Day Five: Berga to Barcelona

17th June 2016

Why on earth do street sweepers with very noisy blowers have to start work at 5.30 in the morning? It must drive people wanting a lie in or those with small kids, to distraction. The plus side, I suppose is that the alarm at 5.45 wasn’t exactly a surprise or shock. We had firm instructions to have our luggage in the lobby by 6.25, with departure at 07.30.

It can be chilly at 07.30 in the morning, even when you’re so far south & I was really cold by the time we’d done the first 5 kms or so, most of which was downhill, However, the first ascent took care of that problem and from then on it was hot/cold dependent upon which way we were heading. ‘Long undulations’ would probably best describe the roads but there was little traffic; the tarmac was good, the countryside beautiful and the birds singing. What’s not to like.

The first water stop was really quite pleasant at Sant Feliu Sassera as Judith & Michelle had sussed out a good café in the town square which was fine until they couldn’t re-locate it, so we had 30 odd cyclists winding around the cobbled back streets looking for a caffeine fix which we finally achieved (& it was good!). The locals in the café were utterly traumatized by the onslaught but we were all now well set for the next stage.

As we went towards midday, the scenery became more Mediterranean & the temperatures began to rise. The scenery was stunning, with fabulous mountain ranges, way in the distance. However, the aching legs were testament to the continuous rise in elevation, which continued up until & beyond lunch, which was a very welcome side of the road affair. Nobby’s welcome-in music & megaphone was wonderfully encouraging, as always. The man is a star – he drives the van to & from Jersey, with all our bags, supports & encourages us, every inch of the way.

Pay back came shortly after lunch in the way of a long descent although with lovely scenery giving way to the industry & heavy traffic, in & around Sabadell, which I think many in the Group found quite harrowing. Whilst I don’t particularly enjoy going through busy towns, I do find that it takes my mind of the aches & pains & somehow the miles done in those conditions don’t seem so arduous.

When we discussed the contour map at lunch time, we were encouraged that shortly after lunch, we had a fairly long descent although before the entry into Barcelona there was a rather ominous ‘bump’ on the map. Ominous indeed it was, as by 100 kms the aches & pains are setting in, the weather was hot & humid & the road to the top was quite busy. What a relief it was to get to the top, to see the magnificent sight of Barcelona down below & enjoy a water stop & re-group part way on the descent. The general plan was to go down as a group, DA David was to lead us in (which he did, on the cycle lanes, which was tortuously slow with all the traffic lights) and we were to gather for pictures at the front of the magnificent Gaudi cathedral (200 years & still not finished!!) & then onto the hotel.

All went to plan apart from a puncture for Bill & we lost Karen, but the hotel Granados was most welcoming especially as Nobby had the van parked outside & the bike packing commenced, the minute we stepped out of our cleats.

The Hotel really is great & well recommended for the lovely staff, great position & quirky design. Almost everyone headed to the roof top terrace where cava was provided & congratulations offered, all around. We then had a first in my cycling career; Paul proposed to Sylvana, our lovely BV’s cycling mates. What emotions, what joy, how good these two are for each other & what a lovely ending to the trip.

The evenings dinner was great – an intro from Pam, a thank you & talk about Macmillan Jersey from me & a wonderful sketch from Trevor, which parodied practically every person on the trip. He was very funny & provided a suitable ending to a most wonderful trip.

Statistics for the Day;
81.5 miles
13.1 mph average
1731 metres of climbing
5 hours 12 minutes in the saddle

Accumulated Statistics
258.3 miles (415 Kms)
7780 metres of climbing (25525 feet)
20 hours 45 Minutes in the saddle