A week after the Tour, and Mands and I got ourselves over to San Sebastian for a bit of vacation relaxery after the saga that is the nose to the grindstone month of the Tour.
We needed to drop off some key stuff for the team that was working the race (as an excuse to get over to one of the coolest towns in Europe — not bad!) Two birds, one stone, all of that!
We rocked up at the team hotel the morning before all of the riders arrived, dropped off what was needed and skedaddled.
It was a strange sensation — seeing things getting set up and just departing — not a pattern I am used to following at all! We then headed to our hotel, which hilariously was the race hotel for two of the other teams in the race! Bloody hell. And here I’d been promising a quiet weekend, barely any bike racing: “We’ll just be watching the finale on Saturday afternoon, otherwise it’s a total holiday babe…” Famous last words or what?
We did indeed have a triffic time, doing the time honoured travel cliche when in San Sebastian of hitting the Pintxoserias the night before the race (having almost avoided seeing anyone related to the race for a whole day). Pintxos (pronounced “pinchos” with the “os” being pronounced like in “possum”) are little niblets of food on a toothpick served over bars. You go in, grab a plate, pick up whatever tickles your fancy then pay depending on how many toothpicks are on your plate when you’re done. It’s a fantastic way to cruise through an evening, and was an dining style originated in the Basque country (of which San Sebastian is a major town) forever ago.
Ok. So you may have noted “almost” in the paragraph above when talking of avoiding race-related people. We did stroll out of our hotel room to the (ahem) glorious view of a couple of the riders being massaged by their soigneurs. Bike riders are nice blokes on the whole. They’re also very good at riding bikes, and are the main part of a very small global population that looks relatively good, or at least cool, in body hugging bike riding kit. However, as my fiancee’s shudders upon through-door glimpses of them receiving massages attested, their skinny, milky white frames are not the finest sight in the world. Heh.
When the race was finally underway, we continued our touristic jaunt, getting a bit of sun, having a bit of a swim, doing a bit of people watching and enjoying the day. Again, a very odd feeling for me while being in a town where there was a big bike race on. We did roll up to the team bus to see how the staff were, and then rolled to a pub to watch the finale. It was great (although unsurprising) to see Ryder getting dropped off at the bottom of the key selective climb by Jules: stalwarts and hard nuts of the team getting the job done yet again!
We then watched the show unfold with attack, counterattack, move and reaction all going down before our eyes. Ryder was strong, as ever, and produced a great result in finishing in fifth place. We celebrated his performance in the bar, then moseyed down to the team bus to have a chat to the crew before they headed back home, and we continued with our holiday. It was a very different feel to any other race I’ve been to.
I’ll be back in the thick of it soon though!