Well, I wasn’t expecting THAT. It’s been a long time since I have heard my name called to come up for a podium place. Not since my teenage years in fact, and the sport was ski racing! Perhaps I should have started doing Hill Climb TTs earlier? It turns out that since my 2013 brain surgery, my two seasons of self-directed training have turned me into a bit of a climber!
Having done the Els Angels climb in 28:37 and 28:05 last year, I was hoping to do it in under 27 minutes yesterday. I added up the times of a bunch of LOUD tunes from my youth using the Spotify app (and excel) the night before, and I knew if I was still listening to Rage Against the Machine, and hadn’t gotten to Prodigy as I crossed the finish line, I would be under 27 minutes.
Turns out I only got to listen to the very start of the Rage track, as I came in at 24:34. I am super pleased! I was 2nd in my age group, and 6th overall – beaten by some Elite riders, a former double Olympian (Dan Martin’s Dad, Neil – cool!) and a chap 6 years my junior (I’ll get him next year). 75 men and 14 women took part (a tripling of the number who participated last year). A great way to start the week!
The Gran Fondo continues to be the most social of cycling sportive events I have ever done. The TT was followed by a big long-table lunch, in the Els Angels Monastery, and the rosada was out, glasses clinked, and new friends were made.
Josep told us a great story about how his Dad used to be the only crane operator in the region, and had to crane Salvador Dali’s enormous elephants-with-spindly-leg sculptures into the Gala Dali Castle in “our” village, Pubol. A very nervous Dali was so relieved that it didn’t go wrong that he had him in for a whiskey afterwards – and Josep’s Mum of course didn’t believe her other half when his response to “what did you get up to today” was “had whiskeys with Dali”.
This region has great pedigree in cycling AND surrealist art. Let the surreal pedalling continue! I am off to ride with the Mule Bar Sigma Sport ladies, as well as some I have met from the Welsh Cycling Development Squad, to pick their brains about women’s cycling (and try not to get dropped). And we’re tackling the Rocacorba, which resulted in a collarbone operation for me the last time I was there…watch this space.