Woken by the drumming of heavy rain, I looked out the window to a sea of fog. Another wet day for Stage 12 of La Vuelta. Tempted as I was to hide under the duvet, there was a bike race waiting for us. I consoled myself with the fact that at least I wasn’t riding today.
The grey skies were no match for Àlvaro’s excitement, however. Galicia had been his annual family vacation spot for as long as he could remember, and he rattled off facts and memories merrily as we drove to the start.
Apparently the area has two official languages – the native Galician and the Spanish language, Castilian. The locals are split down the middle as to which they prefer to speak.
There was no blazing start today, the riders gingerly navigating the slippery cobblestones of Mondoñedo’s town square.
The other photographers laughed when I outlined our ambitious plan for the day. But what they didn’t know about was my secret weapon - 00 Don. Àlvaro knew these roads like the back of his hand, no spy gadgetry required.
Our first photo spot was by the river, a flat grey ribbon under the moody sky. In the curiously hushed surrounds, I could hear the hum of wheels and conversation between riders as the peloton passed.
The next stop brought us to the Galician coast. We had now travelled from one end of Spain to the other since the Vuelta rolled out in the South. The waves crashed against the rocky shore, and I put on my first jacket of the trip to shield against the stiff ocean breeze – very different from the flat Mediterranean and sweltering heat of Málaga.
The gato who got the crema
We bumped into the other photographers at this point, their only stop before heading straight to the finish. 00 Don had more ambitious plans however, with two more photo opportunities scheduled.
Hurtling towards the next location, we could see helicopters circling above and a long line of traffic. But the Don flicked on the hazards and charged straight to the front, dropping me metres from the intersection just before the peloton came into view. James Bond, eat your heart out.
Busting through the tape on the intersection, we exited the race course. As we drove, I caught glimpses of the colourful peloton on a parallel road. At the next intersection we caught them again flying down the descent towards Viveiro. Feeling as pleased with ourselves as the gato who got the crema, we swaggered towards the finish line.