A day at La Vuelta: Soaking up Pro Cycling in Burgos, Spain

With the dramatic 800 year old cathedral in the background and the folksy song of this year’s Vuelta filling the streets, Burgos feels electric. Not long ago traveling and riding bikes with new people in new places seemed novel, so exploring a city just a couple hours away from home in Madrid feels like an unlikely adventure. The night before our ride with the folks at E330 followed by the time trial, images of undiscovered passes and gold helmets flying through Burgos’ medieval city center swirl around in my head. Maybe it’s the magical concoction of professional racing, medieval cathedrals, and riding to the mountains, but I am buzzing and sleep is inconceivable.

We start with a couple obligatory coffees in a plaza before heading out into the windy, hot weather, which becomes such a prevalent topic of conversation that it feels like an evil character in the story of our day--both for us and the pro cyclists. We get to know the homies at E330 quite well in only a few hours, which tends to happen when your first encounter is a 100 km bike ride together. As we gently climb towards Pineda de la Sierra, the fantastic views of dark green pines and clear blue water push the heat to the back of our minds. After a pitstop in this picturesque pueblo and a few coca-colas, we’re spinning as a unit against the wind and towards lunch.  

We migrate back to Burgos’ where we wind our way in and out of race barriers, pause to ask if we can pass, marvel at the pros warming up three hours ahead of time. With bags of bomb asian food hanging from our handlebars, we arrive at E330, which lies just 300 meters from the cathedral and thus 300 meters from the finish line. Between beer, ramen, and laughter, we begin to feel like content stable humans again. We emerge from our E330 cave to the street where children and grandmas alike have already congregated along the edge of the metal divider. With shoes off and beer in hand, we join them. 

As the sun melts away, we make noise. In our salty kits, we immerse ourselves into the spirit of the speedy time trial. We’re yelling, banging on “El Pozo” signs, laughing together: an evening that seems dreamily pre-quarantine. We’re away from Madrid, pedaling with new people, eating unfamiliar treats, and watching Primoz Roglic do what he does best.