Category Archives: Sporting events

¡VIVA LA VUELTA!

Exciting news!! I’ve just discovered that the Vuelta a España Cycle Race 2015 will be passing through Riaza this year! Where? I hear you cry! Well, Riaza just happens to be a small town up the road from where my husband was born – nestling in the foothills of a snow capped sierra in Segovia, on that inhospitable central ‘meseta’ of the Iberian Peninsula. ‘Meseta’ was a word I first heard in geography lessons at school. It means ‘plateau’ I remember my teacher explaining. Little did I know that 10 years later I would find myself gazing out across that very plateau from the  window of my in-laws’ house in a tiny village about 15 miles from RIAZA!  – The snow capped sierra was the Guadarrama mountains, which separate  Segovia from Madrid.
I have always liked cycling and my first bike was bought for me in 1963 as a reward for passing my 11 plus (damn! now you know how old I am!)  Anyway, that was a good 17 years before our (well, I say ‘our’ but, apparently, he is Belgian-British)renowned Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, was even born, so I wasn’t under the spell of the so called ‘Wiggo factor’ which  swept the U.K. after his triumph in the Tour in 2012 and spurred every man and his dog – to coin a phrase! funny mental image! –   to take up cycling, but maybe my love of  cycle racing has been revived  by the Wiggo factor.  Over the years I’ve followed the fortunes of Spanish racers Miguel Indurain, who won the Tour de France FIVE times in a row in the 1990s and Pedro Delgado, whose successful career started slightly earlier.  Occasionally my husband would accompany me on a bike ride, although he wasn’t that keen and, if truth be told, he was a danger to himself and others when on a bike. He disliked the uphill slogs, but gloried in the downhill and used to speed like a demon, shouting  ‘Allá voy Bahamontes………………..!!!!!!!!!!!’.
Bahamontes? Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him! Only one of Spain’s greatest road racers, born in 1928 (so I AM going back a bit!  – that would make him 87  this year, but I think he’s still around.) He was known in his hey day as ‘el Aguila  (the Eagle) de Toledo’ and won the Tour de France in 1959, was 2nd in the Vuelta in 1957, and won stages in both races as well as the coveted title of King of the Mountain on numerous occasions – apparently, he wasn’t very good on the descent, but was master of the uphill climb – the opposite of my husband!
Anyway, back to the present.  The last ‘etapa’ of this year’s Vuelta a España will finish in the capital,  Madrid,   on September 13 and I aim to be there  – to soak up the atmosphere, revisit old haunts and  capture a few shots for posterity.

¡VIVA LA VUELTA!  CAN’T WAIT!

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Abergavenny Festival of Cycling June 2014

On Friday June 27 at about 6 pm these young racers gathered to take part in the Town Centre Racing, one of the exciting events in the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling 2014’s week long programme. I walked round the narrow, hilly streets before the first competitors burst from the start line to pick some vantage points for my shots – a bend is always good and there were plenty of those.

Round we go!
Start Line
Let’s go!
Important to keep hydrated

Of course the punters at the Kings Arms had the best spot – sitting outside, beer in hand, they soaked up the evening sunlight as the young speedsters hurtled fearlessly round the corner.

KingsArms5
Now you see him – now you don’t!

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There were some vociferous parents, urging their kids on to glory – personally, I think parents should be given a sedative and kept well out of the way until it’s all over  – but that’s just me!!

There was no shortage of competitors or marshals – in fact, the whole event was extremely well managed and a police bike went round the circuit after each race to make sure there were no stray pedestrians or hazards on the track.

policeBike2 policebike3 policeBike

 

 

 

The gathering storm clouds were a bit of a concern (only to me, as it turned out!)  – in fact, they just added to the drama – and made the spectacular backdrop of the Brecon Beacons stand out even more.

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So with interested spectators lining the route, bags of chips in hand (God! I’m hungry!) – off they went!

openBarriers

 

gameFace

The barriers opened, the kids put their game face on and hared off down the hill – with no concern for their own safety! At the bottom they turned left and then ……………….met their first challenge – which some negotiated better than others.

Steady as we go!
Damn – who put that cone there?!
The older competitors showing how it’s done.

Marked by two traffic cones, the road was closed off and they had to turn back on themselves and head up a steep hill into the town and round to the right. Eventually, this brought them out by the King’s Arms, where they veered right again into a wide, flat straight –

straight2 straight1 roundtheBend1

– a chance to jockey for position, and then up another steep incline and back to the start.

There were surprisingly few mishaps in the junior races and this young man was put straight back on his bike after coming to grief on the corner  – and off he went none the worse for his spill.

Never mind the bike! What about me!
Up you get

Of course the name of the game is winning and this is what it meant to this lad

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Not everybody was pleased to see the cyclists in town – it took this man 15 minutes to cross the road!!  Hope he didn’t miss his train!

Where did all these people come from?