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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 36. Vic- El Vendrell

Posted by admin On Agosto - 16 - 2010

142 kilometers. 8 hours and 34 minutes.

IVAN: 6:45 a.m. The alarm clock goes off at the same time it does every single day. It doesn’t wake me up, though. I’ve been awake for 15 minutes. I look through the window next to my bed. It’s open. I can see a blanket of thick black clouds that envelops the sky. I don’t bat an eyelid. I don’t wonder. It’s been a while since my eyes last bugged because we have such weather in the very midst of August. I try to get up and I realize that there’s something inside me that is still inhabiting the Land of Nod. My inner bear, that bear that looks forward to being in rocky mountains and to going up and down unknown paths, hasn’t woken up yet; I look at him, I elbow him and yet he doesn’t wake up. I decide to get up and I watch him slip under the sheets.

I wash my face. I talk with J.L. and we make our way to the dining room to have breakfast. We go near the breakfast buffet table. The truth is that I’m not really hungry but my body is consciously aware of its need for food and, as a result, sends a message to my brain: “Hey, don’t take one fruit; take two, or three!”, “only two toasts? Take that loaf of bread, some tomato and Serrano ham as well”, “a croissant for the coffee and a doughnut too!”

We leave the hotel. We start pedaling; we start getting familiar with our body sensations…Crossing the Pyrenees hasn’t been for free and, now, we are paying the price for it. We leave Vic. The first raindrops start to trickle. We take the road Garmin shows us. This road leads to Manresa, then, to Montblanc. We don’t want to go down the coastal road; it’s not that nice for the tandem bicycle and it’s usually rather busy. We’ll go inland to Castellón. After doing 15 kilometers, we realize that we had to take the road that runs parallel to the one we are traveling along and we also realize that the road access was 4 kilometers behind. We try to find an alternative road. There’s no way so we decide to turn around and go the other way. Surprise, surprise! We chance on a secondary road access that goes to a gas station; we’ll be able to join the road from there.

We take it, that’s right, we get to the gas station and we do have access to the road Garmin has showed us. There’s a gas station air compressor. We blow the rear tire up. 5th tire replacement during our trip, and extremely close to home. Fortunately, we only have to remove the inner tube.

Changed tire. Perfect wheels. Right path. We start cycling upward to Manresa. On our way, a bolt from the blue: a white car coming in the opposite direction suddenly turns on roof-mounted blue beacons, it approaches us from the opposing lane and pulls out in front of us. They are Mossos d’Esquadra (the police force of Catalonia)! What do they want? Fairly simple. Well, they get out of the car, pissed off. One of them starts touching his head with his pointer finger while going around in circles. He begins to talk. He tells us that cycling is prohibited on this road. To put it simply, we can’t ride our tandem bicycle there. During the course of the conversation, rather heated on certain occasions, we tell them that there is no clear signage that warns that cycling is not allowed. One of the officers makes his way to the police car and writes out, as thought he were a G.P, the following prescription: a mere 500-euro fine or a 250-euro fine if we take advantage of a prompt-pay discount. The truth is that they are right. The fact that we haven’t seen the prohibition signs doesn’t exempt us from being fined. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The lovely thing is that the fastest way to get to Manresa by bicycle is from Vic and along a 917-meter mountain pass, something we weren’t expecting. The two polite police officers escort us from that point to the first exit that leads us to the opposite way we are going. Well, it’s 11 o’clock in the morning and we are in the same place we were at 8 o’clock a.m. When in pain, we feel intense sensations.

As to the rest of the day, everything goes swimmingly. We have lunch in between Vic and Manresa. Once we get there, we go along the beach, we take the road we’ve been intentionally avoiding. It’s not a mountain road. We’re tired and disheartened. Tonight, we are sleeping in a coastal town. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we are cycling along the hellish national road N-340.

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