I usually get VERY excited when I get to leave work to go and play in mountains with my favorite folks. However, as my trip to Spain and Martin was approaching a couple of weeks ago, I just couldn’t seem to find that spark. I just felt depressed and apathetic. 1.5 weeks had passed since my surgery and I was still only able to walk short distances in a very slow pace while grunting angrily at anyone I met. At NUS, they had no clear idea of what was causing the pain – it could be a stress fracture in the making, or nerve damage or something completely different. In any case, there was nothing I could do about it but wait, rest, and hope that it would go away. Those who know me, knows that none of those things are included in my cup of tea.
I’m pretty good at handling challenges when all it takes is hard work from my side. I’m NOT good with challenges when I’m not in control. When that happens, I go bananas. Bananas and EXTREMELY egocentric. Even though I know there is nothing I can do, I can’t keep my mind from constantly grinding the shittyness of EVERYTHING. This time, the mantra going through my head was: IT HURTS! DAMN PAIN! I’M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO RIDE MY BIKE! SPAIN IS GOING TO BE SHIT! DAMN PAIN! DAMN LEG! DAMN YOU BODY! DAMN YOU WORLD! I CAN’T TAKE THIS I CAN’T TAKE THIS I CAN’T TAKE THIS OH LOOK AT THAT PERSON RUNNING, DAMN HIM! DAMN YOU! DAMN! Very constructive.
When I saw that the weather report for Granada promised 8°C and rain that of course added another verse to my sweet little song. If it hadn’t been for that canceling the trip would require effort, I actually think that I would have done it. But all I had energy to do was to dwell in self-pity, so I didn’t.
It must have been really awful to be around me during those two weeks. I apologize dear friends, I am ashamed.
But I must say that there is one good thing about falling down: when you manage to crawl up again, the light seems much brighter (that is, if your friends haven’t deserted you because of the pain you’ve caused to their asses). My leg did not miraculously get well in Monachil, we actually did have 8°C and rain some of the days, and both I and Martin got the stomach flue, but somehow I still managed to have the time of my life. That may of course also be because I, in spite of everything got to ride my bike 5 (!) days in fantastic mountains with fantastic people and drink wine and eat tapas and see goats. Perhaps that would give any person a smile as big as their face…
But I’m skipping ahead like crazy. It’s really not like me to sum up a whole week in five sentences, so let me start over:
The concept of the business is as far as I understand it a-whole-lot-of-bang-for-the-buck. Comparing the prices of Ride Sierra Nevada to prices elsewhere, it’s fairly obvious that Shaun and Csilla aren’t in the guiding business for the money. They are in it for their love of bikes and for riding those bikes in proper mountains.
I also think that they are in it for their love of good food, good wine and the sweet gentle life in Monachil.
Monachil is a small mountain town/village some 10 km from Granada. It has a very high ratio of bars to people, cute houses clinging to the mountain sides, caves (in which people actually live) inside those mountain sides, oldsters with canes, dogs, cats and goats.
And mountains of course.
Ah, those brilliant mountains. I’m so sincerely thankful that I got to ride them.
But I’ skipping ahead again, sorry.
Back to a grumpy hen arriving in Monachil one late Saturday evening in November. The news that Martin had arranged so that we could join in on the Sunday ride didn’t impress me much. My leg hurt like hell after the flight and I felt weak as a cracker (still stuck in the well). I just wanted to drink beer, moan and sleep.
But I’ve never been able to say no to Martin, and I have rarely regretted saying yes. I didn’t this time either (partly because I also got to sleep 9.5 hours and drink substantial amounts of beer).
On our first descent the next morning, I felt all stiff and disconnected from my bike. The pain in my leg and my fear of falling on it kept dragging me down into the sink hole. But (of course, the but!), as the day progressed, the beauty of the landscape in combination with the extremely cheerful group of people I was riding with, and the fact that I had to use all my mental focus on getting down the trails made me totally forget to be grumpy and even loosen up a bit on my bike.
By the end of the day, the skin on my legs and arms was covered with bruises from the surprisingly thorny trees on the side of the trail, and my body was a wreck, but I felt happy as a bumble bee. I had finally managed to get out of the sink hole. Now, I just had to deal with my normal level of grumpiness 🙂
The next day, my body was screaming for a rest, but I was out of the well, the sun was shining, the mountains were waiting, and Martin promised a “short and easy” tour. I really should know that when Martin says “short and easy”, it means hard as hell for me. But as you should know by now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and I consequently followed him uphill like my mother’s champagne colored poodle named Roxy Endive (don’t ask) follows her. Only with slightly less energy.
After 1 hour of climbing, my butt was starting to feel pretty sore and I had a slight need to throw up. At that time, we had climbed about 1/4 of where we were going… But not even the pain in my ass and stomach or the sweat dripping in my eyes, could prevent me from going nuts over the beauty of the landscape. Solid insanity.
I really can’t say that my riding skills were prime as we started the descent, I mostly clung to my handlebars the best I could as I floated over rivers of mountain dust. But as we reached the final rocky descent from the ridge I all of a sudden found my flow, and my speed. Perhaps it was that insane beauty, or maybe it was Martins skids and wheelies that made me forget my fatigue, my stomach ache and my need to ride slow and steady, I don’t know. All I know is that from there onwards, I laughed all the way down to Monachil.