Sunday, November 18, 2012

Autumn Charm

An old -very old- farm house. It dates from the XVth Century and was probably build over an even older construction.

 The owner, a retired architect, made some ironic remarks regarding the futility of the discharge arches above the windows. I'd dare to say he's right, they don't look like being able to spread any force coming from the upper floor. It seems to me that the mason had heard something about discharge arches but didn't grasp the idea well enough. Well, it was an attempt...

The environment could not be more charming; walked on a soft (and slippery) carpet of fallen leaves while admiring the range of colours from the ones still on their branches.

A quaint secluded spot worth a visit.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fall is in the air

A pic taken during a damp reconnaissance patrol. Since I'm giving a thought to ride an Iberian Diagonal on Easter I was searching for a route I'd sketched on a map but was unable to find my way through a maze of unnamed lanes in a desert industrial area (in fact I was just trying to avoid the highway).

Rode home in frustation .To add insult to injury I was nearly driven out of the road by a passing car making an illegal overtake.
Limped home wrapped in righteous indignation... to fight another day.

A city of contrasts

Two contrasting pics taken during an early Autumn ride: a colourful old London Bus converted into a terrace and a dull stone grey street near the basilica of La Mercè.

Old and new, tradition and innovation just a few pedal strokes away...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

La Barceloneta

"La Barceloneta" ie "little Barcelona" is a district of the old city displaying a roughly triangular shape located between the quarter of "la Ribera", the old harbour and the sea. It was a sandy spot where inhabitants from "la Ribera" that had lost their homes during the construction of the Citadel ("la Ciutadella") where relocated after the fall of Barcelona to the Borbonic Army in 1714.
It's been traditionally the fishermen district of Barcelona and it still displays a peculiar flavour.

The Old Harbour ("el Port Vell")  is flanked by a promenade actually known as "Passeig de Joan de Borbó" (after the King's father who held the title of Count of Barcelona" ) spotted with typical fish restaurants. A true paradise for skaters and cycle-tourist.

On its eastern side one can still see the old light house dating from the XVIIth century and later converted into a clock tower.

On the opposite side, at the start of the promenade, it  still stands one of the old warehouses , now the site of Catalonia's History Museum.

The triangle is closed by the beach ("la platja de la Barceloneta") one of the most popular either for locals and tourists.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Touring in Barcelona (La Ribera)

Started my Barcelona tour in "la Ribera" quarter. This was an important part of the old city mainly inhabited by fishermen, artisans and porters. Later, a thriving new class of merchants moved away from the old city walls and started to build quite remarkable palaces in  Gothic style. The jewel of the crown is, of course, the imposing church of Our Lady of the Sea whose bell tower was a reference point for sailors but whose real purpose was to show off the military and commercial pre-eminence of the Catalans in the Mediterranean during the late Middle Ages (In fact the church was commissioned by King Alfons III after the conquest of Sardinia)
Building the church took just 54 years (from 1329 to 1383) quite a feat for such a huge building. This short construction time explains the purity of the style thus regarded as the paradigm of religious Catalan Gothic. The church ( a basilica, in fact) was known among the lower and merchant classes as the "Cathedral of la Ribera" and probably meant some kind of counterbalance to the official Cathedral located half a mile away and attended by the noble upper classes.
Visiting the inside is a real must; I could only describe it as the "church of space and light". The wide central nave is  not only spacious but harmonious, the cross-vaulted ceiling is supported by a surprisingly scarce number of slender columns and the soft light filtered through the coloured stained glass windows pervades all the interior with a feeling of calmness. If anyone has ever visited "la Chiesa di San Leo" in Venice probably understands what I'm saying.

My short ride took me through narrow medieval streets -mostly pedestrian areas nowadays- which strongly reminded me of strolling through Venice (no canals though...)

After dodging hoards of tourist for a couple of hours cycled home uneventfully

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

BRM 200 Granollers

After last Sunday's partial success I felt somehow compelled to give it a second try.  Granollers CC was holding its first brevet ever offering a scenic parcours with some 400 m less of elevation gain.  So I finally dropped by just to find some 150 liked minded guys queuing up to collect their cards along with a rough draft of the route.
Start at 7 am sharp. Most of the field stampeded out leaving "true-randonneurs" at the back wondering what kind of race those guys were in...
The course lived up to its expectations: quiet backroads, scenics sights, light traffic,... and the entertainig tales of the "old days" from an old cyclist  I teamed up with.

It took us just 11 hours to complete the route, had we not ridden it in such a relaxed manner we'd finished it much earlier.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BRM 200 Manresa

A tad over 200 Km with an elevation gain of 2.640 metres (a bit more I'd dare to say). A cycling test for which I was perfectly... unfit. It took me nearly 12 hours of hard work mostly on quiet and scenic back roads. Strangely enough, I found myself on "fixed wheel mode" speeding up and tackling ramps on the big ring while making efforts to keep speed above the stall point ... and I succeeded most of the time! 
I intend to ride a second 200 next Sunday (the estimated elevation gain is only 2.200.  Dead easy, isn't it?)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A mere test ride (I was testing my legs...) Spinned gently to the start of the Coll de Parpers (a gentle climb amidst dense vegetation on fine tarmac). Went over the top and plummeted down to the sea.  Conclusions: I'm really behind schedule.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Cold and quiet. Even the gentle humming of tyres seemed  out of place in such a noiseless world.
Stillness in the air, not a single leave moving, nothing... just the lonely cyclist feeling like an intruder into a frozen scene.
Could not avoid a vague sensation of elation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter training

A frosty morning but with brevets looming... better retake training. More over,  "randonneuring season" starts a tad early this year and I'm fully aware that I'm alarmingly behind schedule.

Christmas Eve

City touring (fixed, obviously) on Christmas Eve. A typical winter day, cold and grey. The beach is deserted (or nearly). A forlorn sight...