Sunday, 11 July 2010
Days 36 to 40
The first day with their panniers back, the team struggled on, weighed down by their great shackles of oppression. They miserably cycled in the 40 degree heat to Bobadilla, now only 4 days from completing their journey. Tony's help had given them a massive push towards reaching their 40 day target, and now the outlook was good. After spending the afternoon asleep under a tree, as the evening cooled down the team enjoyed a lush little run through the seemingly endless olive groves, towards the orange haze of the setting sun, camping under the trees with all but apparent abandon. They woke up and cycled on south for miles and miles to Villenueva del Trabuco, over the foothills of massive sierras, and 20% inclines, only to collapse in blissful exhaustion at having reached their destination. They stayed in the town to watch Spain beat Germany 1-0 (much to the team's satisfaction) as Puyol slotted one into the back of the old onion bag with a striking head from a perfectly placed corner kick. That night the team set up their tents in a vicious wind storm, all of their tents struggling to cope with the howling gale around them. Team member Tom awoke a number of times to find a tent pole pressed against his face by the wind, as the tent nearly crumbled around him.
They awoke after only two hours sleep. Team member James' matt had been hurled into the abyss whilst battling against the wind when erecting the tent, and he was forced to sleep on the bare rocky ground. The weary team again pushed south, almost able to taste the ocean air and the end of their great journey. They breakfasted in Villenueva Del Rosario, and climbed up the mountains towards the town of Mijas. The great and glamorous glittering golden mountains gregariously spotted with green olive groves glistened in the afternoon sun, however, the views were somewhat distorted by the sweat dripping into their eyes as they relentlessly battled through the heatwave. However, they did enjoy what were perhaps some of the greatest views that spain had to offer. Whislt the team precariously picked plump purple plums from the roadside trees, team member James was suffering greatly. After heaving from having another salami sandwich packed with superflous and frankly dangerous amounts of queso blanco, James was really feeling rather faint, nauseous as it were. He battled through though, like a right little trooper, his calves pumping like hydraulics on the arm of a JCB. The team unfortunately plunged into the depths of Malaga by accident, lost in a gritty industrial mess, having only to climb desperately out again and back into the mountains. But after a long and difficult day, the team powered into Mijas like four black-panted steam engines, and rewarded themselves with the 10 euro Menu del Dia which consisted of salmon or tuna salad to start followed by chicken kebabs or sea bream to follow, with a glass of red or white wine. The restaurant happened to be the local of the late great Leonard George Graham, spawner of half of Team Graham's members, a legend that lived in the hearts of the team. They spent the next day cycling from cemetary to cemetary looking for George's grave, but alas, given the fact that the receptions were all closed, could not find the stone. However, spending the day in the beautiful mountain town of Mijas brightened the team's spirits, and they rolled down to the coast with pride and courage, safe in the knowledge that they would soon be able to reach their destination within 40 days. Whilst in Mijas, the team were lucky enough to stumble across Phil and Andrew, who took them in into their welcoming and vibrant abode, where the team were finally able to enjoy the pleasure of a decent shower.
The team still had miles to kill however, and the clock was ticking. Ironically, the team had to front their fears, and rejoin the most dangerous stretch of the great N-340 to reach Gibraltar. The team gritted their teeth, and jumped onto the death road. After 20 terrified kilometres, the road spat the team out into what can only be described as hell - its horrendous nieghbour, the E-15 motorway. The team were forced to run across the hellish carrageway which involved great skill and cahones, to reach the safety of a motorway traffic supervisor, who advised them to take a turning off to part of the southern cost near Marbella, where the team set up camp and rested for the evening.
The next day began with a spritely dip in the Med, followed by a short sharp shocking stretch on the N-340, finally reaching the promised land of Gibraltar - land of roast dinners, monkeys, and cockney spaniards. As Gibraltar's infamous rock popped her head out of the horizon, the team's emotions ran wild. With heavy legs and happy hearts, they reached Winston Churchill avenue, with a 'Awight mate' from the local cozzer. The team could finally relax and lavishly relish in the knowledge that their tremendous feat had been overcome.