Day Seventy Six: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

I left the bright sunlit section of trail and entered a dark overgrown area, home of hobbits, elves and tolls, where trees come to life to reach out and grab you by the ankles. The trail was made darker by the fact that due to the sudden contrast, my eyes had not yet adjusted to the gloom. Having been through this section a week ago, I knew it was covered in moss covered rocks that were slippery and dangerous.

I realized that my legs felt wet and whilst negotiating a slow speed rocky area I risked a quick glance down.  My first thought was that I had brushed up against a cactus and had sliced open my shins.  My heart sank at the thought of couple of hours spent with tweezers pulling needles out of my legs. Then it struck me that I felt no discomfort. How odd.  Perhaps it was the adrenalin rush, the endorphin high that was delaying what was to be a mind numbing, glove-chewing, dancing around swearing type of pain.  I held my breath waiting for it to hit me but it never came.

I stopped and pulled over to take a good look.  At first glance it did not look pretty. However upon closer inspection and with a sigh of relief, I discovered the crimson liquid running down my legs was berry juice.  I was covered in pieces of squashed berries. The path I was on ran beneath low hanging branches that were, unbeknownst to me, laden with fruit.  The ripe berries had fallen to the ground and covered the entire track, a soft red blanket that ran along for almost forty metres.

As I had cycled through them, they had flicked up from my front wheel, and now covered everything.  Juice was dripping off my Camelbak straps. My heart-rate monitor was obscured by a chunk that had neatly covered the face of the display.  For a brief moment I was tempted to taste the juice but decided that would be daft.  Who knows what type of berries they were.  They might kill bears, let alone humans.

I carried on cycling, heading towards the highest point of my ride, a large watchtower that sits above a vineyard near the small town of Allela. The vineyard had been carved into the side of a mountain and is responsible for producing white wines.  They are described as being – pale, straw coloured, aromatic and fruity, crisp and very refreshing.

I thought it was rather ironic that I was cycling next to a vineyard whilst covered in mashed berries and wondered what a wandering viticulturist would make of me.

My mind then started to wander, as it often does when I’m riding.  I began to think about wine. About the grapes, the whole wine culture thing.  The sniffing, swirling of glasses and all the little rituals.  I thought of wine in cardboard boxes that cost less than water. And of wine in bottles that cost more than my bike.  Squashed berries.  It all starts with squashed berries, or grapes to be precise.  So maybe this ride was the start of something superb.  Perhaps this trail would mature into part of a loop that I would grow to love, to savour, to swirl around in my head when I’m stuck in a traffic jam longing for a piece of the outdoors.  I did not know the answer to that random thought, however I knew that I could not stop moving because all the berry juice was attracting every insect for miles.  I was the star attraction in the ‘all you can eat berry juice extravaganza’.  It was time to start descending and head home for a hot shower.

I turned off onto a narrow trail that descends for twenty minutes and smiled as my iPod began to play a classic Peter Gabriel track.  I leave you with it.  It had me signing as I cut a line through the rocks and gullies.  Life was good. I was on my very own big dipper.

“You could have a big dipper, going up and down around the bends….”


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