"It's all enormous. It's all incredible. In the end we managed to win finals. We won this one after suffering a lot and now it's time to celebrate."

--Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso.
This fits. The only thing that I'd add is that suffering on a bike is cause for celebration.

The Plan

Hola mes amis. That's right, Spanish and French in the same sentence.

Once again this summer Selena and I are off on another adventure. This time we've got three weeks in France and Spain planned. Should be great!

The plan goes like this:
>fly into Barcelona on Saturday, July 18
>rent a car and travel to the Hautes-Pyrénées in France on July 19 where we will be camping by the roadside for 3 nights
>catch Stage 16 (July 20) of the Tour de France on the famous Col d'Aubisque
>enjoy the Tour's Rest day by cycling my guts out around the Haute-Pyrenees (July 21) and challenging some of the most famous cols (climbs) of the Tour de France
>catch Stage 17 (July 22) of the Tour on the famous Col du Tourmalet, which will be the stage finish
>Enjoy July 23 somewhere in France hopefully cycling around copious grapes and doing significant sampling ;)
>Spend a week (July 24-31) living in an apartment in Girona, Spain (Cataluña Province), the European home-base of a majority of the North American contingent of the pro peloton (that's pro bike riders for you non-roadies :)
>PS Our great friends Rod and Deanna Rawding will be joining us for the week in Girona. So what will the week look like, you ask? Let's just say that Rod and I will spend as much time riding the training routes of the pros as we can get away with; Selena and Deanna will run often and enjoy the beaches of the Costa Brava; and altogether we will enjoy the cafes and tapas bars daily
>On July 31 we will say adios to our pals and to Girona and once again rent a car and spend our last five days touring the Costa Brava
>fly home Thursday, August 5

As per usual, I'd like to share as much of the experience with all of you as possible via this little blog, so as with the past two summers, please check in on us as much as possible and do drop us a comment to let us know that you were by.

You never know what once-in-a-lifetime experiences the road may provide as I found out last year. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Days in Girona

Hey there blogger people! Sorry for the recent hiatus, but it's been interesting around here. Where to begin?

After camping one more night (Thursday) at the base of the Tourmalet, Selena and I pointed the car back up the famous Col--the road being re-opened to traffic. The plan was to reach Spain via an alternate route; on the way up to France, we went up the east coast then shot west to Tarbes, Lourdes, etc. On the way back we climbed the Tourmalet, and the Col d'Aspin then caught a tunnel (10 minutes drive through a mountain) to Spain. The tunnel was amazing. The rain during the tour on the North side of the Pyrenees has been well documented. When we emerged from the tunnel in Spain, on the south side of the Pyrenees, it was like someone flicked a switch--blue skies, no clouds, and 25 degrees - 30 by the time we got back down to the base of the mountains. Surreal. That night we camped on the coast north of Barcelona in a virtual desert--stark contrast to the conditions in Bareges.

Saturday was spent scoping out the beach towns for Selena and Deanna, getting moved back into the apartment in Girona, doing laundry, and dumping the rented car back at the airport. Then...

At 6:30 two people showed up (Rod and Deanna) with two carry-ons...pass the beer nuts. No suitcases, no bike :((((( I won't spend too much time on the details here, but suffice it to say that it was NOT a happy time. Frequent phone calls to the airport, iffy service in English, unreliable payphones in the street, a stake-out vigil on the sidewalk lasting hours and spanning two days. Then our incredibly generous apartment neighbors graciously loaned us one of their cell phones so that we could give the airport an actual contact number (our apt doesn't have a phone) and eventually, at 2:30 today, some 48 hours after the arrival of the Rawdings, the successful delivery of the baggage/bike occurred.

The girls were already off to the beach, and Rod and I had his bike out of the box and built back up in no time. We set off on the cobbled streets of Girona for our first ride :))))))

Looking to spin the shit out of our legs (that hadn't been moving for a couple of days), we took off on Michael Barry's 1.5-2 hour Easy Ride. By the way, a lot (all or most) of our riding here over the next few days will be based on Michael Barry's article from the current issue of Canadian Cycling which you can find here . Michael is a pro rider, originally from Toronto, who rides with Team Sky who recently finished his first Tour de France and makes Girona his permanent home. This ride saw us over the Els Angels climb which the likes of Armstrong, Barry, Christian Vandevelde, Levi Leipheimer, and George Hincapie use for interval workouts. It was a great climb, ridiculously hot, but we were smiling all the way. The ride then looped back to Girona via a small ancient town called Madremanya. The only way to describe this small place would be to tell you that as we were riding about it's archways, tunnels, and small alleyways, I suggested to Rod that we could play a game of hide-n-seek on our bikes...very twisty, circuitous little passages built in the 14th and 15th century.

In the end we made it back to Girona coming in on the road that we parked the car on. As we were criding in on this road, we met the girls who were just coming home from their day at the beach. At this point, they didn't realize that the luggage had arrived, so we were able to share the news by riding by and saying hello from our bikes. Very fun!

The day was capped with a pitcher of Sangria, and a meal at Draps, a restaurant that specializes in meals to share - we ordered three meals and shared it all around with a great bottle of wine. Each meal is designed for 2 - you do the math. The requisite 2 boules of gelato finished off a great first day (with bikes) in Girona.

Thanks for reading and please comment freely :)


Some other dude riding up the upper slopes of the Tourmalet while we drove.

This pic is still worth something

Check out the dusty campsite

View of the Onya River from our apartment in Girona

Fun at the beach

Ah, diddo!

Rod at the top of El Angels

Shane at the top of El Angels - some of my buddies might notice a new purchase in this pic - couldn't help myself

Riding into Madremanya

Pretty much says it all really

This is the street we live on, Carrer Ballesteries - the lighting at night is sureal

Fred and Barney

Betty and Wilma

Just so we're clear, I can eat 21 power gels, a deep fried turkey and my body weight in gelato without throwing up


  1. Just fabulous. The pictures are amazing and it looks like everyone is having the time of their life this summer. The ancient village looked awesome and I am sure it was a thrill to ride through the tunnels. The ladies looked like they had a blast at the beach. Still awaiting some footage of those cute Spanish men :)
    Enjoy the rest of your week Betty, Wilma, Barney and Fred. Looking forward to more pics and commentary.

  2. FYI: the Flinstones reference just made me spit a blueberry out of my mouth while eating my cereal.

  3. Happy looking group :)! Keep havin' fun!
    Hugs from the Foxes
    ps We think your next trip to the mountains should be here with us. . . maybe a March break ski trip?

  4. Hey guys
    sorry to hear about the luggage fiasco......but it looks the ride was worth the wait. Was the new purchase the Saxobank jersey....sweeeet
    Pics all look awesome.....21 power gels?? in one day?? crazy.....bring a loaf of bread next time.
    MAtt K

  5. Hey Matt, hoping that you spotted the reference to the Specialized commercial that aired on Versus during the Tour - a bit of a back and forth between Contador and Schleck...I didn't actually eat 21 power gels :) if you haven't seen it, you should:


  6. Hey "kids" looking good. Wow are we glad the luggage and bikes arrived. great pictures and really cracking up as others did with the Flinstones reference. We are presently in Florida and things are great here but 97degrees and high humidity makes one wonder. Will there be much work done??? Carrabba's tonite mmmm.
    Have fun and as always be safe!!!Love mom&dadeno

  7. Hi Selena and Shane:
    Really enjoying all your guys pictures! Just like being there with you.
    We rolled 23 rolls of hay yesterday [Sat.] Will finish haying on Monday. Dad is teddering the last 2 cuts now Sunday pm. We are suppose to have great weather until Wednesday so we didn't have to roll the hay today[Sunday].
    We're going for a drivewith Bruce and Nancy this afternoon.
    Keep enjoy your travels and meeting the great people.
    Love Mom&Dad Davidson