As I write this a procession is marching past, headed up by 15 fife players, there are about 50 drummers (it’s easy to count as they are in lines of 5), there is one lady (the recently elected neighbourhood queen) and following her are 49 men with muskets, they all wear white shirts and red berets with matching neckerchiefs. On the extreme left of the back row there is aman also sporting the uniform however over his shoulder there is what is quite clearly not a musket, it is in fact an air rifle. The global economic crisis has hit new lows here in Irun.
Today I raced the Clasica Irunes, one of the Basqueland’s bigger races. 130km in one circuit, mountain passes, the whole shebang. Having turned up at the club hq not the race HQ I was driven to the start by the club president, presented with a coffee and croissant and generally treated with the best of Basque hospitality. Being as it was bouncing it down with rain I commenced embrocating and showing off my plastic gloves (which I pilfer from petrol stations). It’s somewhat disheartening when every other team has not just a car but a BUS, and you have a backpack but oh well. I tucked an extra bidon down my jersey and checked my sugars before heading off into battle. The crowds were pretty solid for a rainy Wednesday and we rolled through the middle of town as most civilized people were rolling out of bed following a night of uncivilized fiesta.
Ten ks out of town and the ikurrina, along with the proverbial hammer, dropped. Next thing I knew we were climbing at 50 kph. In this situation I tell myself that whomever is doing this is only as human as I am and they will give up soon. They didn’t. An hour and a half later and I’ve decided it might be a good idea to attempt a 100k solo move, some people have joined me and it’s looking worryingly like we have a gap. We all start working and then, just as it looks like we’re going to stick everyone decides the time has come for a mid race wardrobe change. Shoe covers come off, gilets go back to cars and short fingered gloves come out of pockets. Resplendent in clean kits we must look quite the troupe as the bunch catches us.
In all my excitement I’d managed to ride 70k on a gel, and I commence snacking on assorted pastry products in plastic wrappers (can you say brioche de poche?). Just after the catch we commence climbing a pretty solid col, I was at the front but things weren’t looking good from the glucose perspective. I noticed the climb was awfully hard but they tend to be that way. Then I looked at my SRM and noticed I was only on 340 watts, this felt like more than that. I tried to just HTFU and ride but it kept getting harder, then I looked down and saw the distinct absence of air in my rear tyre. That might be what was making 300w feel like 500. Drifting back I looked for a neutral car. All isaw was the race exploding behind us and, as we crested the climb and ice- skated down the other side I diced with death in the caravan. No car= no wheel= game over. ARSE.
Anyway, half an hour later the broom wagon dropped me off back at the club. They gave me lunch and their consolation. As I write this I’m readying myself to spend the night with a local old gent. He’s a good friend of JM Garate and more than willing to help a starving cyclist in need. Once again, swings and roundabouts. It’s not only bike races that go up and down, it’s your luck too!
-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes
Location:A basque bar