Madrid 2005 – Racing Is Only During The Daytime!
PEZ Spanish Liaison, Alastair Hamilton, was on the job again for the recently completed World Championships in Madrid, but for Alastair, the fun is in the sideline festivities. Bike racing? Bah, gimme some good food and drink and worry about that other stuff later.
Another hot day in the car saddle to Madrid, but thank god this time only a short section of that I had to pay on. When I got to Madrid – traffic jams. I don’t think this is normal, but it could be, as the other people looked tough, like it happened every day, but the World Champs were in town and the biggest road in the city was closed.
What was I to do, I had waited an hour in a stand-still queue, I had my old La Vuelta accreditation on the car, maybe that would do, so I ask a policeman, “Hello I’m a stupid foreign journalist can you help me get to the press-room?” Well it worked, first a car escorted me along the course, then two motorbikes took me to the press office, nice!
More freebies to collect, and I received a pass for the car park (gold dust) from the very helpful Maria Angeles who has saved my life now so often at La Vuelta, PEZ owes her BIG time.
Now to take photos of the course and anything interesting. First the corner 600 meters before the line, it wasn’t closed to traffic, I still got some photos but couldn’t find a bike to ride ’round it and would have been killed if I had tried. So next it was to the important task of finding some interesting bars on the course to watch the race from over the weekend. I saw the Devil and managed to add to the collection of the famous with PEZ jersey.
It was getting a bit dark but I still found some really nice bars. On the course near the Start/Finish area there wasn’t much, but a little distance away the place was jumping, beer, wine, and “mucho tapas.” For Spain it was not cheap but considering this was Madrid it wasn’t too bad and a few bars had to be sampled, first Casa Paco, a fine selection of Jamons and sausages, wine was Rioja, I think.
Next, Revuelta, a potato salad and an un-named vino tinto, needed proper food now, so I went to a strange place called Almendros 13, and we had a plate of what looked like crisps (USA chips) covered in fried eggs and mayonnaise and little bits of Jamon, very nice but they only sold white wine, not my favorite.
Our next port of call was El Madroсo a bit quieter, nice wine some meat balls in a nice sauce. To finish off, a cafй called Brujas, this means witches, but was a good way to finish the day.
OK, so that’s the night before the race, for tomorrow I’ve been told there is a bar near the University where they have a big screen TV and the race passes twice a lap, so that’s where I’ll be. I must thank my guide for last night, ex-pro Chris Tonge who now lives in Madrid and owns a women’s underwear shop, a lot easier than racing in Belgium, I’m sure!