I find going on holiday to be both a rewarding and relaxing experience. However, I also enjoy keeping active, trying new physical activities and exploring places to run (and now cycle). Whilst planning my trip to Barcelona I was keen to engage in an activity that would not only satisfy my craving for keeping active, but also allow me to explore the city and surrounding areas. I came across Montefusco cycling on tripadvisor; a cycle rental and tour company, and was very impressed with the string of 5* reviews. I made contact with Claduio, and we agreed to meet at my hotel on September 13th at 10am for a bike tour of Barcelona and the nearby hills. I paid a 20% deposit via paypal (total cost was €120). Communication was good, and Claudio responded quickly to any questions or queries I had.
On the day, Claudio punctually met me in the lobby of where I was staying (Crown Plaza, Fira Centre) at 10am. He was parked around 10 minutes away, due to a running event going on in the city and subsequent road blocks. On a tangent, had I known about this road race before hand, I would have definitely participated and done the cycling tour another day… but oh well! So we walked to Claudio’s pick-up truck and he provided me with a 51cm Orbea bike with a full Shimano 105 group set. After adjusting the saddle, we were soon off on the tour!
We started by heading down to Barceloneta beach and took a few pictures there. We then made our way to a 7km trail which is popular with runners and cyclists. The thing which struck me most was how popular running and cycling are in Barcelona. The weather helps with this, but there is also very friendly culture here toward those keeping physically active. The trail was flat and comfortable to cycle on, which was good preparation and warm-up for the legs before we hit the impending inclines!
The bike trail ended at the edge of the city, and we begun our ascent into the mountainous terrain. Having never cycled more than 25km in my life, I was in for a little shock! The inclines were quite steep and this mean a slow ride for me, but modestly speaking I am a fair runner, so could battle the hills without too much discomfort or stopping. I powered through the first incline, before reaching the first descent. I enjoyed this downhill ride, partly feeling that I had earned the right to some speeding! It was fun to accelerate to over 50km/hr, but I had to be steady due to the numerous twists and turns. There were a few motorists using the roads, too, but they were patient and accommodating.
We stopped after around 45km of cycling at a local cafe (Valespa) in the village of Sant Cugat del Vallès. Here I had a latte, salami baguette and pastry. This all tasted heavenly after the morning riding and inclines.
Shortly after we were soon back on the road, ready for a new set of inclines. We biked to Tibidabo mountain, a high peak where there is also a small amusement park. After taking some more pictures here, we then headed back down back into Barcelona city. One thing I really enjoyed throughout this experience was taking lots of footage with my Sony Action Cam. I will endeavour to upload some of this footage to YouTube shortly and edit this post with it.
I finally arrived back at my hotel just after 3pm. What a day! I was pleasantly surprised that despite some very steep inclines and covering almost 70km, I was far from exhausted. Being a new cyclist, this experience really helped develop my riding skills, and above all my confidence of riding on busy roads and difficult climbs. I feel that cycling is a great way to explore a new city, and felt privileged to be able to see areas of Catalonia that I probably would not have without this experience. I would highly recommend Montefusco cycling tours if you are in Barcelona and want to take in some scenic views with tough inclines.
For further information about Montefusco Cycling Tours: http://www.montefuscocycling.com