It has been tough to select a topic for this week’s blog, given every part of my weekend deserves one in its own right. With Louise being away at the Tour of Res (a 2 day stage race in snowy North England), I was “on Rodrigues” as the locals like to call it (the term for the missus being away) and had to keep myself busy.
Leaving work on Friday in the sunshine, I was troubled by the fact that it was so sunny and I had to take a day off my bike in preparation for a race on Sunday. Then I thought, what the heck, I can sunbathe instead. So I stopped off at the Spar and picked up a steak which would season nicely as I soaked up the last of the afternoon’s rays.
Saturday morning came and as I sat on the balcony watching the lazy Girona old town waking up I sent off a couple of messages to find cycling friends. Low and behold 15 minutes later I was scrambling into my lycra and heading down onto street level to meet a couple of local Catalan friends who were sat just meters away in La Fabrica cafe.
We rolled through town and towards Banyoles but Miquel couldn’t resist showing me something new. We swung a right and up to an old Iberic ruin, apparently where the old Girona was formed before they fled to lower ground and the existing site of the town. Beautiful views of the pyrenees and surrounding villages combined with the clear blue sky to make the small climb up there well worth it.
At Banyoles we stopped at my favourite cafe which sits on a jetty overhanging the crystal clear waters and overlooking the famous climbs Rocacorba and Mare de Deu del Mont (where I proposed to Louise). After spinning back to Girona through the country lanes I popped into my favourite local bike shop, Bike Breaks, where I found out it was a friends birthday party and BBQ in the afternoon. I rushed home to get changed and grabbed the nearest thing I could give him for a present.
When we got to the country house I thought I had arrived in heaven. A beautiful setting with green and yellow fields lining the distance and mountains as a silhouette in the background. It was very hot but the wind kept us cool. Two young men sweated over a Paella pan which was bigger than our kitchen. The place was full of family, friends, babies and dogs. A mix of ages, cultures and dressing style. The Paella was delicious and when I met the Argentinian chap cooking a set of ribs directly afterwards I realized we would be hanging around for some time.
The house has its own well and even a church. The group of friends rent it out for under 500 Euros a month. The old stonework and bent wooden beams could not be imitated by any shabby chic designer – this place was the real thing. I immediately started concocting plans of buying it and converting it into Bike Kingdom. I took photos of each room as if creating an inventory ready for the big purchase. I was of course dreaming, a property like this would cost in the region of 1 million Euros and I have, well about 100 Euros.
On Sunday I traveled to Barcelona for a criterium race. For those that don’t know this means loads and loads of laps around a short circuit, normally in the centre of a town to add prestige to the event. This circuit had a nasty little hill in it which we felt nearing the 40 lap counter. The race was fun and for the first time this season I was involved in the action at the front of the race. I supported the team by chasing down attacks and remained in the reduced bunch, feeling comfortable. Of the 100 that started 30 finished and I came in 18th. I probably had the legs for a better positioning but the finish was risky and I wanted to stay upright. These are good signs for the bigger races coming up though.
Back to Girona and our new friend Rudy arrived from Belgium. Watching the Amstel Gold classic road race and eating a roast dinner with red wine was a perfect way to finish off an incredible weekend!