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by Scott Penzarella on July 26, 2012
Left out of yesterday’s post was mention of the raging wildfire that started in France, crossed the border into Spain and began working its menacing, unfocused march toward--well, everywhere. We saw it beginning around 2:00 in the afternoon, a massive plume of smoke initially misinterpreted as a herd of thunderclouds. A second look confirmed that this was a rather large conflagration, and as we rode back toward the villa via van or bicycle, the orange tinted gray smoke became increasingly ubiquitous.
After yet another splendid dinner (lentils with sausage, a caesar salad, bread, sausage/potato/onion, and eggplant/zucchini/garlic), someone realized that the flames had made it over the ridge and were now visible with the naked eye--flaring, leaping, advancing. It made for an intensely beautiful (if vaguely concerning) sunset.
Fast forward to the actual beginning of the day 3 post. Change of plan. The ash on the ping-pong table and the acrid smell of smoke hanging heavy in the air turned the mountain ride of day 5 to the mountain ride of day 3. We loaded up and headed to Castleforrit de la Roca, assembled and were off in a jiffy, after a quick “cortado”, Catalan for “spankin’ good espresso and milk”.
Another gorgeous climb with a maximum of two polite cars per hour, dreamy roads, epic views, and the perfect dose of camaraderie to get you up the quite grueling climbs. The first descent ended too quickly (as descents are wont to do), and up we went once again. A quick stop in the town of Beget for spring water dispensing from an iron spigot backed by old (ancient?) stone masonry was like something out of a travel brochure. Again with the climbing, another disproportionate dollop of descending, and we arrived at lunch. It was a luminous affair under an ivy trellis with an adorable 8-year-old in pigtails serving our cokes and bocadillos that made the previous three sweat-filled hours worth every searing pedal stroke.
After lunch, there was an option for a mind-bending climb up Valter. Enthusiastically opting out, I joined 10 others less masochistic in persona and Scott led us down the most delicious downhill I have ever deigned to delight in. No cars, open sightlines, my Cyfac whirring like a precision top beneath me. When we coasted into town, we headed for the cafe of earlier cortada fame. We reveled in a few well-deserved beers as we awaited the return of Marni, who had flatted on the descent and was provided assistance by the Spanish police (and Mike and Scott too).
Pool and cocktail hour(s) at the villa remind one that yes, we are in fact on vacation in Spain, and that all is well.
“Esta es la vida”. This is the life. Indeed.