girona bound

james arrived yesterday from london on the train. he’d been there doing some research for a masters he is writing about bon scott, the former AC-DC frontman. he gave a talk about it in scotland and met some other people, including a man he had an appointment with in a soho bar who promptly denied he was the guy who wrote the encyclopaedia about AC-DC james was there to talk to him about. strange. it's a long way to the top if you wanna write a rock'n'roll encyclopaedia...

here in montpellier though, james was taking a break from bon and rogue states-of-mind and myths to do some cycling. a bike waited here for him. we walked in the sun to my flat, picking up a sandwich on the way. settled in to watch the giro d’italia but inclement weather blew out the live coverage, so james tuned the bike while I followed the giro on twitter. the italian vincenzo nibali was doing the business in snow-hit mountains but cuddles evans was hanging in there in second, not bad for a 36-year-old who had zero form going into the 3-week race.

in the early evening we went for a 2-hour ride  heading west out around grabels and pignan. there were a couple of issues with james's bike but it was basically ok. we were ready for girona in north east spain, where we were heading for a week. girona is a pretty famous cycling city – it’s surrounded by excellent mountain climbs inlcuding the pyrenees and the costa brava. for this reason a lot of pros base themselves there, including lance armstrong and quite a few of the US postal team back in the day when shooting EPO for training rides was de rigeur.

sir bradley wiggins used to campe there. perhaps we would find him slumped at a bar surrounded by empty san migs and crumpled SKY tarot cards as he grappled with his poor show at the giro this year that forced him to abandon last week...still he'd probably win the tour de france again with the biggest, most non-aerodymamic pork chops to ever grace the pro peloton...

i went to girona with my ex-girlfriend kotryna last year and had one pretty spectacular ride north of girona. while I cycled the balmy mountain passes, kotryna shopped and wandered the pretty streets of girona’s old town. we both won there. james had done research into some parcours we could attempt and I had my strava app for more when we got there.

it was james's first time in serious mountains while I had only ridden the occasional col here and there, once grovelling up ventoux and getting up a few other peaks in the french pyrenees and the cevennes just north of montpellier. james had also done some serious touring including riding from perth to melbourne one time, from darwin to perth another and also around much of the UK. he was a good cyclist. james is my cousin from perth, where I am from but have not lived for many years.

this morning we headed out around pic st loup, passing valflaunes, then st martin de londres, before returning to montpellier via cazeveille and prades le lez. about 90kms. there was some wind but it was nice riding. in the giro, nibbles and cuddles finished together in falling snow at the marco pantani monument 4km short of the 2600m summit of the galibier in the french alps. that battle would be decided later in the week back in the dolomites as james and I battled for form and velo fulfilment in the spanish pyrenees.
we take the hire car in the morning.
strength to your legs jim…
and mine…

oh, et allez cadel!


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