01 July (pinch punch) bay of Roses
The wind has done a bunk on me guvna! Thunder clouds from the mountains are suppressing the thermal winds. So it's a case of riding the bike and chilling.
The mountain / big hill with the house on the top was still in my sights so I set off in it's direction. The footpaths kept taking me the wrong way so I had to keep double backing to try another route to get there. I went past a tourism office and decided that they would know how to get to the the house on the hill.
The chap was very helpful. The house on the hill was impossible to get to with a bike unless you wanted to carry it on your back. So that put the stoppers on that. On the plus side he gave me a map that was around 15 miles long that took me to the hills and a stunning view at the top. I took the map with thanks and stared at it for 5 minutes and went back in the tourism office for more info on how to get on the route. The chap suggested he went and got his own mountain bike and take me on the route himself. The monetary negotiations began.
“How much for the tour”? I say.
“Three heroes”. He says.
“No. How much”?
“Not how long. How much will it cost”?
The cost for 3 hours of tour guiding must be expensive I thought.
“Three heroes is all it costs. It is a tourism benefit”.
The penny dropped.
“Ahhh 3 euros for the tour. Wow thats excellent value”.
I went and got my van and parked it in the tourism office car park and the chap was waiting for me with all the gear on. His bike was carbon fibre dripping with the best bits you can buy. I'm not a mountain biking aficionado by a long chalk but this guy looked like he knew what he was doing. His name is Marc Trayter and he said the route would take around 90 minutes to complete.
As he led the way I noticed his calves were made from granite. I think this guy will be going at half steam so I can keep up with him.
As we chatted I found out he is an ex world cup mountain biker. He still races and still wins in top fields. His last 4 hour race he was the first Spaniard across the line. The bike he was using is a €6000 hard tail that weighs only 9kg. All his kit is supplied free of charge and his biking skills are obviously superb. On the back wheel going up very steep hills and still negotiating around boulders or branches. This guy is not your communal garden tour guide he is the the full vindaloo mountain bike racer. He has even had training sessions with Lance Armstrong. Talk about hitting the bullseye! I wander into the tourism office to get info on stuff I can do and get to ride with a pro mountain bike rider. Not once did he big himself up. He does all his talking on the race track.
As we made our way up the steep slope with requests to look at the view now and again (for rest really) The views were stunning. Riding in the 35C heat was demanding but as I was with such a top rider I tried my hardest to make a good effort. Two thirds of the way through the route I had got through 3 litres of water that I was carrying in my camelbak. I think he drunk about half a litre. At the top he gave me a high five for the achievement and then we had the fun downhill bit. Marc was hitting ramps at speed and kicking out the rear wheel with ease. I however was just trying to keep the bike on the track. Excellent grin factor though.
The route ended up being around 20 miles and I was totally shagged at the end of it. But it will be something that I will always remember.