November in Sweden is pretty dreary. November in Umeå is this:
On a good day… On a bad day, the rain (or ice or a mixture of the two) is coming at you horizontally. When I got back from Spain, there was actually a thin layer of snow on the ground. But then it started to rain. Horizontally. For about two weeks. No, getting out of bed in the morning is not my favorite activity at the moment. It feels like being forced to wake up at 4 am to do the morning shift, only that when I’m done for the day, I don’t get to walk home in the mid-day sun. Even if I was to finish by mid-day. Today, the sun rose at 08.49 am, and set again at 2.05 pm. They say that northerners are a bit introvert. Go figure.
I miss Monachil. Of course I do. Like crazy. Martin got back a few days ago. I wish it was me going back instead. That would have been a much better solution I think. For some reason, the thought of riding my bike into the sunset at 6 pm in Monachil is much more appealing than the thought of riding my bike home from work in complete darkness (and horizontal rain).
On the Scots’ last day, the sun finally dared to come out and play.
Shaun and Csilla celebrated by giving us the ride of our lives, and with a bit of a challenge. We started off with the Pink slip, or if it should be Freudian slip, or perhaps the Romantics, no one seems to know. In any case, the trail is heavenly beautiful, and difficult as hell. At least the first part. The first part of the Freudian slip consists of a very large number of switchbacks. On very loose soil. I was kind of starting to think that I was really beginning to get a hang of switchbacks. Wrong. That I had finally gotten some cornering skills. Wrong. I may have become slightly better at going down gentle turns, but when it comes to the real thing, I still suck.
I didn’t mind so much though. I did get a lot of practice after all :). The photo above just shows (if you look really really close) that first switchbacky part of the Freudian slip, but the trail continues all the way down to the small town Guejar Sierra. In riding terms, that means that you’ve done about half when you get down from the switchbacks. And the half that you have left is all fun and games: a perfect mix of steep and technical on the one hand and fast and flowy on the other.
After having ridden down the pink slip, we had the traditional break at Casa Pepe. This time, I had a large tostada with lots of oil. No more ogres. Then we packed our bikes and ourselves into the van and headed up the mountain. Far up the mountain. Really far. I actually think we got as high as you can with a car on that road.
I have no idea how high up we were, all I know is that we at the end of our climb reached the snow line. It was beautiful. And cold.
We turned around on the border to the national park. At that point, we had about 1 hour of more or less all downhill back to Guejar Sierra behind us: the full Mondraker. We turned around. And then we rode our bikes. With huges grins on our faces.
The lower half of the trail is probably going to be part of an enduro race that will take place next year. I want to go! And I hope that I manage to stay on my bike if I do. This time I did, but I was very close not to. I don’t know how many times I was on the verge of speeding into oblivion or going over my handle bars. It was fantastic and I loved every bit of it.
When we got down to Granada, I was completely exhausted and the smile of my face was as big as my ego. It was a VERY good day. And it definitely deserved a celebration. I think we did it right.
And then, the Scots left. I haven’t said much about them (there were actually two Brits in the group as well, but I’m just going to treat them all like Scots anyway. I like Scots. No reason why, I just do), and I wont now either. I’m just going to say that I really liked riding, drinking and gibberishing with them, and leave it at that. Hope to see you all real soon!
With the departure of the proper guests leaving, I and Martin was left alone in the house. Sunday greeted us with clear skies and therefore a promise of epic adventures to be had. We set out to do a final great adventure. We just had to pass by Shaun and Csilla first to have lunch.
It turned out that the lunch was way to pleasant to leave early. We got completely caught up in cracking almonds, looking at the view, and cute cats, and chatting about everything and nothing.
In the end, we never did the epic tour, but it was pretty epic anyway.
It felt utterly and completely awful to leave the next morning. I wanted nothing else but to stay. I can’t wait until next year. Because I’m definitely going back. Sooner rather than later.
A huge thanks to Ride Sierra Nevada for, well everything! And to Martin of course, and to all the folks I had the privilege to meet and hang out and ride with while in Monachil. I came down as an extremely grumpy, and quite frankly depressed, hen. When I left, I was admittedly a bit grumpy still, because I really didn’t want to leave, but I also had a huge grin on my face. I owe you, and the mountains big time for that.
Now I’m back in the dark. My leg is still giving me a bit of hell, there is no snow and I work a whole lot more than I would wish for. But I’m not depressed anymore. Against all odds, I had my adventure, I was able to ride my bike and I know that I will be able to do so in the future too. And today, I even saw the sun. And I did it while sitting on my saddle.