The climb on the first day through pine forests along a road where we probably saw one car. Long in need of some exercise, the ride from Ripoll to Olot sorted my brain out. Speeding along on a very good bike, and mindless pedalling uphill makes you think of only one thing - getting to the top. The 6 km uphill took us through beech woods, with breathtaking views, and then the decline was fabulous - a cooling off - down to Olot.
Hitting the grand old age of 52 on a virtually traffic-free route on our free day in Olot - a great way to spend a birthday, and the ride was so pretty that it could only be compared to Fairyland as we cycled through forests where the trees cast magical shadows, and the sun welcomed us back as we emerged at the volcano and the beautiful town of Saint Pau.
People-free, traffic-free, the Baci Bi Cicarril is just heaven (an old railway line) and it took us all the way from Olot to Girona - a variation from mountain to near-coast, and into the sophisticated and beautiful city of Girona where we feasted on an amazing picnic from a little bakery, walked up and down the many steps within the city which is completely unspoilt, its buildings breathtaking and serene. Romance is in the air, and if you sit outside with a gin and tonic, you will see bridal couples having their photographs taken in a pretty much perfect location, and, later, as the light fades and the cathedral is lit by spotlights, take a candlelit table at the 'sharing' restaurant, where you have a plate between two, and maybe rekindle a little romance for yourselves .... even if you are fifty-something, or beyond!!
Finally, the beach! Life don't get much better .... icecream (well, we've exercised so we deserve it - though my husband said he only pedalled on the first day, and the rest of the time just coasted down the mountain!!), sunbathing and swimming on a virtually deserted beach without any of the horrid tourist trappings that you might associate with the Costa Brava if you haven't been initiated into the area by Exodus and their helpers who have planned a truly great ride (which isn't too strenuous at all but gives you an energy kick and a reality check and hope for life after 52!!)