When we got back, we waited for the others to return by playing too cool for school at one of the local cafes:
We took a long walk around the medieval-era wall that partially surrounds Girona, and had lunch at a creperie that hid liquor in the walls! Schweet!
That night we went for our last group dinner (so sad!) at Hostal de la Granota. "Granota" means frog, and the restaurant is known for its frog legs. I don't think anyone ordered them this time, but I tried them last year. Being a somewhat-vegetarian, they didn't ring my bells. Don't taste nuthin like chicken. It was a relatively quiet dinner- people reflecting on the trip and on the epic ride we had in store for us the next day. Jaume, Bernat and Debbie gave us some wonderful souvenirs describing some legends and traditions of Girona. Argh, I'm already missing this place and I haven't even left yet!
Jaume, Debbie, Desmond and Nonnie
And because this is a short post, I'll now give up the awards for the trip! Drumroll!!!!
I'm going to start with the two guys that impressed me the most: Rich and Jack.
Most Improved: Rich Towbin
Rich has improved so much since last year he's barely recognizable as the same rider. Last year he was at the back of all the climbs and often struggled with the distances. This year he was comfortably in the middle of the pack on the hills, and easily finished every ride. He was strong in the flats and confident on the descents, in short he was a whole new man! Kudos, Rich!
Most Powerful Motor: Jack RoddyJack was the oldest of us, and an asthmatic so he had a tough time on some of the hills. But this man has the steadiest motor I've ever seen. He just kept chugging his way up those climbs, at his own pace until he got to the top. He never gave up and he never got ahead of himself, and he made it to the top of every hill, usually wheezing the whole way. And when he got to the top, damned if he didn't hammer away from everyone! My man Jack has got some serious power in the flats. Plus, as you can see, he can rock sport goggles with panache!
Most Inspiring/Enthusiastic: Nonnie Howard
Nonnie probably expects the sprinter's jersey, but she got it last year. And really I think this suits her role on the trip even better. Nonnie quite simply loves to ride. And she shows it. Even when we're dragging ass up a 15k climb, she's got a smile on her face and nary a thought of getting in the van. Every morning she was raring to go, excited to ride. Riding with Nonnie gives me the warm fuzzies and simultaneously makes me feel like a wussy. We were together on most of the climbs, and her attitude did so much to help me up those hills. Inspiring!
And now for jerseys...
Green Jersey: Darco Lalevic
Even though Darco got his bum kicked by a some Spaniard or other on most of the sprints, this is the obvious choice for him. Ain't no jersey for descending. The man lives for sprinting, and he's pretty good at it...so here you go! :P
Polka Dot Jersey: Desmond Slattery
Another obvious choice. At 5'10"ish and 130lbs, Desmond was the only one of us that was built remotely like a climber. So it was no suprise that he kicked everyone's ass on the hills. There's not actually that much I can say about his climbing, because I was never close enough to see it. But our guest Spaniards, Miguel and David, were impressed by his ability and that's more than good enough for me!
Yellow Jersey: Mike Hessol
Mike was definitely the strongest all-around rider. He was the only one who could keep Desmond's wheel on the climbs and he hammered every flat. The latter was actually a bit annoying as we usually tried to stay together on the flats, especially when it was windy. But there's no arguing with Mike's strength...he could gogogogo all day and he was the only one of us who rode with the aggression needed to win a yellow jersey!
That's all for today...tomorrow, the Queen Stage!