30.8.14

Cycling In Spain: Arriving in Trigueros

Cyclists on bicycles at a roundabout on the
 road into Loulé, Portugal.
Now that the Vuelta a España is into its second week I thought I’d reminisce a little about some of my own experiences of cycling around Spain. Some of these accounts will feature in my next book, titled ‘You Belter España’. Having transported my Bianchi to the diverse Mediterranean country three times, it has given me many vivid memories I’ll forever cherish. But as you’ll hopefully discover, there’s more to Spain than just cycling........

Once across the Rio Odiel, north of Huelva, the traffic had all but dissipated. With only 15 kilometres of flat open road left to travel, it was the easiest part of what had turned out to be a fascinating day’s ride.

The town of Trigueros held some fascination for me as well. Isolated in the heart of an arid plain, the distant view of it up ahead gave it the air of a ghost town. Seemingly no closer the further I travelled, it reminded me of the opening three minutes of the 1973 Clint Eastwood western, ‘High Plains Drifter’, the rather sordid story of a mysterious stranger who delivers his own sense of justice to the crooked mining town of Lago.

To the hypnotic whine of Dee Barton’s musical score, Eastwood’s ‘Stranger’ nonchalantly approaches the outskirts of town on the back of a horse. Aloof and inscrutable, we soon learn that he doesn’t think twice about mistreating and exploiting its inhabitants, seemingly, just because he can.

Old boat lying idle on the western shore of the Rio
Guadiana; at Ayamonte, just across the border into Spain.
A mixture of western and horror, there is more to Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter than meets the eye. It’s not until near the end of the film that the audience presumably discovers his purpose. He is here to avenge the death of a marshall, Jim Duncan, who was whipped to death by three vicious gunfighters, while the town stood and watched.

 Ironically assigned the role of town protector, the Stranger orders a medley of curious measures, including appointing a dwarf barber, Mordecai, as both sheriff and mayor, having the entire town painted red and its name changed to ‘Hell’; an obvious metaphor for its corruption and immorality.

At the film’s end, as the Stranger slowly rides through what’s left of the town, he passes Mordecai carving a fresh wooden marker, which reads ‘Marshall Jim Duncan. Rest in Peace’. Vanishing into the cloud of dust as mysteriously as he came, he leaves the audience to ponder his identity once the closing credits have faded to black.