Day Forty Two: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

A traditional flamenco guitar is made of Spanish cypress and spruce woods, which accounts for its characteristic body colour. It is lighter in weight and a bit smaller than a classical guitar, to give the sound a “brighter” and more percussive quality. Volume has traditionally been very important because the guitarists needed to be heard over the sound of the dancers’ nailed shoes.

I was riding with a professional flamenco guitarist, who like his guitar was quite a bit smaller and lighter than average.  He was a mountain climber, a specialist that shines when the gradients increase and the road points upwards.  Yesterday I was riding straight into a soul destroying headwind, following the N11 along the coast towards Arenys de Mar. The wind was evil. It was not gusting.  It was a constant, in your face type of wind.  A wind carrying sand off the beaches.  A wind doing its very best to halt my progress.

I started off the ride in the small chainring, which on my wife’s bike is a 39 tooth inner ring.  To combat the wind I was keeping a high cadence of around 100-105 but was still crawling along at 28kmh.  It was getting monotonous, the scenery was not changing fast enough for my liking so I decided to break up the monotony and do some intervals.  The plan was to ride for one minute in the big ring, using a 53×17 gear ratio.  I would ride flat out for the whole minute, then shift back to the small ring and recover for a couple of minutes, repeating this for as long as I could maintain the one minute flat out pace.  I had just completed my fifth interval and was in recovery mode when the bike riding guitarist overtook me.  I slotted in behind him and had to grit my teeth as he sped up when he realized I was on his wheel.

In general anyone that races a bike has to have a competitive streak running through them and this chap was no different, he gradually sped up. I caught him looking at our shadows cast in the road to see if I was still behind him.  I decided to work with him and we began to share the lead, each one trading place at the front at regular intervals.

I was just beginning to wonder how long we would be doing our ‘through and off’ when the other guy motioned that he was going to turn around at the next roundabout.  We would then have a very strong tailwind.  I shifted up into the big ring ready for the speed that was to ensue.

For a little climber, the guy was fast.  We were knocking on 50kmh for most of the way back.  He put in some really hard turns on the front and I responded with the best that I could give.  When we finally had to slow down, nearing Allela, he began to chat.  In perfect English.

He told me that he raced for a club and spent the rest of the time playing his guitar.  He was a professional flamenco guitarist. What a lovely life.  To make a living playing music at night and keeping fit on the bike during the day.  Not a bad one.

I took a good look at him.  He had a musicians funky designer facial hair, all sculptured and slightly mad looking, it was a facial advert of his creative leanings. He was a compact little chap. I am certainly no giant on a bike but this chap was really tiny.  I thought about how strong he must have been on a steep climb given his slight build and made a mental note to check out his website to view his race results.

Upon returning home I jumped into the shower and then had a peek at his website.  Unfortunately I could not find any of his race results.  This does not mean they are not posted up there. The whole site was in Catalan and I could not understand a word.  It made me think about the Catalan language.  Being pretty hungry after my ride, it also made me think about Catalan food.

What is Catalan food? A brace of rabbits, grilled over an open fire, watched over by a man with a dense moustache and unruly eyebrows? A bubbling cauldron of prawns and monkfish, cooking upon a gas stove aboard a trawler moored off the town of Roses? An elegant salad of beans and crisp celery leaves served with marinated salt cod, perched delicately upon a cool designer plate in a trendy restaurant in Barcelona? I think it is all of these.  I think I need to try to cook more of it.

Fish Section at our local supermarket

Fish Section at our local supermarket

I have been living here since mid-July of this year, when I arrived on my motorcycle from the England. I have gone out of my way to sample the local food when eating out, trying as many different dishes as possible whenever the chance has arisen.  However I seem to purchase the same items each time I go to the supermarket.

I am not referring to things like toilet roll, toothpaste, milk or butter.  it is the things that make up our main meals.  You see I always seem to end up on a sort of supermarket autopilot, visiting the same isles, the same shelves and selecting the same brands of food.

I have decided to buck the trend.  You know, be a little bit daring, nudge myself out of my supermarket comfort zone and try to fill my trolley with a variety of food, with at least a third of it new, as yet never purchased items.

Barcelona is known for seafood.  We live on the edge of the ocean.  So it is rather fitting that I should buy more fish.  I talked to my wife about this and she has some pretty clear ideas about what sort of fish she likes. Rule number one is that it can’t taste of fish.  So off to the supermarket I go, in seach of new food. I hope to find something typically Catalan, something traditional, in the same way that a flamenco guitar is traditional.

Who knows, I may even find some non-fishy fish. 🙂


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