"It´s not about speed, its that feeling of flow and being in the moment"
On my birthday my good friend Santi and I had planned to meet at the shop and head out for a gravel ride. Santi casually mentioned an event he was planning with some mates. Something about 300km in the Pyrenees from Girona to Manresa. 'Cool. Sounds awesome' I said. And as a birthday gift, he signed me right up to the event.
My day to day life can be quite busy with all three business. So, as you can imagine I didn't have a huge amount of time to prepare for the ride. The night before the race I was loading up my Belle with bags and gear, keeping everything as light as possible as we were determined to take as little stops as possible. I though one stop would be needed since I had decided I may as well ride the 130km back to Girona after the event since the only bus home was departing late that evening.
You might be wondering why I haven't really given a run down of the event yet - what, where and how? Well, this was me the day before as I loaded the route onto my wahoo, not knowing what lies ahead of me. Santi had booked me a hotel in Berga and I knew then that this was going to be a 400km round trip. 'What more do we need to know, just follow the map!'
Well, turns out, there was more to know. As a varied group of riders set off at 8 am from the sign on just outside of the city, we were straight into it. Rolling out on the Via Verde, a gravel path that stretches from the coast to the Pyrenees. Whats so nice about these bike packing trips is the adventure and their inclusiveness to get from A to B as fast or as slow as you want (there is a time limit, though it's very generous). You can eat at the gas stations or dine at a Michelin Star, sleep in a hotel or set up a camp, but you just have to support yourself, carry your own gear and supplies and be prepared for every possible eventuality since there's no neutral support!
"I can always slow down but right now I wanna see what I can do"
This winter there had been a lot of snow up in the mountains and this had it's affect on the route and diversions were made on some of the taller passes. I didn't get the last minute memo or maybe I did get them but as I mentioned above, sometimes things can get a bit hectic. Anyhow, I was alone off the front and turned up a climb of soft ground which made every pedal stroke a real effort. I kept climbing up this thing for what felt like forever, hiking some steep rocky sections and finally hitting some snow.
Cursing the organiser in my head and out loud at times, I finally made it over the top and started to descend the other side only to find even more snow. Hiking through 300m sections of snow up to your knees heading into the frigid evening is not ideal and the cursing continued.
I wasn't going to make it to Berga since I'd been on the bike for over 9.5 hours. The light was getting very low and so I decided to pull up in a Baga. Riding laps around town until I finally found a nice little place to stay and jumped straight into a hot shower! What a day. Even once I found out I had gone the wrong way, I had zero regrets. I really pushed myself and that's why I was there. Special mention to my Belle bike, zero issues during the entire day, not a flat or mis-shift. What a beast of a bike!
Day two began. I set off like the day before, straight into it. I love to ride hard, it's just where I feel natural on the bike. In the zone, pedaling as hard as I can. Completely in the moment. Not worried about bonking because I can always slow down, but right now I wanna see what I can do. But it's not about speed for me, it's that feeling of flow, being in the moment, a sort of hyper awareness that you feel when you're on the limit, feeling invincible. I started the event with Rien, our Belgian connection who races for TSC on the road locally, but we had seperated and he ended up ahead of me as he took the most direct route to Berga after a crash. As these events tend to go I ended up meeting him again on the road and we road the rest of the event together and he joined me for the leg back home to Girona, though we lost each other again before meeting up once again for the last 50km. It was full on all the way home.
Exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was a weekend to remember. Full of adventure, drama and smiles. Here's to running into you out there somewhere.