Total ascent: 268m
Time in the saddle: 2hrs 34min
Its been a while since I posted for a mixture of reasons...the heat, tiredness and actually getting to have a bit of a holiday. After my last post I stayed in Girona for a couple of days taking in the city and also heading out on the bike to the Rocacorba ..the best known climb in the area. A lot of time was also spent trying to cool down and stop melting. It was not something I achieved, a puddle is the best way to describe me on those days..with temperatures over 35 and 100% humidity nothing could stop the melting. It did not make for a happy me. Its def a place that is down on my 'go back to when its cooler' list.
After Girona I headed back into the hills/volcanoes almost back towards Olot before turning south. Oh the relief of having clouds when I climbed the days col. I almost thought it was going to rain but the weather held. I spent the night in a small town called Santa Maria or L'Esquirol (not sure way it has two names) where of course it was having its fiesta. Then it was on over the hills to Montserrat..'the serated mountain'. And boy does it live up to its name. After cycling through very tree covered seemingly rolling hills, suddenly in the distance you see this rock monolith surrounded in big dark clouds. Yup that's where I'm headed. The roads to get there were pretty busy and not much fun but once I turned into the village of Montserrat itself it quietened down. From the bottom you can see a monestry like building perched high above the village..and I thought to myself 'oh that's not so bad!!'. Of course it turned out that was another monestry and the main one was further up the mountain. It was hot but it was a great climb and I got a few cheers going up. The main monestry is hugely developed. You reach the carparks probably nearly a km before the actual site. But it is the second most important pilgrimage site in Spain after the Santiago. And you can see why. I may not be religious myself but just the location and views of this place is enough to change your perspective on the world. I was lucky enough to be able to get to stay in the hotel next to the monestry so I dumped my stuff and set off for a walk around the site and out on the paths to various small churches dotted around it. My favourite spot was the cross of Sant Miguel which has a jaw dropping view (and drop) over the surrounding hills and valleys and back to the monestry itself. On a good day you can apparently see all the way back to the Pyrenees and to the sea. I could have quiet happily sat and watched that view for hours.
The weather forecast the next morning was not great at Montserrat. The hurricane that has just battered the south of England had now made its way over. Being at the top of a mountain is not the best place to be in a storm so I was a little concerned. However luck was with me and it passed by. A little too quickly actually as rather than a cool day as predicted, it was over 30and climbing by the time I got back to the bottom of the valley. I had chosen to got the scenic route for getting to Barcelona.. Its not a huge distance so a meandering route off the main road seemed ideal. And the stat was..if you are ever in that area you need to find the Montserrat valley..the BV1212 and BV120 that weave through the small villages and undulating countryside. It's a beautiful route. Then it was navigating through the continuous built up areas of Terrassa, Rubi and Sant Cugat and_up the mountain that stands between that and Barcelona..Collserola and Tibidabo. The climb was well worth it even in the heat as at the top you have a fantastic new down over the whole of Barcelona and out to the sea. Tibidabo itself is is a funny old place..the first thing you see is the temple del sagrat cor.. Which is a beautiful structure with a big Jesus on top. Then you realise that surrounding this lovely piece of architecture is a theme park. It's all very bizarre. Same too for the name itself..according to the lonely planet...
'It gets its name from the devil, who, trying to tempt Christ, took him to a high place and said, in the Latin version: ‘ Haec omnia tibi dabo si cadens adoraberis me’ (‘ All this I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’).'
So there you go.
Heading down to Barcelona was an eye opener..after all the quiet roads I had been on..this was the complete antithesis. In the end up I gave up trying to cycle and walked my way across the city to my hostal. I do have to say the hostal was fab..hostal ciudadela. Not the most luxurious rooms or anything it large ones for the price and lovely people working there who were so helpful to awkward me with my bike.
That afternoon was spent walking Barcelona..starting off along the beaches of Barcelonete, to the port and then to La Rambla and the city itself. Boy its busy! It made me really appreciate the area where my hostal was..La Ribera..which was chic and beautiful with nice restaurant but was much much quieter than the main city.
The following day was a kind of waiting day..my ferry to Mallorca was not until 11.00 that night so it was a bit of a strange day. But actually it worked out well..for the first time I actually did some clothes shopping..much needed as my original tops were well past their wearable date. Then into Port Vall and along towards Montjuis for another view down across the city. It was a really good day. Topped off by crepe dinner and several beers in order to make the overnight very bearable. It worked I ended up 'sleeping ' pretty much the whole way to Palma.
I was surprised by Palma..it was actually very beautiful and not the tourist trap that I thought it might be.,granted this was seeing it through bleary eyes at about 6am but still..however I didn't have long to appreciate it as I needed to get a shifty on up to the mountainous north and Soller where I was going to be based that night. It was weird cycling there as I have been here before a year or so again for a cycling training camp..the roads then a little familiar but the beauty of the area was a surprise. I guess I was too busy concentrating on the persons in front back wheel to notice before! Soller was lovely..a complete maze but very character full and charming place. My hostal too was great..hostal nadal. Seeing as I got their early I dropped my bags and headed off to the infamous climbs of the area..the puig mayor and sa colabra. It was brilliant riding and the other few cyclists on the road very friendly. Not even the torrential rain that started when I started heading back could dent the fun of the ride. Though it did get a bit precarious on the last descent. Those climbs were interesting in another way too..when I rode them the last time it was the first time I had done any mountain climbs and_so coming back know made me realise how much I have changed as a cyclist..I could remember what I had found hard and where but it felt hugely different this time. (Though I think not racing people up the hills obviously helps limit any pain!).
The next days forecast was more of the same and I tried to find an alternative way to get down to the southern parts of the island but no avail. The bad weather meant that other people had the same idea so all the busses and taxis were full. Realising there was nothing else for it but to cycle I changed and set off. 5 mins in the heavens opened completely. O don't mind riding in the rain..I do mind riding in heavy rain on mountain descent. And like all things like that it was a kinda self fulfilling prophecy..and I came off on one of the corners on the coll de soller. It was a very slow mo crash but I fell a bit funny and later it seemed that I had whiplashed my neck and weirdly my hip too. Q not happy bunny me. After crawling down the rest of the mountain it was pretty rolling from then on after so I just ducked my head to the rain and plodded on. A few hours later I reached the villa where I would be meeting my family for a weeks holiday..and I thanked the stars. Of course by the time they arrived the sun was back out and it was hot hot again..typical.
So then followed a week of actual actual holiday..my first on this trip. I won't bore you with all the details but there was a villa, a beach and a pool. Spanish ibroprufen saved the day with my whiplash. It turns it I am no good at relaxing anymore but I think that's to do with knowing I would be soon back on the road again. Went out on the bike a couple of times..once to the monestry of our lady and then to San Salvador (my family came too after I had raved about the fantastic view from the toilet). Funny quote from the week was from my wee nephew who had been loudly taking about boys being better than girls and he rounded off his rousing speach by adding 'boys, get the firearms!' !! Oh and don't trust things in tourist shops..playing with what I though was a laser toy pistol ended up with me swearing loudly and throwing it across the shop as it ended up being one of those electric shock toys/jokes.
And that brings us up to today. Stupidly early start.. To see of one lot of my family, then I set off myself to cycle back to Palma and get the ferry back to Barcelona. For the first time in ages i distracted myself on the ride by racing my virtual training partner. Turns out day ferries are harder than night ones and there are loooots of hours to go yet. Plus point is that have finally managed to find a place where I can try and sleep..so that is my plan now this writing is done and my eyes are slowly closing shut....