This time last year Lee and I were spending a lot of time in our turbo-shed hiding from the UK’s wintery gifts of rain, ice, traffic and darkness. Come February we were starting to think that there must be another way so we sat down with google and started planning our escape. We put ‘bike’, ‘sun’, ‘spain’ into the search engine and top of the list was the Girona Cycling Festival aka. The Girona Gran Fondo. We took a look at the pictures of happy people riding bikes and were sold. We booked flights that evening and signed up for a week of cycling in the sunshine.
Winter dragged on and on and even the turbo’s were complaining. By the time the Gran Fondo week came in June Lee had found himself a job there and wasn’t coming back to the UK. And so it worked out that the Girona Gran Fondo was our first week in our new home. I’d just finished racing the Tour Series in the UK, started a new job and moved house so was properly knackered when we arrived. In the end I couldn’t ride my bike that week (curse of the cramp!) but all the same, I’d vote for the Gran Fondo being just about the best cycling event I’ve ever been a part of.
Whilst it sucked that I couldn’t ride my bike I got to cheer Lee on instead and do lots of relaxing in the cool streets of Barri Vell, join in the after-ride parties, watch the Urban Downhill show (yep, they built a downhill course through Barri Vell), watch the Nocturn, drink beer, sunbathe… (and dream about riding my bike!)
The Grand Fondo kicked off with the Hill Climb up Els Angels (click link for the video!). We had no idea what to expect; the bottom of the mountain was full of cyclists all chatting and limbering up for the 10km effort. The prize was worth riding very fast for – a Tag Heuer watch for the fastest man and fastest woman. By this point I couldn’t really walk (cramp!) so hitched a lift to the top with Saskia and Anna (part of the lovely Gran Fondo team). I waited under a tree in the shade for the first rider up, getting more and more excited for Lee’s arrival (and wishing I could pedal).
Lee finally came sprinting round the corner looking super speedy and in a reasonable amount of pain – jeeze he wanted that watch. I didn’t like to get him too excited but be did look the fastest so far – but 10km is a looooong climb and anything could have happened on the way up.
When all the riders had finished everyone headed up to the monastery for the podiums and pasta party. Lee was buzzing, along with everyone else, eager to find out who had won… Everyone gathered in front of the podiums with a drink in hand and the results and times started to be announced… Lee had won his category and…. with a time of 22:45 had WON THE WATCH!!!!! I was so proud and he was seriously chuffed. What a way to start life in Girona. As if things couldn’t get better we then had a pasta feast and I managed to freewheel my way down the mountain back to Girona. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the week had only just begun!
Cut back to 2016…
It recently rained two days straight here (after 55 days of uninterrupted sunshine) and it reminded me of the UK turbo-shed days, and of how much I was looking forward to cycling holidays in the sunshine this time last year. I guess if you’re reading this in the UK now you’re probably a cyclist and it’s probably raining right now. My advice to you to cope with the winter blues… book a cycling holiday now!!
*Look… you can even visit cycling paradise here and join me and Lee at the 2016 Gran Fondo! Click this link if you’re tempted… gironagranfondo.com
**If it’s really raining outside right now you should watch this Gran Fondo 2015 video too. See you in June!
***And if you really have nothing better to do you can take a cheeky peak at Lee’s winning hill climb ride on Strava!