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Lindsey Walker - A Ride With A View

Windproof base layers, long sleeve jerseys, overshoes and buffs to keep some heat locked in. Winter has finally arrived in Europe and it’s really beginning to test us all. Are you really that ‘all-year’ cyclist you hoped to be? Or will the bad weather have you retreating to warm, blanket snuggles and daytime TV?

Today was hard. Home alone for two weeks, trying endlessly to muster the courage to go on my bike as often as possible. Usually I find motivation from watching some races online, reading my past blog posts or watching interviews with some of the best, which is more often than not, Eddy Merckx. It helped a little today, but not a lot. It was cold. Ice cold. Girona can be cold when it wants to be and today it wanted nothing more than to show us it’s ability to throw out head and cross winds too. As you leave town you start to realise what you’re getting yourself into. I usually plan ahead with a destination in mind but today I just thought, ride. Don’t bother looking at speed, don’t bother looking at distance, you have the luxury right now to do as little or as much as you like. But it all counts and seeing as though I have taken the plunge to sign up to my first Gran Fondo (more info on this later…) I’ll need every mile in my legs I can get.

The crisp air hits your skin, sending shivers down your spine. Sounds merge to one as the wind blows fiercely with every push. I instantly regret not wearing gloves. ‘Why, oh why, did I not bring gloves!’ The roads are dry. Luckily, it doesn’t often rain here, but when it does, it’s like an ice rink, even if you opt for a mountain bike, the roads are still as dangerous as ever. I decide to ride towards Banyoles. Taking the longer route I turn onto an unrecognisable stretch of road. ‘Where the heck am I’, multiple emergency text messages and Google mapping later, I realise I was on the right road the whole time. Perhaps things just look a little different where you’re out on a solo ride, you notice and absorb a lot more when riding alone.

The route includes steady climbs, nothing too steep or too long, but enough to make this a good train ride if ridden at a high tempo. But I wasn’t going for speed; today was about keeping a good cadence and keeping warm. As you enter Banyoles, the town itself isn’t much to look at. You enter right onto a pretty big hill, traffic lights fighting to stop your steady pace along a stretch of road, lined with shops that never seem to open, no matter the time of day. Though the run in may not satisfy your desire to take a coffee stop, take a left turn and the Lake of Banyoles welcomes you. Glistening in the sun with a backdrop of endless mountains often covered in snow at this time of year. It’s beautiful, relaxing and the perfect place to stop mid-ride.

Usually, I stop in the same café, tuck into a sandwich, sip some coffee, chat and watch the tennis match that is usually happening just opposite the cafe. But today, I put my bike down and just sat on the side of the lake. Looking out to the beautiful scene, which lay in front of me. Though its cold, the sun still shines and the birds still sing. I didn’t want to leave. This has to be one of my favourite coffee stop rides, even if this time, the only stimulant to be had was the view right in front of me.