Day 6 was meant to be an easy stroll west out of Girona for 30km and then back as a sort of recovery ride from the previous two days. We rode about 5km up a road and then it turned to gravel. Riding further meant dealing with traffic and I couldn’t be bothered and threw in the towel. Shane tried to ride on but was back at the apartment not long after. Then it started raining and we were glad with our decision.
Day 7: Today we packed everything up and left Girona. We drove north to a little town called Roses and climbed up to a grand peak 20km from the town. We then cut through a valley and emerged at El Port de la Salva. A big bunch of riders caught up as we stood at an intersection and deliberated on a direction. These riders would catch and pass us on the way up a massive hill between us and Roses, where we would finish for the day. After the ride we found a bar that would put the cycling on for us and watched them ride up a mountain in snow eating steak, eggs and chips.
Today we were to ride with Bike Break Girona, with Dave Walsh and whoever else rocked up. After the previous days effort I was probably better off either staying in bed or simply cruising around, which what the ride was meant to be. However as is with all group rides, the fresh people get carried away and the slower and less fresh of us get dropped.
I struggled up the first small hill. My leg muscles were still recovering and getting stronger. Apparently we were to cruise to a cafe and then decide if we wanted to go on.
I chatted to Neil Martin for a while in the bunch and then he and Dave decided to do a 9km climb. I was dropped pretty quickly and rode a slow steady pace to the top. Once there we turned around quickly and the boys descended like demons and one of them coming a cropper. Much sand and small stones on the corners.
Coffee at the cafe and chatting bikes was fun, and then the long slow grovel back to Girona. 90km ‘rest’ day.
Rocacorba and Mare De Deu Del Mont
Before pain there is ambition. Before ambition there is desire. Without desire there are no obstacles. Take a mountain for example, it’s a big fucking obstacle. If you desire to climb it, there will be pain.
One of the best things about Girona is that if you know where you are going, you can be in the countryside in about 15 mins, surrounded by poppies and hails and all the wins that get Dutch painters juices flowing. Our juices were flowing not only after we turned left out of Ardi and up a gravel road. Steep loose rocky paths slapped wet by little streams. Little mounds to stop erosion reminding us where not on the right bikes for this sort of terrain. A crossroad. What are we doing? We are we going?
The Rocacorba mountain above us. No way we’re taking the gravel road. We wind to the base of the mountain and find the sealed section. Shane wants to turn back, but when I call him a sissy and say I’m doing it, he quickly changes his mind. Sissy. The great motivator. Motivation, movement. These climbs require a different mind set to what I’m used to. I am a sissy. The hills I’m used used to are about a 1/4 of the size of these guys. You can normally see the top not long after beginning. However with these beasts, you turn hairpin after hairpin hoping to see relief. Respite for a km of two to regain composure, breath.
At the top we see the Mare De Deu Del Mont. There’s a 30km ride between here and there and we stop for lunch near the lake. Shane is still stronger and takes the wind for the majority of the time.
The final 4km of Del Mont really killed me.
“Put that in your blog.”
The drive to Girona was uneventful and swift. Many trees in this part of the world. Slightly lost entering the town. Shane
slightly anxious because he wants everything to be right. Parked the car and walked up a steep slope. Found the place eventually. The top floor of a large house. A terrace looking towards a great grey cathedral.
We walk to the cathedral and through the town. Pebbles and cobbles and not too many people. Icecream shops burst out onto the street in bright colours. A river runs through the guts of town. We stop and have lunch. We do some shopping. When we exit there’s rain. We walk in the rain to find the bicycle shop. Ciesta time.
We ride. We ride up the hill behind us. The roads are wet. It’s not too cold. We coast down the hill on the northern side. The roads are wet. I’m descending. The bike swerves all over the road. I gain control. We ride a little further. Descent approaching a hair pin. I attempt to slow down again. Bike locks up. Swerves. The rear end fish tails. I cannot control it. I go down. A controlled fall. I get up and Shane approaches. I blame the tires.
We contemplate returning. Not worth damaging someone else’s bike. Lets go on at snails pace? We go on at snails pace. Follow the railroad tracks to a dead end. Cross the river. Head east. Up a small hill. Winding narrow paths like palm lines. Up and down, repeat. Head back to town. Quick change then walk to bike shop.
Semi-pro woman there. We chat to her. We chat to the shop dude. They’re cool. There’s a group ride on Thursday. Pro’s go apparently.