We leave in the morning to catch the train of Cyril in Ripoll. It’s close and downhill, so we have time to have a breakfast of sweet things in a patisserie, not that good, but it makes a reserve of calories.
The valley around Ripoll looks quiet but is actually much industrialized. There are many factories, abandoned or not.
I continue alone from now on to Barcelona. To avoid the busy roads in the easiest parts of the valley until Vic, I make a detour towards Berga and plan to go south with the smallest roads.
It’s a success since the roads are really deserted, and nice, with the sun shining through the tree leaves. It’s a failure towards my thinking that I’m done with passes and climbs from now on, as the road is not really hilly but never flat. I should be able to get very close to Barcelona following these roads.
All the multi-storied buildings have at least a Catalan flag at a window. The abandoned house in the fields are almost every time tagged with claims for independence.
There’s nothing much to say about the day, except that a dog jumping out of a field started to run after me on the road, barking aggressively. In those moments I always have the fear of having my calves bitten if I don’t move my legs fast enough. Those events, added to the dogs barking at the end of a chain each time I pass nearby a farm, sometimes surprising me when I don’t see them before, are not helping me in getting sympathetic towards those noisy alarms.
I see the Pyrénées from away and feel like swimming in a big and comfortable forest. Time files, kilometers pile up on the counter and it’s already night. I am near Olost, spot a suitable place to camp and venture into town to buy dinner materials and process my last days of pictures in a bar. I have been recently too tired to do it in the evening and the work is accumulating. The temperature outside is still 3°C so I’m glad to be inside to have my undiscovered fingers running on a keyboard. During this time I meet travelers on pause, Sara, Iban and David, we have a good chat and they nicely offer to let me stay indoors at their place for the night.
In the morning of my last day before reaching Barcelona, I change my plans. I was avoiding Vic and the busy valley to get safely close to my destination, but Iban informed me about a festival happening in Vic. It is 20 km away, so I head there. The festival is the Mercat Medieval, happening once y year.
The problem is that my road to Vic suddenly ends up into a roundabout, with 2 exits to the 2 directions of a highway. No bikes or scooters are allowed. That’s the perfect bicycle trap. I should have checked my map carefully and taken a turn 5 kilometers ago, but was not warned by any sign on the road.
I don’t feel like returning 5 km backwards, slightly uphill, and it’s when Google Maps show me small roads in the vicinity, getting along with the highway. Those small roads are indicated nowhere else and I give a try. It takes me through a few kilometers of mud road, very bad. I continue and take it positively, thinking that it is a training for later …
The unpaved road looks like an access road for the highway, and then more and more like a tractor road. At one point I see small vehicles, and from here it gets better.
The unpaved road joins a bigger one and I am finally in Vic. The town is crowded, like a yearly event in a medium sized town, and cars try to park around the city center while I head directly in the heat of the action with the pedestrians.
The town is filled up with stands selling meat warm or cold. There are also crafts but my eyes don’t seem attracted. I give a try on the delicious meats all around, the botifarra de Vic, fuet, and other proteins sticks I don’t remember the name.
I then head south towards Barcelona. I am no more in the bike-friendly area and must deal with the highway, in the center of the valley, the railway tracks, not crossable anytime, and the small roads, paved and unpaved, that I have to follow in a rather linear way to progress.
I find my paths with Google Maps, most of the times they are made of Earth, going zigzaging from side to side of the highway and railway. There are many dogs, fortunately attached, barking at me at each farm. I plan to follow the valley/highway/railway until I enter in the industrial area and then take a train until the center of Barcelona.
I successively reach the train stations of Tona, then Centelles, then Sant Marti de Centelles through a magic red mud road, going up the valley walls and down again, that only Google map could have guessed from the sky. To do those few kilometers, it takes me 3 or 4 times more time than going straight, as I have to check the correct path at every crossing and it’s not direct at all.
Now in Sant Marti de Centelles, the next kilometers look more like a canyon, with just enough space in the bottom for the highway, the railway and a river. I have 1 more hour of daylight and can reach the next station, Figaro. The problem is that there are no other roads than the highway. Local maps and Google Maps show a vague path going up a hill, I see a “1000 m” sign around, dotted lines … Nothing that looks good. I feel it would just get me lost in the hills.
So I get back to the station of Sant Marti de Centelles, where a train arrives just before me on the platform. I just have the time to jump in with the bike and buy my ticket on board (more than 5 times cheaper than the fare Winterthur-Zurich HB with a bike, an equivalent ride) until Barcelona, where I meet the cousin of Gonzalo from Andorra and will stay a few days quiet to rest my legs. After 19 consecutive days of cycling, I have an accumulated fatigue I’d like to get rid of before continuing.