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 va……….. 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!