As reported by Adam R:
I was clipped in and champing at the bit to get going. My first Waldy tour and after months of waiting, we were finally there.
The committee had outdone themselves. Everything was seamlessly organised. Smooth transfers, hire bikes ready and (with a few adjustments) waiting for us, and an excellent hotel. The Syncrosfera, a dedicated cycling hotel on the Spanish coast, came complete with hypoxic rooms to simulate altitude, its own fitness lab and bike garage. We mere mortals all felt like pros. So much in fact that the road World Champion, Remco Evenepoel was staying there preparing for the Giro, casually wandering through the lobby as we arrived, his immaculate bikes hanging on the wall in the garage.
A gang of pink Waldys all hung around the car park, making final tweaks and putting on sun cream. In their midst was Guy in the “coveted” yellow Tour jersey. He’d been late to the pick-up in Teddington and as the last one to arrive he’d earned the wooden spoon of the trip. The jersey would be passed around, never washed, following breaches of the tour rules.
Drone shots taken, maps loaded, we hit the road at last. We span across the flats, through sleepy towns and endless groves of orange trees, heading west towards the mountains. The scenery swept by, but for the first hour or so, something had felt off, different. After 20kms, it clicked. I was relaxed. No potholes, no freezing wind, no constant listening behind for cars following too closely. It was just us and the road, in all its twisting, buttery smooth glory.
The top of a rise, a hard left turn, and we began our first proper climb. The road snaked upwards in a series of glorious European switchbacks, first through pine forests and then up onto the rocky upper slopes. In usual Waldy style, the group split up on the climb, everyone taking it at their own pace. After a few minutes of exuberance, I decided that keeping up with Fred and Dave was going to be too much, and dropped off the back and enjoyed the climb and the views.
Regrouped at the top, photos taken, we turned to the real business of the day; descending. It didn’t disappoint. The road sped downwards in a series of long, sweeping bends. Open corners so clear of traffic that we floated from edge to apex and back again, hurtling downwards. In no time we arrived at the bottom, elated and grinning from ear to ear, ready for our first stop in Val d’Ebo. Time for a coffee. Hola. You’ve just opened? How obliging, señor. A round of espressos please. And a chilled water tap too? I could get used to these Spaniards.
As we rode onwards over rolling hills and past scorched forests, the temperature steadily climbed. Coming from single digit England to high twenties Spain was a shock. We limped on, climbing ever upwards, the sun beating down. Some daring souls decided to stop for cocktails. Others were waylaid by not one but two punctures. All felt the heat, but we kept pedalling, sure that lunch was just around the next corner. After too many corners we all flopped, frazzled, into our lunch restaurant, where another group of lovely Spaniards took our bikes and spread drinks and spaghetti in front of us until we began to feel human again.
After the mornings hard pull, the afternoon turned out to be one 20km long downhill. Villages flew past us, cliffs rose and fell on both sides as we sped ever downwards, the road pulling us on. I wondered if there was anything better in life. We streamed into Orba, descended on an expat English bar, and casually ordered 40 beers. This caused some grumbling (it was siesta time), but they soon warmed up after a bit of Waldy friendliness. We gutted out the last stretch homewards, and sprinted up the final rise to the hotel driveway (Dave won).
A stretch and a shower later, we all sat on the hotel terrace. Drinks in hand and kilometres in the legs, we sat back, gazed at the mountains and dissected the day and our Strava feeds. Two more days of this? Oh go on then 😁.