Girona“When you finish something like this, you look back and say to yourself: ‘It took a lot, but in the end we’re done. It’s in the bag, I’ve got it,'” says Ramon Manrique (Sabadell, 1981). He already has the medal of finisher of the longest race of the Sea Otter Europe, the festival that has brought 50,000 bike lovers to Girona.
He pedaled 340 kilometers with more than 3,000 meters of elevation gain, leaving for Olot to reach France and returning to Girona after passing through La Jonquera and the Costa Brava, in 18 hours, 47 minutes and 11 seconds, equaling the time in the last place with Jaime Palomino and Jordi Romero from Terrasse. “Those who face it thinking that arriving is already a success are the ones who end up happier,” he says. The satisfaction of having overcome the challenge compensates for the suffering. “It’s fatal to arrive last. And when we got there I told my wife and she said: “No, the last ones are the ones who left. You’re done”, he says.
When they finished it was three quarter past one in the evening and it had been more than six hours since the first place finisher had crossed the finish line. Only Manrique’s wife and the organizer of the test remained. Says Romero (1975): “We were clear that we would arrive even if there was no one left, not even the bow, so you no longer do it because you expect applause from the people. These things strengthen you, in the sense that you shoot more than the circumstances you encounter and prove to yourself that faster or more gradually, in this case more gradually, you make your way and get there.” All three admit that the best moment of the whole day was when they finally arrived and were able to put on dry clothes.
Riding a bike serves to disconnect and escape. To focus on the here and now”
Jordi Palomino gravel biker
Because they arrived soaked, after hours of rain dodging mud and puddles and suffering from the cold. “The fear was getting hypothermia,” remembers Palomino (1973). The turning point was in Jonquera, where many runners left. “We went into a bar and had two or three very hot coffees each, to get our body temperature up. We knew we had seven hours left that could be really fucked up, but we looked into each other’s eyes and said, ‘Yeah, yeah , forward», he points out.
Palomino claims that these “adventures” are still like “a software update, because they make you evolve, optimize, be more efficient, smarter, better”. He talks about the bike as “a medicine” that generates “endorphins” and as a tool “to disconnect and escape, to focus on the here and now”. “It’s like Buddhist meditation. It’s quitting work, putting the cell phone on silent, pedaling, being silent and in touch with nature, hearing noises. And not thinking. Or reflecting on many things. Me, if I have to to make a decision, I take the bike and go out for two hours,” emphasizes Manrique.
The problems worsened shortly after the passing of Jonquera. “My brake broke: the pad was touching the disc and the front wheel was braking,” explains Manrique. The noise was unpleasant, but he continued: “If it had been me alone, I would have folded. Because I wouldn’t have had to go ahead for anyone. Whether we realize it or not, we are social beings and we look to the community for help.” It was still raining, but they felt a certain pleasure. “I always think of some words from Kilian Jornet. If you keep pedaling or running, the bad moment will eventually pass. You say to yourself: “Now we are having a moment I jump, so resignation, resilience and let’s continue” or “We’re already soaked and we won’t dry ourselves off, so let’s continue”. You suffer, it takes forever and your ass hurts, but you push on and eventually you finish. In the end, the sky opens up and the sun comes out a little. And the bad moment happens, on the bike and in life,” he says.
A subject of ego and self-love
It stopped raining shortly after Figueres. They joked that they could be at home watching Netflix. “We had to hurry because if we didn’t we would be eliminated as a the squid game“, explains Romero laughing. Arriving in Palamós they saw lightning. Shortly before they had passed through Palafrugell. Manrique remembers: “We passed three streets from my brother’s house. He thought: “You’ve already spent a thousand hours on your ass, soaked and frozen, suffering like a wretch, with cramps and a flat tire. Say goodbye to these two. Guys, so far. Call the tete, store the bike in the garage, take a shower and sleep here». Because besides, I had to go there on Sunday for my niece’s birthday. But I continued. And I’m done.”
Because? “Each person can have their reasons. Mine is an issue of ego and self-love. I say to myself: “If you quit, you won’t forgive yourself for it. You didn’t need to quit. You quit because you gave up.” And one in life must not give up. Or must try never to give up. You can lose, you can lose a thousand times, and the defeats I accept because in life I have lost many more times than I won, but you can’t give up and lower your arms,” argues Manrique.
Already on Sunday, at his niece’s birthday, he was told: “Everyone told me that I’m burnt. And that it’s not healthy. And I: “Yes, yes, if you’re right”. It can’t be healthy to burn 8,000 calories in a day and end up destroyed, no. But it has an addictive point of self-improvement that for me more than anything else.”