Mojacar’d

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in my last piece that I was going to join fellow team mate Doug in Mojacar, Andalucía. Well let me fill you in.

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The five day training block started on the Sunday with a high intensity 5.30am rush though Stansted airport, the Ryanair check in desk, just to drop the luggage was like a feeding frenzy.

Once through security the early morning jetset crowds dispersed in front of me, no doubt to buy perfume or to wait in line for an early morning pre 6am breakfast shot of whisky, yes really…

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Just enough time to grab a much needed coffee and in a blink I was in the air and the pulse began to drop below 150 beats after the adrenaline fuelled rush. Doug was waiting at the other side with Kevin, a friend and fellow rider, whom had come out with him earlier in the week. A two hour drive from Alicante and we were there. Doug had arranged (did I mention he is my new best friend!) a red specialized Tarmac in my size from the local shop.

A couple of cheeky adjustments with a 5mm allen key and we were ready to hit the quiet and smooth Spanish roads. A two and half hour steady ride to Bedar was suggested, I haven’t ridden in the serious hills for many years so a 603m summit climb was a rare chance to stretch my legs.

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On Monday Kevin had to return back to the UK so Doug and I headed out for six hours which included an amazing stretch of road from Nijar to Sorbas. 2500m of elevation gain, coupled with the record temperatures that Spain was bathed in, was certainly a complete shift to the previous weeks soakings I had endured riding elbows out between two red double decker London buses. That evenings Tapas was extremely well received to refuel tired muscles.

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With Doug having ridden some long rides a few days previous to my arrival, a recovery ride was his plan. I was time crunched and needed to make the most of it, so a five hour solo was my session. A rolling first hour along the coast and then a turn inland through Antas and what seemed to be a sunbaked desert Even though the morning temperature was already in the low 30s and the oh so quiet roads were going against me, a draggy 14km climb with no villages put an end to the limited supply of refreshment. I needed to replenish quickly  and at the top of the climb a pro team car was awaiting to refuel their riders, so it only seemed manners that they did the same for me! Then over Bedar from the steep side and retraced the same route from Sunday. There was one obstacle still to go, we were staying at the top of a steep 200 metre ridge over the coast road and the first 500m of the 1.5km were on tarmac but at ramps of 12 -16% was an honest effort, the remaining was on a particularly rough and rocky 6-10% surface that made traction a challenge for sure, but you I love a challenge. Legs drenched in lactic acid from the effort and no way of warming down, I knew why the normal procedure was to load the car with the bikes, descend and ascend then start and finish the rides from the bottom, even in the car the road was a challenge.

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Wednesday we had planned a particularly challenging parcour, drive 60 km to Tabernas and tackle three climbs that featured on a previous tour of Spain. Starting at 300m elevation we had the 1800m climb of Velefique dubbed the 'Alp D’huez of Andalusia'. The first few kms were particularly challenging through the village with sections of 12 – 15%, it wasn’t until the climb settled to a less punishing 8% that I started to develop some form of rhythm albeit a slow and punishing one.

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The quiet roads and amazing background, great choice for a car commercial and that was exactly what they were filming that day. The twisting nature of the climb, it was easy to see why it had gained its moniker and comparison to Alp d’huez, it was in fact its more famous alpine cousin that had been the last proper mountain that I had climbed and over some 15 years previous.

Even now with compact gearing opposed to the 39×23 I had back then, I was still no climber!

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A fast descent down to Becares and a refuel stop to fill both bidons and a coke, the mercury hit 46c!! We set off on the AL-9017 and on a particularly vicious and sinuous stretch of “bastard steep goat track” with sections of 18% it was here that I heard a shout of distress from Doug, the heat, steepness and no doubt compounded fatigue of a heavy block of training was playing havoc with his knee. He urged me to push on and complete the planned route, he was going to retrace the route back over Velefique and wait for me at Tabernas.

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The road continued on like this for another 6km until a semi peak and a left hand turn on to a smoother road where I even tickled the pedals on the big ring for the briefest of stetches. One last push over the top of the peak 1968m and then a right hand turn to the important astronomical observatory that dominates the Sierra de Los Filabres, after some steap pitches it topped out at 2168m.

The super smooth and fast descent towards Gergal was like riding into a hairdryer, the heat was almost stifling. Another sinuous climb up to 1081m Castro de Filabres which seamed to take an age. A much needed water fountain to fill up the Bidons and then a descent back to Tabernas where Doug had been waiting for 20 minutes. It was an epic five hours on the bike, 3142m of climbing with the garmin recording all the pain to be played back in glorious technicolor made even more challenging by the heat. It was exactly what I came for, train hard now, it was important to get these efforts in the legs. The final day was a pre afternoon flight 80 minute blast up and down the coast road on my own and to ensure my legs were suitably fatigued I had to have a second go at the climb to the villa, so with over 800m elevation was hardly a recovery ride.

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It was a fantastic and much needed few days on the bike. Huge thanks to Doug for not just encouraging me to join him but for hosting and taking care off the logistics.

There are less than 6 weeks until the start of The Tour in Utrecht and so much more to tell you but guess we will leave that until next time….

If you would like to support the cause please click on my link. 100% of the donation goes direct to the CureLeukaemia charity

https://www.justgiving.com/Hayden-Groves3

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~ by theboxterboy on May 23, 2015.

2 Responses to “Mojacar’d”

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