I can't remember being so tired on a ride. Maybe last year on the day I got to Brussels. But this was a different beast. Today we climbed one of the best known mountains in the Girona area, the Mare de Deu del Mont. This is Girona's version of Sa Colabra in Mallorca. Another one way ride, that is a right of passage. Except that the Mallorcan ride is 9.5km at 7% rising to 670m. Mare de Deu del Mont is 18.5km, rising to 1100m averaging 5%. Easy, you say. That gradient is deceptive though and influenced by a benign 6km lead up on smooth tarmac. The real climb averages 6% but includes over 6km in double figures. The whole thing took me one hour forty one minutes as I suffered like a dog through switchback after punishing switchback. To take step back. it is a 50km ride to get to the climb by which time you have been softened up by a series of long gradual single digit elevation climbs. Along the way we stopped to fill our water bottles at the only cafe open en route and bumped into two guys from Wellesbourne Wheelers, another club local to us. Both said they were avoiding the climb because 'there's enough climbing here without killing yourself'. I should have listened. Once we were on the climb proper, my Clubmate Trevor rode alongside me again in silence, listening patiently to me swearing my head off as we went corners that rose up to 12, 13 or 14% for no bloody good reason. My legs were tired, but as ever it was my back that eventually forced me to stop less than 2km from the top. It was only 30 seconds, but I really wanted to do it non-stop. As we restarted Trevor broke his silence to say 'don't look up'. Of course I did exactly that. We could see the twin communication towers on the top. It seemed unfeasible that this was the destination and that there was still so much climbing to go. That final 2km averages 9% but rises to 14% on some sections. Just before the final bends there was a cattle grid to negotiate which felt a lot like taking the piss. Once we rounded the penultimate bend there was just the car park to get through and up to finish. The final 100m was gravel. I mean come on. Gravel. Trevor laughed his head off as my swearing reached new heights. Thank goodness for the cafe at the top. We practically inhaled lunch before setting off on the decent. This was noticeable only for the fact that the disc brakes on my rented Cannnondale faded away. I stopped and tried to cool the calipers by squirting water on them, only to have huge plumes of steam rise off them. It was like sticking a hot frying pan in the sink. It was 10 minutes before the front brake worked again by which time I had already had enough scary moments to last me a lifetime. Once the descent was done there was still 40km to go to get home. I spent the time in silence hanging on to Trevor's wheel. By the end I had climbed more meters than ever before in a single ride, but still less than half what's required for C2C in a day in 2020. What was I thinking entering that bloody race?
No Sea side today - we headed north in search of a big mountain and we sure found one. We rode together taking in the views as we got higher and higher. A great cafe at the top serving ham and cheese - tomato bread was most welcome after 1 hour and 40min climb. A 37min decent dropped us back into the warmth of the flat lands (well Flat-ish) where we started our return to Girona until Paul’s engine warning light started flickering, we managed to fix it with a little road side maintenance (bottle of coke and a white chocolate Magnum) Back into Girona after 6 hours riding - what a great day. Thought for the day - why do they build churches at the top of mountains - who the hell used to go to them before cars ?????