Day 14 – On top of the world

The day began early with a drive to the start point. Packing the van has become something of an art form with each of the 20 something bags having its own place. Everyone has sat in the same seat throughout in what would make an interesting social experiment.

The drive was through the mountainous coastal region of Southern Spain and we Sat in silence absorbing the views and the atmosphere.

We played music as we travelled, some of our favourite songs.

Heather Small ‘Proud’ was the crowning moment and most looked out of the windows of the bus reflecting in the past 2 weeks.

We arrived at our start point and disembarked Today would be slightly different in that the next meeting will be with the bus before we ventured over the border and into Gibraltar.

A beautiful 20 mile ride ensued with 2 fabulous climbs. A great warm up for what was to come.

It wasn’t long before we met the van 5k from the border where passports were collected and final arrangements agreed.

We had been warned how difficult it was to enter Gibraltar from the Spanish side with Long delays at passport control. We have allowed two hours before our meeting with the mayor at 1 PM

As we cycled we crested a small rise in the road and there in front of us we could see our final destination.

We soon approached the line of traffic that was preparing to cross the border at this point we realised we may have a problem as the queue seem to be endless. The van passed and joined the back of the queue whilst we cycled weaving through traffic to get to the control point.

We crossed with ease and were soon crossing the famous runway before the main city. The atmosphere was electric a bustling community so very different to that that we experienced over the last few days. We found a cafe and ordered coffee whilst we waited for the bus to cross the border.

It was clear at this point that the bus was not going to make the meeting point with the mayor. Mike and Barry were dispatched to collect the mayoral gifts from the bus.

They returned with the gifts we knew that the bus was still someway short of border control and with heavy hearts we set about walking with our bikes along the main street towards City Hall.

The main street was not unlike any that you would see in a UK city with a familiar blend of shops and people and even Bobbies patrolling the streets. The main difference probably be the 30° heat.

We approached the end of the Main Street and Turned right into the city Hall Square. What immediately hit us was the roped off area with severalhundred seats and the large podium. A film crew waved at us as we approached.

I think it’s fair to say at this point that we were all slightly shocked and The group looked at each other in disbelief. Not only was their a reception committee of journalists and the mayors assistant but there parked right outside City Hall was the bus with Bob already inside the building having refreshments.

The next 30 minutes was something of a blur interviews and photographs presentations to the mayor and presentations to us. They had really pushed the boat out and made us feel so welcome.

It transpired that the podium and the large seating area was not for us but for the Queen’s birthday parade later that afternoon. This was huge relief as I didn’t have enough detail to pad out speech of more than five minutes!

Formalities over we sort permissions to cycle to the top of the rock. permission was granted with a smile and a shake of the head.

We headed to the top in small groups enjoying the views and taking photos along the way.

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We were cheered by taxi drivers and members of the public alike. Tourists looked on in disbelief as we passed them on our way to the top. Many shouted encouragement as we went as some even shouted muppet!

We rounded the final climb to the highest point exhausted and exhilarated.

No one could take this moment away from us we were on top of the world.

Photos taken we left the rock and headed back to the border. We cycled in a sea of vehicles, mopeds and bikes towards the boarder. We soon realised that we would need our passport to leave Gibraltar unfortunately all our passports were on the bus which had already crossed!

As we approached at speed we noticed that the one lane with mopeds and cyclist were slowing and showing ID badges. We decided to go for it all waving as we reached the control point not stopping or even slowing. They just stood and watched as 8 muppets flew passed and over the border back into Spain!

We have all been touched by the messages of support over the last 2 weeks it has meant so much to us.

From all of us A heart felt thank you.

Day 13 – Hold on Toto Kansas is this way……..

Finally mother nature gave us a break! There had been thunder in the night but we awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the outskirts of Sevilla. I suspected thunder but it could have been the grown man sleeping in the children’s bunk above me.

Spirits were high as we left the hotel possibly because of the meal last night (2 main courses each and a magnum) or possible because this was our last full day of cycling.

We finally persuaded ‘G’ man to leave the Death Star (Team sky reference) and headed on our way.

We passed through the outskirts of Seville, beautiful avenues of lavender trees (confirmation required) All full of Parakeets making a most unusual chorus.

With a light tale wind we made our way into the stunning countryside outside Seville heading for the village of Lebrija it was something of a surprise when we realised we had been cruising effortlessly at over 20mph.

We’ve seen some beautiful scenery over the past 2 weeks and the views across the plaines rivalled any we have seen.

Coffee in town was a welcome break and we sat in the shade enjoying the sights and sounds.

Leaving Lebrija we headed into Sherry county and the town of Jerez. It’s hard to describe but this felt like real Spain with cobbled streets and Sherry barrels on every corner.

The town was a real treat and many made plans to return in the future.

We left Jerez and headed for a late

lunch.

The post lunch ride should have been a gentle 20 mile ride towards Medina but when the town was spotted high on the hill above us the van was ignored and the Hill climb began.

Richard and Barry in a break away led the charge for the Hill top finish with Barry easily the victor.

And so the last long ride of the challenge came to an end with a beer in the local hostel.

Tomorrow we head to Gibraltar and a meeting with the mayor. Showers for everyone tonight!

Till tomorrow

Day 12 – When the wind Blows

Another day another Euro…😁

After getting out of town we head south towards Seville – for another planned 105 mile day.

The weather was a little cooler this morning which made for a pleasant paced ride out of town…..that was until:

4 miles out, one of the team pulled up and was shall we a little sick (must have been the fast pace after breakfast)…😁,

Then the chain broke on one of the other bikes which finished off their ride for about half the distance….

We climbed passed a stunning castle on a hill top.

We passed a backwards runner on one long climb, slightly disconcerting!

Do you know,it shows the camaraderie of the people that ride in this group…no-one gets left behind…1 stayed which allowed the remainder of the group to ride on…one other returned with the van, pick up and then play chase to catch-up the group some 12 miles down the road….

Our experiences in France and Spain for bike repairs have been tremendous…drop in and pretty much same day repair – in the UK it’s more like manyana…or…. tomorrow.. superb service received all round…

Today has also been a day of pain in the form of blisters…in places where no blister should ever be found – buts that’s a story for another day…

The wind today has been challenging to say the least. The team worked tirelessly to keep a steady progress. The reward a chicken in a ……….. pot!

Tomorrow we leave Seville for our last big riding day – I think it will be emotional…😁

Day 11 – Plaines, chains and height gains.

Malgon to Montorro

Picture the scene a hacienda in the middle of nowhere , 9 cowboys!!!!! 8 of which have bikes all parked up in the court yard learning their “Stallions” against the drinking trough. No Chaps in sight but a shed load of Lycra. The day started with an unusual twist, as breakfast wasn’t available we bought some rations last night and just after midnight Neil gets up to prep brekkie . Huge success thank you.

We left Malagon and rode at a blistering pace. Today was hopefully about good roads, high mileage , and…………. massive hills/ mountain ranges

The pace was relentless with a cross wind that was more head on. We made lunch time at 2:30 having covered 70 miles ( wow what a great achievement , to get that Mileage under our belts by lunch was great)

After lunch we thought we only had 40 miles and one more hill but hill one turned into 4😩 .

We wrapped up the day well and completed 110 miles with our causality list amounting to a broken chain and a broken spoke.

The guys have done a Stirling job, all in aid of four great causes. The end is getting closer. Keep on rolling.

Day 10 – the Rain in Spain…..

So we start the day by saying farewell to one of our navigators known as Mr White, Barry Williams senior returns to the Uk after successfully getting us down to Madrid, the team would like to say Diolch yn Fawr Mr White for your services

A true gentleman and part of the team.

We head south out of Madrid via the bus due to very bad weather again, circumnavigating the storms, eventually getting the bikes out and cracking on with the ride.

Approximately 20 miles in we meet the bus, only to find two police officers in attendance, transpires the bus has collided with an unmarked police vehicle !!!! So after the formalities of reporting it, a gesture token of one of our

pendants was handed over and we head off.

Driver change over to ease fatigue was the order of the day and the team cracked on, very quickly the weather brightens up and the bus stops short to allow the team to apply suncream, Ten miles on and it’s time for lunch in a local bar/cafe, we are told it’s Monday so places are closed but we manage lunch then the weather closed in again, with fatigue setting in, team decision to call it a day and head to the accommodation was decided.

Upon arrival it’s clear Monday is not a good day, restaurant closed, also appears Tuesday is also not a good day as restaurant is closed for breakfast!!!! The pool is closed as it’s too cold !!!! We are sweating profusely, we just don’t understand the rules.

Tomorrow we ride again with better weather forecast. Standby for the alternative day that is not planned. Life is good.

Day 9 – eat, sleep……….

And so it begins again – eat, sleep, cycle repeat…a 7 am start, empty the van, a little breakfast and at 8am we start with a 110 mile day planned ahead….and what a day…the weather was hot as was the pace……

We leave Ariza and head South towards Madrid. Today we started on the main “A” roads only to be escorted off by the local Malicia (traffic police)….as it was deemed inappropriate to cycle on – apparently some dual carriageways are not meant for bikes….so onto the side roads it was. These led into a beautiful valley with vultures perched on the cliff top watching – probably thinking early lunch, looking at us thinking which one will drop 1st…

From the previous day we had noted that some side roads were better than others and today was no different – very bumpy or not rideable in part would a polite way of describing them. Such roads can tend to cause a little damage to the bikes and needless to say that the riders experienced 2 punctures and a broken spoke all within 200 yards…followed by the loss of a tyre at the next stop. Onwards further South and making great use of google maps superb location sharing we managed to meet at most agreed waypoints…with no real hiccups.

Riding South the roads just got better with rolling hills, huge climbs and superb fast descents which the team seemed to enjoy for some strange reason 😁..

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Tomorrow we continue heading South on our journey to Gibraltar. As we get near to the end of our challenge we are all thinking of the amount of money raised through sponsorship by all the very generous donations made by family, friends and various businesses – so many thanks to everyone…

We also acknowledge the support received from our families and friends in our preparation and training and the things which they give up to help us do these things – so again thank you to one and all…

Catch you tomorrow….