Wednesday, 13 February 2008

On the relative merits of cycling in Spain versus Canada

This post will likely be edited several times before I am quite happy with it. However, the goal of it is to come up with 10 reasons why cycling in Spain is better than in Canada, as well as 10 reasons why the reverse is true. Please factor in the tongue in cheek. Suggestions welcome.

10 reasons why cycling in Spain is better than in Canada
1. Café con leché not is only better than a "double-double from Timmy's", it even sounds better.
2. Cheap hostales. Try finding a room for the equivalent of 15 Euros a night in Canada.
3. Castles, lots of them. Unless, I detour to Louisbourg, I will only be near two sets of fortifications on my whole trip (Quebec City and Île Sainte-Hélène. (Ironically, the latter was designed by the Duke of Wellington who is of some note in Spain. His effigy in Salamanca.))
Two castles was a sloooow day in Spain.
4. Lots of history. Even Quebec City's 400th anniversary bash pales in comparison to Spain where you have Roman, Visigothic, Moorish, Medieval and Counter-Reformation periods before you get to 1608! Heck, from some points of view, the history of Spain has gotten quieter since then! Well, apart from the Peninsular War and the Spanish Civil War. ;-)
5. Lots of well paved back roads. Even ones that aren't on the map.
6. Chocolaté con churros.
7. Jamón ibérico de bellota. Imagine a contented pig. A big, black, contended pig that spends its life happily eating acorns in cork grove beside a quiet road, with only the occasional bother of a cycle tourist taking its photograph. (Such as the ones below.)
Now imagine a ham cured from this pig in a manner not unlike that of prosciutto, and cut into thin, lean slices. That is jamón ibérico de bellota with an incredible subtle nuttiness to its flavour. As far as I know, the only jamón ibérico de bellota in Canada is the small amount smuggled in by jamónophiles.
8. It is easy to find a bar that doesn't play loud music.
9. Longer biking seasons.
10. Freshly squeezed orange juice, everywhere.

10 reasons why cycling in Canada is better than in Spain
1. I am fluent in all the official languages.
2. Canadians campaign much less aggressively than the Spanish.
3. The ease of finding smoke-free dining.
4. Poutine (at least in Quebec).
5. It's easy to find powdered Gatorade.
6. I can "read" the road better. (That is to say, I know, more or less, what the roads will do before they actually do so.)
7. Real milk. The EU bureaucrats that structured the milk business in Europe in such a way that made UHT milk the norm shall find a circle in Hell reserved for them.
8. Superior biking infrastructure, especially in Quebec. In the last six months, I have been amazed to discover how many cycling routes and organizations there are. I saw very little to match it in Spain.
9. 110v electrical system means you can bring along your battery charger! I spent a fair bit of money on batteries for my digital camera in Spain.
10. At long last (March 10, 2009) but not least, Canada has moose.

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