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by Scott Penzarella on July 22, 2012
As we cruise through our three weeks of cycling trips to Spain, we are graced with some talented scribes who are eager to share their stories with our friends back home. This will be one of many articles to come. Enjoy the read. No doubt this will help you join us on our journey through the roads of northern Spain.
We were met at the Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona by the SV van packed to the gills with the first week’s guest and their luggage. As they poured out, bubbling and oozing admiration for their trip, Scott, Colin and Ritchie welcomed us and began anew the task of fitting 12 cubic yards of luggage into 3 cubic yards of van space. After some “creative apportionment” (and putting some shoulder into it), the doors were closed and we were off to our estate in the countryside of Girona.
Arriving at the villa in the beautiful Spanish countryside--a converted farmhouse on 90-acres--was a soul soothing tincture for flight delays, jet lag, and the beautiful chaos of the city. While we were lucky to be arriving when the temperatures were in decline from the previous week (110 degrees!), the sparkling deep dark blue pool was tantalizing even at a reasonable 80 degrees.
After Scott, Colin and Eli made quick work of assembling the guests’ bikes, we set off on a mellow warmer-upper of 25 miles. The road surfaces, though rather narrow, were smooth and delightful, and the relatively few cars we encountered were gracious. My Cyfac rental bike was a scant 15 pounds and was heaven on (a super light, super smooth carbon-like) wheels. Pedaling through bucolic sheep-laden fields, complete with grizzled old sheepherders and their working dogs made me giggle with the delight of it all.
Cicadas sawed their song of summer as we rolled past that most quintessential view of pastoral Europe--giant golden rolls of hay, plump and ready for the artist’s paintbrush. We rolled as a happy unit, occasionally needing a regrouping when the fast guys got away from the peloton. We rolled back into the villa a couple of hours later--a smile on our collective faces--and hit the gleaming pool with cold beverages.
Dinner on the veranda was accompanied by sunset over the Pyrenees and the glow of warm conversation. Bright orange shrimp in their birthday suits graced an expansive platter, multi-colored cauliflower, exquisitely dressed salad, potato perfection, and hearty chicken contributed to a magazine-cover table. A welcome toast from Scott, a description of our bountiful meal by Chef Chris (aka Ritchie), a fill of deep crimson wine in all glasses and thus began our weeklong Spanish gastro-palooza. Dessert was a mango Zabaglione that was light and perfectly sweet, and, and.....uber delicious is the only way to truly describe it.
Sharing this fantastic experience are several first-timers, and many returning customers from fantastical Studio Velo trips past. Our guides/cook are Scott, Colin, and Ritchie. Guests include Jasmine, Mike, Maureen, Ron, Rachel, Sandy, Jerry, Nina, Eli, Mark, Petra, Deanna, Sara, Steve, Marni and half of James who has stayed an extra week after his delightful first week at the estate.
Tomorrow: Olot! 65 or 100 miles. I’ll take the 65 thank you! Stay tuned for tomorrow's report.
by Maureen Gaffney