we would actually climb to a higher elevation than yesterday on this ride reaching over 1100 meters above sea level. We also realised we were heading into a very significant headwind making even the downhill section require pedalling.

After a bit of confusion with the route we also ended up on a massive detour into the headwind and back on ourselves to find two small villages that had been deserted. This is where our third safety issue would come to fore as our route took us out of the town and onto a road that is marked as a main road but turned out to be a badly broken gravel path so bumpy one of the team was walking and one actually lost a tooth.

In fact it was so bad that with three miles still go down this path we called for the van to back us up they weren’t happy to make the trip either. Plan Z was to walk back in the direction we had come and meet the van near the deserted village we had ridden through.

Given where we were, the time of day ( having started almost nine hours before) and the fatigue of the team after 8 hard days we made the decision to call it a day and head to the hotel although we had not reached the point we were hoping to.

Sometimes, it is more mentally tiring than physically tiring to complete an event like this as being so tired every minor setback can take on epic proportions. However, it is always what happens next that defines the team and as a group the resilience and determination this group has shown already is amazing. We will start again tomorrow morning having learned from today and hoping to recover some extra miles.

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