EUROPE ADVENTURE 2008 – SPAIN!

Hola, from beautiful Spain. We arrived Wednesday July 2nd after climbing Mt. Ventoux outside of Avignon. It was a wonderful climb, (can’t believe I said that!), climbing 13 miles with a 7.5% average grade. Some sections were 11%. The top looks like what I imagine the moon would look like. Lots of gray rocks, chilly, but awesome views!

Spain has been peaceful and sunny on the Mediterranean coast along with many hills even though we are on the coast. While we have not had to climb mountains yet, they still feel like mountains as we continue our tour in Europe. Wednesday we met up with Neal in the seaside town of Tamariu. Neal flew in from Detroit to spend the last two weeks riding bikes with Kevin and me. We have a beautiful view of the ocean. Kevin has great routes out of Tamariu. One was from the hotel where we had to climb 3km out of town and rode to Bisbal. Then Friday we went to Banyoles to swim in one of the only lakes in Spain. Unfortunately it is a rowing lake and we were asked to leave after 15:00 of swimming. They missed Neal and he got his entire swim in. Neal said the guy felt sorry for him since he was swimming slower than we were! We then rode from Olot straight up for 10km. The descent was beautiful, winding, and fast. I am learning to descend much better than last year. I guess you can teach “an old dog new tricks”! Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day and we did a 100 mile ride taking almost 7 hours. We thought it would be about six hours, but again the terrain makes it deceiving. We rode to Tossa del Mar. It was breathtaking. We first saw it from way up above as we rode about 15 miles on this winding up and downhill road through Costa Brava or the Savage Beast. The rode is aptly named as we were either climbing or descending but the views were spectacular. Neal had two flat tires on the way there so we actually had a couple of breaks in the ride. While in Tossa del Mar we stopped for food…we were starving. I had chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookie…life was great. We ate it at the beach crowded with sun bathers, many topless women or men in skimpy Speedos! Quite a sight to see J In the beginning of the ride, we ended up being a bit lost and while stopping for water, a very nice woman came out speaking only Spanish and luckily for us Neal is fluent in Spanish. She offered us fruit which was delicious and her husband came out and drew us a map in the dirt so we could get back to the main rode.

I have learned a few things while in Spain. People are incredibly friendly to cyclists, they give us lots of room while passing, and they offer us food, directions, and always a smile. The medieval castles are truly places to see with stone roads, incredible architecture, and a glimpse into the past dating back to 16th century. There is nothing like that to see back home. I have also learned that as we enter most cities, cow manure is spread on the outlying areas. It made for very fragrant rides. Lastly I am learning to eat late at night. Most restaurants do not open until 8:30 and then it is a long meal, usually 2 hours in length. A very late night for me as I finish dinner and go right to bed. I miss my early dinners. Also, everything closes from noon until four p.m. My Spanish is not very good and in fact I keep saying French words instead of the little Spanish that I do know!

Today we head to the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain for 3 more days of riding before we head back to the Pyrenees in France for another few days of mountain riding and watching the Tour de France. So, Spain has been a wonderful interlude from all the mountain climbing.

Adios,

Laura

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