You’re probably thinking “He’s finally flipped” or “Oh boy, he does like to tease”, hm, the latter is undeniably true. A few may, no doubt from a misspent yoof (family spelling) have recognised the lyrics which are from Rory Gallagher’s song called, and this I had forgotten, “A million miles from home”. “The bar has lost all its people, the yellow man has caught the last bus home”. If you don’t know it or him and like rock music, go find it: a great anthem.
However, it’s not as daft as it seems (I like think I never am quite as daft as I’m seeming). My new name comes from these two guys:
OK. There’s only one there and you have to look really carefully, and probably need quite a good access to this site, to see him, but he’s cycling ahead of me on the bridge into Pontomarin. The town beond him was apparently shifted, stone by stone, brick by brick from somewhere down below us so it survived the creation of the reservoir.
OK. This is a better picture of them:
OK. No it’s not, but it’s how I got the name “yellow man”. I stopped to grab a shot of that as I loved it. Normally yellow arrows are for walking pilgrims and white ones for cycling ones but we both go the same way at this point, some way after Portomarin. As I snapped it thinking “Is that really how people see pilgrims on bikes?” I started to digest that there’d been a yell, probably to me, from behind me.
I had yelled “Hola” or something similar back, without thinking much, perhaps added “Buen camino” but had wondered why someone had sounded so specifically friendly. I turned round and saw the guys, and the bikes.
We’d been playing leapfrog with each other since leaving Sarria (more on that later) and so I went over and said “hello” and, on the basis of bits of conversation I’d heard on the way, misguessed that they were German and would speak English. Ooops, they were Dutch and said they were fortunate not to be German but seemed forgiving about the mistake. They were about my age ± 5 years I’d guess, actually, probably 62/63 ± 55 years (my age estimation is no better than the Garmin’s height estimation). We exchanged pleasantries about having come far and being nearly there and seeing other cyclists but not often talking to them. That’s when I learned that I was known to them as “the yellow man”. I first thought it was respect to my panniers, and only later remembered that, as it had been damn cold mist and fog until about 30 minutes before that, I’d been wearing my lurid reflective yellow shower proof top and then, when the mist/mizzle broke, had removed that to reveal the full glory of my very, very yellow bamboo top: the only other long sleeved thing I’ve got with me.
We had a brief but very warm conversation. You probably get to have much more of that sort of thing walking and I think it has suited me that don’t get that much of that cycling: I had too much thinking to do. But it was another good moment of contact, as had conversation with a young woman from Madrid at the earlier café/bar where I’d stopped, been able to ditch the yellow long sleeved top, soak up some welcome sun, a café cortado and un vino tinto (a glass of red wine) that J would have described, accurately, as having initial industrial notes and a strong aftertaste of diesel. It, the coffee, the sun and the brief conversation with the lady from Madrid who loves London and has visited us nine times, were the turning point in a day of two halves for me. Not downhill all the way from there, but completely different. Oh, and the wine and first rate coffee cost two euros!
So, to come back to where I started, I’m the yellow man and the words from Rory Gallagher’s song came into my mind a bit later, on one of the hills (songs seem to come into my mind when most cardiac output is going to the legs rather than to the thinking box).
It’s really been a day of two halves in the old cliché. From about 08.40 as I left the hotel in Sarria, to about 12.00ish, it was damn cold, a damp, sticky mist, and it climbed. Exactly as my guide book had warned: these aren’t mountains, but it was a long, depressing climb for a very long way before a wonderful long, sweeping descent, with a lorrry windshielding me some of it, before Pontomarin. Then … more damn up and down, seemingly mostly up, and more sticky mist and misery.
The sun didn’t show at all until 11.20 and that was just a tease. However, as you can see from those ‘photos, things improved. The road continued to emulate a rollercoaster but only a little one, and the sun really did come out and I made it not just to Palas del Rei, as planned, but about 15km further to Melide/Melite (not sure which is Gallego/Gallician and which Castilian/Spanish) and, despite the grinding pull up into it, and the visual impression that, like Sarria, it was a late 20th Century dump aesthetically:
- I’m nearly there: four hours cycling tomorrow and only 56km according to Google
- Meli[t|d]e is not a dump, well, it is in many ways, but it has a small but absolutely lovely town museum and great churches.
So here I am:
Very odd thinking that the adventure is nearly over, at least in term of making it to Compostela. I’m digesting that and, in a good way, and not about any negativity about my home, “A million miles from home” captures something of that. Old people here feel they have earned the right to sit on benches, on their doorsteps, wherever they like and, much though I love London, I’m not sure that’s so true “back home”. Much to digest and perhaps I’ll look for food. As ever, I don’t seem to have left enough time in the day for this site/blog!
Anyone who’s reading this, share some warmth from Gallicia and feel you’ve earned the right to be reading this and tell myself I’ve earned the right to be sitting here writing it.
P.S. If, like me, these maps amuse you. Here is today. I’d like to see a temperture one. I think the data is up on the Garmin repository, maybe one day I’ll work out how to unleash it and add a temperature plot for today and the whole journey.
And heart rate: