The weekend started well with a reasonably relaxed Saturday in readiness for an early Sunday start. Having forgotten to register it meant getting there earlier than usual as registering on the day at the last minute is not recommended.
Sunday morning came around all too soon and off I went bike and kit packed in the van. Jalon (Xalo) is only about 6km from where I live so not too far to drive. Registration went without a hitch and I managed to sneak back home for another cuppa and a bit more breakfast before returning for the start. At this point, I started to realise that I wasn’t quite myself, not ill as such but not fully normal (if normal is ever possible).
The race started promptly, for Spain, and we were off, first on a lap of Jalon village and then up the dreaded Bernia road which winds it’s merry way up a valley and eventually through Masseroff. Here the route changed from last year and we had another 1km or so of climbing before finally turning off the road to the left and starting the descent back to Jalon.
But what’s this? More uphill? Only small lumps really but my legs were starting to show signs of wobbliness and I had been looking forward to the descent. The new section at the top of the hill was good though with drops down barrancas and a couple of fast sections before we rejoined the old route for the return to the village.
This section of the route runs down the valley that the road has just brought you up crisscrossing a small dry stream as it goes, through wooded areas and down more barrancas. The organisers had been out clearing some of the larger undergrowth from the trail to make some sections flow easier which was fun until I clipped a tree with the end of my handlebars and fired myself at the undergrowth. Funny I’m sure that was the same tree as last year, consistency is a good thing.
Returning to the road just outside Jalon and peddling for all I’m worth to try to make up a bit of time, a few people are caught and dispensed with. The village comes and goes all too quickly as we head back out to the next section.
Heading up a wide gravelly track towards a wooded area I remembered from last year, which has a couple of large rocks to catch out the less weary, I noticed that my front tyre was feeling less than perfect, a bit like me, a fast turn was a bit wallowy, maybe a slow puncture. I carried on hoping that the slime-filled tyre would sort itself out as stopping to change a tube is not on my “to do” list for today.
Back to the road for another 1km or so and back into the woods, over the water pipe (surprisingly slippery) and onwards and upwards. A small section of tarmac and back onto the rough for a long climb when a sudden pop sound was accompanied with the thoughts of “oh dear that didn’t sound good” and “why have I got slime on my leg”. The back tyre had decided to join in with the front, however not content with a small hole the slime may eventually fill, it had gone one better and ejected the slime from a finger size hole onto the wheel, frame and me. Undeterred I checked for the spare tube, it was still there with the tyre levers. Now, where is that pump? The bracket, unfortunately, was looking rather empty.
A few quiet mutterings were probably heard in the village, no problem I thought I would just ask the marshal at the previous corner. No joy, but there were a couple of spectators with bikes and one had a pump, which promptly fell to pieces on first depression.
At this point I started the slow trudge back to the car, feeling a little rough, slightly bruised and thoroughly pee’d off with the whole day. I managed 19km of the 32km.
The bike was packed back in the car in disgust and I returned my race number to the officials, who kindly gave me a Tshirt and some refreshments as I watched the first few finishers arrive back.
On returning home I regaled my long-suffering wife with my tales of woe and put the bike in the garage, finding the missing pump as I did so. Note to self: must have a checklist for next time.
The Jalon event is very well organised and I can recommend it thoroughly, just remember your tubes and pump.
Enjoy the video, I don't think I'm on it.
Check out the route on Sports Tracker Here.