Some couples go out for romantic dinners by candlelight on Valentine's Day. We usually do nothing. But this year on Valentine's Day, Brian and I rode bicycles over a mountain, to the Mediterranean coast, and back over the mountain to Girona. It was really beautiful and really really hard. Part of this "coastal route" (sounds deceptively smooth and serene) was a stage in the 2009 Tour de France (no we did not ride to France). So in honor of that I've named it our Giro de Girona.
|Village of Llagostera|
Km 1-25: The most stressful part of our ride was getting out of Girona. When the guy in the shop explained and gave us our little book of directions, it all seemed so easy. Brian was navigating and my job was to keep resetting the odometer on the bike computer at each turning point so that we knew when the next turn would be. I couldn't figure out the bike computer. It had only one button but I could not figure out how to make it work. This was a stressful moment.
We actually ran into the bike mechanic from the shop who was out taking some younger, skinnier, sleeker looking riders than us on the same route. There was no way we (me) could keep up with them long enough to know where to go. After some wrong turns, me being that foreign girl in spandex asking directions at a cafe, a little bike stalking and some language not appropriate for all audiences, we got back on track. And the scenery got pretty. We saw vineyards and farms and little towns with old churches. The sun was shining, and there was no turning back.
Km 26-41: We started to go up, and up and up. It wasn't a big mountain, and the road didn't have any seriously steep climbs. But we come from a flat place and currently live in an even flatter place. Even in our best bike shape ever we wouldn't have been very good at this. A few groups of cyclists passed us on the road, relaxed and chatting as they pedaled on up the hill. We tried to be stopped at those moments, breathing normally, taking pictures and looking relaxed. And cyclists were the only vehicles we saw; there were hardly any cars on the mountain road. It wasn't super fast or pretty, but we made it up. And at the top we were rewarded with fantastic views - cliffs dropping down to the sea with little sun-bleached towns along the coast.
Km 53 - 70ish (remember the bike computer was never reset, so I just tried to keep subtracting and estimating, plus we got lost early on so these kilometers are more symbolic than anything...) Fed and ready to go, we left the town and started back over the mountain for the second half of our loop. I had a small but welcome second wind as we started climbing again, and Brian was muscling through it. We rode through more and more picturesque little towns and wooded hillsides.
Km 70ish - the end: This was starting to look familiar. We met up back with the road we'd ridden before heading up to the mountain, several hours and several thousand (I hope) calories burned later. And it was mostly flat, getting cloudy and still so pretty... but we made very few stops to take photos at this point. We rolled into rush-hour Girona sore and chafed and feeling victorious.
Maybe it wasn't the most romantic way to celebrate Valentine's Day, but then, maybe it was. I can't think of anyone else I'd want to be with when biking all day through Catalonia over a mountain to the coast and back.