Today’s ride is sponsored by New Lodge Contractors

Vilanova – L’Ampolla

Today was supposed to be an easy flat day with not too many miles in preparation for the big 100+ mile days coming up.

Well, we don’t help ourselves! Last night, we went to the camp bar as it was open, as you do! Several beers, a couple of bottles of wine and whisky later and everyone was a bit drunk to say the least, “but we have an easy day tomorrow” Paul said. “Let’s have another beer then” David called out! It didn’t end up pretty with David falling off his camp bed and nearly capsizing his tent!

So everyone was late up, some (Kathleen) didn’t manage to get up at all!!! Anyway, I had changed my worn cleats for new ones the night before as my old ones were warn down to the screws. 10am and we were ready to set off…

Problem 1: For some reason my new cleats just didn’t seem to lock into the pedals, in closer inspection they just weren’t the right fit. We then decided to change the pedals to ones that they would fit. That will sort the job, one pedal off but the second pedal would not budge, then David got involved to help as he could see I was starting to lose my cool a little. No joy, we could not get the pedal off! Ok not a problem put the old cleats back on! They were looking even more ropier than when I took them off but we had little choice. All done now and ready for the off at last… NO!

Problem 2: Just as I was about to cycle off, I checked the pressure and the front tyre was slightly low so I pumped it up only to find out it had a puncture. I have been running tubeless tyres for the last 2 stages and for those that are not familiar with how tubeless tyres work, they have what is called a sealant in the tyre which is a very small amount of liquid in the tyre and when you get a puncture while riding the sealant comes through the hole and seals as it reacts with the air. What this means is that usually you don’t need to stop riding and puncture is mended. However, on this occasion the hole seemed to be big and would not seal. As time was getting on I decided to use my spare wheel with an old tyre on.

We were eventually off and running but heads were down. The route took us along a very long promenade which was a steady, not very fast start but it was a pleasant ride. After about 5 miles, the promenade finished and we were onto the roads, time to get our heads down and put some miles in. As soon as we were in the road I heard a strange noise from my wheels, “what’s wrong now” I thought. I stopped to have a look and I had a puncture on the replaced front wheel… not just a puncture but the tyre had split! That’s it, the teddies were about to be thrown out of the pram! David had seen me from about 50 yards ahead and could see things were going to go very bad if he didn’t calm me down as all I wanted to do at that stage was ring back up and get picked up! Thankfully, we were right outside a small bike shop so in I went wheel in hand to their workshop and the owner was there waiting for a job. So new tyre, new inner tube, they also did cleats for my shoes and I got a new pair of cycling sunglasses, so all sorted and we were ready to get on.

Just as we were about to get going Paul noticed his tyre had gone down! Strange getting two punctures near a bike shop? Back in the shop and all sorted. We were on our way.

We cycled hard for the next 25 miles not stopping for our usual morning coffee, but Paul was getting ‘hangry’… we needed food! In the end we found a burger king that would suffice. Quick food and off again.

The next 30 miles were on fast straight roads, the problem was they weren’t fast for us due to a weather warning of severe winds with gusts up to 70kph. The wind was either directly into our face, or a crosswind. Neither good for cycling and the one thing I really hate is strong headwinds. I was getting left behind a lot today, motivation and energy were lacking.

We found a cafe with about 10 miles to go, this meant it was time for the first beer of the day! Things picked up and we were all a lot more optimistic. Off we went again, there was a decent side road we could follow and as it has happened so many times before, the road just stopped and turned into a track. The track then turned into a riverbed and we had to carry the bikes. Then the riverbed came to a black tunnel with no idea where we were going. The only way I can describe it, is that it looked like a large dry sewer tunnel. We had no option but to venture into the blackness of the tunnel and see how long it was and where we would end up. It was a bit unnerving as we had just passed a dead snake in the road so god only knows what was down this tunnel? The tunnel was about 200 metres long and came out at a rocky mountain bike track which was just rideable in sections. We once again ended by the sea in a small cove with no obvious way out. Not swimming again? There was no way out this time. We were stuck and it was back tracking probably about 10 miles to find another route? Hidden in the rockets and bushes was some stone steps, a way out? We had to carry the bikes but we were back on our way. What a find – no roads, no people, just a hidden, hardly touched cove. After carrying and pushing the bikes for another half mile we saw a car, “roads” I shouted! We must have been a sight to the guys fishing off the rocks. Three road bikers carrying their bikes over rocks and through under growth in the middle of nowhere. The road out was a very steep climb of about 1 in 3 in sections, but it was tarmac and we didn’t care… although our legs did!

There rest of the journey was fairly routine but an interesting 69 miles today.

Ready for my bed now, the days are getting tougher with tired legs. Last rest day tomorrow only 79 miles to do.

– Sean