Later in the evening we were joined by another couple, apparently close friends of our hosts who lived a kilometre down the road in Pola de Lena. Immediately in high spirits, we were given the distinct impression that they met together quite regularly to share a bit of local banter and a few drinks around the bar. Using a medley of English, French and Spanish, and even charades when conventional language didn’t work, the six of us had loads of fun trying to help each other understand what it was we were trying to say.
The subject of cycling came up many times throughout the evening. Patriotic about their mystical mountain, La Gamonal, and the Spanish cyclists who call the Asturias home, each of our new acquaintances told us they’d watched the Vuelta’s procession parade by on numerous occasions. A trifle inebriated, having reached the time of the evening where assertion is used more often than tact, Roz made a throwaway line in reference to her dislike of Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador. In less than a millisecond a collective gasp went around the small room. Winner of all three Grand Tours, including the Vuelta a España on three occasions (in 2008, 2012 and 2014), Contador wasn’t just a favourite, he was god. No amount of foreign language snafus was going to save her as the tenor of the conversation suddenly became more serious.
Finally, like a scythe slicing through hay, Roz cleared the air of the building awkwardness around the room. Choosing her words more carefully than seconds earlier, she proclaimed a toast to Asturian rider Sammy Sánchez, who hails from the region’s capital city Oviedo. He being born just a 60 minute ride up the road and regarded as one of the most popular cyclist’s in northern Spain, it was a timely response.
Rejoicing over another Spanish beer from Agustin’s wide collection, we continued on, almost until midnight. Though a little done in next morning, it was well worth it. Thanks to Sammy Sánchez and our wonderful hosts, we’d undoubtedly been treated to our best night’s entertainment so far.