It’s not the riding, it’s the getting there that gives me the jitters. A thousand horror stories weigh down internet forums about what happens to your bike if you fly. I’ve flown a few times and it’s been fine, but I still worry. I boxed the bike up and double walled it, then pipe lagged the lot. It took a little while. I then entrusted easyjet to do the honours.
When I got off the plane the bike was already unloaded. I just opened it up, put it back together, got changed in a toilet (with the bike) and rolled out. It got a few funny looks. I think people were secretly impressed to see me putting the bike together then riding off. I ditched the box behind an empty desk and wrote “this is not a bomb”on cardboard.
I had to get into Barcelona from El Prat. I’d loaded up a full breadcrumb route. It seemed fine, right up until it tried to take me onto a motorway bridge. It took me ages to work out how to extricate myself. Essentially it involved two miles of riding in a storm drain full of alluvial deposits, getting covered in shit. A lovely start, the joys of touring and so on.
It took me a while to work out where to put the tea. Which isn’t a euphemism.
I had a romantic idea of what it would be like to cycle through Barcelona. A gradual unspooling of the hallucinatory joy of a cultural metropolis, that sort of thing. It wasn’t like that. It was raining. The roads were busy. Mapping was hard. There were traffic lights every 10 metres. There didn’t seem to be any other cyclists. A policeman tried to fine me 200 euro for not using the cycle lane. I pleaded complete ignorance and linguistic incapacity, both of which are true, and he seemed to give up. The effort involved was too much and I escaped.
By this time I was hungry. It’s hard to stop in a big city and feel that your bike is secure. I left it late. Nowhere had anything without meat. In the end I begged someone to make me “pan con tomato y queso” and they did. I lacked the vocab to express my gratitude fully, so smiled excessively. They found it a bit creepy.
Barcelona is a huge city. You end up riding for ages through the suburbs, miss the good bits, then really want to be out of it. Eventually it bled into Badelona and it was much nicer. I rode along the coast and enjoyed the breeze and deep blue Mediterranean. Everything was good. The weather was beautiful. The wind was behind me. Car drivers were diligent and respectful. I felt that the dream was alive.
I got to Girona in the early evening. It’s a beautiful city. I went out for drinks with some pro riders, like Dion Smith who rode the Tour for Wanty Gobert, James Knox, newly signed for Quick Step and Abbie May Parkinson from Drops. It was much fun and I shamelessly grilled them all about their racing and we played table football. I was really tired. At about this point in an evening I normally tell everyone how tired I am and they’d ask why and I’d say how I’ve ridden 76 miles and they’re all amazed and impressed. I was about to tell everyone but was beaten to they punch by someone casually dropping a tale of a 160 mile fasted ride, and another about how the double header of Het Volk and KBK is quite hard, so I shut up pretty damn quickly.
It was a great day. The weather was a balmy 15 degrees. Living the dream indeed.