Archive for April 7th, 2010

I woke up just before 8 a.m. and tired to stave off the need to leave my warm sleeping bag for a trip to the bathroom, but I couldn’t last long.  After an amazing warm shower, I headed to the reception to figure out my wifi access issue.  We finally got things working and I spent the rest of the morning catching up on emails, Facebook, posting blog stories and photos, and trying to figure out plans for the next few days of travel. Had the wifi not been working, I probably would have pushed on today, but my legs were tired from the previous day’s exploits, and the weather didn’t look very good. It ended up sprinkling for an hour or two, and a cold wind blew in, making me quite chilly in my board shorts and polo (my only remaining clean clothes) while I got a load of laundry washed and dried (just under 7 euros I thought, until the dryer didn’t get my clothes anywhere near dry and I had to spend another 1.75 on a 2nd dry).  I had really noticed that my biking shirts had started to smell over the past two days, and it was definitely time.  It’s pretty remarkable how a clean set of clothes can change your outlook when bicycle touring.

Speaking of clothes, you may have noticed that I always seem to be wearing the same ones in the few photos I’ve had people take of me.  I, in my infinite wisdom, only brought along one long-sleeved shirt to wear while biking to protect my arms from the sun.  I thought I had also brought a pair of arm warmers that could also serve that purpose, but they must not have gotten packed in the madness that was my last 24 hours in the United States.  I’ll admit that I did have a 2nd long-sleeve shirt packed, but it was a little thicker than the UnderArmor one and I changed my mind about an hour outside of Chicago and pulled it back out.  I hope I don’t regret that decision when I reach the Pyrenees in two days, but I do have two different long-sleeved jackets and a Gore-tex rain shell that should keep me warm. I glanced around yesterday in the outdoor store when I bought my vest, but the only similar clothing to my long-sleeve shirt was going for 40 euros, twice what I had paid, and that was just a little too high.  Thank goodness I live in America where we have (comparatively) cheap retail goods.  I suppose if I lived in Europe, I could shop online for better deals, but then I would have to have a place to receive the delivery, which doesn’t work so well when you are a bicycle nomad.

Somehow it was almost 6 p.m. by the time I finished laundry and I decided to walk into town for some dinner and groceries. The town had a really great downtown with shops of every kind, and an ATM about every 50 feet.  I guess they want to make it very easy for the tourists to spend money. The weather was still overcast, windy and cold, and I had to break out my mid-weight gloves and stocking-hat. It was probably about a mile from the campsite to the street overlooking the beach and boardwalk, and I started checking out the menus in the windows of restaurants as I passed by.  I had the biggest craving for a juicy cheeseburger and fries, but felt guilty that I had come all the way to Spain and hadn’t really sampled the cuisine yet.  I guess that will have to wait for the next time I visit Spain though, because a Doner/Kebab restaurant menu caught my eye.  I ordered a plate of french fries and ensalada (lettuce, red onion and tuna), a Doner, which had the most succulent chicken wrapped with lettuce and special sauces similar to a burrito, and topped it off with a Coca-Cola light (since I wasn’t biking today).  I was still hungry because I hadn’t really had lunch, so I decided to also order a falafel too. Not a bad meal for 11 euros (which, coincidentally, is the price per night at my campsite for these two nights).

As I was sitting and people-watching after eating, I saw numerous mopeds pass by and started thinking about how prevalent they are here, compared to in the United States. Here the small hatchback is king, and the moped is queen.  They even ride them more elegantly here. Europeans are so proper that they ride their mopeds with their knees tightly pressed together, back straight in a perfect 90 degree angle.  Contrast that to Americans on mopeds, and you’ll see knees relaxed to the sides, feet sometimes but not always even on the foot-deck, and a sort of American-slouch posture.  And then just as I was coming to the conclusion that maybe Europeans are more sophisticated, a boy of about eight years old walked by the window with his index finger knuckle-deep in his nose, and that theory went right out the window.

On the way back to the campsite, I went a little crazy at the grocery store, probably partially because I still hadn’t replaced the calorie deficit of my 80-mile ride the day before.  I picked up 12 slices of gouda cheese, another 16-portion individually wrapped cheese wheel, four servings of vanilla pudding, an eight-pack of banana and strawberry yogurt, eight imitation fun-size Mounds chocolate/coconut candy bars, five imitation Twix bars, four imitation Mars candybars, four bananas, four rolls of bread, 1.5 liters of an electrolyte sports drink, and a package of gumdrops. And also a microfiber cloth to use for cleaning my bike (I didn’t think to bring a rag). The whole collection ran only 12 euros, so you can see why I’ve been doing most of my food shopping in grocery stores and not restaurants.  It takes a lot of food to feed a cyclist and restaurant food alone could get expensive really fast!  One of these days I’m going to write down a list of everything I eat during a biking day and the number of calories.  I haven’t actually been keeping very good track. I just estimate that I burn somewhere between 600-800 calories an hour on the bike, in addition to my daily calorie needs of about 2200 calories to maintain my weight. In six hours on the bicycle, that means I could need an extra 3600-4800 calories, which seems almost impossible to get without resorting to eating sticks of butter whole.

When I got back to the campsite after dinner and groceries, it was 8 degrees celcius, and I was really cold. I still had a lot of research to do on my route for the next few days, so I headed up to the sink portion of the bathroom, which had handily available power outlets to run my laptop and charge batteries, and commandeered my “office” for the next few hours, before finally turning in for the night at just after midnight.