Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mother Nature's Vengenance

Everyone has a section of road, usually on a daily/weekly/monthly route, that they hate.  This section actually evokes a visceral response in your body and wearing your tires thin by riding it every day/week/month does not make it any easier or more enjoyable.  Fuerteventura has just such a section of road that I believe every camper would agree just sucks.  Royally.

I speak of the last 3 km on the FV-207, heading out of Tefia, toward the La Oliva/Tetir "T"-intersection on the "La Oliva" route.

And today Mother Nature focused of all her attention and energy on my poor little bike group for the, oh, hour it takes anyone to ride those three measly kilometers.  Because hell hath no fury like a female goddess with cyclists trying to ride on her personal weather testing grounds.

Alone, the terrain of these 3000m is what I imagine the elevation map of a lactate threshold test to look like:  false-flat to why-am-I-not-making-nearly-as-much-progress-as-I-should-be to no-denying-we-are-going-up-hill and then a veer right to the "layer cake" - a series of shelves of increasing steepness - before a sweeping left-hand on-ramp that is about 30 excruciating pedal strokes long....taken over the course of a minute because at this point everything, including your mouth, is screaming and the only goal is to not fall over.

Now the terrain on either side of the road is flat.  You'd think this would be okay, but like in the plains of the central United States, wind given space to run only packs an even bigger wallop.  And at the edges of this flat terrain, hills and mountains to funnel any wind straight down your gullet.  And the plastic tube attached to the bottom of the funnel heading straight to your mouth, a gap in the hills filled with the Canarian equivalent of a highway.  "Hello wind, would you like a free ride into the face of these cyclists?"  "Why, yes, I would.  Thank you for asking."

And there is always wind.  Always.  It's practically required; the island's name does translate to "strong winds" after all.

Each week on this section of road very strong riders look around at each other wondering "am I the only one suffering so incredibly much on this seemingly innocuous road?"  Nope.  And the group straggles on, shattered by the wind, at a brisk 5-6 mph.  On what, in a car, would look like flat road with a bump at the end.

Today Mother Nature was angry, very angry: there was rain.  RAIN.  I will not risk hyperbolizing about how infrequently it precipitates in Fuerte, especially in the spring, and only say the entire month I was here last year it rained for 30 sec total.  So water falling from the sky is a pretty big deal around here.

Next time we ride this route there will be live chickens sacrificed beforehand.  Or I fear it may snow for the first time ever on Fuerteventura.

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