Highs and Lows in Spain

There’s no point blaming the sun and the wind; they just do what they’ve always done. They really don’t aim to make life a misery. But sometimes, it really feels like the elements are out to get you.

In reality, I’ve made good ground since my last post. I’m in Madrid, where I’ve successfully linked up with my Mum, who’s here on her first solo holiday since Dad died. This is all good. From a cycling point of view, on the other hand, Spain is hard, Spain is windy, Spain is hot and Spain is very, very lumpy.

From Pamplona, I struck south-west toward Madrid, hitting the shoe-making hotspot (really) of Arnedo, and getting a bit of Russian practice in with a fellow called ‘Alfredo’ from Armenia before climbing my first 1000m-plus pass en route to Soria. Literally the high point of my travels in Europe (at least until the return journey).


So, all good so far. Then I made the terrible mistake of taking some well-meant route advice from a fellow cyclist. Or I made the terrible mistake of asking the wrong question to a fellow cyclist (it’s not impossible that me telling him I was heading for a plane in Portugal may have influenced things).

Whichever of those actually happened, and I’m still not sure, the result was the same. Cutting a long story short, I ended up on a 100km detour, with two days of 35+ degrees centigrade heat and constant headwinds. Two days of grinding endlessly up hills before being pushed backwards by the wind on the downhills. Two days of sweating and sunburn and diesel fumes. Yuck.

There’s no point in blaming the sun and the wind. But I still do…

There were a few bright spots.

The old man who completely ignored the fact that I spoke no Spanish (this seems to happen all the time), and dragged me off to look at some giant fish in the river. I think he wanted me to try and tickle the trout with him, but I didn’t really have time. And then he (I think) gave me a quick run-down on all the local Roman ruins.

The toothless Spanish farmhand in his dying little van who tried really hard to give me and the bike a lift to avoid the midday sun. And then drove off, cackling and whirling an index finger around his temple (no idea what he meant), in a cloud of black diesel fumes.

And, of course, the warm glow you get when you discover that someone else has paid for two nights in a hotel in central Madrid for you. Thanks, Mum!

The delights of sub-dial-up internet speeds mean that photos are few and far between again. I’m sorry. I’ll do better, I promise.



  1. Sounds like you overcame your first hard slog of the trip…many more to come but remember still better than being behind a desk! Few cold ones and a nice bed in Madrid must help you recharge those old batteries.

  2. It’s good to see the photos but so much more interesting to read about your travelling. Loving your blog.

  3. Good stuff on the road and on the blog. Your tales of misdirection, excessive heat and random encounters would seem to merit a bout of suitable refuelling!

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