Monday, 28 June 2010

About my cycle tour

I enjoy cycling, but I'm very much a recreational cyclist, getting a buzz from doing a bit of exercise, cycling through the countryside, enjoying the scenery, and stopping off at the odd country pub for a pint. I'm definitely not one for doing time trials or trying to set a new PB (personal best) every time I go out on my bike, and I hate cycling on busy main roads.

That said, I do enjoy watching the pros cycling on TV, especially in the Tour de France. You simply cannot beat watching a bunch of absolute nutters (because that's what thet are) slogging their guts out up l'Alpe d'Huez or the Col du Tourmalet, making suicidally fast descents at 60-70 mph whenever they get the opportunity, and practically killing themselves by cycling more than 2,000 miles in three weeks.

I also enjoy watching TV programmes about cyclists like Mark Beaumont, who has cycled his way around the world. His latest achievement is to have cycled the Americas solo, from Alaska to Argentina. You have to take your hat off to the guy.

Over the last few years, these guys have inspired me to go on a proper bike tour. Nothing competitive, but a tour that would challenge me, and which I would enjoy at the same time. The most I've done until now is a couple of days cycling through the New Forest, which I really enjoyed, but was left wanting more, and I've also cycled the South Downs Way over a weekend, which was bloody hard work.

I decided that it was high time I took the plunge and went on a 'proper' cycle tour, which I would find both challenging and enjoyable, and I am very fortunate that Carol agreed that I could go. Having borrowed a number of books from the library, I finally settled on a week-long cycle tour in Spain. That will not come as much of a shock to those of you who know me as, it has to be said, I am something of a Hispanophile. I found a book in the library called, funnily enough, "Cycle Touring In Spain" and when I read through Route 5 - Sierras de Gredos y Guaderrama - I was sold. It's a seven stage circular route from Barajas/Madrid airport, covering around 250 miles and incorporating two mountain passes. The Spanish for the cycling tour of Spain is la Vuelta a EspaƱa, so I'm going to call my tour of the Madrid outskirts my "Vuelta a Madrid".

I know there will be some of you reading this thinking "what a pussy/big girl's blouse etc, I could do that in two or three days, instead of seven", but that's not the point. I could probably do it in three days myself, if I got up at the crack of dawn and pedalled all day, but I wouldn't have the time to enjoy it. The point is that I want to give myself a challenge, but have some fun too, and take in the scenery... it's a holiday (of sorts), and it will also be a fantastic opportunity to practice my Spanish, not to mention enjoy the food.

I've now gone and booked my flights, so it's all systems go. That gives me two months to get reasonably fit (that's as fit as I'm going to get!), and work out logistics, such as how the bloody hell am I going to get to Gatwick for a 9:30 AM flight with a bike box and all my gear?? I'm sure it'll all work itself out with some careful planning.

Well, that's it for now. I'm going to keep updating this blog with my progress. Thanks for tuning in!