Pyrenees/Costa Brava

Backroads – day 1

Sunday was the first day of our Pyrenees to Costa Brava bike tour with adventure company, Backroads. We checked out of our Barcelona hotel and took a taxi to another hotel where we met the other 17 members of our group and one of our group leaders. We sat in the lobby and signed paperwork and tagged our luggage and then boarded a coach bus headed for the Pyrenees.

I want to start this series of posts with a short note about the company. I cannot say enough great things about our guides, the van support guys, the organization, and the food. We took the premiere tour and were slightly disappointed with the accommodation the majority of the time but at the end of the day, we spent very little time at each accommodation so it didn’t deter from the spectacular trip.

Our bike trip was six days and began in the Spanish Pyrenees, crossed over to the French Pyrenees, crossed back over to the Spanish Pyrenees, and took us along the Mediterranean coast. The breakdown of our group was as follows:

  • 14 Americans
  • 4 Canadians
  • 1 Jamaican

We had two group leaders, Lulu who was French and Andres who was Colombian. Finally, there were two van support guys, British Drew and American Dave.

The average age of a Backroads guest is 50 and I would say this held true with our group. At 34, I was the youngest in the group and the oldest member was 65. Our group consisted of 12 women and seven men, all ranging in fitness levels, personalities and professions. There were lawyers, civil engineers, a psychotherapist, an oncology doctor, a director of global marketing, and a retired Microsoft employee just to name a few. It felt like a very academic group.

Peter and I were the only bike trip rookies and we were one of two couples on their first Backroads trip. All other members of our group had been on at least one Backroads trip prior to this trip and one member was on her 16th trip!

We began each day between 7am and 8am with breakfast followed by “route rap” which is when the leaders review the directions and bike route options for the day.

After route rap, we packed snacks, filled our water bottles and pedaled off into the distance.

Every day was packed with biking, eating and miscellaneous activities. The days were very go-go-go and were almost too go-go-go for Peter and I. From the feedback we heard from the other guests, our trip was one of, if not the most, difficult trips anyone had been on. The only trip I heard multiple people state was possibly more difficult was the Tuscany bike tour. The routes for our trip were longer, the climbs were steeper, and there was overall less downtime than other trips guests had been on.

Basically, we picked one of the most difficult bike trips as our first trip.

After a two-hour bus ride from Barcelona, we arrived at an unknown village in the Pyrenees, ate lunch and then set out on our first day of biking. The first day of biking was very difficult for a variety of reasons: allergies and constantly blowing my nose, not having been on a real bike in over two years, adjusting to a higher altitude, and not having slept well the night before.

On our first day, we biked 20 miles with a total elevation gain of 600 m / 1,969 ft.

Upon completion of the day’s route, I was exhausted and seriously wondered if I would be able to handle the next two days where the routes were much more difficult than the route we had just finished. My shoulders were incredibly tense, my thighs were on fire and my lungs were overworked.

Physical issues aside, we parked our bikes and entered our hotel, Torre del Remei. We were shown to our room – the Rapunzel Room – located on the top floor of the château.

The common areas of the hotel and property were amazing. Our room, on the other hand, was shitty. Our room was located on the top floor and the ceiling was angled, the bathroom doorway was low and there were beams everywhere. It was the type of room you’d read a review for online and someone would describe it as “a room with character”.

I may have also gotten a little sunburnt that day too.

Peter crashed into the bathroom doorway three times during the first hour we were in our room. The first time he banged his head on the doorway. He was holding a can of Coke in one hand and a stack of Pringles in the other. Boom! Coke and Pringles were everywhere. Coke was on the carpet, on the tile, on the walls, on the ceiling, in the bathtub, and on his shirt. The Pringles were crushed and all over the floor. I was in hysterics and our room was destroyed and we’d just got there.

Five minutes later, boom! Peter banged his head on the bathroom doorway again. I laughed as hard as I did the first time.

Twenty minutes later, thar he blows! Peter banged his head on the bathroom doorway a third time. Peter said, “That one really hurt. It’s going to leave a mark. Seriously. Camie. Stop laughing. That hurt. Fuck”.

I could not stop laughing.

After a short rest, we showered and got ready for the festivities which included a Cava tasting, official introductions and dinner. Cava, mmm.

This was the view from the back of the hotel during the Cava tasting. Our bathroom is in the tower on the right-hand side of the building.

 

Dinner was prepared by Chef Senor Boix and was fantastic. The only problem was that we could only have a glass because we had a very long and hard bike route the following day.

After dinner, we reviewed the snapshot (summary for the following day’s routes and terrain). I then banged my head on the bathroom doorway and also on one of the beams in the room and then we went to sleep. To be clear, Peter slept. I laid there until 5am with bed springs digging into my back. At 5am, I asked Peter to switch sides and only then was I able to get an hour of sleep. We were up shortly after 6am to get read for the long and difficult bike ride.

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