Valencia to Barcelona
Valencia marked the start of my ride along the Mediterranean coast towards Barcelona and beyond. I had just spent a few days in Valencia where I stopped to do some work and see the city. I was hoping for a nice easy ride along the coast enjoying the warmer weather, in the end there were a few unexpected challenges along the way.
Until now I had been averaging around 70 kilometers (44 miles) each day on the bicycle, this is a comfortable distance which allows for a late start, long lunch and plenty of time to find a place to stay in the evening. As the riding was going to be fairly flat and the weather a bit nicer along the coast I decided I would go further and faster each day and try to average closer to 90 kilometers (56 miles) each day.
The first two days riding out from Valencia went by without a problem and I managed to average 100 kilometers (62 miles) without any major effort. On the third day I hit my first challenge, the road I was following was marked as a bike path but in reality it was a rough access road that was impossible to ride in sections. There was one particularly steep section which forced me to get off and push my bicycle. The path was covered in loose rocks so I was constantly slipping, there was an extremely strong head wind and, just to test my spirit, I could see a nice flat paved road not far to my right but there was a fence between us. As always I just took it slow and steady and eventually the road became ridable.
It took four days of riding to get from Valencia to Barcelona and I had kept to my goal of averaging 90 kilometers (56 miles) each day. The last section of coastal road is fairly narrow, busy and consistently going uphill or down. It was while riding up one of the tougher hills that I started to feel a slight pain in my left knee, there wasn’t anywhere to stop so I kept pushing on until I was past the hills and finally in Barcelona.
Whilst riding around New Zealand the previous year I had also ended up hurting that same knee after several days of tough riding. At the time I visited a pharmacy to explain the problem and they gave me some anti-inflammatories to reduce the pain and I was able to finish the ride without major problem. Once I arrived back home I rested for a few days and never had a problem since then. Well, that was true until the day I arrived in Barcelona.
I was lucky enough to find a great place to stay in Barcelona so I checked in for a couple of nights and settled down. The knee was feeling a bit stiff but I hoped a couple of days rest would be enough to sort things out. When I woke up in the morning it was a different story, there was enough pain in my knee to make it difficult to walk for any decent period of time. I got directions to the nearest pharmacy and explained the story and managed to get some anti-inflammatories, I took a couple and spent the rest of the day just reading and writing back in the apartment.
The following day things were looking up again, I could walk around for a while without any pain so I decided to explore the city by getting a ticket for one of the tourist buses. In knew very little about Barcelona before arriving and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating cities I’ve visited. If you have a passing interest in architecture you’ll no doubt be taken in by the plethora of modernista buildings that are dotted throughout the city. I took an hour audio tour through La Pedrera which is a Gaudi designed apartment building that is both intricate and audacious, I highly recommend a visit if you are nearby.
I also got the chance to take a walk around Park Güell which was fantastic. The park is situated on a hill with a series of long paths that snake their way through a variety of gardens towards the top of the hill. From the lookout on top I saw a wonderful view of the city below all the way from the mountains down the city port. As I wandered through the park I constantly saw a variety of unique bridges, statues and buildings that all seem to flow into their surroundings, it was definitely a perfect place to loose yourself for a couple of hours.
There was so much to see and do in Barcelona that I ended up staying 4 nights in total, this also gave the knee a good rest and it felt much better in the day I left. I can’t be sure that those few days of increased distance was the cause of the knee problem but it seemed like a pretty safe bet to me. So I decided to go back to my normal daily distance and take things a bit easier from now it, slow and steady wins the race.