ON HOLIDAYS WITH THE ROAD BIKE IN BARCELONA
Christmas… that time when normal life stops and you swim in abundance and just let yourself go. Once back to reality… you’ve eaten like a troglodyte and look like a pig ready for slaughter.
After my crash and broken back I spent 6 months without riding. Check marking every day less to jump back on the bike. Watching my belly grow and my legs fade. Once back on the bike I rode 1500km between September and November. But christmas were close and I knew I’d go on holidays far from my city (Madrid) to Barcelona.
It sounds great, but managing to convince my family that we had to leave some stuff back home to make space in the car for my road bike was a tough negotiation. But I had an ace, I have managed to tag my rides as “work”. Yes, for a MTB tour guide pre-season is almost as important as for the “pros”, well not quite… but if you don’t work hard in winter your guests won’t be happy in spring.
Dusting off my Tetris skills I succeed to fit my small (49”) Lapierre Sensium 500 Disc in the back of the trunk plus all our bags, 700km without a back view. There’s got to be an advantage of having short legs.
I wanted to ride Sierra de Collserola. A mountain filled by antique buildings that gazes at Barcelona from 512mts above. Its inhabitants have preserved it as their green lunge. Roads that cross it looked nice and the vistas to the sea have always haunted mankind.
On my first ride, I climbed the Vallvidriera road. As I left downtown by the cable railway station there was a quite steep climb, it was a clear sunny day. I heard some carbon wheels spinning behind me, over them was a man on his sixties, the typical one… riding with style and funny said “come on! it’s a beautiful day!”, he offered his back wheel to hook me but my top hearth rate of the day cut me from following him. I climbed to Tibidabo and rode down l’Arrabassada road back home.
Scouting on Google street view I went to find a road that goes from Molins de Rei to Vallvidriera. I crossed the boring city and part of the industrial belt by the Llobregat, but the 10km climb from Molins were well worth it in all aspects. I never thought I’d find FLOW on a road bike, but that narrow, lone mountain road hooked me one pedal stroke at a time. Sipping my sweat I found my pace, looking forward on every curve, riding fluently… one of those rides that make you grind.
Reached this point I have no other option than to talk about how much I like my Lapierre Sensium. It’s not your dream racing machine, not a top of range, neither the lightest bike… then… what is it? An extremely comfortable and noble bike, with a gran fondo geometry that saves energy that you can use to push a bit more on climbs and getting rid of long distance worries, just knowing that you can enjoy riding for hours. Besides all that, with disc brakes you can enjoy more going down with certainty they will perform all the time.
Spiuk’s wear has also performed superbly. It’s a privilege having a brand like this in Spain. My favourite gear are: 16RC shoes, light, stiff and comfortable and Elite Pro Winter jacket, windbreaker, transpirable and fits perfect.
On my third day I rode to Cerdanyola by the Collserola cemetery road. I got lost in the city before reaching the entrance. I said home I’d ride 2 hours and came back in three. But chances to get lost unworried, living slow living every pedal stroke isn’t at the reach of many. Between Cerdanyola and Sant Cugat I had another encounter with the sixties… Another skinny and energetic rider that waved good by as we reached the first climb.
On my fourth ride I wanted to ride by the sea. I had seen many cyclists by C31 road to Castelldefels, but cars passing by at 100kmh are just not for me. I rode across the solitaire free trade zone until I reached the Llobregat shore. What looked like a cycling lane ended on a gravel road, my Sensium is not a gravel bike but rode quite steady. Once in Castelldefels went all over the promenade as I looked over the empty beach, it was new year’s eve, I couldn’t imagine a better way to say goodbye to a 2016 that spared my life.
On my fifth day I rode by the shore until Badalona, climbed the Vallensana road and then down to Moncada. I missed a roundabout and had to ride back. That let Bryan, a friendly Australian on his sixties, reach me. Riding alone is nice but nobody rejects a good conversation. It turned out that Bryan was a physiotherapist who took a minute to check my thorax when I told him the story of my crash. As we reached Sant Cugat we parted ways and and I rode back to Barcelona. I had no water left neither battery on my cell, but I was more energetic than ever.
To say goodbye I went back to Vallvidriera, rounded Tibidabo to go down Sant Cugat and climb the road by the tunnels to Barcelona. As I was speeding down the road stopped by the viewpoint for a last sight of the city and the sea until next time. Headed to a tapas bar between El Born and Ciutadella park, as I sipped cold beer dived into the memories of more than 280km riding by the mediterranean sea. Now that’s a holiday!