Surrounding Girona there are some fantastic climbs and descents. The views are magnificent from the local peaks as the Pyrenees tower to the north and the sea lies to the east. Between the two there are lush valleys, pastures and rolling hills. While out training the other day Dominique Rollin and I took some footage of the descent of Mare de Deu del Mont. At the summit of a climb there is a monastery, restaurant and radio towers. There are often hang-gliders jumping from the edge while hikers snap photos. The climb is roughly 30 km from Girona and towers over the town of Banyoles. Dominique Rollin rode for Cervelo last year and will ride for La Francaise des Jeux this season which is why he has a mix of clothing on. The song is Arcade Fire, No Cars Go.
A professional cyclist is rarely off of his bike in the off-season for more than a month. Progressively, through the months of November and December I slowly ease back into the routine of training. With time, the distance and intensity of the rides increases. As the morning fog lifts with the chill of the damp night air, we meet at a café to plan a route over cortados and pastries. In the warmth of the café we linger and socialise. The races are months away, we know our fitness will come so for now we can simply enjoy the ride, the camaraderie and the environment.
Catalonia, and specifically Girona, is magnificent in the autumn and winter. The streets, which were once crowded with tourists through the summer are now spotted with locals who chat under the Christmas lights. The sun lies low in the sky creating long shadows and setting before the children arrive home from school.
We’ll ride for half of the day in a small group. There are no intervals pencilled into our programs or specific goals to meet. We rode as we did when we first started this sport ages ago. As David Millar wrote in the foreword to the update edition of the book, Le Métier, “What was once the worst time of the year for me is now my favourite; Winter is now the time I enjoy most. During the Tour de France, Michael and I discussed how much we were looking forward to our December training rides. It’s then we get to meet in the morning and ride our bikes for fun, with an appreciation of our good fortune.”
Here are a few photos from a recent ride. Dominique Rollin is wearing the Cervelo clothing. Dom will ride for La Francaise des Jeux next season. Jordi Cantal, a local fireman, took many of the pictures and rides with us often. He knows the smallest roads and trails. And, he teaches me a little Catalan and Spanish as we ride.