If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, everyone’s Mom, any time in history*.
I don’t really have much to report, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to attempt to be positive, or at least appreciative about all the stuff that has gone unsaid. Many people have told me I’m negative (I prefer ‘realist’ but I’ll accept cynical) so this is a minor attempt to redress the balance. One blog post v 32-ish years of speaking. That’ll work.
I was thinking today about how normal everything has started to feel, so I thought I’d take the time to attempt to notice all the good stuff:
Both Spain and Portugal have been amazingly good for cycling. Even better than I expected. Rural roads are almost entirely quiet and bowling-alley smooth. When they are busy there’s usually a big shoulder. Motorists are almost unanimously courteous, and probably half of them give cyclists the widest-possible berth (IE crossing to the other side of the road) and wait to pass if you’re going round a corner. England is way, way worse by comparison.
The scenery is much more varied than I anticipated too. Having been to Spain a bunch of times as a kid, I thought I had a handle on it, but it’s so verdant at this time of year. The jagged mountains contrast with the rolling agricultural areas but it’s all been vernal until I got up to Catalunya. I can believe that it’s the second most mountainous country in Europe; there are very few really easy days.
People I’ve met (via Warm Showers, but also random people I’ve had reason to attempt to communicate with) have all been warm, welcoming and helpful. The Spanish seem to be able to pull of quiet pride (not much flag-waving here), whilst maintaining their traditions and also being pretty open and modern, at least in the cities.
From reading this blog you’d probably get the impression it’s rained a lot, but I think I’ve only got rained on three or four times in the last two months. Apart from that it’s been gloriously sunny and I’m soaking it up whenever I can. Only in the last few days has it got above 30 degrees though, so it’s ideal for racking up miles.
Detail-wise, since Madrid I’ve been moving quite quickly between towns and cities, campsites and hosts’ houses, in the rough direction of Barcelona. I’ve succeeded in worrying less (I just need to sort out the farting now then) and enjoying more, and I’ve followed the Rules – a few beers with hosts, and no chocolate/ice-cream/biscuits/jam etc. Anyone into endurance sports will appreciate that this is far from the norm, and I have had to increase my bread and fat intake to compensate, but it’s working out pretty well I think. Without the ability to quickly and easily ingest 500 calories, I need to plan ahead a bit more and stop more often, but that’s no bad thing. I’m trying to find ways to eat less wheat though (a loaf of bread a day is bad enough, but pasta for dinner is pushing me over the edge). Any tips gratefully received!
Aaaaand that’s about it. The most unenjoyable post (to write, and hence probably to read) so far. That’s why I’m always moaning/ranting/criticising – it’s more fun. Normal service will return soon.