Saturday, January 25, 2020

Port Ainé, stage ending in Volta a Catalunya 2020

Volta a Catalunya 2020
Elevation profile for Port Ainé
It has been unveiled the route of Volta a Catalunya professional cycling race for 2020.

It is a very special edition as it is the 100th edition of the oldest cycling race in Spain.
3/23 Calella-Calella
3/24 TT Banyoles (Girona)
3/25 Canal Olimpic-Vallter 2000
3/26 Ripoll-Port Ainé
3/27 La Pobla de Segur-Manresa
3/28 Tarragona-Mataró
3/29 Barcelona-Barcelona

There will be 2 mountain stage endings. First one will be in Vallter 2000 (a classic finish, included several times in Volta a Catalunya route), and the second one is at Port Ainé.

Port Ainé has been included three times in the route of Volta a Catalunya. But only twice the race arrived to the top of the climb... How can that be? In 2012 the route included the climbs to Port del Cantó and Port Ainé as stage ending. Nevertheless, the weather was extremely cold with snow vat the mountains and the climb to Port Ainé was cancelled (Stage winner Brajkovič described the stage and its conditions as the "hardest day of his life"). See details here.

The second time that the Volta arrived to Port Ainé was in 2016 edition, and the winner was Thomas de Gendt.See whole stage video here:

 

And the third time was in 2013 edition with Dan Martin winning at the top of the climb.

The climb itself is a long climb in the Pyrenees, and the bottom is located very close to a village called Rialp. The elevation profile showed in the article is a little shorter than it is nowadays, as the road gets to 2000 mts.

A true monster climb with almost 20 km of climbing, with over 6% average gradient!
Here we have the Strava segment for the climb:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Steep climbs in La Cerdanya (Catalonia)

Cycling map Cerdanya
Map including the main climbs in La Cerdanya
La Cerdanya is a catalan region, close to the border with France, which main city is Puigcerdà.
This is a fantastic ski region, but not so known for the cycling, which is also great.
La Cerdanya is a big valley reaching to Andorra on the main road N260. There are a lot of climbs on both north (french) and south (spanish) sides.

The most popular climb around Puigcerdà is probably Collada de Tosas, the natural link with the rest of Catalonia. This is an amazing 25 km long climb (on both sides) . Volta a Catalunya has included several stage endings at La Molina ski Station (very close to Collada de Tosas and in fact on the way to it), another famous climb in La Cerdanya.

Also starting in Puigcerdà is Col de Puymorens (1915 m), on the way to Col d'Envalira and Andorra. Puymorens is a high road in the Pyrenees, a little busy though, specially on the way to Ax les Thermes!

Cycling Cerdanya
Talltendre, a climb for die-hard cyclists
cycling La Cerdanya
Cap de Rec, very interesting (and long) climb

Being in the border with France, it is worth mentioning some nice climbs on the french side, such as Osseja, Puigmal Ski Station or Lac de Builloses.

But let's present a couple of nice (and steep) climbsin La Cerdanya, not-so-known. First one is Talltendre, a true killer-climb with some passes over 18%. No exit road, you have to come back same way you climbed. Total distance of the climb is 7,8 km and the height at the top is 1575 m. See elevation profile attached.

The second interesting climb I want to introduce is Cap de Rec. This is a much longer an higher climb, not so steep though. The road leading to this shelter is the same that the one leading to Aranser Ski station, and then half the climb there is a deviation to Cap de Rec. They are 16,4 km, and the elevation at the top is 1986 meters, very close to 2000.

You noticed that there are plenty of interesting climbs in La Cerdanya valley in Catalonia. Worth a visit!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Portet d'Aspet, a crash made this climb famous

Pyrenees Portet d'Aspet
Nice statue remembering Fabio Casartelli
Portet d'Aspet is one of those not-so-known climbs in the french Pyrenees. The fact that made it famous was the fatal crash of the olimpic champion Fabio Casartelli in Tour de France 1995. Those years when wearing the helmet was not mandatory.
Fabio Casartelli had won the cycling race in 1992 Barcelona Olimpic games (at that time professional athletes could not compete in the Olimpic games). He was a cyclist with a great future ahead and in 1995 he was in Motorola team, same team as Lance Armstrong much before he had cancer and started to dominate the Tour de France.

Portet d'Aspet is a steep climb, no doubt. Usually included together with its neighbour and also very steep Col de Mente. It was in the descent towards Col de Mente with passages at 17% that Fabio crashed. Since the very first moment TV images showed how bad the crash was for Fabio. Even if other cyclists crashed with him and went off the road, he was not moving, laying on the road. Fatal crash.

Little later it was built a nice sculpture of a wheel with flying wings. This place has become a pilgrimage destination for many cyclist, to remember Fabio and the fatal crash in 1995.

Pyrenees Portet d'Aspet
Portet d'Aspet, just 1060 mts but it is a steep climb!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Transpyrenees trip July 2020


Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Transpyrenees trip July 2020
Stage 1 Hondarribia-Saint Jean de Pied de Port 88 km with Otxondo and Izpegi. Izpegi is one of the nicest climbs in the basque Pyrenees! Nice first stage in tiny solitaire roads.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Hondarribia-St Jean de Pied de Port

Stage 2 Saint Jean de Pied de Port-Bielle 99 km with Marie Blanque, a very steep climb included in Tour de France 2020. For those not-so-strong riders,it is possible to skip the climb to Marie Blanque.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Saint Jean de Pied de Port-Bielle

Stage 3 Bielle-Luz St Sauveur 72 km with Aubisque. Short second stage with lots of options to include and additional second climb (no exit, way and back) before getting to the hotel. A steep option is Luz Ardiden (stage ending in several Tour de France), a scenic one is Cirque du Gavarnie, and a steep and scenic one is Cirque du Trumouse. Your choice!
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Bielle-Luz St Sauveur

Stage 4 Luz St Sauveur-Bagneres de Luchon 96 km with Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde. Queen stage. This stage is worth the whole trip. The best of the best. A stage to remember forever.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Luz St Sauveur-Bagneres de Luchon

Stage 5 Bagneres de Luchon-Sort 107 km with Portillon and Bonaigua. A very steep first climb and a very high second one (over 2000 mts). We are already in Spain.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Bagneres de Luchon-Sort

Stage 6 Sort-Puigcerdà 100 km with Coll de Cantó. Still a very demanding climb, and very long approach to Puigcerdà, slighltly uphill.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Sort-Puigcerdà

Stage 7 Puigcerdà-Joanetes 100 km with Collada de Toses and Coll de Canes. Nice stage through the vulcanic region of La Garrotxa. Amazing descent from Collada de Toses!
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Puigcerdà-Joanetes
Stage 8 Joanetes-Tossa de Mar 107 km including the final climb to Sant Grau, and the final road to Tossa de Mar is the amazing coastal road, the best road in Catalonia.
Transpyrenees 2020 roadbike
Joanetes-Tossa de Mar

Dates:
Arrival to Hondarribia on July 10th
Stages July 11th to July 18th


Friday, November 8, 2019

Coll de Pradell, a monster climb in Catalonia

The famous stretch at 20%
This is not a very known climb. Not one of the famous. But I can tell you that if you climbed up there you will never forget about it: it is Coll de Pradell, in Barcelona province (Catalonia, Pyrenees).

The 20% steepness road sign has become iconic, and also a pilgrimage destination for most of the local riders. The images of the long straight uphill are impressive. On top of that, from the top of the climb, the views of Pedraforca (a famous catalan mountain fork shaped) are stunning.

In fact Coll de Pradell has never been included in any big professional tour as Volta a Catalunya or Vuelta a España.

The only event in which Coll de Pradell has been included is the Granfondo "La Ruta Minera", a tough route 154 km long with 3800 mts elevation, see stage profile below.

La Ruta minera, an amazing Granfondo, really challenging!
The area around Berga is amazing for climbers! Big climbs around Berga, such as Rasos de Peguera or also Coll de Pal makes this area a real paradise for climb lovers.

The numbers are really impressive. You can see details in the elevation profile below. Just mentioning that there are 3 sides you can climb to Coll de Pradell (see map below): Figols-Fumanya, Vallcebre (those 2 sides share the last part with the very steep part at 20%) and the western part from Saldes.

Map in which you can see the 3 sides of Coll de Pradell
Here below you can see the elevation profile for the Figols-Fumanya side. Tough!!

Very steep climb to Coll de Pradell

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Col de Banyuls, the most eastern pass in the Pyrenees

Col de Banyuls
Athe the top of Col de Banyuls
The natural border between France and Spain are the Pyrenees.

On the eastern part of the Pyrenees there are several not-so-known passes between Spain (Catalonia) and France. Some of them are Col d'Ares (a serious pass with 1512 mts), Alt de Costoja (crossing to France to the village same named Coustouge), and the last one before getting to the sea is Col de Banyuls, with just 355 mts altitude. This is the most eastern pass in the Pyrenees.

On the south (catalan) side, the road to Col de Banyuls is very narrow and solitaire, even hard to find. The starting point is at a village called Espolla, and from that point there are 9,25 km at about 3% average gradient, but with some short stretches at 14%.

On the north (french) side, things are more difficult because there is a very steep section with 2 km at 11%. Really challenging!
Monument dedicated to the catalans exiliated to France after civil war
The views to the french riviera from the top of Banyuls are stunning. On top of the climb there is a small monument dedicated to the catalan exiliated to France after the Civil war in 1936.

A pretty unknown climb in the Pyrenees that you cannot miss!


Monday, June 24, 2019

Bikefriendly hotels in Montseny (Barcelona)


Bikefriendly hotels in Montseny mountains (Barcelona)
Xalet de la Coromina, one of our favourite hotels in Montseny
Montseny mountains is one of the favourite destinations for cyclists living in Barcelona, and also for many cyclists living in Girona. Montseny mountains are half way both catalan towns.

Possibly the most important destination in Montseny mountains is Viladrau. This small mountain town is famous for so different things as water, chestnuts, firs and witches. You will have to discover more about them once you arrive here.

No need to say that roadcycling around Montseny mountains is simply amazing. Specially on working days traffic is very scarce, a real paradise for cyclists, with roads in very good conditions. Long ascents and endless descents to enjoy in the woods. The climbs to Coll Formic, Santa Fe del Montseny, Coll de Santa Helena or Turo de l'Home are the usual destination points for local cyclists.

Hopefully, there is not a large hotel infrastructure in Montseny. On the other side, there are just a few hotels in Montseny, as it is close enough to Barcelona to do a daytrip and be back to Barcelona very easily. Nevertheless, Montseny range of mountains is big enough to enjoy seven or ten days in the mountains cycling, hiking, enjoying the local food and the local culture. Even if Montseny is pretty all year long possibly Autumn in the best month to visit with amazing colors in the woods.

In our list of favourite hotels I have to mention Xalet La Coromina in Viladrau and Hotel Sant Bernat in the middle of the climb to Coll Formic, amazing spot. Both of them bikefriendly and with great food.

Montseny is, no doubt, one of the hidden gems for cyclists in Catalonia.

Bikefriendly hotels in Montseny mountains (Barcelona)
Hotel Sant Bernat, another of the best options