Rattle n Hum

I got up this morning from another heavy sleep. Groggy, the sun was beating down, must have been 20 degs by 9am, I decided to give the ride a miss AM and decided to go for a walk and coffee instead. Baking while I drank my coffee and eating my toastie, bike riding couldn’t be further from my mind. Chilled.

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breakfast the right way

PM the itch came back. Sally was going to go and lounge by the pool so I decided a 2hr pedal was on. The clouds had rolled in and took the edge of the heat. It had gone a bit hazy but the wind had got up too. Could be a slog on exposed sections.

It was another route I’d planned on familiar gravel with a new section thrown in. Out via volcano alley (the way I rode back yesterday), tarmac through Lajares. New gravel between a couple of mountain/hills then downhill to El Roque, cross the El Cotillo main road, skirt it on more gravel. Check out the lighthouse, El Toston, then back into the wind along the coast via Majanicho. Should be about 2hrs of riding, 90% gravel.

50km-el-cotillo-loop

Things I’d learned from yesterdays ride. Tyres needed more air. Check. Ditch the saddlebag, it rattles. Check. Cleats needed to be moved further back on my shoes. Check. Front brake had a sticky piston. Check. All sorted and when I took off today it felt so much better and as soon as I got on the gravel I could tell the tyres were spot on. A good balance of firmness to roll and softness to soak up the bumps. I was happy. Game on. The first 10 km were the hardest climbing up past the volcanoes. There are some short and sharp climbs to deal with before a long drag up to the highest point of the ride where I came off that dreadful volcanic crazy paving path yesterday. The track was really quiet. Only one car passed me going the other way. There were a couple of electric cars at the top and a guide looked like he was giving a talk to some tourists. Past them, I dropped down the other side and the vista looking across to Lajares, where I was going, opened up in front of me. I passed some walkers on probably the widest gravel road I think I’ve ever ridden. Then a quick right onto a narrower more knarly track which asked a lot more of me technically in places. I’ve still got the skills from cross racing but I was going to be tested even more later on.

Things got a bit easier again as I neared Lajares and then I dropped onto some more brand new tarmac that was like carpet again. Its a dream and welcome after 40 mins of been caned offroad. The hum of the tyres as I descended into town was great. In town I took up the segregated cycle path before it ran out as I exited the village. It was a busier road and the drivers waited patiently to pass and did so nice and wide. So different to the UK, you feel so much safer.

I crossed the main road and onto the new gravel section I hadn’t done before. It was a bit of a contrast to what I’d done so far. The first part was like riding through a sand dune.  In fact it was one I think lol. Wahey! the front and back wheels were skipping out all over the place. I managed to catch them but riding too high a gear caught me out as the bike dug in. I stopped found somewhere to get going again and slapped it in a very low gear and ploughed through. It makes you appreciate the skill of elite cyclocross riders.

Riding in sand is a unique skill. Low gear, lots of power, guide the bike, don’t steer, go where it takes you. I’m shit at it, so don’t take my advice!

This section climbed up between too hills and you could see the tracks of mountain bikes that obviously use it quite a lot and you could now see the coast and El Roque and El Cotillo in the distance as I crested it.

The start of the descent was quite steep and I nearly had my first off. I hit a deep section sand/gravel and my front wheel washed out. My reflexes caught it. Still got it! Gingerly I carried on until the track straightened and the gradient eased so I could give it some beans without fear of coming off. I got lost at the end. I blindly followed some tyre tracks that lead nowhere. A quick detour round to the left found the track again and the new section was done and dusted. Literally.

I crossed the main road and tried to find the gravel track which bypassed El Cotillo. Major fail here. Firstly I chose the wrong one and had to turn round then following more tracks without thinking I found myself on what I can only describe as a sandy motocross circuit. Two big mounds/jumps done, I was stopped by deep sand again so I dismounted and ran over to the left 50m and got back on track (pardon the pun there!). I finally found the road and enjoyed a bit more smooth tarmac and the sea views out to the lighthouse but the wind was really strong here, blowing a gale right into my face. Warm though. It was quite refreshing.

Obligatory pics done, I set off back now on the coast road. 15km of cross headwind. The first part through the dunes is tough. Deep sand again and really rough when there isn’t any. Eventually the sand runs out and your on the normal volcanic gravel but the surfers cars have made it into a washboard and its quite hard going in places. I found the channel on the outside was ok but hard to find for the most part until I got to Majanicho. The wind was tough too. The track winds in and out so you get tail, cross and headwinds in a matter of metres in places. Great for kite surfers and surfers you see. Its a popular place and you get pockets of them dotted all along this section of the coast. From Majanicho the track improves but the wind rolled round into a constant side or cross-headwind. It was tough going but I was riding hard as I found you rolled better been a bit faster.

Eventually I rounded the headland and could see the wind turbines which meant I was only a couple of km from home now. I was catching a car. Must have been riding well and I caught it as I got to the end of the gravel. Rattled to death I was again glad of some tarmac. I rolled back to our apartment, my arms felt worse than my legs and my palms were red hot from the vibration.

It was a solid 2hrs of gravel. Great fun!

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