Looking out the window at Solsona on what is to be our second last day of riding. Barcelona looms, and realistically today will be the last day of feeling ‘free’ as riding through urban conurbations is somewhat stressing.
I had slept badly with bruised shoulder and hip making for uncomfortable sleep. I had arisen during the night to take some pain relief.
We had our fourth hearty Spanish breakfast and hit the road promptly as today we needed to cover over 91 km and climb around 1500 metres.
We headed back into town and followed the old town around the edges before veering off through undulating farmland.
We started climbing and then undulated along the top of hills before turning to ‘El Miracle’ a historic abbey. from the road it looked ‘plain’ compared to others.
However the information board shows that there is more to the place than meets the eye.
The road then descended from El Miracle and undulated through woods and fields, rejoining the main road. A few km later we turned off the main road again.
The topography was starting to dry out more and there were some really old looking structures such as the one behind me in the photo below.
At the 46 km mark we rode through the reasonable sized town of Calaf, with lots of navigational instructions. We had decided to look for a coffee at the next town of El Prats de Rei. I think we found the only place open there and for 4.80 Euro got 2 coffees, and 3 snacks. Bargain.
We started a 8 km gentle climb.
The navigational notes stated that the top of the climb was by the wind turbines. There were so many in the area. Good to see Spain making use of its natural resources.
Just past the top of this climb the real ‘fun’ for the day started. Now I am not a big fan of riding on gravel. I have come off my bike twice this trip on gravel and sporting a very sore shoulder today. So it was somewhat a surprise to discover we were going to be riding 14 km off sealed bitumen on our road bikes!
On the plus side, the views were great, the sun was shining and I managed to stay upright! I found this part of the ride a real challenge mentally and physically though!
This next view is looking back to where we have ridden.
Montserrat was always in our view and kept our focus!
As we entered the village of Sant Pau de la Guardia there was sealed road! Celebrations! We stopped and had a snack as it had been quite taxing riding 14 km of gravel. We were met by the village friendly and happy dog!
We were back onto a beautifully bitumised road but nervous about the next direction “road climbs through rocky scrub”. Surely not!!??
Fortunately it referred to the roadside vegetation!
It was nice to start the final climb up towards Montserrat.
The temperature was now around 26 degrees and we were working up quite a sweat on the climb, but the views were great.
You pass through two tunnels on the climb up to Montserrat and we had so many buses descending past us.
Still climbing up through the long car park I had a tourist bus up my clacker! I was not moving and held my position! He did overtake me but then had to sit behind Tony but only for a short distance as there was a barrier preventing the bus from going further.
Omce amongst the tourist throng we needed to get off our bikes and walk as they were walking oblivious to everything.
We were the first to arrive and we checked into the hotel, keen to store our bikes and start exploring.
We decided the first thing we would do was purchase a ticket for the furnicular to the top of the ‘rocks’
Once at the top there are multiple walking trails that you can take to ancient abbeys and hermitages. We chose the Saint Joan walk. The following are some of the views.
Back down at the base, we found another view showing the furnicular tracks.
After a tough day on the bike we were starting to get sick of walking, so headed straight to the Basilica.
After entering the complex you arrive in this square and the door you enter is the central blue door.
Certainly the interior is incredibly ornate.
I was particularly interested in the organ. What a treat it would have been to listen to it. I was particularly intrigued by the protruding pipes looking like a series of car mufflers.
Upon leaving there was a grotto with many sections of coloured candles that you could purchase for 2 or 3 Euros. Amazing how much warmth there was in here from the candles.
As I write this blog, I am listening to the Basilica bells which have been ringing regularly since 6.30 pm. This reminds me strongly of our stay in Florence, where our accomodation was directly opposite the Duomo.
Tomorrow will be bitter sweet. It is always nice to achieve your goal, but there is also sadness that it is ‘over’. There will be ‘farewells’ with fellow cyclists we have really enjoyed the company of at breakfast and dinner, sharing our days tales.