I don’t claim to know much about the seasonal weather patterns here in Girona, but the four-word rhyme seems to hold true: it rains in Spain. My apartment, made almost entirely of stone, feels as if it has absorbed every bit of last night’s freezing-cold temperatures. Although the race season started for me more than two week ago in southern France, this soggy and frigid February morning is a reminder that according to the calendar, it is definitely still the heart of winter.
This morning begins in similar fashion to most other days at home here in Spain as I cozy up on the couch and check emails. With rain spitting lightly on my thin windows I faintly hear native Catalan voices on cobbled streets two floors below. An amply large mug of coffee steams away in hand while thick wool socks keep my feet toasty warm. These are two homey reminders of life back in the States while my lifestyle here becomes increasingly more European by the day.
The frigid rain begins to subside by late morning, just in time to meet up for training. An easy day awaits me, yet it’s still a welcomed sign that the street-side thermometer consistently ticks up one degree at a time throughout the morning. Three of us meet today by the old stone bridge, or Pont de Pedra, as it’s properly called. The cold, clammy weather has zapped much of our usual animation, but with brief exchanges and salutations, the sun just peeks out from behind the clouds as we roll out of town.
This routine is nothing new to Girona. My understanding of Girona’s cycling history is like today’s dank weather — foggy at best. That is until I recently spoke with Girona resident, professional cyclist, and all-around great guy, Michael Barry. Michael provided me with a brief tutorial on the matters of who, when, and where various cyclists have lived over the past several years to put Girona prominently on the European cycling map.
Effectively this list is a who’s who of American cyclists over the past decade — Hincapie, Armstrong, Jemison, Hamilton, Vande Velde, Leipheimer, Cruz, Rodriguez, Zabriskie, and many others. In addition to the list itself, what I find fascinating is how this has spawned a new generation of cyclists now calling Girona home, mostly native English speakers, but others as well. I can easily name multiple Irish, British, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian, Dutch, and Argentine folks on no fewer than four ProTour teams who happily call Girona home. This list easily reaches near three dozen riders.
Who knows if or where this information will ever help me out, perhaps on an episode of Celebrity Jeopardy — Cycling Edition. However, simply knowing this just seems apropos given my particular line of work.
Parting ways from today’s riding cohorts midway through, I return home two hours after initially venturing out. By now, the sun has burned through the rainy overcast skies and even dried most of the roads that resembled small lakes just hours before. I head home early in order to tidy up the apartment for the arrival of a former teammate, a fellow American and soon-to-be my housemate. Since Girona provides the basic needs of any cyclist — a good variety of terrain, (generally) agreeable weather, well-maintained roads, good people, and a fun town — the popularity of Girona in the cycling world continues to grow. It is therefore no wonder that my housemate will soon be seeing Girona for the first time himself.
While it’s a far cry to yet call me a true Girona local as I now enter year number two an ocean apart from my North American home, I begin seeing the overall picture. From witnessing winter slowly thawing into spring, to seeing the neo-pro just arriving to town in contrast to the seasoned rider approaching retirement pondering what’s next, or recognizing the cyclical nature of fitness as form rises and falls throughout the year, there is something very reassuring to me found in the routine of it all.
I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This year Ted King is in his sophomore year with the Cervélo TestTeam. After getting a taste for the European peloton with the U.S. espoir national team in 2005, King returned to the United States for three successful years of domestic pro racing. The 27-year-old is a native of New Hampshire and despite his affinity for hearty servings of coffee, he is slowly adapting to the smaller European portions. Slowly. His diaries appear monthly on VeloNews.com; between the scanty portions we serve up, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com. Those of you content with 140 characters or less can track his activities at www.twitter.com/iamtedking.