Updated: Oct 10, 2019
And so in a flash, it was over. No sooner had I handed back my hire bike, than I was already planning my return, promising myself I will come back lighter and fitter and go back and do the monster climb faster. There were fantasies of this future slim version of me, gliding up the mountains before sitting in a Girona cycling cafe sipping my flat white and looking impossibly cool. We've all been there in our head, don't tell me you haven't, because there's no way you are reading this blog by accident. This morning's ride was a brisk 48km as we were on a strict check out time. Stupidly we had forgotten that sunrise was not until almost 8am and so the plan of being on the road by 7am went out of the window. We sat in full kit waiting for it to be light enough to get started and eventually decided that the combination of Trevor's tiny helmet light and my garish pink gilet (made by you-know-who) would be enough to be spotted by Girona's respectful drivers. I was expecting to feel rubbish after yesterday's efforts but surprised myself by rolling along nicely. The route would retrace the easier parts of yesterday's ride, but in reverse, passing by the picturesque lake at Banyoles. Somehow Trevor found a Sushi restaurant open before the sun was up that served up a couple of welcome cortados and chocolate croissants. Note to others: bring your own super domestique/bike mechanic on future rides. Having a laid back friend with me who was just happy to be on his bike really helped make the weekend. As they had been all weekend, the roads were virtually traffic free, the riding easy and the chat made it as pleasant as a normal Sunday Social back home. We were back in time to dodge the thousands of women and girls who took over the streets of the city for the annual female only fun run. The sight and sound of thousands of happy women of every age and shape streaming through our tiny cobbled back street brought a smile to my face. There was probably not an ego in sight. There was time for another excellent breakfast at Federal and a visit to La Fabrica, the most upmarket of the city's cycling cafes. It came complete with a skinny guy in the corner sipping espresso looking impossibly cool. Dammit, he has stolen my future imaginary life. I consoled myself with the thought that he won't look like that in his 50's. Or maybe he will. He looked like he was about to go out and guide a large group of Americans on a ride. (More accurately this was a group of large Americans). They all had matching Rapha custom kit on, which to be fair looked brilliant, so jealously will get me nowhere. Based on my three days only, Girona lived up to all the hype: fantastic routes and roads, a cycling friendly culture, cool cafes and great weather. The old city is a maze of narrow, but high medieval streets on one side of the river and more modern developments on the other side. It looks very similar to Barcelona, just on a much smaller scale. Each of six footbridges from one side of the city to the other adds to the feel of somewhere very different to their Catalan neighbours though. Somehow more friendly. Is it better than Port de Pollenca in Mallorca though? I'm not sure. I think it probably has a greater number of 'must ride' mountains and it's a city rather than a seaside town. You can ride out from Girona in almost any direction, rather than be forced to start and finish rides on a small number of roads. I don't think you could come here with a really big group as my club tends to do, but for a handful of friends who want to ride together, this is almost as good as it gets.