Well, it is almost September and here I am writing my blog for July. Above is the view from Puerto Jose Banus looking back onto the sierras (and yes, I did wonder if I could bike up it)!
I rode a mere 235km during the month of July, what with a week down in Marbella, eating, drinking, swimming and relaxing, not necessarily in that order, then back home, kids holidays and not much time to squeeze in a ride, I was left feeling below par out on the mean streets. And to top off this less than a stellar month, I managed to come down with a fever on the 28th and six days later went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia and promptly given a course of antibiotics.
Needless to say, August was broken in very gently. My “chronic lung infection” had reduced me to a wheezing mess and couldn’t have come at a worse time, as my parents had just arrived and I was keen to hit the road with my father, who I hadn’t cycled with in almost 18 years!
Dad had bought over my old bike, at least that is what he led me to believe. He had instead bought over his seven year old TCR Giant! I’ll go into more detail in a later post…
Anyway, back to July…. I had been wanting to climb a small hill that towers over the pretty coastal town of Baiona, about 20km further down the coast from Vigo called “A Groba” It rises 619m, 11.1km of climbing at an average gradient of 6%.
I set off in perfect conditions and made my way to the starting point of the climb. It virtually starts right next to the ocean, hidden behind a row of houses. I started off with a healthy clip, which in retrospect was a poor decision, by the time I had reached the half way point, I was a spent force, I had only been cycling for 2 months and after an 18yr break had grossly underestimated this climb.
My gearing was hardly helping a 53-39 on the front and a 13-26 on the rear, I was grinding my knees to oblivion on the climb, every pedal stroke became an exaggerated effort and on the steeper sections, (some of which are greater than 16%) just keeping the bike upright was proving difficult, I felt like a clown on a unicycle and at one point I actually went off the road into the gravel and then had to use precious energy reserves to pull myself back onto the tarmac, at that point, doubt spread over me like a 2 day old soggy blanket, I couldn’t see how I could continue, breathing had become farcical, so much so I swore I was being followed by a herd of seals, my legs had become jelly like under the strain and my knees were demanding an immediate EVAC, a song had even started repeating inside my head “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you” it seemed ever so appropriate, despite all…I had to continue.
All my energy was now focused on each pedal stroke, focused on each new objective that I set for myself, to keep me moving forward, getting to that next rock or roadside litter was all that I cared about, but one thing, above all this kept me motivated, I had never gotten off a bike whilst assaulting a hill before and I wasn’t going to start here…and as that thought swept across my mind the road began to flatten out, enough for me to even take a swig of water and a look at my surroundings, I checked how far I’d come and saw there were 4km remaining but with this reprieve I was able to tackle the remaining part of the climb with relative ease, there was a final pinch but with the summit insight, I quickly nipped it in the bud. After two months of cycling I’d conquered the beast in a time of 46:57.
You can view the ride below on Strava 🙂