You may have got the impression from my blog the other day that this place is hilly.  That’s because it is.  So in my mind, this is the last place that you would want to ride a bike.  Admittedly for every up slope, there is a down one; but really, why go to all that effort?  I bought my first bike since I was a child a few weeks ago as I am entering a sprint triathlon in August (but don’t worry I won’t be incessantly going on about it on Facebook.  Well, not much anyway.  Midlife crisis?  What midlife crisis?).  However, I have been so busy since I bought it that I haven’t managed to get out on it yet; but I am wondering what should be my first route.  Luckily it is quite flat around where we live, but we do still live at the bottom of a hill, so inevitably I am going to have to get over that to the get to the flat stuff.  I’m seriously considering sticking the bike in the car, driving it to the cycle path on the Rainford Bypass and starting from there; but that does kind of defeat the object of getting the bike doesn’t it?  Anyway, I’m telling you all this as today there was a bike Tme Trial in the village.  A big one.
We were woken at 10:00 am (yeah, I know, that’s nearly the middle of the night right?) as 700 nutters on bikes were tearing the past the bottom of the steps that lead up to Abuela’s house.  Once we had mustered up enough energy to get out of bed, we took a stroll up the road for a bite of breakfast (or elevenses depending on how you view it) and to see what all the fuss was about. The first thing to say is that it is wet here.  Yes, I know you are all basking in beautiful sunshine and tomorrow you will all be rolling into work looking like lobsters, talking about how hot it was and it’s a shame you have to come into work.  Well tough, you do.  You have the weather, we have the time.  Unfortunately we don’t have the clothes for this weather and my shorts have stayed resolutely in the case.  Tibu hasn’t got a waterproof and the weather is going to be so bad when we get to Madrid tomorrow that it’s made the news.  But these cyclists still went for a ride up a hill in the rain.
The town square had been transformed.  Ok, perhaps transformed is a bit of a strong word.  An inflatable arch and a couple of gazebos had appeared; but the organisers looked like they knew what they were doing. There was a man with a PA (always a good sign), some music playing, and there were a lot of people waiting in the rain for something to happen.  There were also a lot of disgruntled older men who normally sit in the square on the benches, who had been displaced by the PA man and his gazebos.  They stood in exactly the same place in which they’d usually sit; but about 6 feet further back.  Basically they stood right behind the gazebos so they couldn’t see anything, but at least their routine hadn’t been upset too much.  They don’t like change around here.

The route would take the cyclists up the highest mountain in the area, then back into the village, through the Bull Ring and back up the hill to the square from which they had set off.  Personally I thought that releasing the bulls into the Bull Ring could lead to a few cyclists beating their personal bests; but apparently it may also lead to fatalities.  It was decent run and I’m sure most of the cyclists will post about it this afternoon on Facebook.  Plenty of time for a leisurely coffee…or two before they reach the finish line (or arch).

We headed up to our preferred bar of choice for breakfast.  Actually it’s kind of becoming our preferred bar for everything.  They have an award on the wall proving that they have the best tapas in the area, we like the beer, they have all the sports channels on the TV and most importantly they have worked out how Karen likes her cup of tea (trying to get a cup of tea in this place is a blog in itself).  However, when we got in, our usual table (the nice one made from the old threshing machine) was taken.  Actually that sounds terrible doesn’t it.  I should explain that the threshing machine is a piece of wood  the size of a door with little stones in it that would have been dragged behind a horse to thresh wheat in ye olde days (or “La Oldo Daysa” as they say here.  You can see my Spanish is coming on in leaps and bounds).  They have put a glass top on it and it seats about 8 people.  We haven’t all been sat around a John Deere industrial thresher, although I’m sure some hipster in Shoreditch will try and open an industrial farm themed bar where you drink out of those teat things that they milk cows with whilst sat aloft a shabby chic tractor seat.  Anyway, back to the bar.

This influx of people meant that a group of supporters from Ayna (a local village about 10km away, but they could be from the other side of the world.  We went to Ayna the other day.  I will blog about that another time; but it may be a short one) were sat at our table.  With three quarters of the party being English, we tutted, and sat at another table. It seemed to be fashioned from wood, had 4 legs and a top.  Not sure what the artist was trying achieve but it wasn’t a patch on the threshing one.  We ate breakfast and It wasn’t too long before we heard some noise from the square as the first cyclists were returning, so we headed down.  The lot from Ayna left at exactly the same time.  Typical Aynans.

Over the course of the next 2 hours the 700 cyclists returned looking to be in varying degrees of knackerdness.  Now it’s traditional at the end of these sporting events that the athletes are rewarded with a drink and some sustenance.  I have run 5K’s where you have been rewarded with energy bars, chocolate bars and even a bacon buttie.  (I don’t know what you get for completing the West Lancs Triathlon.  Did I tell you that I was entering that?)  But with this being Spain, the riders were greeted with beer and tapas.  Which was fortunate, as it was just about time for our pre-lunch beer and tapas.

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