Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Day 61: Sant Feliu de Gulixols to Barcelona – 113k

4,904km down: 1,321km to go 

Ok so camp sites and tenting are never going to make it onto my list of favorite things! This campsite has a mixture of the best and the worst. There was a really nice pool and reception area, with good places for sitting and having a cold drink and reading after having a swim. And at first glance the camping area looked much better than the night before – it was not close to a bar or a light. However it was surrounded by noisy partying young people, plus there was a road going past the tents that cars raced up and down at speeds so fast, frequently, until early in the morning. At midnight there was a fireworks display for about 15 minutes. Finally things settled down and I got to sleep until 4:30am when the rosters started – note the  plural – they were the nosiest, loudest, most enthusiastic rosters I have ever heard. They were still going with gusto when we left the camp at 7:30am.

I did wonder if perhaps these weren’t real rosters but recorders of rosters that the disgruntled neighbour of the campsite played every morning to be disruptive to the residents as a payback for the disruption from night before until the early hours. One of the main supporting arguments for this theory is that I can’t believe that nobody has tracked these roosters down and made them into rooster soup, or rooster KFC. I am so looking forward to getting to sleep in a bed, with walls between me and the closest neighbours. Plus there will be no chance of a car driving over me while I sleep.

We set off in the morning to ride over what Christiano – one of the tour leaders – described as an “epic hill” riding along the Costa Brava coast line.  I’m not sure if I would have wanted to know beforehand that the epic hill stretched for 30k. There were down bits in that of course.

Costa Brava coast line on the way to Barcelona

What really surprised me though is that even after four days riding beforehand I still really enjoyed the ride. I am getting much better on the hills – up and down. Some of the bays were so beautiful with water so clear that even from the top of a hill you could still see the bottom.

Costa Brava coast line on way to Barcelona

We had to ride 40k by 10:30am to meet as a group, to ride the remaining 60k (which turned out to be 70k) in a convoy to Barcelona. The guy that led the convoy was a Scottish man called Richard who had lived in Barcelona for 10 years and has a local bar. He did not know any of the tour people, but Christiano had found him by ringing a local bike shop and they asked a local biking group if anyone was willing and available. He was a nice guy, but convoy leader material? No. He only stopped for the tail enders when one of us suggested it may be a good plan.

Beach coming into Barcelona

70k is way too long for a convoy when the speed of riders is quite different, plus it was hot and we were weary. It was a pretty disgruntled group – even riders who I had never before seen snappy weren’t their usual selves. Because we were riding as a convey the average speed was much lower and it just went on and on and on. We arrived at 5:17pm –  over a 10 hour riding day.

Grumpy, thirsty, and tired riders nearly in Barcelona (me, Bill, Carol, and Geergo at the back in red)

It’s amazing what a shower can do, or how being in a room where you can actually stand whilst you are looking in your bag can improve your mood. A friend of mine commented after the baboon photo that it may take me a while to integrate  back into society on my return. As some riders were leaving in Barcelona we were having a conversation about

1. The first meal we would cook
2. What we were looking forward to about being home

I will probably make a lamb roast and what I was most looking forward to was not having to crouch over my bag every day to get dressed and undressed. Of course as pointed out by another rider, I won’t have my clothes in a bag anyway, they will be in a drawers.

As John and David are leaving us here we had arranged to have a farewell meal. Unfortunately David had woken up feeling unwell so he was not able to come which was a shame but a group of us set off anyway. The problem of course is the locals eat late and we are used to eating early. The restaurant in the hotel where we are staying does not even open until 10pm! By that time we would be gnawing on our own limbs! So we wandered the streets until we found a tapas place, we walked in and placed ourselves in the waiter’s hands and let him choose the food and wine, it was great. Plate after plate was devoured, plus a few beers and some great red wine. Then we were off to the hotel for a good sleep.

Farewell dinner – Me, Scott, Michele, John, Carol and her husband Walker.

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Day 60: Colera to Sant Feliu de Gulixols – 90k

4,791km down: 1,434km to go 

Not a great night sleep again, the camp site restaurant pumped up about 9pm and was still noisy until about midnight, at which point a camp site dog took over keeping people awake by barking every few minutes. I have not been using my ear phones as they seem to set off my inner ear imbalance (though that could of course just be coincidental), so it’s a dilemma – risk setting off and suffering from inner ear imbalance, or suffering from lack of sleep. The worst thing is finally going to sleep then waking up and checking the time and finding it is only 12:30am! And then 1:30am, 3am, 5am etc.

On a positive note the bugs that have plagued us up until now have just about all disappeared. It is too hot and dry, so at least when you get up during the night you are not set upon. Also the average temperature has dropped. Yesterday was pleasant all day, today was great in the morning but it was hot after lunch.

I rang home this morning to check on how my daughter and grandson were. Lizzy was asleep but Shellbe said all was going well. I also had a text from Lizzy overnight saying Xavier was eating and sleeping well. I got some great pictures this morning of Xavier with his mum and dad, another reason to be really pleased that I bought the iPad  – especially as during the rest days I will be able to skype!!! 🙂

Leaving the campsite this morning the first 10k had some climbing then it was flat or a slight incline until lunch. I was riding with John, Brett and Michele. As we came into lunch which we nearly missed the truck as we were watching the traffic and looking at a sculpture, and the lunch truck was on the other side! We were alerted by Ester yelling out, but John was too far in front to hear. Luckily we had a bunch of Spanish riders behind us who heard us yelling at him and when they passed him they said “Companions lost amigo” which alerted him that all was not right and he turned back to look for us. The Spanish riders are a lot more friendly than the Italians, if the Italians had have said anything they would have shouted “Smarten yourself up” as they glided past in their glistening and matching outfits.

Just after lunch we missed a turn and rode to the top of a hill we didn’t have to (all good training for the Taupo bike ride). We rode back and found the place we were meant to turn, we were pretty sure there was no flag but this does not always mean anything, as they often get removed. The next town was 15k away. We went up a fairly substantial hill and then down a steep and long decline, so I was very pleased to see a flag at the next town to know we were on the right track.

It was a fantastic bit of riding – even with the uphill – through the forest, and we only saw one car the entire time. Then it was a bit like when we came out of the tunnel into the small village on our way to Genoa – all of a sudden we were in a built up busy, busy shopping area, with people and cars everywhere. I was pleased to get to the campsite. Brett was even more pleased as he had felt unwell yesterday afternoon and had vomiting overnight. He had ridden today but felt not great, and was feeling nauseous again at the end. Hopefully he will be better tomorrow.

We are camping again tonight, and we have the return of the toilet seat yay! Plus toilet paper yay! And there is a shower that has good pressure and does not have to be held on with one hand while you shower with the other, yay! Still no soap but the rest is a big improvement! On the negative side we are still camping on hard dirt and my tent pegs now resemble sculptures with many different twisted and interesting shapes. Geergo was so fascinated by them that he took a photo of them all lined up together. I will definitely need to buy some more during the rest days in Barcelona. We get there tomorrow and then have two rest days.

Three of our riders are leaving us in Barcelona
Phil – Danya’s dad who joined us in Montpellier
David – who joined us in Vilnius
John – who has been with us all the way.

It will be sad to see them go. We are going to send John a tape of a barking dog, Italians partying, traffic noises and people expelling wind so when he misses us he can put up the tent in his back yard and play it through his ear plugs. Of course first he will have to have dinner in a metal bowl smelling slightly of bleach and drunk a glass of wine out of a plastic tumbler (also smelling slightly of bleach). We will have some sort of farewell dinner tomorrow in Barcelona.

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