Day 2 was to be one of the more memorable days of the whole ride. After a leisurely breakfast and having spent some time molly coddling their bicycles, all five riders emerged from the underground hotel car park and left Estella heading for their next nights stop at Isaba. The Support Crew followed behind, though they quickly took the lead, in the trusty Espace and headed off to find an appropriate hotel and book some rooms. So far, so good. But don’t worry, true to form, the Recce Crew did the inevitable. Now, before you read on, just take some time to think about what the Recce Crew exist for. Their main role is to map out suitable practice routes for the Paris to Hayling Cycle Ride. They also map out and produce the route notes for the main ride in France. In addition, they are constantly reviewing the Channel to Channel Bike ride route for possible improvements. Taking all into consideration, it would not be unrealistic to expect the Recce Crew to read maps, follow map routes and know when things are not quite right. Well, read on and you can pass your own judgment on that one.
The day was glorious. Clouds in the sky were just a distant memory. A high of 30c was expected. The bikes were shiny and gleaming in all their glory. All riders had enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Podge had taken his daily vitamin quota. The day was set to be perfect. Shortly after leaving Estella, they were supposed to turn left onto the N_111 for about a mile and then turn right onto the NA_132. This road would then take them along a fairly flat route (wind behind them) south of Pamplona into the foothills of the Pyrenees. What they actually did was go straight over the N_111 and onto the NA_122. Having realised this they consulted the map and espied a ‘shortcut’ through the plains, over a river that would then join the NA_132 after just two miles. No problem. So, the junction arrived, they turned down the track (rough concrete ‘road’) having checked with a local ‘peasant(!)’ that it was the correct route. After just half a mile, the track became a rough rock / gravel track with ruts and pot holes. Then came a crossroads. Hmm, which track to take. Well, the track straight ahead, being the bigger, was the most obvious choice and so it was followed. Oh cripes, now there’s a Y junction. They go left; there’s another Y junction: they go right (quarry on the left): There’s a ‘T’ junction (track getting worse); they go right then left at the next one. And so it continued for two hours, never seeing a road, passing many vineyards and sighting the occasional quarry truck on the horizon. They went through a small settlement that had obviously obviously been deserted before Noah built the ark. All that was seen was vineyards, fields, vineyards, quarries, and did I mention vineyards. All those vineyards but no wine. Anyway, eventually the espied a Signor who was tending his vineyard. Maggie jumped off her bike, shirt significantly unzipped due to the heat, and ran toward him crying “Signor, help; Signor, help”. Podge, being the map monitor jumped of his bike and chased behind. The signor saw all this and immediately assumed that Podge had evil intention on Maggie and ran to defend her. Maggie spotted the misunderstanding and slowed down so that the signor could be reassured that all was not what it seemed before Podge got skewered by some strange Spanish farming implement. Eventually they managed to convey their predicament which seemed to amuse the signor. He advised that they should follow the same track they were on for about nine kilometers after which they should hit a road. This they did and, after three hours in no mans land, came upon a road (the NA_6110). They turned onto it and headed south for Lerin to get some lunch and work out the best route back to the original route. In the end, it worked out that they had traveled about ten actual miles in four hours and had another four miles to get back onto the route. Oh, did I mention, half way across no mans land, Podge, who by then was just a little bit tetchy, got a puncture. In his own inimitable manner, he took the incident well, had a strop and a sulk and fixed it. In the meantime Marko, Hobbit and Reg the Hedge stayed well out of the way for fear of having a Colnago inserted. Still, they’re all friends again now.
Anyway, onwards they continued, through the hot sun, turning left at some lakes where all but Podge spotted the topless sun worshippers. The sun was so hot in fact that the roads were becoming soft and making pedalling extremely difficult. Just what was required after the vineyard expedition. Not long after this the riders received a call from the girlies letting them know that the rode had been dug up near Domeño and, where trenches across the road and filled with new soft tar, there was a chance of falling off. The riders would therefore need to take care. Sure enough, as they approached Domeño the road works were duly
Eventually, the intrepid (infamous) five make their way towards Urzainqui. There were however a couple more problems awaiting them. First of all, there was a wee bit of a climb or two as they continued towards them there mountains. After a particularly long stiff climb, they came to a magnificent vantage point overlooking El Rio Salavar with, allegedly, Eagles, Buzzards and Vultures circling. Podge however, though just looked like big pigeons. Photos taken ( Great overhanging vantage point ), water drank, flapjacks eaten, energy gel consumed, ventolin inhaled, the riders set off once more. After arriving at a place called Navascues, they then had to encounter two miles where the whole road had been dug up and was in the process of being prepared for remaking. Just what they needed after this morning escapade in the vineyards. To make it worse, the road was going forever uphill (to a peak of 950 meters) before a fantastic and welcome drop down to Burgui. From Burgui, the final run was flat along side mountain stream until reaching Urzainqui @ 21:15. The remainder of the evening was superb – very rustic, full of Spanish walkers having a great time and making lots of noise (in Spanish, of course). Strange meal! Vegetable pudding, with Heinz tomato soup sauce, followed by meatballs. Breakfast: choc. biscuits (hard) bread and choc. drink, tea or coffee. The whole lot: bed, evening meal and breakfast for 7 €160! (Mind you, Mummi D & Aunti G Had to make up the bunk beds and mop the bathroom floor.)