Yes, that’s how long it takes for your well laid out travel plans to unravel quicker than a Labour Party (that applies to NZ and Australia now it seems) and I got stung twice today on that front.
I’m debating calling today ‘Day 1’ of Spain, as all I have done is travel… Yes, 27.5 hours in fact, door 2 door (D2D even), so a pretty loooong transit and I am very glad to now be kicking it in Torla, getting prepped for Day 1 of riding and the Vuelta tomorrow.
So, just how did I get caught out by 30 seconds twice? It seems that at times Travel can be a game of inches and marginal gains and I got on the wrong end of that today, with unsavoury results.
To set the scene, I had 3 major deadlines to make today and they were all well laid out, a little tight in places, but perfectly doable assuming all the dominos fell in the right sequence:
- Train from airport to Barcelona Sants
- Train from BS to Zaragoza Delicias
- Train from Zaragoza Delicias to Sabinanigo
All was going superbly well and to plan, easy flight, 8 hours of sleep, 2 shit movies (‘Fast & Furious 16′ and ‘The Internship’, come on Vince, you can do better) and we touched down in Barcelona 5 minutes early! Too easy… It seems this thinking was fatal. Usually when you get to Changi airport it takes 4.5 minutes to get your bags. Seems in Barca it takes 45 minutes, which wasn’t really in the DN air tight run sheet. No matter, I have some contingency.
To train, first you must bus (cold shiver) to T2, not something I had considered, but we had time. Down the ramp and I could see the green bus. I could also see the back end of two slow moving and rather cuddly girls who clearly wanted to block the way and move as slowly as possible. As we slowly closed in on the bus and I had started to think about ramming them with my bike case, I watched in horror as its doors closed and it pulled away, the first incident of 30 seconds too late…
Not to worry, plenty of free buses and as dad always says, they’ll be another one along soon. There was, 5 minutes later, so no biggie. We were still super green. I was doing the maths and this was ok. Turns out I am shit at maths and I was soon punished for my sums being average.
To get on the train (which I could see), you need a ticket… I got mine, then lost 20 seconds explaining to the dude next to me how to buy a ticket (he was Spanish, I wasn’t, WTF?)… I then lost another 10 seconds when the chick in front of me stuck her card in the machine the wrong way and then stood there wondering why it wouldn’t work. And yes, that’s all it took. I got through the gate and heard the BEEP BEEP BEEP (or FUCK FUCK FUCK as it was for me) sound and it was OVER, the train left with me advancing on it like a rabid otter with a jetpack on my slippery back. 30 seconds late…
At this point, old me would have laid down on the concrete and had a tantrum. New Nomad me though just dropped a few C Bombs (aimed at the departing train) and quickly estimated we were still ok, Airport trains come every 20 mins, so we could still just make our major connection from Barca Sants to Zaragoza Delicias. Phew. Yes, trains go every 20 mins… on weekdays. Its Sunday. C*nt.
So, it was time for contingency mode. I arrived at Sants in time to watch my 1pm train slither out without me, so it was time for the 2pm train and by my calculating, I could still make my next major connection to Sabinanigo in time, I would have about 20 minutes to make the 3.41pm train once I got to Zaragoza.
I actually arrived in time to see ‘my’ train leaving the station… Joy. A few C bombs later and it was time to invoke the contingency plan, again, like another cock shaped domino falling down…. Yes, the ultimate in dread. What’s the worst thing that could have happened to me? You guessed it:
That’s right… A bus. Not only did I have to catch one as the contingency option, but I had to sit around here waiting 1.5 hours for the exact shit box to turn up. Given this was the penultimate leg of the trip, I was less than impressed. But, as an upside, the bus does provide a reasonable platform for the first Spanish panoramic shots:
I did have time to reflect that this was my most complex logistics to date, all the other trips I have arrived at the airport and been collected, so this was always going to be a good test. Learning? Build in lots of buffer and always have a contingency!
Yes, at least the bus took me back into the mountains, my faux natural habitat. Some 2 hours later I was at Sabinanigo and ready to be picked up by Marcelino Garcia, our head guide and a former Pro cyclist for 10 years! Riding for ONCE and CSC… I have started some low level brain picking and will ramp that up in the days ahead! I am wiped out, but now set up in the hotel where we’ll be for a few days and have commenced the all important Black Ops assembly for its Euro debut… 4 to 5 Sowsages please:
Its neat that this nice little hotel has paper thin walls, as I have been finishing this post the couple next door have been dropping the HAMMER and shagging up a storm. I did my best not to listen, which was easy when it was just a bed squeaking, but once they put it into the big chain ring and added their own sound effects its been a tad hard to ignore… Welcome to MF Spain!