It is always great to start a long ride with a serous downhill. From our hotel down to the village below was 5.5 km of smooth tarmac with wide sweeping bends. Because I was riding with Maree I didn't fang down but some of the others did. At this stage the weather was cool but dry and the forecast suggested less than 10% chance of rain before 1pm. Our first stop was 36km in a westerly direction away from the Spanish border. Just before we arrived there a light drizzle started but we were confident that it could not last. How wrong we were!
Riding out from the first stop the drizzle became heavier, luckily I was able to flag down our support vehicle to retrieve my waterproof jacket. It actually kept the rain out for about 20 minutes, after which I became progressively wetter as the rain strengthened. Jose had promised us quiet, relatively flat roads and up till about midday this proved to be correct. However, approaching our lunch stop, we were stopped at a road block to allow some beach buggy type cars, clearly racing, to pass by. By this time we were being passed by many cars coming from both directions. Hardly the quiet road we had been promised. Approaching our lunch spot with the rain getting heavier we came across a great mass of parked cars and spectators observing a rally cross type event. That explained the number of cars. Lunch was in a cafeteria with a very limited supply of food. It was meant to be in the middle of nowhere but it was surrounded by spectators.
Up to now the route had been fairly flat with some undulations. It was by no means boring with a sinuously winding road passing through a variety of landscapes. Now however we started to get bumpier with short steepish climbs followed by slightly longer descents - we were overall descending from 400m to at finish at 100m. The rain became quite steady - the soaking kind which rely wets you. Maree was coping well and her waterproof was working well keeping her perspiration inside. I was by now thoroughly wet and starting to get cold - the promised 18 degrees never eventuated. We had another stop scheduled st 88 km where I was so cold that I had started shivering. Three of the US riders pulled out at this point but both Maree and Gina continued along with no sign of flagging. By the time we reached the 99km checkpoint the rain had eased and we were all keen to finish the ride. Since I had the route on my GPS Maree and I set off to get to the hotel as soon as we could. We had two big climbs to go but we passed them fairly easily and finally descended to the turn off to the hotel which I almost missed. One final short climb where I challenged Maree and saw her leave me for dead brought us to our hotel at about 5 pm ( our latest finish)
Bruce and I are both immensely proud of Maree and Gina for completing the whole 117 km ride. They had both been concerned that they might run out if battery pier or simply run out of legs. Neither happened and both finished with exhausted smiles on their faces. Maree only used the battery when she was going uphill and then only the minimum necessary thus conserving power to complete the trip.Well done!!!
Once in our room we had showers and washed our kit. Including stuff which had not dried the night before and the wet jackets and shoes our room looks like a Chinese laundry. Let's hope everything dries by tomorrow. We will have an extra hour for this to happen because tonight daylight savings time ends in Europe. We will have an extra hour of sleep.