15 June 2006

Durango-Durango, Spain

Leaving Holland was kind of nice, as the weather has been real shit for the last few weeks. Kind of making me think of good old NZ, lots of rain, and lots of wind, and everyday just to make you think that it is never going to end. Just looking at the temperatures in Auckland, things are pretty much the same as the weather we have been having here, you guys are getting colder, but we are getting warmer. Same sort of day temps, but our nights are still a little bit colder. It won’t be long, summer is here, and coming fast. But just to speed it up a little, I’m heading south so things can change, real quick.

It was 15’c leaving Holland, and with a few hundred km, through Paris, my gauge was reading 25’c, all in about 500km. By the time we hit the Bordeaux region we had 27’c on the dial, and this was at 9pm. Its always so nice to drive through that part of France, knowing that all of the worlds Cognac, some of the best wine and cheese and some awesome food all originate from here. Heading south from here it all gets a lot different. The nice rolling countryside turns real flat and boring, a small highway means slowing down to about 110km/hr, and time just drags. Then the Basque region just pops out of nowhere, and the mountains just seem to sprout out of nothing. When France was conquering the world all those years ago, you can imagine them getting to this part of the world and stopping. Driving through the mountain passes near San Sebastian, you get the idea that it would have been hard work trying to take Spain, and why bother. Mountains growing rocks and scruffy looking trees, nothing much here at all. If only they had of known what fantastic mountains for riding, training and racing in, then they would have taken them as well.

The Hotel on the hill.

My mission was two fold, first a single days race Durango-Durango, then a four stage race called ‘Tour of Bira’ near and around the same area of Durango/Bilbao. We first checked into the Hotel, got our beds sorted, then straight to the airport to pick the girls up. Five of them flying down, with Susanne and Klass driving down from Nice, France. We had a nice little hotel, on a nice little mountain (we later passed it in the race). Very small and quiet, and awesome food (more on this later), run by a family that looked like they had been there for years. We had almost half the hotel to ourselves, with our own kitchen, dining room, it felt almost like a house, which is nice for a change.

Half an hour to starting and we have this staring the girls in the face.

The gang ready to sweat and toll.

Susanne, ready to roll.

Next day we had the race, starting not far from the hotel, close enough to ride for the team, plus they get the wicked downhill of 9km warm up. The temperature had climbed up to about 30’c, and it was getting warmer. The girls were ready, a couple of the younger ones freaking at the thought of climbing back up to where they just descended from, but hey, they got to learn sometime. By the time we started, the local clock was reading 34’c, half an hour into it we got 38’c on our gauge, it was going to be a killer in that heat. Hope the tubulars don’t start melting and rolling of the rims, I was thinking.

The lonely climb to the top of the second climb for Sus.

We raced a good race, kept the small peloton in check for the whole race. Almost to the last two big climbs. We raced hard up the first climb, with the field getting smaller and smaller as we reached the top. It ended up with Susanne smashing the rest of the field to bits, our team had softened them, now it was her turn to finish them off. The tactics worked well, she managed to stay away for the decent, and the next climb. The other teams were starting to chase her hard, but unfortunately for them, it was far too late. She had a convincing lead, with a small run to the finish of about 4km, they could not catch her. She won easily, was fully drained by the finish, so were we, as we watched a small group getting closer and closer. I could see Susanne slowing a little, but she held on just long enough, the others were close as we were diverted away from the finish, we saw the chasers only seconds behind. Thanks, a nice start to the trip.

Of course, plenty of churches here in Spain, and they are wicked some of them.

Now a rest day for the girls, and for all it was some training in the hills surrounding the house, even I managed to get out for a few hours. So nice to be in the hills after the flats of Holland, and yes, I did make it up them ok. Next up the Tour of Bira, with the girls in good spirits, and the sun shining, what more could you ask for.

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