FanPost

Albertina's Vuelta: Up Arrate, the Orange Mountain

Straight from the start of stage 2, Urlaub and I departed the steamy heat of Pamplona and headed to Bilbao in a hurry to watch the pelota at Bizkaia. When we arrived we found the city in party mode, deep in the throes of its summer fiesta, Aste Nagusia. It was marginally cooler on this side of Euskadi, and our amazing hotel (we got a cheap special deal), which had the biggest bathroom I’ve ever had the privilege of using in one, was fully air conditioned! Huzzah. After a much needed good night’s sleep it was off across the city to the Euskotren, the Basque Country’s rather slow and sometimes rather idiosyncratic narrow gauge railway, which chugs through glorious scenery from Bilbao and into Gipuzkoa. The Urkiola is over there! As it wended its merry way towards Eibar (a very strange town which is almost literally in a hole and where the locals require escalators to get around), more and more people in orange joined the throng of passengers and expectation mounted. Once in Eibar, we alighted to find the route went right past the station. Along with many of our fellow travellers, we began to walk, following the race route up the iconic Basque mountain.

Only 8km to walk, with the Euskotren in the background

246913_964080933950_1980936283_n_medium

574849_964081008800_2083872076_n_medium

The climb starts on a residential street

531117_964415852770_1150348783_n_medium

Leaving Eibar...up, up and away!

255592_964416885700_589456420_n_medium

Climbing and climbing

580012_964417175120_119533329_n_medium

We didn't envy this woman pushing a pram all the way up...

255543_964419196070_1443964565_n_medium

As you emerge from the trees, the views get rather special

546564_964419335790_56410368_n_medium

195927_964420129200_91100498_n_medium

People wait

304993_964420787880_937075373_n_medium

One PdC editor, who shall remain nameless, asked if the word under 'Benat' said 'marriage'. Sadly it says 'Elorriaga'.

533227_964421870710_276735511_n_medium

Woweeee!

574591_964424086270_72952116_n_medium

530164_964423736970_43573641_n_medium

We sussed out various spots to watch, and decided on standing just at the top of the steepest section with about 3km to go. As we had time, however, we walked all the way down the descent after the summit to have a look at the finish line.

Here's the actual crest of the climb

581178_964425064310_1587067540_n_medium

And the finish line

255225_964424700040_828816323_n_medium

The crowds had grown up the time we got back down to our viewing spot

185585_964426401630_93064214_n_medium

547135_964426596240_1178913192_n_medium

424594_964427025380_2058477521_n_medium

Do you think I fit in ok?

424619_964426062310_989185075_n_medium

Any riders yet?

304962_964427289850_998721902_n_medium

How about now?

431454_964427494440_1120698683_n_medium

YES! Here's the lead group, with Roche heading Anton, Froome, Contador and Intxausti (I think my 'aupas' drowned out the rest of the baying crowd with some ease. I got QUITE excited ;)

418736_964427664100_43313143_n_medium

Landa follows soon-to-be-deposed leader Castroviejo

574819_964428292840_1240252356_n_medium

Anyone else coming? The crowds get ready to cheer those who were struggling rather more. The Basque fans cheer vociferously for everyone and are endlessly encouraging.

221975_964429520380_1029748488_n_medium

284912_964430653110_197516048_n_medium

A slightly fuzzy Terpstra grits his teeth

375878_964428736950_2116931441_n_medium

Not many of my actual race pictures are up to much as the riders were too close and I was clicking only with an iphone rather than a swanky camera, but I hope these capture some of the atmosphere! There's nothing quite like being a part of the orange wave on a Basque mountain, with a crowd so amazingly passionate about their own team but yet so generous in their support of all, who garner their respect simply for being cyclists.

The riders through, we huddled round a tiny little screen on someone's camping table in time to see that Valverde had won. Or had he? Nobody was sure, and there was no phone reception! Gah! Then we began the downhill march back to Eibar.

547342_964431466480_1286432270_n_medium

When we arrived back in Bilbao it was as if the Basque party had transferred from the mountains to the city. We wished we had more energy to enjoy Aste Nagusia; the place was rocking!

376775_964432394620_339997190_n_medium

559099_964432594220_296402668_n_medium

223960_964432274860_567710507_n_medium

And so to bed. In the morning, Barakaldo!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Podium Cafe

You must be a member of Podium Cafe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Podium Cafe. You should read them.

Join Podium Cafe

You must be a member of Podium Cafe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Podium Cafe. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.