A wing and a prayer on a folding bike in Spain. Day 2

What a day. Fantastic! But let’s start at the beginning.
When strolling round Balmaseda yesterday evening I found it absolutely enchanting. It seemed that the whole town was out on the pedestrianised streets and plazas: teeming with children playing, their parents drinking coffee or beer, and grandparents enjoying a good gossip. Why doesn’t this happen in Warnham? In addition to the human interest, the village possessed a number of interesting features including a mediaeval bridge

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After a makeshift breakfast (nuts, a peach, some ham, and chocolate biscuits washed down by a latte) I set off heading, guess what – up into the mountains. After a steady 30 minute ascent, the road I’m on comes to a dead end. Wrong mountain! Not to worry – it’s another fantastic day. Serendipity strikes: by the time I get back to the town, the tourist office is open. You may not believe this, but my Spanish is better than her English. I manage to learn that there is a hotel in Ramales, and even its name. Off we go
The scenery is fantastic full of vibrant colour

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With rapidly rising spirits (in spite of a seemingly endless climb) I start to think about choice, decision making and, dare I say it, fate. May I set one thing straight: in the old nurture/nature argument there is one unequivocal answer – both play a part. But the balance between the two? Yesterday I suggested that autistic people possess embedded brain neurochemistry which significantly affects their choices and behaviour patterns. But it doesn’t stop there: schizophrenia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, dyslexia, addiction ……. All of these “conditions” rightly attract sympathy and support. I’m now going to throw the cat amongst the pigeons by suggesting one more: criminality. Many (but not, I’m pleased to say, all) of my fellow magistrates would reel in horror at the suggestion that fault could ever be mitigated by any suggested brain condition. But hang on minute …. we’ve already accepted the principle: autistic people do sometimes behave in ways which might objectively be described as “criminal”. Although no “criminal gene” has been identified, it has been suggested that certain genes are linked to aggressive behaviour: a greater propensity for assault, ABH, criminal damage, even rape? The law is, after all, simply a social construct with no objective truth; it is clearly dependent on history and geography.
The brain is an amazingly complex and ever changing organ; billions of cells with trillions of connections. Do you know that it consumes about 20% of the body’s calorific intake? Its elasticity is a double-edged sword: on the one hand constantly adapting in response to a myriad of daily information; on the other, becoming more individually attuned to its owner. It’s often said that older people are set in their ways: maybe we are ….. through brain biology.
I pass a roadside verge of beautiful flowers

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“Bring flowers of the rarest ….. “. It is May after all.
I continue my journey, with birds singing and lizards scampering from under my tyres. On reaching Ramales I locate the recommended hotel. It’s closed! It’s only two o’clock; my plan is to book in, leave my panniers and explore the nearby mountains. Now what? After a few unanswered phone-calls I decide to continue westwards. Miraculously (fate?) a few miles does the road I come across an unpretentious pension. I stop for a beer ….. and yes, they do have a room. Prayers answered.
On with the plan. Possibly the most fantastic two hours of cycling I’ve ever enjoyed; unburdened with panniers, I take my time edging up the mountain pass. Glorious!

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Sorry about the finger!
After pausing near the top, I reluctantly start my descent back to the hotel
Distance travelled                 56 miles
Elevation gain                           4628 ft
Average speed                        9.2 mph    (getting faster!)

Hasta luego!

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