Total ascent: 1330m
Time in the saddle: 5hrs 42min
Terrain: undulating up
In the end the ferry wasn't so bad, I managed to sleep a little in the cafe (classy eh) and actually we got in a little early too. Biggest plus point of this was that I would not have to find my accomo in the dark. It was weird enough wandering about with my bike while everyone else was dressed up to the nines for their Saturday night out, let alone doing that while being lost and juggling with a map. Anyway so it all worked out well, and accomo..student halls..we actually quite nice. Little quirky as mine had a kitchen and instead of having a room for breakie they just left the food in a basket in your fridge. It ended up being a good thing as I wanted to leave early as I knew getting out of Barcelona would take a while and would be best without traffic (it still took an hour to get out of the city).
I had various route options for today but in the end I put myself on the hands of the gods and went with whatever Mr Garmin satnav told me. There were obviously some criteria..the end point of course and also that I wanted to go via the coast near Sitges. Some moments I was sure he was just making things up and had to check with google maps, but actually the route worked out really well. You could split the route into four sections..
-The coast to Sitges
-Foix National Park
-And the valleys.
Barcelona..well its city riding, and not so much fun but I did get to see some more random parts and without the stress of millions of cars and people.
The coast..between Castelldefels and Sitges the road clings to the edge of the sea, undulating around and over the coast. It was tough but beautiful riding. It also seemed a favourite with the local cyclists who were out in force. It was a stark contrast of the terrain between Barcelona and Castelldefels which is a timetrialists dream..flat long straight roads. Give me the hills any day!
After Sitges I was sent inland through the Foix national park. It was quite surreal after the built up towns that all that just suddenly disappeared and it was back into rolling hills covered with blankets of trees with very little of anything else. The road followed a river which steamed from the embalse de Foix. The lake was overlooked by a castle ..all very picturesque.
Further inland then but into the valleys which had an air of Italy about them..rows on rows of vines, olive trees and almond trees with a few large villas scattered about, mountains in the background
All in all a good day. Probably the first day in this part of the tour that it has felt 'normal'. Just cycling and watching the world go by with no other thoughts than that. The cooler weather (a balmy 25 for most of the day, though up to 30 at the end) obviously helps but I think also I had no expectation of the area which is always a good thing (Girona has a reputation of being awesome cycling..so it had a lot to love up to). The only moment of worry was when I was caught out by a new road. Its surprising that this hasn't happened before as they seemed to be building new roads at a manic rate here. I had come across these new roads but this was the first time that it was out of bounds for cyclists. The road was not on the map nor on Garmin, and to make matters worse it took the name of the road I actually wanted. After a bit of a flaffing detour it turns out the old road was still there hidden the other side of the new one and renamed C51z rather than C51. Handy.
Sad thing about the new road was that it was direct..few if any places to come on and off it. So as I travelled the old road the towns that had been services by travellers were now struggling as the new road completely bypassed them. So many closed business it was sad. Irony being that they want more people to stay/move back to the countryside but then they do things like this that kills off livelihoods of those that had stayed.
Anyway...home for tonight is Montblanc..not a place I knew anything about before but wow what a place!! Turns out it is the capital of the area and a mediaeval town complete with complete castle walls and turrets. Some of the turrets had been bought privately and converted into houses..how cool would that be.. I want to live in a turret! Wandering about the old town it was deserted save a few hardy tourists like me. It dawned on me it was lunch time so that would be why. Days have no real meaning anymore and I lose track very easily though Sundays are ones to remember as nothing is open in the afternoon. I remembered too late. Ah well.
Tonight I think I am going to get a Chinese, maybe even a takeaway (!!) and watch a movie