This article is part of the Montañas Vacías series. A story about three friends getting reunited for a bikepacking trip over the summer. Read the previous one here.
Part of our “agreement” to shorten the adventure on the Montañas Vacías route, included a day of riding from Roses to Girona, the cycling eldorado. But after a full week on the trails, we had to take a day off to rest a little. Antoine, who needed sleep the most, seized the opportunity and slept for an impressive 15 hours. Mathis and I, on the other hand, fixed and cleaned the three bikes and prepared them for the next day. From punctured tubes to creaky chains, our bikes were in pretty bad shape. After spending the afternoon at the beach, we enjoyed good food and drinks before heading to bed.
Our bikepacking habits hadn’t yet faded, and unable to sleep, we woke up around 7:30 am. The plan was to conclude our summer adventure by riding to Girona, visiting some of its numerous cycling coffee shops/restaurants, and coming back. We had rushed a route together, borrowing the quietest gravel roads we could find. We set out around 9 am and rode out of Roses.
While traversing Castelló d’Empúries we met a local who showed us the quickest way out of town. However, by following him we were now off our original track and riding on national roads, not what we had in mind. Additionally, Antoine was already feeling his legs, so we parted ways with our new friend and headed for Banyoles. A few kilometers before Banyoles, we stopped for coffee and a snack in a small village.
We re-discovered the pleasure of leisure riding without bike-packing bags or the constant search for water and food. With nothing but the past few days on our minds, we discussed both the highlights and darker moments of our adventure. On our way out of Viladasens, we came across a Haribo factory and its outlet shop! Being a gummy bear fan, I couldn’t resist and stocked my bike’s frame with seven packs.
Only a few kilometers remained until Girona and we quickly made our way there, although on not-so-great roads. In order not to rush our adaptation back to normal cycling, the first thing we did was to find a bar on the town’s main street and enjoy a few pints with tapas. We spent close to an hour enjoying life, watching people pass by and chat about all of our adventure’s details.
Hunger was starting to set in so we decided to grab lunch at La Fabrica, one of the many cycling-focused cafés/restaurants in Girona. We celebrated our week with a few cocktails and delicious food. I recommend their pulled pork bagel and their banana split waffles with popcorn! We also made a small detour to the Service Course to watch their latest builds. Antoine and Mathis even gifted me a Spur Cycle bell for my birthday!
Since we were meeting friends in Roses that evening, we had to head back. However, not even after two kilometers of riding, Mathis’ bib decided it had endured enough and gave up. We stopped but quickly concluded that there was nothing we could do. It meant that Mathis would have to ride the whole way back with half of his butt uncovered! Antoine and I couldn’t stop laughing and had a hard getting back on our bikes to ride.
Girona known for its surroundings didn’t disappoint and offered us some of the best gravel roads. Smooth, compact, fast-rolling dirt stretching for miles free of cars: the dream! While Antoine and I were very much enjoying ourselves, Mathis on the other hand didn’t appreciate the rough feeling of his saddle and the lack of a protective pad for his crown jewels…
After almost an hour of riding, we got to the end of the forest and were back on the road. Things got even funnier! Cars overtaking were now honking at Mathis while Antoine and I still couldn’t stop laughing. We asked Mathis to ride behind us because the distraction was too big. Some drivers would even roll their windows down and shout unintelligible words in Spanish.
As we closed in on Roses, traffic was getting denser and one car out of two was now honking at us. At some point, a traffic jam was forming ahead and we had to overtake dozens of cars, with the same reaction. This impromptu experiment lead us to think that we might have found the remedy to high visibility jackets: a torn bib!
Once we got to Roses, pedestrians, cyclists, tourists were all laughing. Only one obstacle remained a long and steep climb back to the house. Reaching the top felt like a little victory. Although we had shortened our adventure on the Montañas Vacías route, we had had one hell of a good time. We had experienced Spain like never before!
We had managed to free ourselves from the pure cycling aspect of our trip. We went deep into our reserves both mentally and physically. On several occasions, unfortunate events challenged us as a group. The route brought us back to our most basic needs and reconnected us to what mattered: the rich and vibrant culture of the region. It’s an adventure we will remember for years to come!
We spent the rest of the weekend by the beach, away from our bikes, enjoying precious moments with friends.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on the Montañas Vacías. If you want to have a go at the route, check out the official website.
As always, you can check the route and our activity on Strava using the link below.