After a 3 week luxury break, it’s time for me to get back on my feet and start planning for next season. I’m happy that I will be racing in the same team next year. Pizzeria Espanola are also expanding the squad, with new riders coming in, which means more competition for us team-mates in getting selected for big races, which is exciting!
Looking back on my time in Spain in 2016, I thought I would tell you about 75 everyday things that I learnt about Spain, so that you can get an idea about the differences between the countryside in Cornwall and Spain…
1. Madrid is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen.
2. Workers sleep 2 hours or so in the afternoon everyday.
3. The street outside my Madrid apartment always gets cleaned 5 times a week.
4. There are lots of pelicans on the flat lands.
5. Cyclists don’t wave.
6. Drivers don’t know how to indicate.
7. Madrid has got the best drinking water in Spain.
8. I almost died of heat in the 3 months of summer!
9. There’s always a stare competition on a metro or a train. I always win.
10. In Madrid there are lot of bars where you can get a free sandwich by buying a drink.
11. Spain sells more quality fruit than in the UK.
12. Young people can speak English, old people can’t.
13. Spanish car company Seat named the models from a place in Spain, Seat ‘Leon’, Seat ‘Ibiza’, etc.
14. The shops close every day between 2pm and 5pm.
15. Dia supermarket is the cheapest out there.
16. Every day is blue skies, with a puff of cloud.
17. Basque country is exactly like England, but with much better roads!
18. Spanish love meat, they eat meat every single day.
19. Benidorm is the most British place in Spain.
20. The ants are bloody huge!
21. Training in the summer, drink bottle can change from full ice bottle to hot boiling water in 20 minutes.
22. Spanish always wear sport clothes.
23. Men shave their body even if they’re not a sportsman.
24. There are a lot of international people in Madrid.
25. All cyclists wear Oakley shades.
26. Tomate Frito is the best thing ever!
27. The night before a race, team mates don’t sleep until midnight, or get just 6 hours sleep.
28. In races, riders always litter and throw bottles everywhere.
29. Police carry big machine guns, even in the middle of nowhere.
30. Locals always love watching a race.
31. “Hijo de Puta” is the most used saying in the peloton.
32. They always play the same Spanish club dance music at the start of the race.
33. Big teams always sacrifice for their leader.
34. Always have to risk your life while descending in a race.
35. Lots of riders cheat by holding onto a car or a motorbike during a race.
36. There are lot of former pros racing at my level.
37. There are no rider briefings before the race, just sign on and go to the start line.
38. There 3 or more different languages in Spain.
39. I saw the HQ of Santander bank and it was huge.
40. When it rains, no cyclists go out.
41. Washing my bike at the car wash is the best thing ever.
42. Stay at the front of the peloton or you’re done.
43. I had to look after myself when I had a big injury.
44. My team mates eat Rice or pasta in the morning before a race.
45. Every hotel we’ve been to, they’ve always served pasta and tomato sauce.
46. Watching the Vuelta a Espana in Madrid was awesome.
47. They don’t sell Soreen malt loaf! So we had to ship large parcels of the stuff from the UK
48. We had 2 team cars, one with air con and one with no air con. Always go with the air con!
49. Spain is huge, and we race all over the country, but I mostly raced with the same competitors in every race of the season.
50. There are no time trials at all!
51. Almost every race was more than 120km long.
52. In winter and summer, Basque Country is always colder than in Madrid. Shorts and t shirt in Madrid becomes trousers and warm jacket in Basque Country.
53. It’s not normal if you greet a woman without kissing their cheeks.
54. There are lots of restaurants and cafes in the city.
55. Spanish riders are so freaking fast on the mountains!
56. It was very cheap buying the food before brexit happened!
57. In almost every race there was a crash, and mostly I was involved!
58. The local bike shop in Madrid is the most expensive cycle shop I’ve ever been to.
59. I love salsa!
60. In a race they managed to close off the dual carriageway, and I could see lot of cars were queuing up at the junctions.
61. A bicycle wheel came off the top of the car while driving on the highway.
62. Spanish people use more expressive body language than British people.
63. Most of the races have mountains. Pretty much almost in every race.
64. I Didn’t need to use chamois cream, as the roads are smooth, unlike the Cornish madness ‘Paris-Roubaix’ roads!
65. Little kids at the races always ask for free bottles.
66. We usually get free soft drinks from the race organisers.
67. I saw Esteban Chaves walking towards to his team bus, and he was a very small guy!
68. We get free pizza from our main sponsor Pizzeria Espanola. Man, it was excellent!
69. Riding at the night time is the best, with a shimmering view of Madrid.
70. I’ve seen the Bullfighting on live tv in a bar, and I was absolutely stunned at how awful it is.
71. Some of the race organisers actually pay us for a race and accommodation.
72. Hotel breakfast buffet is heaven.
73. Truck drivers go very fast up the mountains.
74. Typical Spanish mountain races = take it easy on the flat, like a Sunday club ride, then go full-power like mental up the climbs.
75. One of the McDonald’s in Madrid is like a 5 star restaurant.