Day of rest..
Today was a rest day proper. A day for doing odds and bods that I have been meaning to do for a while...
- A bit of bike tlc - adjusting the brakes, checking the tyres, cleaning as best I could the chain with a rag..oh for some degreaser.. Cleaning the rag. Cleaning the sink after cleaning the rag..(latter took the longest time of all the bike jobs)
- clothes washing! Pretty much everything is now clean and a little less stinky. The colour of the water that came off my bike kit..especially my mitts..yuck!
- route planning and checks for the next week*. The next 5 days are non stop so the details needed to be ironed out now at least to some extent, also reading up on where I am going.
- cutting labels off my kit. Bit of a random one, and I would love to say it was for some practical reason like weight saving and all that, but no. This has been a mission of mine for several weeks now, just needing some time and scissors, that goes back to a slightly unfortunate event. Early on into the trip I took a 'nature break' behind a tree as you do, got back on the bike and sped off again. After a while there was this itching and it wouldn't go away. For the whole ride I was there swearing at my shorts and the label that must be causing it, vowing death and destruction on all labels that had the misfortune to be on my kit. It actually turned out I had got some prickly grass caught in my shorts, but the vow could not now be broken.
Nb Since that occasion I am much more careful where I go.
- sleep. When on the bike or doing hard paced sightseeing you know you are tired but that's just the way it is. When you stop completely, the adrenaline wears off and you actually stop and look in the mirror, you realise how well and truely beyond tired you are physically and mentally. Am therefore not entirely convinced full rest days are good, but then again not sure carrying on without one every now and then is either! Anyway the chance to get extra sleep should always be taken.
Chores etc done, I headed out to the cathedral. After Madrid, I read up about the cathedral here and thought it might be worth a trip inside, especially in terms of seeing some el Greco works of art that this city is famed for. It could not be more different to Madrid cathedral...the latter minimal, bright and colourful, Toledo, dark and heavy with ornamentation. The level of intricacy on the carvings and decoration was awe inspiring..the main alter section apparently took ten years to make, the choir area five. Behind these was what caught my eye though..a bright influx of light from a well in the ceiling. Surrounding this well were angels directing the light down. The carvings themselves spilled down the back of the alter section from the ceiling to the floor. This was the 'Transparente' and for me it made the entry fee worthwhile. Other bits of interest were the 'treasury'- including the elaborate Custodian de Arfe..a processional piece made up from 18kg pure gold and 183kg for silver, and a crown or two made of emeralds, rubies and pearls - and the trip up to the bell tower. Here there were eight bells on the vestiges and one huge cracked bell in the centre. And of course and amazing view across the whole of the city.
Back on the streets afterwards, it seemed the day trippers had come back with force. Time to escape and hide out and sleep more.
- I realise I haven't actually said much about my route planning or practise, aside from the odd reference. So I thought I'd put some words down about it. Feel free to switch off at this point and move on, though I feel (fear?) the below will say more about me that it will about any practical aspects.
So what do I use to get from one place to another..well there are 5 main tools
- Michelin maps - I have about 6 maps with me covering the whole of Spain. 5 live in my panniers, and the last lives in my map holder that attaches to my handlebar bag. I have highlighted my routes on them, colour coordinated of course...pink - suggested route (that I put together beforehand), blue - day trip, orange - last minute changes of which there are many. Yes yes I am sure I did have colour coordinated revision timetables as a kid. Even at work before leaving I discovered the auto customise on excel..produced some pretty colourful spreadsheets then I can tell you! Cough ..moving on quickly...The other skill for these maps is origami, to be able to squash it into the holder in a way you can actually see the route. Believe me it's harder than it sounds! Some days I 'jazz things up' by having the map sideways. Get me..living life on the edge! One day I'll really party and have it upside down.
- my garmin 800..mainly for recording but it also has all the courses (my suggested routes) that I had mapped on garmin connect to check the milage and elevation. So far I have not used the courses once. Well I tried half way through a ride, and it kept asking if I wanted to go back to the start! So I gave up on that one. Now, however I do get great satisfaction deleting these courses day by day. The garmin GPS map is quite handy for getting out of and into cities (when I already know where I am going). Satnav..not used so much anymore as it goes really complicated routes.
- my Nexus 7 tablet. More for preparation rather than en route. Using Google maps to check where accommodation is and routes in/out of city. Limited outside this as Google maps has old road numbers so they don't match reality.
- my phone..lives in my jersey pocket. Great for finding out where you are when the garmin satnav has got me lost then lost its gps signal.
- most important item though is post-it notes. I write out the road numbers, main place names and possible stop places for the day. I use these most..its like crib notes. Handy for those times you need to know the name of the road that the post-it itself is covering up...
So that's the fun of my planning. I guess actually I forgot one and that is my memory..I am actually getting a dab hand at memorising the routes especially in and out of the city (if its not too complex), and also the elevation graph (so I know how bad the hills are coming).
It is probably all a little excessive but its actually reassuring to have all of them. The biggest time taker is deciding which route to take..my original suggested route or something else...and that usually depends on my mood and my legs. So far I think I have only done the suggested route for the day perhaps once or twice, all the other have all had 'tweeks'. Tomorrow I think is pretty much as planned..back up into the hills towards the snow mountains.