My girlfriend arranged the "Mountains & Castles" half day mountain bike ride during a late October vacation in Spain. It turned out to be the best day of our vacation! It was just the two of us and our guide, Dave Welsh, who went out of his way to tailor the trip to suit the weather as well as our individual riding abilities.
We met at the Girona Cycle Centre a bit later than the originally scheduled time, since the weather was overcast with rain earlier in the day. Dave did a great job of balancing the preferences of my girlfriend who is a sun lover and fair weather rider, and me who is a bit of a die hard that probably wouldn't want to change plans even if there was a cyclone in the forecast (Dave has a tough job).
Dave is a professional mountain bike racer and skills instructor, so he was able to determine our individual skill levels in the first few minutes. He adjusted the route accordingly, so we would both be challenged, but never in danger. After a couple hours of riding (mostly uphill) we were treated to an outstanding three course Catalan lunch at a remote restaurant in the mountains. During lunch he explained how many calories were in the lunch compared to how many we would be burning on the day’s ride, and noted that we would probably be “calorie negative” for the day. How often does THAT happen while on vacation?
After an excellent lunch we went back out into the cool October air, but quickly warmed up as we continued uphill for about another hour. At the top of the mountain were the ruins of a castle, a very special place for Dave since he was married there several years ago. We climbed to the top and had stunning vistas in all directions.
In addition to his obvious skills as a competitive rider and instructor, Dave went above and beyond to make sure we both had a memorable day. He is a good conversationalist with a great sense of humor. He’s also a Brit by heritage, so be sure to bring your best Monty Python impressions.
Don’t be put off by the references to “uphill”, since Dave would have gladly adjusted the ride if we had struggled or complained. The only thing that kept it from being a perfect day was the weather, which seemed to be the only thing that Dave couldn’t adjust. He promised to work on that for next time.
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