Segovia to Cuenca
‘ …there is no way, my comrade: trust
your own quick step‘ Don Paterson, ‘Road’ (re-setting of Machado’s ‘Cantares’)
And indeed there was no way … Even our old friends in the Guardia Civil (!) couldn’t show us the way forward….
So we became proper Knights Errant, erring our way through lanes and woods and scrubland, tackling giants (boulders), muleteers (mountain bikers), castles (barns), enemy armies (sheep), and fording deep dangerous rivers…
But the three gallant caballeros won through and entered the city of Cervantes himself – Alcalá de Henares. It’s good to see that the great writer is still very much part of the community. Statues to him everywhere, streets named after him and his characters. His house is a museum… except we don’t think there’s a single remnant of the man himself there; perhaps not even the bricks themselves… (Years ago, I went on a Quixote tour, with promises to see the actual windmills he fought – except he didn’t, he fought giants, or imagined ones, and anyway the mills weren’t nearly old enough to have been around in the 17th century. Oh and the Don didn’t exist himself either… Quixotic or whit?!)
‘I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.’ Don Quixote / Cervantes
Here’s a short (irreverent, and slightly updated) audio portrait of one of fiction’s greatest characters…
It must be the enchantment of La Mancha. It drives us all mad. (Although there is a very real reason why we’re singing this song… Points for anyone who can deduce what it is. And points mean…)
‘Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.’ Quixote / Cervantes
We are cycling such beautiful roads, watching the landscape change from the misty mountains of Galicia to the flat arable fields of Leon, rugged Guadarrama tumbling down into the vast central Plain, the rolling expanse of the Alcarria and La Mancha. But everywhere there is a repeated sad story.
A day or two ago, after a hard hot cycle, we needed provisions. We were relieved to arrive at a little village. Our hopes were soon dashed – no bar, no shop. Only one elderly man who told us forlornly that there used to be all of those things. The Spanish interior is emptying out, and in every region. Our destination for the day was a larger, and pretty town, Estremera. We met María (below) who told us the same story. All her family have left for the cities; Estremera is dying on its feet.
‘A decade in the country can slip down the gullet with the deceptive smoothness of an oyster. Yet the last ten years have marked rural life more than anything done to it for centuries ‘ Laurie Lee, writing about the Cotswolds, but tragically applicable to Spain
It seemed to Eddie and me that the Gran Organizador had managed to disprove the universally accepted maxim that What Goes Up Must Come Down. Until we came to this magnificent descent. Three things to note: we’re trying to go slowly so Liam can film us; Eddie and I never pedal – for the first time in a month- exhilarating but scary! And El G. O. films the entire thing with only one hand on his handlebars, wheeching round steep bends….
‘…there is no way, my comrade: trust
your own quick step, the end’s delay,’ Paterson / Machado Cantares
More often than not, the Sexygenerians played to adoring throngs in towns and cities. Aye we did. But for some obscure reason we were often directed to remote spots out of hearing to do our set. Perhaps they reckon it helped they hay mature and soften…
‘Spain is not Europe. It is not even Africa-in-Europe. It is an island cut off by pride and geography.’ Laurie Lee
You may have noticed that these blogs are getting backlogged. The honest truth is, as we near the end of a month’s cycling, interviewing, discussing, blogging, busking we’re running out of time and energy. The next blog will take us to the jewel that is Cuenca, and nearly up to the end of our tour. Stuff happens, I can promise you that. Not all of it good – tiredness catches up with the Tres Locos Hidalgos! But we will try and bring you up to date as soon as we can.