Struggling through Shoreditch with a bike box is definitely not one of the coolest things I've ever done. Especially when it only has three wheels and no handle courtesy of the combined forces of Easyjet and Ryanair and when the trendy people of London are stumbling squinty eyed into the Sunday evening glare to smoke outside daytime clubs.
You may wonder what this has to do with a cycling festival in Girona but sometimes things have their cost. Weekend shifts off work are like gold dust so I had to fly straight to the office on Sunday morning, fresh from Girona Gran Fondo if I wanted to spend a week in the Catalan sunshine. A small price to pay in my opinion, until the box broke and the half mile walk to the bus stop suddenly felt longer than the sportive itself. Most people might catch a taxi but I like to approach all things like an endurance sport.
I feel truly honoured to have been part of the second Girona Gran Fondo, organised by the lovely Dave & Saskia from Bike Breaks Girona, it was a very special week. Shop rides every day, a hill climb (10km mountain if you're from the UK, don't let them deceive you, that ain't no hill), urban downhill (to watch, not ride, Dave & Saskia like their riders to go home all limbs intact), night time nocturne through the cobbled old town and if your legs haven't quite taken enough punishment there's a 125km sportive on the last day. Throw in a rooftop pool party, free beer, free sausages and delicious Catalan dinners, what more could you want? Oh, there was wine, wine & cava and a bit more cava to wash it down.
The cycling was excellent but it wasn't just about the riding, the atmosphere was like nothing I'd experienced before in a sports event. The love of bikes transcended all languages and people to create a mishmash of lycra clad, enthusiastic cyclists sporting perma-grins and rapidly increasing tan lines. I made loads of new friends and got to hang out in the area's many cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlours, err, these places all seem to revolve around food?! We did go to the beach once!
Of course, it helped that Team MuleBar Girl - Sigma Sport did pretty well. I won the hill climb and the nocturne plus was 2nd in the sportive with Adel picking up 4th at the hill climb, 2nd in the nocturne and 4th in the sportive too. I now also know that a magnum of cava, won at the nocturne, no matter how many people you share it with is only going to end one way!
We won some pretty cool prizes too. I'm now the proud owner if a Formula 1 Tag Heuer watch (yey!) for winning the hill climb & being 5th overall, only a minute and a half off the overall win. Plus a new helmet, a gorgeous gran fondo bracelet and trophies in the shape of traditional Catalan drinking vessels, porrons. I'm glad no-one weighed my hand luggage on the way home!
Adel and I have had wobbly seasons through illness and injury so the feeling of power back in my legs couldn't have come at a better time. In fact, packing to come home I found my trainers and running kit languishing at the back of the wardrobe. I'd completely forgotten my back had been so bad the week before I’d brought them out just in case I couldn't cycle but still wanted to get out into the mountains. It felt like a world ago but had only been a couple of days.
Nothing is better for the soul than a week full of sport, good company, good food and good wine and it was an absolute pleasure to share it with my fellow Fondomentalists (to steal Shane's phrase). Quaffing more winning cava with new friends on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Gironion sunset was a fine way to end the week. Thanks to Dave & Saskiafor putting on something really quite wonderful. I loved every minute. Although I won't miss is autocorrect changing Girona Gran Fondo to Corona Grab Condo every flippin time!