One of the highlights of the year for my legs was their glee in reaching the top of the mountain pass in Spain known as the Coll de Rates. At the risk of divorce I took off from home last week, flew into Alicante and enjoyed a cycling break at Ciclo Costa Blanco see their website here. The hotel is a sports specialist one, the Albir Garden Resort situated five miles north of Benidorm. I hired a lightweight road bike (a German make – Bergamont Dolce) and boy did it make a welcome change from my heavyweight Dawes Super Galaxy touring bike with panniers etc. The original Bergamont I hired was all Carbon Fibre but it was too long for me and Terry Kerr, the founder of CCB, allowed me to swap for a more suitable sized Bergamont though it was aluminium with Carbon Fibre forks. It was so light that my muscles, used to powering my Dawes, shot it in wonderful acceleration from every traffic light stop. Brilliant. It did feel rather twitchy if I stood on pedals for steep sections and gusty winds played with me more than on my heavier beast. The Coll de Rates is often on the Tour of Spain (Vuelta) route because it is about 600 metres with 40 bends – many hairpin – in only 7 km. There is a timing device called a Stoppomat snf I punched my card at the bottom and – eventually – the top. I was just so pleased to have sufficient breath at the top to enjoy the rest of the day cycling 50 miles through mountains, villages, vineyards and olive groves. You should try it.
I suppose I had the urge to do this because my 64th birthday is coming up on Guy Fawkes night (5th November) and someone said at my age I’ll have to slow down. Nooooo! Or, at least I’ll have to speed up first. Photographs rarely do justice to steep inclines and the grandeur of mountain views but here are some I took.
The tunnel is on the N332 main road. It isn’t too bad cycling on this smooth tarmac as long as the rush hour is somewhere sometime else. I chicken out and ride on the hardshoulder but hardened locals whiz by me on the main stretch. The tunnels are interesting and not so long you are in the dark.
This photo is from the summit of the hill climb.
Note the clouds. I knew the forecast was for showers so I took my laptop and took the opportunity to write a few thousand extra words on the third volume of my SF trilogy: ARIA. Really pleased with its progress and on my return was delighted to find LL-Publications had taken on Billye Johnson as my editor. She has already sent me a first draft file and I’m working through it with eagerness now to see this book out.
Okay, so here is a photo of me on the bike at the hotel. I should doctor it but I won’t.
Time travel note. FF to 2013 and discover the future in ARIA: Left Luggage details at http://bit.ly/HNYyq4