After Tuesday’s monster effort, Wednesday was a chance to take a thoroughly well-earned day not cycling. So I did!
Not much to report – went down the bike shop to get some sports drink because I had completely run out, plus some gels and other bits and pieces. I was accompanied by a fellow camp attendee, and we then went down to the marina on another lovely day to have a coffee and some lunch. Beautiful.
Went out in the evening down to the marina again for a pizza, which was pretty good, but I’ve had better.
Thursday (today), dear readers, was much more incident-packed. A 140 km ride was the plan, with the first 80 km being much the toughest. Good night’s kip (although I’m not in the habit these days of eating late and large, so I took a while to drop off), but felt fine in the morning. Set off with no problems whatsoever – pan-flat, nice and easy.
Turned inland from the coast and then started ascending a hill called Vall D’Ebo (we’d come down this on Sunday). I’d already decided that, if I was feeling OK, I’d give this a real effort – I needed to find out what my limits were.
The hill is 8 km (5 miles) long and, although not mega-steep, is challenging in places. I managed to stay with the lead group virtually all the way up, but I was at threshold heart rate most of the way. Hard, hard work. During the last 500 metres, I couldn’t sustain it, and came in about 20 metres behind the lead group at the top. However, I was pleased to find that the lead group were also giving it max and they’d been at threshold too. Made me feel MUCH better to learn that they’d been suffering as well! I also know how it feels to operate at that sort of level and how long I can sustain it for – valuable information.
After topping up water and carbohydrate levels, we started the descent. Probably less than 2 km from the top, I put a bit of power on to speed up and there was a huge BANG from down below, plus a clatter on the wheel. Looked down and saw that my chain had snapped. I won’t sully your ears with my sentiments!
Managed to pull over with no fuss and inspected the damage. It took me, and a number of others who’d stopped to help, a while to assess that, not only had I lost about three chain links, the front derailleur cage was completely missing! It had been ripped off when the chain snapped and, in fact, was bought down by another cyclist a little later on as it was lying in the road. The damage to the cage was spectacular, but the carbon fibre frame of the bike appeared to be intact, thank heaven. I’d only done about 35 km, but my journey was over. I was gutted – absolutely gutted, but it could have been so much worse.
Support van turned up, bike loaded on and I basically spent the rest of the day either sitting in a cafe waiting for the support van to come back and pick me up, or helping to dispense water and other vital fluids to the different cycling groups scattered around the terrain.
Got the bike back to the bike shop in Denia and they said that they could fix it. I was to come back at 8.30 to collect it (shops stay open late in Spain). Duly turned up and an English speaking mechanic said how lucky I’d been not to damage the frame. If I had, that would have been curtains. In the event, they’d put a new front derailleur on with a new chain. Cost all told – 91 euros. Cycled back to the hotel and it all worked beautifully. At least I can ride tomorrow and nobody was hurt. As I said, it could have been so much worse.
Thursdays in Spain are obviously to be avoided by me – it was the Thursday of the week that I was here last year when I fell off and flayed the skin off my left arm!
Last day tomorrow – might try a timed run up the Col de Rates (Rat Hill) just to see how I get on……