Thursday August 4th: (11th day of riding) - Let's Take a Train
Lori came up with the idea to take the train from Girona to Figueras and then ride from the coast from there. Yesterday as research, we road into Girona and got three suggested routes from Dave at Bikebreaks. Last night we evaluated the three routes and selected the one that was not the most strenuous and not the easiest, but the one that seemed just right. As we plotted it out, it seemed like about a 60km ride, with two significant climbs of about 10km each.
We got up early to make it to Girona in time for the 9AM train to Figueras. We left the villa about 7:30 arriving at the Girona train station at 8AM, got the tickets and were determined to have a cup of coffee before departing. At the ticket booth we also ran into an American, Dave a science teacher from the Midwest, who also was heading to Figueras on a day trip. The trip went quickly and we were in Figueras in about 40 minutes, then after a couple of minutes of catching our bearings we headed off, guided by Albert's GPS. After about 30 minutes or so, we were already out in the countryside and passed by a bakery were we stopped. Lori treated us to some cookies and finally after some wrong turns, we were back on the road.
Pretty soon we started the climb, not too steep, but long and few pauses to break the climb. The trees were sparse, so the winding road snaking up the hill was visible but after each turn, you could see that there was another switchback climb ahead. It was also very sunny, not a cloud in the sky and was starting to get very very hot. When we were able to peak at the our lunch destination, Port de la Selva, from 'round a corner on the climb we stopped for a couple of minutes, pretty soon we were just drenching in sweat (normally as we bike, the sweat evaporates as we bike, when we stop for a short time, the there is no breeze to carry the sweat away and soon sweat is running off your nose, chine and arms sounds lovely doesn't it?). We were only 1/2 up the climb at this point and still had more twists and turns to go. But, as we started to top out the road started to level out and view became even more gorgeous.
We came upon a monastery that I think is called "Sant Pere de Rodes". It's located high in the hills overlooking the road we were traveling on and was very imposing. We then started to drop down as we got closer to Port de la Selva and the ride really became fun as we sped down the road at breakneck speed.
We stopped at the first beach side lunch stop that we found. We were ready for lunch and pretty thirsty. Like most of the restaurants, it took much longer for lunch than required, but finally we were back on the road. However over lunch we had decided to stretch out the ride by not returning to Figueras as planned, but to ride all the way back to the villa.
We climbed out Port de la Selva on a different route heading to the town or Roses. Like this morning, the road was hot and unprotected from the Sun. We finally dropped into a urban area that we were able to find a gas station and filled up on water and soda before heading out on our new route back the the villa. It was at the gas station where Albert and I reviewed the map for possible routes back to the villa. It was going to be complicated with many turns over roads that we didn't have a clue about the conditions or how busy they were, but we pushed on because we had many miles to cover to get back home.
We jumped on to a road that could only be called a major highway, riding on the shoulder, hoping not to get squashed like a bug by speeding cars. The next transition took a couple of turns to find the correct route, but from then on except for occasional map reading, we pretty much found our way on quite roads. The heat was starting to get to us and our water ran pretty low. We were so far out in the boondocks that we didn't run in to a gas station until we were closer to Girona. Then like previously, we filled up on water and soda. It was 6:15 by this point so I called the villa that we were running later than expected, but would be in about another hour.
After winding our way through the Girona traffic, we were soon on GI-533 not too far from home. We arrived at the villa about 7:15 and found that they had dinner for us. A very pleasant surprise.