Halfway point for Pamplona to Gibraltar cyclists
The six cyclists who are pedalling their way from Pamplona to Gibraltar are nearly halfway through their 1,160km challenge as they continue to raise funds and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar and Prostate Cancer Gibraltar.
The group comprise of Jimmy Alcantara, Ian Howes, Tony Yusifredo, Peter Ignacio, Brian Finlayson and Glen Ballantine, and their support crew Royden Carroll and Albert Buhagiar.
Day one took them from Pamplona to Bureta, a total of 145km, with a 1125m climb.
“First day of our Pamplona to Gib ride and it turned out to be more eventful than expected,” said a spokesperson for the challenge.
“Day started cold and wet in Pamplona with a light drizzle and around 5 degrees! Three members of the top management of the Clinic de Universidad de Pamplona were at the clinics entrance to wish us well and send us on the way.”
“Unbelievably, they thought we were some kind of heroes for what we were doing when the truth is that through their work countless lives have been extended and indeed saved,” they added.
The drama for the day started when, at 120km, their navigation sent them towards a long gravel path which their road bikes are not suited for. An alternative took them towards Zaragoza, where bicycles are not allowed.
Eventually they had to take another gravel road which they said was probably worse than the first one and added an extra 15km onto their day.
Day two took them from Bureta to Molina de Aragon, a total of 160km, with a 1928m climb.
“Some 75km into the ride, the days climbs started coming thick and fast with two longer climbs in particular a 6km climb to Puerto de la Paniza and an 11km climb to Puerto de Santed, which took us onto the central plateau in Spain in Castilla la Mancha which levels off at around 1100m above sea level,” said the spokesperson.
“Once we reached the plateau we were met with endlessly long and arrow straight roads. This was somewhat mind-numbing as the scenery around was equally flat and featureless. They call this ‘la España vacia’ (empty Spain) - a well earned name with several virtually empty towns or villages along the way and not a soul, or a car in sight.”
“Eventually once we left this area we again had a few more shorter climbs with following fast downhills all the way to our final stop of the day at Molina de Aragon,” they added.
Day three of the challenge had the cyclists leave Molina de Aragon for Carrascosa del Campo, a total of 159km with a 1750m climb.
This day was a successful riding with a nice surprise thrown in.
“Whilst on route we met our support team for lunch in Millana, a very small town in Castilla la Mancha, and once more they had prepared an excellent spread to keep us going,” said the spokesperson.
“Our support vehicle was stopped in a rural cul de sac road and whilst having lunch one of the villages asked us whether we needed assistance.”
“On conversing with him and telling him what our challenge was, he disclosed that he had issues with his prostate which required medical intervention, he was so appreciative of what we were doing that he invited us to a paella lunch the mayoress had organised for the 100 or so inhabitants.”
“Unfortunately we had to decline.”
The team praise their support crew immensely.
“Their role is vital and we are always looking forward to meeting up with them along the way for drinks, gels and whatever is needed,” they said.
After they finished the third day of cycling, their legs are feeling heavy and most of the team have aching muscles to contend with. However, they are quick to quip that this is nothing compared to the pain cancer sufferers have to endure.
Day four took the cyclists from Carrascosa Del Campo to La Solana, a journey of 149km, with a 629m climb.
The start of the day took them on some very straight, mostly featureless, roads, with the wide empty plains of Castilla La Mancha on either side.
“We made good time to our first planned stop of the day at Villamayor, 42km into the ride, where shortly after one of the group suffered a puncture. Nothing we couldn’t deal with, and we were soon on our way,” said the spokesperson.
“On several occasions we had a strong lateral wind coming in from our right hand side to contend with which led us to ride in echelons were we could, along these mostly deserted roads.”
They explain that echelons or ‘Abanicos’ is where they ride slightly off the shoulder of the cyclist in front, forming a sideways line of sorts in order to shield the riders from the strong cross winds.
The day got warmer and the cyclists grew more tired with the final kilometres of the day dragging out in front of them. An early night and they were setting themselves up for day five.
To support the team as they make their way to Gibraltar, expected to arrive on Saturday at noon, donate via https://www.justgiving.com/page/pamplonatogibraltar
Or via their account at Gibraltar International Bank
Account Number; 20012340 Sort Code; 60-83-14