By Brian Canty
It’s exactly three years since I moved to Spain and without fear of contradiction, the last 12 months has been the busiest of those.
I can’t remember where exactly I thought I’d be when I first touched down in Girona but I know for sure it was not the Premier Inn in Poole on England’s south coast on a wet Monday night.
Yesterday I was riding on empty roads through sunlit villages north-west of Girona while this afternoon I drove for three hours on the rain-lashed motorway from Stansted airport.
It’s a snapshot of the fantastically random lives we live at Eat Sleep Cycle but this current adventure is up there with anything I’ve done since Lee, Lou and I started our bike tour business.
We’re very humbled to have been asked to assist a like-minded UK company called Le Domestique Tours; Like-minded in the sense they’re hugely passionate cyclists who will do anything to help fellow cyclists fulfil their bucket-list experiences.
So in short, we’re helping them deliver a trip in the Dolomites…but it’s not quite as simple as that. Here’s why…
This morning in lashing rain, I had the wonderfully obliging Georgia take me to the airport in Girona for a 1pm flight to Stansted airport.
From there I grabbed the keys to a Renault van from Le Domestique co-founder Laura Cartledge and I drove the 250 kilometres to where I’m staying tonight.
In the morning I’m going to drive 20 minutes to the ferry port in Poole (though we must check in 2 hours before departure time), take the Condor Liberation cruiser across to Guernsey Island, collect nine bikes from a guy named Rick, pack them in the van and drive back to the ferry port before taking another ferry (the Condor Raptide) to St. Malo on the north-west of France. I never heard of most of these places.
I’ll get some sleep in the Belem Hotel in St. Malo tomorrow evening (after a three and four-hour crossing) and on Wednesday morning (stay with me now), I’ll drive to Annecy, 950 kilometres away. Yes, just shy of four figures in a day.
I think that will be a record for me, though I do remember a journey in South Africa in 2012 which could have been as long – or maybe it just felt that way.
Anyway, we’re not done yet….
After an overnight in Annecy and hopefully a cruise on my neglected bike around the lake there, I’m going to get up Thursday morning and drive to Venice, 700 kilometres away.
I’ll have coffee in Chamonix, a late breakfast in Bergamo, maybe even dinner in Verona too before reaching the city built on the sea around 7pm.
All going well I’ll have a day and a half to relax and ride and drink coffee before the work actually starts.
Yes, this is actually work I’m doing! We have 10 very lucky clients – and Laura, flying into Venice from all over the world to commence a trip back the way I drove, though they’ll come across the Dolomites further north.
I’ll be riding some of the most iconic climbs in the sport as hired help and that is a pretty cool way to spend a week I think.
We’re not done yet because when we conclude the trip in Milan we’ll pack up the van and after depositing the clients at the airport for their return journeys, I’ll be taking the scenic road home in the van, baby!
My route for the return leg is again through Chamonix and onto Geneva before having a rest in Mâcon. I know absolutely nothing about the place either.
Dijon was an option but I preferred the sound of Mâcon. Lyon was not an option due to a bad experience there once – and it being out of the way.
The following day it’s back to St. Malo, a ferry to Guernsey, return the bikes, another ferry to Poole and a four-hour journey to Essex (lifetime goal, tick!) where I’ll spend my last night on October 1st.
The final legs of the journey are a flight from Stansted to Barcelona and hopefully, if I ask Lee or Rien nicely, they’ll pick me up at the airport.
So, if you see anything from me on social media over the next days and think it looks balmy, it is!
I’ll probably ask myself ‘Am I on the right road’ a few times over the next weeks but I know as long as I’m happy the answer will be yes, despite what the GPS may say!
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Thanks for reading.