From Barcelona to Figueres with my Brompton

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At the end of 2015 I felt the need to leave for a bike trip, to close the past year and recharge myself with positive energy and start a new year. It is often difficult to organize holidays with friends because they might not have the same holidays, budget or the same taste for a vacation … but I did not want to join any organized trip, despite the fact that I believe a cycling holiday is a great way to make new friends, it was not what I wanted. So I decided to go alone and organize my own trip by bike.
The program would have been very clear and simple: a journey on my own, in Spain, 220 km in 4 stages, with my Brompton and travelling bag.
I would have started in Barcelona with the Critical Mass and then I would have pedaled my way to Figueres to visit one of my favorite artist Salvador Dali’s museum.

Everything went exactly (or almost) as I had planned, and I was very happy to have followed my inspiration and finish this itinerary alone.
An experience I would recommend … although, a solitary trip is not for everybody. It’s required to possess a good feeling with loneliness at home, so as to feel independent and peaceful even at miles from home. More than independent, I like to call myself quite wild .
This trip meant a lot to me, as I also lived great emotions. At times I felt it was a cathartic experience .
I cycled my way and refreshed my mind. I spent a lot of time listening to my inner voice and connecting to my deepest desires.
And after a long ride … I was hungry! Every night I tried a different veggie/vegan restaurant and of course a well-deserved dessert 🙂

The flight
The great advantage of Brompton is that it is really small, and once closed and packed in his bag is as big as a suitcase. I used the soft bag (B Bag) that also allows to pack clothes and other things, and once arrived folds easily. Remaining within the limits of weight (23 kg) I didn’t have any problem.
I was heading to a week by myself, traveling alone with my bike. A mixture of excitement and fear.
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First day – Critical Mass in Barcelona
Once arrived in Barcelona, I settled into the room I had booked in Airbnb. A delightful apartment just a step from the beach Barceloneta and from designers district Born .
Pink sunsets and cool breezes, almost as if it were the end of summer, waiting for me in the ride along the seafront. At 20.00 the appointment I was waiting for so long! I could not wait to join the Critical Mass in Barcelona .
It is held once a month (the first Friday of the month) meeting point the Arc de Triomf. In Milan, it is held every Thursday and the participation is equally large and colorful. We cycled for a couple of hours and, although I know the city quite well, I was happy to discover streets and neighborhoods I did not know. I enjoyed it so much and talked with many people .

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Day two – Relaxing in Barcelona
For this day I had planned a day of ” descanso ” (relax) to chill in the city and immerge into its colors riding my Brommie. I left as usual from Barceloneta to take advantage of the afternoon sun, then went exploring the neighborhoods Raval, Gothic Quarter and Born.
But first I needed to visit the Brompton store Urban Fun just near the beach. A beautiful store and great amazing people. They were so nice to give a look and adjust tyres and brakes, in order to secure my trip at best.

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Day three – riding south to Sitges
Before going to the north, I would make a stop in the South in the beautiful village white and blue, Sitges .
The route is about 52 km with some uphill, is initially quite boring because I had to cross the port and then the airport. Once I reached the coast, I started the climb!
My 3 speed Brommie behaved very well, and my legs too passed the test.
I arrived for lunch so I was able to visit the village and enjoy the view. I came back to Barcelona in a comfortable train (one every 15 minutes) .

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Day four – riding north to Lloret de mar
It was time to leave my cozy room in Barceloneta, pack up my travel bag (T Bag Brompton) and head to north. Destination, Lloret de Mar.
The route is about 72 km with some uphill. The first part (40 km) is wonderful, pedaling peacefully along the sea .
At Matarò I was forced to take the road and began to climb, it even started a light rain .
When I arrived in Lloret rained a lot … as expected, the famous movida town in winter is very quite and everything was closed. A nice hot shower and a lot of relax.

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Day five – Lloret de Mar to Girona
In the morning the sun was out and the beach was so beautiful that I could not take a walk before leaving for Girona.
I thought it was nice to let enjoy my phone the warm waters of the Costa Brava… Yes. My IPhone 5 agonizing. Fortunately, even for a miraculous intuition, I brought with me the good old iPhone 3GS with its adapter and charger, just in case of collapse battery (using the GPS is pretty easy, even having a powerbank). This idea has saved me! I could access the Wi-Fi to my room reservations and communicate with my host. I had lost all GPS tracks that I had prepared, but I could access Google maps and create itineraries, which have proved to be less accurate but better than nothing!
From Lloret de Mar in Girona is 41 km. The first part is for 5 km uphill, then some up and downs. Arrived in Sils for lunch I asked for directions and I found the provincial NII for Girona. Here the road is boring, along the motorway road, but it’s safe.
At Girona, I was a guest of Brian, Irish cyclist journalist and founder of the website www.stickybottle.com . In the evening , the old town of Girona is well worth a visit, despite the rain! It was the night of los Reyes Magos, in Spain they bring gifts to the children, so the entire town on the road waiting their arrival.

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Day six – Girona to Figueres
I woke up with a beautiful sunny day and it was time to say goodbye and leave Brian and ride to Figueres. With Google maps I calculated a route (walk) that seemed interesting through nature. The first 20 km along the river Onyar, then crossing the Terri, were extremely enjoyable. Through countrysides and farms, was often hearing dogs barking and I was fearing they would go out and follow me. I was prepared, as I carried with me the pepper spray in case of having to defend myself from any attack (also human).
As I said routes of Google are not always accurate … and it sent me to a private road. Having seen the sign, I expected there would have been dogs … as a matter of fact…soon two beautiful dogs came out of a farm barking like crazy and running towards me.
It is not a good idea using pepper spray into a private property… better not. I stayed calm and got off the bike. One of two dogs barking was half a meter from me. I simply said, “I’m lost, I just need help” and the dog immediately stopped barking and rubbed his head against my arm. The other also stopped. I was touched by what had happened. Meanwhile, in the distance, the owner of the house told me that it was a private road leading to nowhere but his house, that there were only farm fields … So I apologized, went back and succesfully found another way to to Figueres.
After 43 km it was time to eat my sandwich in Bascara, a hamlet that seemed to be in the Middle Ages and famous for its nativity scene, whose representation must have ended the night before with the arrival of Reyes. I enjoyed the last km to Figueres in a bucolic landscape with Pyrenees in the background.
Total distance 55 km
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Day seven – Figueres
Figueres is the birthplace of Salvador Dali and here the great surrealist built his museum , inside the large municipal theater. For years I longed to visit this museum so I made a little dream come true.
In the afternoon I went back to Barcelona by train .

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Day eight – leaving
Last breakfast, last shopping… hasta pronto Barcelona!

Summary

Stages 4 ( 52 to 72 – from 41 to 55 km) and down (altitude max 200 meters, slopes all : from 4 % to 20 % ! )
My travel bag :
– 2 tubes, tool kit, pump
– Universal Silicon smartphone support, chargers, adapters sim, back up phone, powerbank, camera
– Shampoo, shower gel, arnica gel, moisturizer all in mini containers
– First aid kit
– Pepper spray ( 6 ml , legal )
– 1 pair of shoes , 1 cycling trouser, 1 jacket, 3 cycling jerseys. Normal clothes (just a couple of T-shirts, 1 sweater, 1 pair of jeans). Gloves, helmet, cap etc.
– waterproof trousers an jacket, a small umbrella in case of rain
– Water bottle, biscuits , a sandwich prepared every morning for lunch .

Traveling with one bag, it is useful to organize all stuff into in separate bags (plastic or textile) as to create logical containers so you don’t have to unpack every time the bag when you need to find something .
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