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All Things Ride Explores: Girona


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Girona Cycling Escape Town

Girona, conjours up  the image of a procyclist paradise, a city with all the trappings of a historic European metropolis matched with easy access to roads suitable for all kinds of riding and a proven playground for the most successful of pro tour riders. Is there a more seminal road cyclists’ city? Nestled between the arching mountain range of the Pyrenees mountain and the vast serene Costa Brava. This Catalan strong hold has much to offer any tourist, on two wheels or otherwise.

Currently the go to city for much of the pro peleton, the allure to over 60 pro riders who currently reside here is all to obvious: Consistently glorious weather, the varied topography, draped in miles of smooth tarmac and finally everything the beautiful city itself has to offer. Those pioneering pro’s who moved here in the 90’s started a revolution, helping put this place on the map today.

Catalunya Cycling Tour Montserrat

Throughout the season there is a steady number of cycling tourists, tackling the numerous climbs in the region. Particularly in early spring, spotting pro’s isn’t difficult either. During our time here, we saw upward of 4 pro teams sharing the roads with us. Strava times however, will have differed slightly. As usual early ascents on a series of climbs usually involves over cooking the pace and blowing well before the crest, as enthusiasm and excitement gets the better of us and our judgement.


Climbing La Rocacorba

Situated in the volcanic Garrotxa Region. The approach flanks several long extinct volcanoes and snakes along the azure lake of Banyoles. Taking a right off the main road, we begin the ascent climbs in Catalonia; La Rocacorba. Notorious for its elevation statistics: 13.8 kilometer in length,  climbing 970m in altitude, with an average climb rate of 6.5%. Not so bad you might be led to believe. However, that false sense of security is crushed when you realize this average is a result of numerous short descents.  The steepest parts are a upwards of 15%. This once secret ascent, known only by a few locals and maintenance staff occasionally accessing its summit to repair masts, is certainly a climb with purpose.

It is said within the pro circle the tradition is to climb la Rocacorba at maximum effort a week before the Tour de France, as a means of reading your own form. The mountain owes its heroic status partially to the many professional cyclists who train there. If you can break the 27 minute mark, pack your bags and go knock on a team bus door; you’ll likely be offered a job. For all us mere human beings its perhaps an hour or so up. For the record this time was set by Ryder Hesjedal in 2012, 8 days before that year’s Tour de France.

Near the summit lies the 12th-century Santuari de Rocacorba. The final 4km of the climb were once unpaved, meaning it was the territory of MTBers or the first sportsmen and women to frequent it: local hand gliders. There’s still debate as to whether once-local pro, Lance Armstrong, was the discoverer to the peleton.

The fun begins 3.8km in and shortly after a crossing a low stone bridge and a short bend upward. The climb then cuts through heavily wooded terrain and its 10km to the top, with a few plateaus that give a minutiae of breathing space between those ramps. Much like its Balearic cousin, ‘Sa Colabra’, the Cami de Pujarnal a Rocacorba is an ascent to knowhere, a ‘one way up, one way down’ segment.

Catalunya Cycling Tour

Click Here for more info on Girona packages

From the top you can see the snow capped mountains of the Pyrenees as you look 80km north. Below glistens the Banyoles Lake. Hang around long enough and you might just see David Millar or Dan Martin. Girona resident David Millar and his training partner Michael Barry formed the Velo Club Rocacorba, which no doubt helped cement this climbs fame for good.

With a thousand reasons to visit this part of the world, especially on your bike, Girona and its surrounding offer an experience like no other. Sorry if your bucket list has just grown once more, because it should do. We can’t wait to return!

All Things Ride still have capacity on several trips to Spain including those to Catalunya.

For more info on their Girona Cycling Escape click here.

For more 2019 packages across Spain click here.

Girona Cycling Escape