The last day of a Backroads trip is always emotional. I am sad about the quality time with Cindy coming to an end. I am sad about not being able to ride everyday like we did this week. I am sad about a great trip coming to an end. I am sad about saying farewell to the guides. I am even sad about returning to a normal caloric intake and reduced snacking. On the bright side, I am happy about getting to see our kids again, I am happy that Charlie’s favorite soccer team picked up Neymar Jr, I am happy that everyone generally came out of the trip without significant injury (although not without some bumps, scrapes and bruises – see below. Ouch!) and not hating me for putting them through something potentially awful. I get a bit teary-eyed writing this…I loved this trip and am grateful to have a fantastic wife and phenomenal friends to be with here in Spain.
A moment about our guides, Kelly and Danny (far right of the picture below). Here you have a 26 and 38 year old respectively who work for a company dedicated to giving people like us experience-based vacations. These people are make or break to the trip. They hear everything. They listen. They size up capability without you knowing they are doing it. The find out what people like. They share great historical info. But they could also really screw some stuff up if they aren’t good or passionate about making our trip a first rate experience. Kelly and Danny crushed it. They spent time with each person getting to know them. They spent time in grocery stores getting stuff they knew we’d love (e.g. popsicles for the top of a hot climb, sugary treats after a long hot section, ice for our waters, beers, etc). They encouraged people to ride the ride they would love. Long for those who want miles, short for those who didn’t. But here’s the kicker. They never stopped smiling. They greeted us all with warmth, energy, excitement and interest with each interaction. They shared their passions (cycling, travel, Spain, languages, etc.) and listened and learned about ours. Personally I think it is because they have found joy in their lives and found a great way to do what they love. Lastly, they have learned at a young age to live full lives and the value of connecting authentically with people they meet.
Today was a day of transitions. Short bike ride at a slow pace. A nice brunch at Mas Torrent and goodbyes to Backroads and the Costa Brava region followed by a return to Barcelona. To say there is a heat wave going on here is an understatement. We checked into our hotels (The Serras is pretty swank BTW), strolled the small streets of the Gothic district one last time, ate empanadas and then taxied up to Bobby’s Gin Tonic (what happened to the ‘and’ Barcelona?!?), then walked around the corner to Messi’s Pizza (we were all craving it and it did not disappoint) then back to the hotel rooftop while we watched day turn to night over our last Spanish cocktails for a while.
Consensus is we do this again. Private trip. Same group. Maybe configure a slower day in the middle of the riding to break it up a bit? Provence, France? Basque Countryside in Spain? Northern and Southern Patagonia trip with Danny and Kelly as guides? Time will tell. Until then…Buen Noche Espana.