Downhill from here

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At the Font de Partagat on the north side of the Aitana ridge on Sunday 23rd February, Carl’s wife Cait took this photo of we two intrepid explorers setting off to conquer the mountain tracks from the top of the Aitana back to Finestrat.  I was up here two weeks ago and foolishly suggested to Carl it would be a great downhill run.

Looking down on Puig Campana from the Aitana ridge

Looking down on Puig Campana from the Aitana ridge

As with all such great ideas, put into action without careful examination of the contours on the map, this was supposed to be an effortless ride…  apart from hanging on for grim death while descending at ridiculous speeds on boulder-strewn snaking mountain tracks at impossible gradients, with fingertips frozen to the metal brake handles in the chilling high altitude wind.

The first thing we failed to take into account was the long hard slog to the top of the ridge.  This was like trying to cycle up a moving vertical wall of loose boulders.

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Here we are ready to descend on the snaking vertical descent to Sella from the Aitana ridge. Every bend offered lovely opportunities for a broken collar bone or a fractured pelvis, but did we flinch?  Nope.  And Carl later confessed his back brake wasn’t working anyway.  Respect!

Halfway between the start of the descent and home (where we had expectations of Estrella Galicia beer), there was a slight unknown quantity: the ascent to the Castellets.  This was something Carl described as a very hard climb but I said, “It can’t be that serious.”

It was indeed that serious. Achingly serious, but it was made slightly less serious by Lola the escaped donkey who came flying down the track, bags flapping on her back, and trailing a very long chain.  I would liked to have put a photo of this on the blog, but it was a split-second action. I dropped my bike, stamped on the flying chain and brought the donkey to a halt. (A good thing I was wearing gloves!)  The owner came panting down the hill, cursing Lola and more concerned about the broken bags.  I sympathised and explained I had donkeys too. He didn’t seem to care and was quite pissed.

Hey ho… we pressed on to Finestrat.  The vision of a bottle of Estrella Galicia sustained us up the long slog towards the Castellets. Finally we were heading downhill to Finestrat.  We only saw one thing in the distance…

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Or to be more exact, four crates of them…  But it was not to be. The Bar Cantonet was closed.  We ended up in the Bar Moli drinking Mahou beer and cursing Rafa in the Cantonet for being closed.

We live a simple life here in Finestrat with uncomplicated pleasures, and we live to tell the tale.  So far.  But on the steep descent of the Aitana, risking life and limb, I did worry about my expired SIP card (the Spanish National Health Service card). Consequently, I went along this evening to the health centre in Vilajoiosa to see what the long and complicated bureaucratic process might be, in order to renew my health card. There was no queue and they put the old card into a computer…  My new card was issued in 90 seconds.  Thanks, Spain!  At times you are impressive.

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About Gareth Thomas

A fairly mixed career starting as an aircraft technician and later Franciscan friar eventually led into secondary school teaching. I settled in Spain where I teach Geography part-time and spend the rest of my time looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I have three blogs: a geography blog and a donkey blog begun in 2015, plus an old donkey blog which ran from 2010 to 2015.
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One Response to Downhill from here

  1. Alys says:

    Typical! I don’t suppose Lola saw any carrots in the end either…

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