Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday July 31th: No riding, just blogging....

Sunday July 31th: No riding, just blogging....

Today I decided, like many of the others in the group, to skip biking for the day. I had laundry to do and blogs and email to catch-up on. We've found an internet connection at hotel near the Girona airport so I'm currently about 6Km from the villa, typing away with a coffee near by. When I get back to the villa, it will be time to hang the clothes on the line

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday July 30th: We don't know we're we heading, but we're not lost (day 7 of biking)

Saturday July 30th: We don't know we're we heading, but we're not lost (day 7 of biking) 

Albert and I stayed up late last night planning a route for today. We took the advice of the bike shop owner, Dave, and entered in the route to the Mediterrania and back into Albert's Garmin computer. Albert's computer reported about 101 Km.

We headed out about 9:15 or so. Seven riders in to the overcast cool morning. The computer on my rental bike is set up to report Kilo Meters and all the roadside signs report temperature in degrees C, so after a while you forget about converting to the English system, but anyway, the temperature was about 20 degrees C at the start, 20 degrees is about room temperature, 68 degrees F. 

We were so lucky, for most of the day the clouds followed us, keeping us from getting tool warm as we climbed mountain range on the way to the sea. The group was got divided at the start of the climb when we took a wrong turn, bearing right at an intersection instead of left. Albert and Shahla was quite a bit of the rest of the group when a car came zipping up to us with the driver clearly indicating that we were going in the wrong directions.  After consulting our maps, Jim and I headed out to stop Albert and Shahla and turn them around, but after a couple of climbs we still did not have them in sight and so we reluctantly turned around and got on the correct route and started the climb.

Dave, the bike shop owner, had mentioned that parts of this route were on the Tour de France a couple of years ago. I need to check with Jim because he has the cycle computer that records the altitude gain and the road angle, but I would guess that angle max'd out at 10 or 11 percent with an attitude gain of maybe 1,500 to 2,000 feet. 

As we started rounding the top of the climb we could see names on the road in white paint of the tour's riders. Painting names is a tradition to encourage the fans favorite riders. As we started to drop, we encountered signs indicating 14% grades. So the tour's riders were racing up 14% grade to the top. Quite a feat indeed!! However, it was our 14% downhill!! A high point of the ride for us ending up at an overlook to with the sea 400 feet below us. Much to our surprise, Albert and Shahla caught up to us at this point. They had reached the end of the wrong road and turned around and raced to catch up with us. We figured that they added 8 KM to the ride and many feet of climbing.

At the sea we turned left and headed northeast in the same direction as we did on Thursday, but the roads were much more quiet and the views were even more spectacular (I wish that the interconnection that I'm using was faster so that I could upload the photos, but I've tried that before and almost choked the connection). We stopped in Sant Feliu de Guixols for lunch and today I made sure that I had enough fuel to get back home, and yes we did stop for Ice Cream before leaving the town.

As we left the town, we could see dark storm clouds hanging over the mountain range where we were to ride. The ride back to the villa was on some different back country roads but not without some stopping to figure out where we were. As we rode we kept an eye on the storm clouds. I guess we were lucky, because though the roads were wet, except for an occasional rain drop, we kept dry. 

For the third time we went through the town of Llagostera and this time we had pretty much routed our way through without getting lost. The distance from Llagostera was a pretty quick 20Km.  The altitude gain for the day was about 4400 ft (1341 meters). 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday: July 29th: Let's go find the lakes. (day 6 of biking)

This morning it was completely overcast and just a bit chilly. Philippe has been eyeing some mountain lakes that are to the Northwest of us by about 30Kmeters.  The plan was to go up to the dam that formed the lakes then ride along the lakes for a while, before turning back and returning home. I wish that I had my map handy, but we departed on the 540 that has become a favorite route with many of the the riders. The GI-540 climbs a bit as you leave the villa and after several kilometers drops via many winding curves to main east / west thoroughfare (N-141). Turning left you end up in Angles then we head north through the town of La Cellera de Ter before heading west up a winding road that seems to be owned by the either the power company or the dam operators. I haven't checked with Jim yet, but I'm guessing that we must have climbed about 1500 feet in 10 Km or so. 
Jim and Lauri at the top of the dam
We got the the top of the dam and took in the the view. But looking at the lake from the dam, we were on the wrong side to travel the road that we wanted to and the traffic was prevented from crossing the dam to the other side. After some aborted attempts to climb a bit higher, we decided to head back Angles for lunch. It was about 2PM and we were famished. An hour later we were in a bar in Angles snacking on ham and cheese sandwiches and drink beers. Then it was on to the villa, arriving about an hour later. 
Tonight, I'm on the team that is preparing diner for the group. We arrived back with wonderful smells escaping from the kitchen. I'm not sure what the entire menu will be, but I'm in charge of the BBQ. Albert has gotten some thinly sliced pork and has them soaking in spices.  All I have to do is to fire up the grill and to cook the critters. Dinner will be about 7:30. As a matter of fact, it's now time for me to tend to the grill. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday, July 28th, 4th day of biking

Thursday, July 28th, 4th day of biking

Today was the plan A day, ride to the Mediterranean Sea. Albert using his Garmin GPS software had mapped a route south to Blanes on the Mediterranean Sea. We had a light bite to eat on the beach at a seaside restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean sea and a bathing beach. Then it was onward along the sea heading northeast passing through the seaside resorts fighting the local traffic. According to the map, we traveled a bit more than 15Km before stopping in Tossa de Marr for some ice cream and water. 

We then turned inland traveling on the GI-681, a beautiful mountain pass that climbed upward from the sea. I guess I didn't have enough food at lunch, because I had to reach into my back pocket for an energy bar. When I'm biking at home in California, I rarely carry energy bars, but I trips like this where I don't know were the next stop is going to be, you really need to carry some extra food. 

We coasted into the town of Llagostera after reaching the top of the pass, then the maps came out as everyone debated the best way to get back to the villa. After several turns on tiny back streets and consolidations with locals, we were on our way back home. I think that the distance for the day was a bit over 120Km and 3400 feet (1036 meters) of climbing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wed July 27th: Dali-town

Wed July 27th: Dali-town
With threatening skies this morning, we decided to go with plan-C, the Dali Museum north of us in the town of Figueras (link). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the museum was unlike any other that I’ve ever visited.
The museum was located in a theater in the middle of town that Dali had converted into the Museum. You might even consider the museum to be an extension of his art, with the very huge exhibits of is work and the very very small. He is even buried in the middle of the main gallery where people walk on top of, many not even knowing that he is buried there.
When we got to the museum, there was a huge line just for tickets, but we found out that there are guided tours of the museum without any waiting for only and additional 6 euros. The tour was worthwhile and added a lot to the visit. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, Third day of Biking, Plan A, B or C

The weather has been a bit iffy the last couple of days. Maybe rain or maybe not, so we've developed a plan A, B or C. Plan A is a long ride to the Mediterranean Sea (about 100 Km round trip) or Plan B is more local ride in the near by hills of about 60-80 Km and Plan C is a car trip to the Salvador Dali Museum (link)     that is about an hour north of the villa.

Well as it turned out, this was a plan B day. The skies were overcast with a chance of rain so it was decided to try a more local route so if it started to pour, we wouldn't have a long way to ride to make it home.

Phillipe had a route in mind that would take us up a 25-30 Km climb then loop back to the start. It was fairly level to start of the climb then a mild, but unrelenting climb to the top where sandwiches and coffee awaited us. 

We then left the town in some light drizzle. The descent was steep and winding, but the drizzle stopped which made the ride very pleasant. 

By the time we got back, we had traveled 75 plus Km and 3000 foot (915 meters) climb.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday, July 25th, Second day of Biking

Monday, July 25th, Second day of Biking
Jim, Lauri and me headed off to the bicycle shop in Girona that rented the bikes to the group, me included. Upon getting there met up with some of the other riders that needed attention from the owner and mechanic, Dave. We picked up some local bike maps that Dave had outlined some good local routes. After some lunch in town, as a group of six or so we headed back to the villa by a new and different route
The route was much more busy than expected and after 15 km or so, we finally jumped off the route on to a very quiet winding road that turned and twisted as it climbed. Perhaps a bit sooner that we would have wished, the ride was over.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finally got on line!!!

Hello all,

There are a group of us sitting in a hotel restaurant at the Girona airport, typing away on our computers. The villa does not have Internet accesses, so a group of us went in search of the Internet and ended up at the airport, may the story how we ended up here I'll discuss later. It's enough to say that we have had 3 great days of biking as well as 24 hours in Barcelona.

First day of biking:

We took off Sunday for the first day of biking we started out a bit late. Albert, had laid out a route in his bike GPS and we headed off, thirteen of us down the road like a bunch of ducklings following Uncle Albert. We slowly made our way through Girona, from West to East though city traffic until we started to climb the local hills to the East of Girona, stopping for a cafe con leche at the top, kinda surprising the we would stop for coffee isn't it??

We dropped down the eastern side of the hills finally stopping for a light lunch at about 3PM. We swamped a small cafe in a tiny town having some open face cheese sandwiches and Coke. I don't think that we left there until about 4PM and we were barely 1/2 way thorough the ride, I told you that we got a late start.  

To get back to the villa, we crossed the hills again along a different path, but equally as nice as the first followed by some busy roads as we made our way home. I think that we got back by 7PM or so. Then off to dinner finally in bad by 11:30 or so.

The attitude gain for the the day was 4050 Feet (1235 Meters).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The packing begins.....

It'a about time to start the packing. It's Tuesday night I depart Thursday morning at 5:30 for a 9AM departure on Delta with a layover in Atlanta, then on to Barcelona.