Day 103: Escape from Barcelona

I may have found a way out of here.  Tuesday, we go” – Clint Eastwood – Escape from Alcatraz.

Luckily for me I did not need to dig my way through a prison wall with a spoon to escape from Barcelona.  I had my bike, my GPS and Google Maps to help me find a suitable escape route.

Barcelona is hemmed in by the sea and by a range of mountains.  They are not alpine in height – most climbs last no more than twenty to thirty minutes.  Crossing over them opens up a vast area to explore.  The other options are to cycle either up (towards France) the coast or down the coast (towards Valencia).  Crossing Barcelona can be easy if you know the best escape routes.  Take the wrong route and you will end up fighting for space on the road with trucks driven by swivel-eyed lunatics, seemingly intent on making you a statistic.

For me, perched up on a steep hillside to the NE of central Barcelona the easiest escape is to climb up over the Collserola and to drop down the other side near Sant Cugat de Valles.  This takes about thirty minutes. This is fine if I feel like stepping out of my door and immediately having to climb.  My apartment sits in the middle of an 18% climb. Thankfully it is short or I would consider moving.

The other escape option for me involves descending to the River Besos. This is a cunning plan. Doing so connects me with a series of cycle paths.  This of course means I avoid the lunatics in trucks and the constant stream of scooters driven by Moto GP wannabees.

At the end of the River Besos, just before it empties into the sea, you arrive next to what is one of the largest  landmarks in Barcelona, or to be more accurate, in the area that borders Sant Adria de Besos with Badalona.  It is a large power station with three tall towers.

From this point you can join a cycle path that runs from the seafront in town, at the Bottom of La Ramblas, near the Passeig de Colon, all the way through Barceloneta, past Port Forum and up the coast towards Mataro.  This is one of my favorite escape routes. For me, it is like being hidden in the back of the prison laundry van and being driven to a private jet loaded with a million unmarked notes, destination  unknown.

Barcelona has almost two hundred kilometers of bike paths.  A link here will take you to a download of a PDF map that shows the entire cycle network.

Link to Map of Barcelona Cycle Paths

My route out of Barcelona took me along the coast for a while, before turning off at Vilassar de Mar in the direction of Argentona. There is nothing particularly compelling about Argentona, unless you have an overwhelming desire to cast your eyes upon a few late gothic churches, one of which was restored by the Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

This was however part of my escape route and served to take me to a pretty climb that take you up and over into the valley of La Roca.

After the fast descent into La Roca, my route took me past lush green fields, towards Montorn de Valles. The place where David Millar launched an attack on his breakaway companions in the 2009 Tour de France.  He rode solo towards the uphill finish on the Montjuic and, despite carnage behind, with many riders crashing on the wet roads, he was caught in sight of the finish.  An epic stage.

My ride was slightly less epic than David’s however, my escape from Barcelona was proving to be a successful one.

As I cycled past the climb where David launched his attack I noticed an old man dragging a sad looking Christmas tree towards a large bin.  It was hard to believe that Christmas had come and gone so quickly.  The sun was shining and the air tasted sweet as I drew in a deep breath.   I concentrated on  settling into a nice rhythm on the bike as I pedaled back home for lunch.

I had been thinking about what to eat and decided to make some grilled fish.  A dish of  Dorado, garlic, coriander, some diced onions, a squeeze of lemon and some fresh parsley. Simple, tasty and a fine reward for my ride. It sure beat Clint Eastwood’s prison food.

Link to my Escape Route :
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/259182/embed

link to Escape from Alcatraz.

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