Auto Ads by Adsense

Thursday, May 09, 2019

April 8-9: Prologue

Due to a confluence of health, work, and other personal events, I was suddenly able to take a trip in April or May. Both months are too early for a tour of the Alps, where the passes would still be under snow, but I remembered that Brad Silverberg had posted a year ago about his repeated trips to Mallorca and how it was a mecca for cycling in April. I’d been to Spain before on my tour across France, where our frequent crossings in the Pyrenees had led me to believe that Spain would be a terrible place to cycle tour, as hotels and restaurants kept particularly cycling unfriendly hours.

Brad assured me that this would not be so in Mallorca, and that a week would be sufficient time for me to do the kind of riding I enjoyed on the island. A one week trip is too little time once you take into account jet-lag, but a little bit of research indicated that Girona was also a good destination for cycling, and easily accessible by train from Barcelona. Even better, Norweigian was offering $390 flights to Barcelona from Oakland on those particular dates (depart April 8th, return April 25th), which even with the hefty bike fee of $80 each way, still came out to a reasonable price for a direct flight.

Negotiations with my usual touring companions came up short, as everyone had plans of one kind or another, or misgivings about their physical condition after a horribly rainy winter in California. Mike Sojka, however, who had done a qualifying pigeon point trip way back before Bowen was born, decided to come along. Once plane tickets were made, I made a flurry of reservations, for flights to and from Mallorca (the ferry was theoretically an attractive proposition but would take 9 hours in transit!), and hotels in Girona, Barcelona, and Port de Soller on Mallorca.

Despite my preference for point-to-point tours, Mallorca as an island was small enough that there was no point in carrying luggage on the bike. Girona looked like it had enough riding that I didn’t have to carry luggage there either, and remember my previous bad experiences trying to get lodging without reservations in Spain, I decided that it was more prudent to do a fixed base tour. Mike said that the fact that it was a fixed-based tour made it easier for him to decide to come: it meant that on days when I wanted to do a more aggressive ride or harder ride he could simply opt out and do his own thing.

Thus it was that on April 8th, Mike showed up at my house with his car carrying his bike, and packed up the bike. Our super shuttle to the airport showed up uncharacteristically late, and I would regret not asking for a much earlier pick up time. The super shuttle scheduling recommendation was set up to work for San Francisco but would prove to be too optimistic for Oakland. Nevertheless, we arrived 2 hours ahead of departure and still had time to buy food for the flight. Norweigian, being a cut rate airline, didn’t provide much in the way of amenities, food, or even water, but did provide “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a movie to watch, so I watched it and enjoyed it as entertainment. (As documented elsewhere, the movie has lots of factual inaccuracies that mean that you can’t take it seriously as a biopic)

Upon arrival in Barcelona on the 9th, we were pleasantly surprised to find our bike boxes waiting for us right after we cleared passport control. We found the hotel shuttle pickup for the Best Western Barcelona Airport, and promptly checked in and asked for the earliest shuttle the next morning, knowing that jet-lag would get  us up early enough to catch the 8:00am RyanAir flight.

That night, walking out to get food, we got rained on as a thunderstorm hit town. We discussed getting a taxi or taking a bus, but my the time the taxi app had installed on my phone, the rain had died down a bit and we opted to just walk back in the rain.

We tried as hard as we could to sleep, but I nevertheless still woke up at 3:30am unable to sleep again. We ate the breakfast we’d bought the night before, packed everything up, and headed for the airport.

No comments: