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Cyclists complete Pamplona to Gibraltar charity challenge

Photos thanks to Pamplona to Gibraltar team

A journey of 1,160km came to an end on Saturday morning as six cyclists who, pedalling their way from Pamplona to Gibraltar, rode into Casemates to fanfare, whistles, and hugs.

The group, comprised of Jimmy Alcantara, Ian Howes, Tony Yusifredo, Peter Ignacio, Brian Finlayson and Glen Ballantine and their support crew, Royden Carroll and Albert Buhagiar, did it all to raise funds and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar and Prostate Cancer Gibraltar.

Derek Ghio from Prostate Cancer and Louis Baldachino from Pancreatic Cancer were there to greet the men, as were cycling fan and the Minister for Transport, Paul Balban, the Minister for Culture, Dr John Cortes, and Mayor of Gibraltar, Christian Santos.

To their surprise, the team were presented with a medal commemorating their achievement.

“On approaching Casemates Gates, as we could hear the whistles and trumpets, internal emotions came alight,” said a spokesperson for the group.

“Such an emotion seeing our family, friends, colleagues and supporters there to welcome us back.”

“It was just unbelievable and beyond our wildest thoughts.”

“We are extremely grateful.”

“We must thank Louis Baldachino, from Pancreatic Cancer Gibraltar, and Derek Ghio, from Prostate Cancer Gibraltar, and their respective teams for our welcoming party.”

“We must thank our families, especially our partners, who have supported us wholeheartedly. It was great to see you again.”

“To each and every one who came down to Casemates, to those who have donated, to those who have sent us encouragement and to our main sponsors once again,” they added.

Last week, we published an article on the first four days of their challenge. Below is the remainder of their journey.

Day five took the riders from La Solana to Andujar a total of 154km, with a 1080m climb.

The team spokesperson described this day as their toughest day, not only physically but mentally, “as our planned route turned out to be more complicated than we bargained for.”

“After an initial slight confusion as to our location to stop, we continued towards Andujar. That’s where our problems began.”

“Planning a cycling route on Strava [an app used by cyclists and other athletes] is not like you would on your car sat nav or google maps for example.”

“Roads that might appear suitable for bicycles later turn out not to be as they seem and so it happened today.”

“The route took us on marked regional roads basically parallel to the Autovia Del Sur as it winds its way from Castilla La Mancha and into Andalucia via the famous Despeñaperros pass.”

“However, what seemed on maps like good roads, turned out to be dirt tracks and very poor-quality tarmac roads, along which any road cyclist would never consider using.”

Knowing that cyclists are allowed on the Autovia, they tried that but soon realised that the heavy truck traffic on the road made it too dangerous.

“In consultation with the rest of the team we identified a way forward.”

“After many kilometres of tough bumpy roads, with our support team identifying the road ahead as we progressed, we finally felt very relieved to reach our night stop,” they added.

Day six took them from Andujar to Puente Genil a total of 120km, with a 1282m climb.

The day started with a mechanical problem on one of their bikes which turned out to be a bearing issue in the bottom bracket.

“Not surprising considering the beating our bikes received yesterday, riding off road for miles on end. This was fixed at a bike shop at Andujar,” the spokesperson said.

“After riding for a few kilometres, we realised soon after that something was amiss on this bike as the electronic gear’s battery appeared drained, which meant that this rider couldn’t change his chainring.”

“Whilst having lunch, our usual ham and cheese rolls at one of the venta car parks at Espera, the owner kindly allowed us to plug in the bike’s electronic system battery, only to realise a few kilometres down the road that something must have been mis-adjusted whilst repairing the bearing as the bicycle’s electronic gear shift would not engage the larger chainring, so the whole route was done just on the smaller gear.”

“Not the most comfortable situation to ride in, bearing in mind the hills to come, but there was no other alternative but to continue.”

After riding along mile after mile of olive groves in calm winds, upon entering the Province of Cordoba the wind direction and speed changed.

The riders had now to contend with a strong headwind for the later part of the stage, arriving safely at Puente Genil.

Day seven took them from Puente Genil to Ronda a total of 109km, with a 1282m climb.

“We knew of the heavy rains in Gibraltar early in the day and, as we made our way southwest, we could see the dark rainy clouds lingering on la Serrania de Ronda mountain range,” said the spokesperson.

“The support team in the advance vehicle advised us of rain ahead and the storm finally got us some 20km from Ronda.”

“It came down so with a vengeance, as strong winds and thunder accompanied the downpour.”

“The temperature also dropped several degrees in a matter of minutes and we were soon cold and wet throughout.”

“Gladly we could see Ronda on the horizon.”

Day eight took them from Ronda to Jimena a total of 60km, with a 1003m climb.

The 60km meant the riders called it a “short hop” as they made their way to Jimena de la Frontera.

“The forecast was for rain in this area as from mid-morning, so we set off early in order to avoid it.”

“In the end, it proved to be a bright day with blue skies most of the way with no adversity encountered, for once,” said the spokesperson.

“Riding to the Casa Rural where we would be staying overnight was a challenge in itself. We knew it was located within this hilly town but riding up those cobblestone surface roads with a 15 % gradient wasn’t fun.”

“The sight of our Toyota land cruiser support vehicle parked outside the house was a welcome sight,” they added.

Day nine, the final day, the riders were making their way from Jimena to Gibraltar, a total of 46.55km, with a 205m climb.

“Team were quite excited to be able to get back to Gibraltar and arrive at Casemates Square to see loved ones,” said the spokesperson.

“We started nice and early and rode a few kilometres to one of our regular breakfast cafeterias in Jimena [in Los Angeles] where we were joined by a group of Gibraltar cyclists that made their way there to accompany us back home.”

“We picked another large group near Castellar so, by the time we were near Gibraltar, the group was of well over 20.”

“It was a very social ride without breaking any speed limits, our colleagues wanting to know our experiences of the challenge.”

“It was great to touch base and share it with them.”

To donate online visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/pamplonatogibraltar

Alternatively, donate via the Gibraltar International Bank:
Account Number: 20012340
Sort Code: 60-83-14

Photos thanks to Pamplona to Gibraltar team

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