Cresting the peak of the final climb, Barcelona in all its magnificence came into view – the vast sprawl of multi-coloured buildings reflecting the sunshine which had warmed our ride all day. We sped down into the city down a windy descent and enjoyed our well-deserved carrot cake and coffee at our destination, the BICIOCI cafe.
I am a big fan of point to point rides and this route from Girona to Barcelona top trumps them all. Point to point rides have more purpose – you need to get from A to B, often along with a time limit. Ours was set by a train home from Barcelona which was in turn set by the tolerance of the partners of several of the riders. There was an even grander purpose which I discovered whilst posing for a photo with the other riders in front of a similarly named local bike shop, BICIOCI. The bike shop had been open for many years prior to the Italian entrepreneurs opening a café in Barcelona with the same name. David, the owner of the bike shop (and absolute machine on the bike) decided he needed to cycle from one to the other. We went along for the crack.
It was chilly at 8:30am and horrendously early compared to the normal Girona start time of 10am. But we knew it would get warmer and were in good spirits. Things really started to look up after my 2nd coffee of the morning. We rode out of Girona and picked up more cyclists along the way until we had a group of 7. We hit the first climb, a 20Km steady ascent from Amer to St Hilari. This road is commonly used by pros for threshold efforts because it is just steep enough but not too steep. It winds up alongside a river, past a damn and through a valley. Once we got to St Hilari we took a turn and carried on going up. The pace picked up and the group fell apart! At the top we re-grouped and agreed to keep a good speed but not shed riders. This is an important part of point to point rides, to ride together as a unit means getting there quicker and more efficiently.
When we arrived at our highest point I was gob smacked as the earth opened out in front of me. It was an incredible 360 degrees view of mountains, rolling planes and fields like patch work on a quilt. I allowed myself a moment to appreciate why I love cycling so much. A little further into the ride and following general rule of coffee breaks allowed past the half way point, we stopped at a road side cafe. The sun was strong and we stripped off our arm and leg warmers as we joked about cycling stuff. Back on the road and we immediately hit another climb. The next part of the journey was all new for me and was incredible. We wound through Montseny, a beautiful national park, on roads undisturbed by traffic and smooth as a babies bottom.
Around 4 hours in and protocol was somewhat broken with a second stop, but I gladly filled my face with a jamon iberica sandwich and coke. We arrived in Barcelona 2 hours later and ended up on a later train home than expected. Everybody was sufficiently knackered and happy with the day’s events. The stats; distance: 175Km, time: 6 hours, climbing: 2500m, new friends: 4.