A while back I did a filler post on places I would rather be instead of listening to people who are allergic to personalities drone on about the latest piece of work they were taking too seriously, which of course added approximately zero value to the human race.
Of the two locations I wistfully swooned over, I knew that the ENDURO World Series would give me an excuse to hit Maderia at some stage soon (Hellllo 2017), but Girona in Spain was going to be a bit of a head scratcher.
Like the CIA in 1963, I needed a patsy to get me back to the Euro Summer and into what sounds like hallowed ground for road cycling… Where to find a willing accomplice? I started to trawl the DN Global Collective database to find a suitably skinny Trojan Horse. Welcome to the party AT:
That’s right, our detailed files outlined that AT is turning the very noble and big Four Zero in September, not that you can tell from his stagiaire looks and physique. With my prey identified I commenced the peer pressure application, laced with a hint of obligation to force an awkward win/win for everyone:
- DN: “Bro, what’s the plan for the 40th?”
- AT: “Brah, probably have a dinner I guess?”
- DN: “Fuck off cunt, let’s go to Spain and ride bikes”
- AT: Silence and then a nervous laugh
- DN: “Excellent, silence denotes acceptance… I shall proceed with the worlds most irrational new bike purchase”
You may remember AT from such wobbly and shitting your pants adventures such as Road2Recovery 1 in 2014, followed up by its slightly fatter sequel of Road2Recovery 2 in 2015, both times AT was on hand to fly wing man, even if he was half the size of my new ENDURO 2.0 chassis:
But this Bromance goes back a lot longer than those recent broken bones shenanigans. Yes, we need to go back in time to when life was allegedly simpler, before annual hub standard changes or electronic shifting, before we knew what a power meter/cunt or Strava was, and when you rolled with a Cateye Mitty 2 instead of a Garmin 810.
Yes, back to a time when you legitimately said to people “No, I just think Lance is really talented and an amazing bike rider… Seems legit.” And if you think that feels awkward in retrospect, shiiiiiit, it ain’t no thing…
Yes, we’ve known each other since back when it still seemed acceptable to wear full team kit from an obscure Euro team which, while you had never heard of them, that didn’t stop you from fucking up the pronunciation of their name… Which wasn’t such a big deal when you consider I was going through my netball socks and beardless phase, and legitimately told people that I was a climber…
It was also the happy time when you could ride a Pinarello without looking like you were part of the horde of fat cunt Executive golf refugees, or have your bike in any way linked to Team Sky and the Stem Stalker. You’ll also be pleased to know we eventually graduated on the kit front somewhat. Clearly I like to stand on the right.
Anyway, enough of the cheesedick excuse to stroll down bad kit memory lane, back to the mission at hand. Yes, we’re off to the radness of Spain & France in summer and some serious Roadie & Lycra indulgence in a couple of revered locations. We’re splitting this week of milestone birthday frothing into two parts:
Opening act – Girona
The first half is all about Girona, or more accurately all the succulent looking back roads around Girona. Its become a PRO road mecca the last decade and this means my curiosity levels have been peaking out about what it has to offer and who is there to stalk.
I’ve been Strava and Gram banged relentlessly about how golden Girona and its surrounds appear to be, so I’ve of course created a number of possible riding routes which I am sure will be significantly more ambitious than my legs are.
Given its taking AT around 35 hours to get to Barcelona, I thought that it was only appropriate to hook up a Rapha level experience, except without the previously mentioned Pinarello owners or the ass plundering price.
The Sequel – The Pyrenees
If you’re going to travel that far, then may as well throw in a mini road trip north a bit to hit a zone packed with some of the most famous climbs on the planet. Whilst I’ve done the Alps before, sampled the Dolomites and survived some of Spain’s finest beasts, the Pyrenees loom large as a gap on my amateur palmares.
So, why not head in there with someone who is a much better climber than me whilst adding to the experience with a human & bike weight collectively coming in around 7kg’s heavier than the last time I was in serious Big Mon-Ton road territory.
This means AT having to endure me climbing legends such as the Col du Tourmalet at the scientifically approved speed of 13.5kph. As the Hawk & Assassin will relay, there’s little point waiting at the top to become a meat popsicle.
On that point, its worth noting this is the first dedicated Dirty Road mission in over 2 years believe it or not… I guess that’s a combo of the Sublime Japanese Alps mission being hard to top and going as ENDURO as fuck on it ever since then.
The idea of part 2 is to tackle as many big name climbs as possible and, you know, throw in Stage 14 of the Vuelta as well for good measure to get a dose of PROness to cap things off. I’m off to finish ramming Herr Piggy into the bike box (Watch this space for part 2 of the review) and hope like fuck my improvised spacer system means the wheels remain intact in the bike box.
Stay tuned for truly middle aged updates from the baking hot roads of Spain, as we melt the Gram with road porn shots in matching kit next to the cliche summit signs, most likely with me sitting down and AT looking cold.