Cycling. Weaved like a thread throughout my life. Holding it together. Nudging me to go outside. Especially when I don't want to leave the safety / comfort of my bed.
This time around I'd like to take you along on a cycling holiday from last year. I'll keep it short and primarily focus on visuals from the saddle on my old trusty Focus bike that has finally celebrated its 10th birthday, clocking in 10.000 kilometres during its lifetime. Not the entire bike, just the frame. The rest has changed through use, probably as I have changed along with it. But we will get to that when I have the time to post a more lengthy post regarding Felicia.
Last April I travelled for the first time with my bike by plane. And although initially I had some issues acquiring a bike case, it was all sorted in the end by having a friend lend me his. Cheers Eric, much appreciated! I always get a bit stressed while packing: that's why I start a few days before I have to actually travel. A bike case however is quite easy in that regard, as in how much one can pack into it. ~30 KG worth of bike, clothing, food, tools and such. That way you don't have to make the same, somewhat vital choices, like when you're going on a hike for a week and weight is much more important.
As it was my first time in Girona I opted for a B&B instead of something like an apartment where I would sort out my own food. With Yoram from COPPI's help I contacted Mick & Wilma. They run Equipe Girona , a B&B especially well situated in the hills overlooking Girona and well suited for an active holiday. Mick's local know-how made all the difference riding around Girona. And although I would probably opt for an apartment the next time, having his recommendations in regards to cycling routes, places for lunch & dinner and much more were what made my holiday a memorable one. I highly recommend their B&B if you're unfamiliar and/or want a hassle free active holiday.
Girona is a wonderfully beautifully compact city which has an ancient but modern feel to it. Its history is undeniable when you walk through the narrow stone paved streets and it’s easy to take you back to times where a cart dragged by horses was commonplace. It has plenty of nature due parks and a flowing river that runs through it. The influx of cyclists, be it amateur or pro from all around the world, make it feel like a home away from home but maybe that's especially due to the bicycle friendliness of the city itself. Having it as a basecamp for a week was great. The routes you undertake on your bike are a real treat too with long and short climbs but never crazy steep.
Best bird spotted: Hopoe
Best bird song: Nightingale (still active at midnight)
Best coffee place: Idle Hands
Best lunch: Dulce Pikka
Best route: Día de subidas largas 🔥👑
Best climb: Els Àngels from Madremanya
Having gotten a taste for cycling holidays and opting not to go off road cycling in the UK, I made a quick last minute decision to go to Mallorca. Spain again then, albeit on an island. I had been on Mallorca before, about 25 years ago with my parents before ever touching a road bike. I found a nice quiet AirBNB in Inca, close to the mountains and run by a lovely couple that even picked me up from the airport and also brought me back again for my return flight.
Inca is a bit more isolating then Girona for sure but I did settle into a rhythm quite quickly. I opted to cook for myself more often this time than going out for dinner. Definitely benefited my recovery process and was quite rewarding. Having my own overnight oats in the morning was a nice creature comfort too.
Specialty coffee was hard to come by to be fair, besides the coffee I brought myself made with my trusty Aergrind handgrinder & Aeropress. There was the occasional exception but that was primarily in Palma on my rest day. Which made it for an extra enjoyable moment. Also meeting people along the ride or during lunch was incredibly fulfilling.
In closing, solo travel is always interesting to me and a challenge, but there is quite the reward in being alone with one's thoughts. It gives you lots of time for self reflection and that's definitely something I appreciate when traveling alone. I've been on holidays, even last year, with friends and have felt incredibly lonely. However I've never felt lonely on any of my trips alone with my own thoughts.
Alone != Loneliness.
Although I do agree that happiness is only real when shared. I only felt alone during dinner at night when traveling by myself. Then again you do meet lots of people when you're traveling alone. And there is something rewarding about taking yourself out for dinner. Added bonus: you don't have to share your dessert either.