Tuesday, 24 May 2011

why do bad things happen to good people?

the last month has just about turned our sport upside down, it's also severely changed the way i see the world. I'm not sure how much of this i want to share, and how much of it i have to deal with alone but i wanted to put some of it up for debate.

A few weeks ago wouter Weyland crashed and died in the Giro, i didn't know him, i'd never lined up next to him. But it still hit me hard, he was doing what i do every day, and he lost his life. it shocked me but in a way which i now see as peripheral. People i'd competed against people i've grown up with have died before; hit by cars, drunk drivers, heart complaints, even cancer. A couple of times i've been bowled over by the grief butthe confluence of incidents in the last few weeks has really, really made it hard for me to get out on my bike. Heck it made it hard for me to leave dad's house and drive to mum's i was suddenly hit by the realisation that every goodbye could be final.

Xavier Tondo was someone i knew, whom i'd see out training, who was helping me find my feet in my new home, his sister in law was,is, a good friend. He lived 10 kilometers away, we train on the same roads, under the same sun. The randomness with which his life was ended has been hard to bear. For the first time ever he has had a chance to shine, and how he was shining. He will be sadly missed by all that knew him and many that did not. I didn't feel right strapping on a black armband for Wouter, he wasn't my friend and, whilst i respect the decisions of others to do so it felt wrong for me to presume to be so public when my emotional response was shock, not grief. This weekend when i line up in Belgium, i'll be wearing an armband for xavi.

All this has eclipsed the goings on with lance armstrong and livestrong in my own little sphere of consciousness. All i will say is this, good people don't deserve bad luck but if it's true that Mr Armstrong lied and misled thousands of very unwell people, i hope for their sake that he at least has the strength of character to say sorry. Sadly, for Wouter and Xavi, there's nobody to apologise. The wheel of fate turns and we are privy to its revolutions. But one mustn't live one's life looking out for the worst, rather we should search for the best. Xavi would rather we all went out riding in the sunshine than sat inside crying and so i will try.

Carpe diem i suppose

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

mis abuelos

although abuelos might translate as grandparents my "abuelos" have no blood relation to me whatsoever, they are however as kind and caring as if i were their own son. They own the bar down the street, i go there every day, it started because they had wifi, and for 2.5 euros i could get a pincho of tortilla and a beer, and they'd always bring me as much bread as i wanted (which tends to be a lot) and a tiny plate of patatas Bravas. I remember commenting that they had the best tortilla, it tasted homemade. The lady replied that she made it herself every day.

No sooner had the comment escaped my mouth than a tremendous debate on the nature of tortilla perfection engulfed the bar, 90 minutes later i left, having reached no conclusion we'd all decided to go home for dinner (cooked in our respective "ideal" fashions no doubt). The next day i came back and we discussed the giro, having moved onto the subject of doping they were surprised to find that i didn't outright condemn Contador and that i really do believe he is the best cyclist we've seen since Mercx. the bar has since become something of a penya for Contador, and they're not shy about shouting a few encouraging words at me either. Generally you don't expect a 74 year old woman to erupt (see the giro reference there....) out of a greengrocers shouting "venga venga", especially at 8am when you're just rolling out of your house, but i can't complain. It does put the frightners on me when one of the family sees me out on the road and honks the car horn though!

they began to enquire about my training, my diabetes and my research. When the fact that i'm researching food came up all hell broke loose again. We talked about the tradition of eating paella on a thursday (Franco went hunting on a Thursday and he liked to eat paella afterwards, soon this became a national tradition as nobody wished to risk the caudillo turning up unannounced and fail to provide his comida of choice, or so we're told). Antonio regaled us with tales of his trip into Franco's private estate and the mountain of birds and animals introduced there for the dictator to satiate (some of) his bloodlust.

Soon i was a daily fixture at the bar, the stage of the giro was always on at 5pm, i didnt have to order, just wave as i came in and sit down. I told them about my food research and my love for Spanish food, they asked me when i would come in for lunch. It occurred to me that this was a bar, and they didn't cook lunch. But i gave them a date and returned. It did surprise me a little that business was sparse, in fact just me and them. and it was a little odd that the menu offered no choice. It only really dawned on me today when we were eating our paella and a customer came in and asked for a portion, and was declined, that this wasn't a menu at all. it was them, welcoming me into their family meal.

the food is always delicious but that's not why i go back. As the lady snapped at the offended would be patron "he doesn't have a mother here, or a grandmother, so im making him lunch". There does seem to be a genetic predisposition amongst Iberian ladies over 40 years old to want to feed me unfathomable amounts of olive oil, but i'm happy to benefit from it! I really enjoy sitting at a table and talking over great food and drink. We talk for maybe an hour after lunch, i'll chalk this up as "research" time but it doesn't feel like work. I'm picking up some great recipes though. Then go our separate ways until the next day. I'm growing to love the rhythm of life here, riding all morning, a big lunch and a nap and then another ride or some writing in the afternoon. part of feeling at home is being accustomed to the culture but a big part is feeling welcome and with my "grandmother from another (greatgrand)mother" i most certainly feel welcome.

what i really wanted to say is this: some of you know that things are far from rosy for me as of now, i wish i could say more but when i can, i will. despite all this people have been really kind to me when i've needed them to be, i hope one day i can pass the kindness on

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Castles and croissants

Today's ride was one of my more interesting adventures. First off I found this little gem, ( pic below) after a session of hill reps I did, for a minute doubt my eyes. But it was indeed there, a sanctuary apparently.

Continuing on my merry way I proceeded to follow a road which got smaller and smaller and then definitely ceased to be a road. Then it ceased to be a dirt road and became a goat track, not well suited to the skinny rubber.

Having returned via a somewhat longer route than expected I proceeded to stage a hypo of monumental scale, not so bad generally but it rural Catalonia nothing is open from two to five pm. Fortunately I managed to find a bakery which was still occupied, if closed. Once again, pastry saved my life!

I've been having a bit of a stressful time recently and it's slaying my bg control, I'm going badly low often, like so low that my meter just says "lo" not quite sure what's up, I tend to bounce back up slowly but once up there I spend a few hours high as a kite, not good.

Anyway enjoy the picture!

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Monday, 2 May 2011

Spanish shopping

Generally my anecdotes don't involve footballers wives, but for Vickie b we'd all make an exception, right? I found myself at the counter of the fish shop today debating the position taken by the former on alluvium consumption.

Having selected my sardines ( caught this morning, I think I saw some of their brethren come ashore during my ride) I announced an intention to cook them amb al ( with garlic) this sparked a somewhat strange reaction: old lady one announced that she was with Victoria on this one, we eat too much garlic. I disagreed and was joined by old lady two. Customer two weighed in with the spice girls and we spent the next ten minutes in debate. Conclusion, I'll cook my sardines with garlic and the parsley which they give you fore free at fish shops here. That, amics, is European unity.

I love shopping here, a typical trip takes me from the fruiteria by my house where I garb a few apples and pears to the market which presents a cornucopia of vegetables ( yup cornucopia) and animals in various states of dismemberment. I've been buying chicken carcsses to make soup recently, you get the bones and, I you're lucky some " bonus" meat for less than a euro a kilo. Then I get my veggies, and stop off for fresh flautas ( especially thin and yummy baguettes) which I carry home ( taking care not to crush them. By this point I resemble a culinary packhorse as I approach the fish shop to enquire what is cheap today and how to best prepare it.

At this point I tend to recover my reserves with a brief tapa and a cana before assaulting the cobbled climb back to home and the rigors of lunch/dinner preparation it's a hard job but someone has to do it ( I suspect that someone is not mrs beckham)

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Location:All over tarragona