Greg Eden’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 14 Sep 2014

Location: Spain

MapDay 19 Santiago de Compostela
Easy day. Raining so only 2 guys went for a ride. Dave the Kiwi machine was never not going to ride and Tommy the quiet Texan goes with him so he can get a photo from a hill overlooking the city. It is a very sad day for me though as I receive a message from Jenny Schapel that Bill has just passed away. After his last chemo treatment he has very low tolerance to infection and he caught a cold a week ago and it very quickly developed into double pneumonia. He was on life support and had agreed with Jen that it would be switched off if it came to this. I get several messages through the night from mutual friends letting me know the news. Bill had called me as we were boarding our flight from Barcelona to Granada 2 weeks ago and he sounded fine but he went down very quickly. He called to say thanks for the video I had sent him of us playing at his birthday a few months ago. Back in the hotel we have a quiet morning walking around the beautiful grounds of the resort. Ruth as ever is hugely supportive as my mind is elsewhere for some time. It is great to have lunch with Mal and Kerry again and I am reminded of the importance of making the most of the time we have and how thankful we need to be for the simpler things in life. After lunch we go into the main part of the old city where the time trial is on. The city is abuzz with masses of people watching the cycling. We get a bit wet as there is precious little shelter and the conditions for the riders are treacherous. They reach speeds of up to 85kph on the downhill section in the dry and about 75 in the wet. Eventually we opt to watch the race on tv in a bar only 100 metres from the finish but we get a better view as the crowds are huge and there is the ever-present threat of rain. Again we note the presence of many police but they are less controlling than the French and the Aussies at the TDU. At the finish it is still possible to get a photo with many of the riders, even some of the bigger names. At the TDF and the TDU these areas are cordoned off. The time trial started at 5.30 and finished at 8.30. We meet the others in our group at the steps at the foot of the cathedral to go for dinner at a really nice little restaurant. The meal is huge and we can't eat it all. Even Dave the machine has to concede it's more than he can eat. We start with slice which has seafood in it, followed by octopus (probably the best I have ever had) then a huge seafood paella. It is as good as I have had in Spain. The wine is a nice Roija Temperanillo. The Trek pro team is at the next table and they give me a bit if a cheer when we walk out as I am wearing a Trek top. In the next room is the IAM team. We finish dinner about 1.30 am but we are the first to leave the restaurant. We walk back to the bus and everyone is very chatty. It has been a really good night and all have stories about what the have seen at the time trial. Our tour has really ended on a high note. It has been a great tour, well organised and a great bunch of people. Again we seem to have bonded most closely with some Americans, Kurt, Ellie and Bill. Kurt reminds us a bit of Mike from the 2012 France trip. If I come back to cycle in the Spanish mountains again there is one thing I would do differently - I would organize a triple chain ring!