You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Suffering Is Jamming - Part 2 - Unicycle adventure

(for part 1 see below)

Day 4: Port Bou – Bascara

Matt takes great pleasure in circling the towns he has stopped at on his large fold out road map. This morning he was especially pleased to be circling the first town on a new map. He had crossed France, now there was just Spain left. The bed came with breakfast but it was awful – we had to tell the fruity and inquisitive old man on reception otherwise, out of politeness – but the water and the coffee both tasted like turf.
I received a message from Albert after complaining to him about the asshole of a bike he had landed us with, informing him of all the tyre repairs we had had to do. This was his reply:
Ja ja ja... buaaaa, buaaaa... don't cry. The live is hard, I thought your arms needed some exercise too. 3rd night and fuget hotel, is it? Suffering is jammin'. Keep me updated.
Cheers mate! Soon we started off again up another incline on the mountain road. Cruising in the midday sun past sparkling waters and cosy beaches, steady rolling. On the outskirts of a town called Llanca we stopped for the perfect coca-cola (branded glass full to brim with ice, slice of lemon, topped with coke direct from the fountain.) As Matthew Brookes once said “Don’t waste your thirst on water.”
The road we were on was the N260 – freshly tarmac’d with a wideish hard shoulder / cycle lane. In the near distance we were surrounded by the blue specters of mountains. Sunflowers grew all around in fields and flocks of birds twisted into the sky like the breeze before landing syncronised again to eat the seeds. Corn rose high over our heads giving us some shade and occasionally a cloud or a tree did the same, and we thanked Nature “Cheers Naytch.”
We passed a woman wearing a short skirt and lots of make-up sat in the sunshine by the side of the road listening to an i-pod. We thought it strange until about half an hour later we saw a similarly tarted up woman sat next to a lay by. Day-time prostitutes sat tempting truckers and cyclist but all they got from us was a smile and a wave as we clocked up the miles. We stopped at Figueres for some energy drinks and a rest. And failed to take a photo of a Dali painting reflected in a mirror. Ooops. We stumbled across a Tourist Information whilst looking for a McDonalds where we could take a McShit. The friendly girls told us about a pilgrimage trail running all the way to Giorona. So we set about looking for that (stumbling upon the McDs on the way). The trail was very badly surfaced and the lack of signage meant it was near impossible to follow without taking a few wrong turns. We had quiet enough of that and got back onto the road – the now faithful N11 and made it to a small village called Bascara before dusk. We spotted a place to pitch tents then went tot the only café/pub open for a meal and one beer. The ground was hard in the open field but it smelt good – Lavender plants were everywhere. Which was a welcome break from having to smell ourselves who both smelt like a days hard graft. This had been a good day – a normal day – the kind of day I had imagined this trip to consist of, a days worth of cycling finished off with camping at dark.

Day 5: Bascara – Malgrat de Mar
I woke up shouting “What Fucking World Is This?” … Not.
This morning was normal. The dawn call of crickets woke me and I lay in my crappy tent allowing myself to come around slowly.
“Matt are you asleep?”
He wasn’t anymore so we got up to find hundreds of tiny snails all over our tents and we ate them raw… not, sorry no we didn’t eat them; we brushed them off and went to town for an omelette on toast.
We stretched and set off early hoping to make it to Giorona by early afternoon to rest in some shade out of the day’s strongest sun. Running low on water we stopped at a hotel as a guy was leaving on a racing bike. He asked us what we wanted. Like zombies we breathed “AQUA” and he gave us an ice cold bottle for free. We saw more prostitutes at disused petrol stations and lonely roadside pit stops, and by midday we had made it to the outskirts of Giorona and a gated overnight parking for lorry drivers that was also a trucker’s titty-bar cum roadside brothel called the White Dove. We stopped here for a sip of water and a cigarette and a voice over the intercom asked what we wanted. I had to restrain Matt from asking for a job and remind him he had to make it to Gibraltar.
Just after this the N11 split. Should we take the N11 or the N11A? Matt’s i-phone was playing up and the map couldn’t help us. We had to guess and hope for the best. We got the worst. First up a huge incline into mountains full of firs and nothing else. At the top we could see Giorona and we knew we were skirting around it the long way. But we also knew it was too disheartening to turn back and that this road would eventually take us into the city. We went through tunnels and over bridges getting passed by huge Lorries going at top speed making both of us wobble in their slip-streams. The sun was now at it’s peak and we were sweating like pigs on judgment day. After a good hours cycling finally there was a turning. It appeared all of Giorona was just outskirts. We needed a break and stopped at a nondescript roundabout. Matt spotted a nice looking wooden box lying on the ground and on inspection found that it was full of home grown Marijuana. Mostly leaves but "Cheers Naytch!"
Giorona was a let down. It was Sunday and nothing was open. We were exhausted, and did the best we could to recover with what little the city had to offer. We left Giorona around 4.30pm when the sun got more bearable. The road out of the city soon split into two running parallel – one of which was almost disused. Our own private road! Again we were rolling well. Eventually the private road took the wrong direction and the main road by now was a motorway so we looked for alternatives. This lead us to a dirt track where we were flagged down by a car full of girls. Matt’s face was incredibly healthy looking at this stage. They asked if we were lost and tell us they are going to an old church because it is very beautiful. We take some time out with them and the church is old (1665) but there is no time for horsing around so we take more dirt tracks and a road of mud that is under construction to get back on the trusty N11. The sun is getting low when we head off again but we are determined to make it to the coast. Matt starts unicycling very quickly, at times it is an effort to keep up with him but darkness descends and the oncoming headlights and subsequent blinding darkness make cycling too dangerous. Yet we will not give up. We push our vehicles for miles. Stop at a restaurant for a coke and they tell us it is 12 kilometers to Tordera the next town.
Pushing and walking my brain turns off and I continue on autopilot. By the time we reach the outskirts neither of us are speaking any more. We get to a roundabout and stop. There is a sign for the town on the beach saying 9 kilometres; we thought it would only be 5 from this town. Boo hoo. We sing the snuff box theme tune in depressed tones and change the words from “You thought it was gold but it was bronze” to “You thought it was 5 but it was 9” Feeling sorry for ourselves we push the bikes further, it is already after midnight and the only thing we can think of is to keep going but it feels like such a dreadful task. Then we hear loud music and see the lights of a bar. And genius strikes us both simultaneously “Couple cheeky tequilas?” We take the shots with lemon and salt and our spirits are raised instantly. We have a smoke and a beer and start a normal conversation for the first time in hours. We get one more beer for the road load it in the bags and are off. Never before has an alcoholic drink been such a good idea or worked so many wonders in my life.
Now we are singing and there are dogs barking at us left right and center from behind fences and we chant at them “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!” and discuss how in one-on-one combat we could probably beat any dog in a fight and we talk such rubbish non-stop and without knowing it reach Malgrat de Mar – the beach! Matt realises that today he has covered the longest distance in a single day throughout the whole trip and we cycle around the town looking for a bar to get a celebratory tequila but nothing is open – it is around 3am. The Camping is a further few Kilometers out of town but it is nothing to us now - we are ‘ard as nails. Once there it seems stupid to pay for a pitch because the beach is right out in front and we aren’t one of these campers who shame the name of camping with huge tents that may as well be a friggin’ houses. We roll the first joint from the box and slip away into la la land. And for once my tent looks half descent.

Day 6: Malgrat de mar – Arenys de Mar – Malgrat de mar
All morning we sat recovering in a beach café about 50 feet from where our tents had been - drinking coffee, coke and water and eating Patatas Bavas… brave bastards. I went swimming whilst Matt, the geek, typed his blog. Around 4pm we set off down the little road sided directly by the beach. We prayed this road would stay like this (quaint and at sea level) until Barcelona. We had some breaks on beaches full of attractive German girls. After working on our tans we sat for a coffee in preparation for a long stint of cycling. When we paid and left the back tyre on my bike was flat. Fixing it we found out it was an actually puncture this time from some sort of sea shell and easily repaired. A few kilometer later near Sant Pol de mar the back tyre deflated again and this time it was on the valve. Sad face. We bought bread, cheese, salami and a bottle of local Anis spirit called Badalona. After eating the food we pushed the bike to Arenys de Mar but were less than impressed with the place. We got the seaside train back to Malgrat de mar. Chained my asshole bike up and took to the beach to roll a joint from the box and drink large quantities of Badalona seeing faces in the clouds. Then we hit the main drag. It was lively. Beers! MaTt UnIcYcLiNg TiPsY. More beers! Some local African drug dealers helped us roll joints and smoke them and tried the unicycle. Then the two most horrible Welsh people I have ever had speak to me started barking ugly sentences through their gold teeth so Matt and I escaped to a club that allowed us in with his unicycle and the large bags on our backs. Tequila! We talked to the waitress and ordered lots of shots until I was sick straight back into the shot glass and subsequently handed it back to her. After that we were out on the streets swigging the Badalona like it was water. Then all goes black. Blank memories.
You can find the One Wheel Across Europe blog here - the same stuff happens but in more matter of fact words: less fruity.

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