A View with a Froome

roome 1

IT’S not every day that twice Tour de France winner Chris Froome races past your house. But today is one of those days . . .

La Vuelta a España – the Tour of Spain – is one of the world’s oldest cycle races, and although perhaps not as famous as le Tour de France, it is no less gruelling.

At 3,374 kilometres divided into 21 sections, today’s stage starts at Jódar, north of Granada, and terminates in the Moorish village of Capileira, high in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

At 4.35pm the peloton is due to reach the spa town of Lanjaron, pass the end of our track about four minutes later on its way to Orgiva, then twist up a god-almighty road to one of the highest villages in Europe.

My Youngs road bike remains propped against its post, where it has reposed – I am ashamed to say – since we arrived in Spain on July 5. But the tyres are hard and the chain has been oiled. If Froome or his Team Sky team-mate, Geraint Thomas, get a puncture, they are more than welcome to borrow it. I have dusted the saddle.

We prepare for La Vuelta as we prepared for watching Le Tour one summer’s day many years ago when it passed through Sarlat, in the Dordogne. Preparation consists of much standing, much sitting, much bobbing up and down, and much checking of camera settings.

roome 2 roome 3 roome 4 roome 5In this atmosphere of expectation, unknown people emerge from the olive and almond groves to stand at the roadside; strangers hand their biscuits around; neighbours we have never seen become friends. Even the Guardia Civil pip their horns and wave as they speed past. It’s an event in a place where events seldom happen.

We wait. And we wait some more. But we enjoy the waiting.

roome 6 roome 7And, just as in Sarlat, a breakaway of several riders speeds through amid a shrieking of sirens and clatter of applause. Then silence and more waiting. Then, more shrieking and wailing and a thunder of motorbike and helicopter engines as the peloton streams past like a silent machine, gears and wheel rims flashing in the sun as a hundred riders position themselves for the steep descent to Orgiva – and face the muscle-tearing climb to the mountain villages of Pampaneira, Bubion and the finish line at Capileira.

roome 8 roome 9 roome 10And that’s it. Over. This corner of Andalucia is, once again, a corner where few events happen. We pack our camping chairs and say our goodbyes. Dark men return to their olive and almond groves.

We failed to pick out Chris Froome in that hectic jumble of noise and images. But at least we’ve met the neighbours.

FOR highlights of today’s (Friday, August 28) stage of La Vuelta a España, watch ITV 4 at 7pm. And for the official website and results, click here.

12 thoughts on “A View with a Froome

  1. Just watched it on the telly, Froome lost some ground.
    Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira – all beautiful villages I remember well whilst walking through the Alpujarras on the GR7.
    You have chosen a special part of Spain to live in. Get the bike on the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bowland Climber. What a slog up to the finish. It’s hard enough walking up that road through the villages, never mind riding a bike. I shall get my bike on the road soon.
      I’ve been thinking about the GR7 myself lately. We were up at Canar yesterday evening, and the prospect of striking out towards Lanjaron (or in the other direction) was very appealing. I might make some plans.
      Cheers now, Alen


  2. Hi Alen. You did great. Really good shots ⭐
    I was watching the race on TV. Didn’t see your fox by the way. The Danish newsreaders thought the local inhabitants have far to the grocery store 😀
    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hanna, you always make me laugh. I didn’t see the fox either. In fact, I haven’t seen him for a few weeks. And the Danish newsreaders are correct about the grocery stores. They are very hard to find, and they are always closed in the afternoon during the siesta. But we’re getting used to that.
      All the best, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Never even heard of the Tour of Spain, Alen! What an exciting experience, and you probably got a much better view than you’d have had when the ‘Tour’ was over here!


    1. Hi Jo. We never got to see the Tour when it started just down the road from us in North Yorkshire because there were warnings of road closures in the Dales and endless traffic jams. In the event, loads of people stayed at home and the roads were okay. So it was nice to see the Tour of Spain pass by our garden – although the police did seal off the bottom of our track for several hours.
      All the best, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Whenever I’m trudging up a steep hill one thought that comes to mind is ‘some people ride bikes up hills like this, after cycling a hundred kilometres.’ I still don’t know how the human body does it, but I did once see a Tour de France cyclists having breakfast that consisted of a plate of rice piled high like the Matterhorn.

    Great photos. I’m surprised those two on the motorbike were allowed to enter; cheating isn’t it? And you managed to avoid being the photographer who steps out in front of the oncoming yellow jersey, upending him and bringing the peloton down. Imagine the hits on the blog after publishing a worm’s eye view of Chris Froome’s gear sprocket.


    1. Hi Chris. Yes, it’s very tempting to step out just a little too far when taking pictures, but I made sure I wasn’t the one who caused a pile-up, or got in the way of one of those motorbikes.
      Apparently, the Guardia Civil have been allowed to join the race on motorbikes since Franco’s time – and let’s face it, no one is going to argue with them.
      Cheers, Alen
      PS. Talking of steep hills, we drove up to Capileira (the finishing line) today, and it was more than enough to climb from the car park to the nearest bar.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Alen, Great blog and have enjoyed “Because they’re There” as I love hill walking, cycling etc.

    We decided to make the move to stay in the Alpuharra last November after staying a week in Orgiva last July. We had had enough of business, forty years man and boy was enough, UK weather and the feeling of being on the hamster wheel for too many years.

    On March 2015 we put our house in Aberdeenshire up for sale, which luckily for us sold quickly then we broke up our small construction company found all our guys new jobs and desposed of our plant etc.

    After visiting my family in Braemar and the in-laws in Fort William, places I know you are familiar with we set off on the 16th July to take the boat from Portsmouth to Santander as we have an eighteen old cat. She has adapted wonderfully to her new life.

    After a few weeks staying in Gaucin three hours east from here we arrived at our new home in the small village of Carataunas a week past Saturday. The neighbours being both Spanish and expats have been wonderful and we were invited to have a few beers at Carataunas road end and watch Chris Froome and the boys pass on there way to Capileira three village up from us.

    We had lunch in Capileira yesterday and wondered at the human effort required to participate in such a gruelling race. We are loving it here.

    Keep up the brilliant blogs.

    Al the best, John

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya John. I never cease to marvel at the smallness of the world. We made the long drive to Spain (two cats) less than two months ago, and have been renting a cortijo between Lanjaron and Orgiva ever since. We’ve been house-hunting these past few weeks, and after a couple of setbacks appear to be nearly sorted. We even drove down to Carataunas last week to suss it out because there was a house we fancied – but it was a few kilometres below the village and the drive down the mountainside nearly shook the van to bits.
      We, too, had lunch in Capileiira yesterday. Well, if a couple of drinks and tapas can be classed as lunch. We’d been up to Pitres to view another house, which had the most spectacular mountain panorama in the world.
      Everyone around here seems to know each other, so I’m sure our paths are going to cross very soon.
      All the best, Alen


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