In the dark valleys I have seen some of the clearest night skys since fruit picking in Oz. Its funny that it coincides with the National Geographic coverage of night sky pollution. There is nothing better than sitting at the edge of your tent, wrapped in your sleeping bag, counting shooting stars (11 is my best) and sippin some (alot) steaming coffee. I dont care what temperature it is because this is unmissable. When its been raining or when you have had a head wind for days, you say to yourself, its not permanent, I will have my glory days too. To be honest I have not actually had a bad day so far haaa. If the wind annoyed me I would go home, if the rain got me down I wouldnt be an Irish man haaaa.
By all accounts the climbing was supposed to be finished and that it was to be an easy roll into Barcelona, hmm clearly they have never cycled the route. You can take the valley route through a tunnel but not cyclists, discrimination. So it was to be another climb. This time the mountain was not snow covered but was however pine tree covered breathtaking. The view back towards the snow capped Pyrenees is easily the most picturesque I have ever seen. I feel having struggled up there also makes the view that much better. Anyway the road was not that steep and was filled with wonderful snaking turns giving countless "wow" moments. I bumped into two American guys, Will and Gerald, that were going snowboarding and they gave me two perfectly ripe nectarines. I saved them for the peak, free food tastes soo much better.
When I see a big hill or mountain, I actually hope its in my way now. I also hope I get a good return on my investment. The last one did, 20kms climbing up and 50kms of twisting down hill, the windchill was again divine. Put in the effort and rewards are obvious. I found a nice quiet route to Barcelona but it was getting late so I ducked into the woods at a hairpin turn and slept for a solid 14 hours. My poor legs deserved it.
So another big day had arrived, I was close to the coast now and I was hoping to get a look at the Mediteranean Sea. Its amazing how much you build up these moments while you crawl across a country. Just rolling along and thinking of the moment I would see the Med made me teary eyed. Well the day was pretty much over distance wise when I came to a provincial park, delighted. I followed along the sort of path you (I) dream about, dirt covered, winding, smelling the Spainish country side. It was a sweaty ride and half way up I had to stop for a number two with the bear. Anyway that sort of gave me a second wind, I decided to see how far the trail went. On and on it went, happy as can be, it got steeper, and the camping spots got more attractive. Buckets of sweat that should only be brought on my bedroom antics.
I was hoping the trail would end just around the hill with a sea view. Finally it ended in a horrible housing estate, haaa. Stubburn me, I went looking for a street that I "knew" would lead over the hill. After much sign language I got onto one. Slight problem, Alex from Guinness Book of Records measured the angle of ascent and said it was 89 degrees and he confirmed it was impossible to climb with a fully laden bike! As I slowly crawled up I caught a glimpse of a little old granny pointing her spindly artrithic finger at my skinny legs and laughing. I have been in Spain a few days now and I can lip read pretty good, the granny was saying, "go home ye skinny celt, ye wont make it". Fuck you I shouted at the coffin dodger and stuck my straight middle finger in her direction and I powered on.
I was out of my saddle now, crushing the bar ends with my grip, handlebar creeking under the enormous pressure I was exerting. All I could think was this is just stupid, just go back and sleep in the beautiful park. Something inside spoke up, it was not my soul or my heart. It was my body, I was not actually that tired and my legs wanted more so I kept going. At one stage Alex from Guinness said "look mate you are pushing to hard, just stop and take a few minutes, its not right for a human". I told him to take a seat and enjoy the show. After what seemed like two hours but was probably ten minutes I made it up over the crest of the hill. You guys will remember the moment I did it because some of you would of felt it. You may have thought you sneezed or choked on something you were eating but no what you felt was my raw power. If you had looked towards Barcelona you might even have seen the sky was a bit brighter. I jumped off my bike knowing my spirit would take over and say something really inspirational to roar at the Med but all I could manage was a pitiful whimper of "thank god thats over". I pitched my tent and enjoyed the most panoramic view of Barcelona and watched it for hours as the sun set and the street lights came on.
I rolled into the city centre after passing along a horrible industrial sea front which really got crushed the buz of the previous day. Booked into the cheapest hostel, free net and coffee, pure love. I always make my money back on the rent with my anihilation of the coffee. My room mate was a Swiss guy heading onto South America for a years travel, he was alergic to fat, haaa very unlucky eh. Went for a bite to eat and I destroyed a savage amount of meat at a Turkish place. The feeding had begun. The next day I met Dara and Orla at there hostel, stupidly I turned up on time, Dara is always hilariously late for everything.
The sightseeing began, Gaudi, everywhere eh. I think he just found an abandoned tile factory somewhere and had a ton of broken tiles to get rid of. Picasso, bowls of fruit and guitars, guitars with bowls of fruit. It was super fun to be able to chat about all sorts again with friends. I really missed that, the topics got a bit extreme at times but it was only us that could understand it, hopefully haa. When I settle again somewhere I hope that you guys will visit me so I can repay the generosity, books, chocolate and a ton of everything else. It was funny to be poked and prodded all the time, especially when I was fully kitted up to leave town. I am used to how I look I suppose. I gave Dara a spin on the bike, now christened "Celona" by Orla, a guy took his picture. All the time I have spent on the bike and not a single pic, Dara stole my thunder, I was ready to fly home I was raging.
It was a brilliant weekend that allowed to me recharge my batteries, a change in direction now. I am heading west now for Madrid and Portugal. I love the freedom of heading in any direction at any time. Sorry there are no pics the net cafe sucks, next time.