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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Orbea Gain, the ebike you were waiting for

Orbea Gain to rent in Barcelona
Does it look like an ebike? NO
The evolution of ebikes has been slow but steady. Mountain biking took some advantadge over roadcycling regarding ebikes, but finally the time arrived to have road ebikes looking like roadbikes, simple as that.

Orbea Gain ebikes in Barcelona
The place to plug and charge batteries, beside the bottom bracket
Orbea has been of the brands ahead of the cycling market, as regards road ebikes.
This new Orbea Gain looks nice.
There are several models, aluminium and carbon frames, and Sram and Shimano groupsets.
Models are:
Orbea Gain ebikes in Barcelona
Not big screens, not much information: green, yellow, red
D50 I9 aluminium Shimano Claris
D31 Aluminium Sram Rival
D21 Aluminium Sram Force
M21 Carbon Sram Force

One of the key things for an ebike is autonomy. And again the Orbea Gain is a winner. Autonomy will depend on the user needs, but batteries can last easily 80 km in an average use. For longer rides it is very easy to plug the bike during lunch time.

The working is as simple as charging during the evening (4-5 hours, until de light turns green), and it is recommended not to leave the batteries plugged all night long.

To turn on/off the bike there is one only button on the top tube of the frame. This button is on green when batteries are charged and by clicking it you can get more or less help. Gradually, after hours of use, button will turn yellow and finally red.

All in  all, a very good option for those needing some extra watss!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

La Voie Fignon, climbing Tourmalet from Luz St Sauveur

This is the crossroad where the old road begins
La Voie Fignon is the old road of the Tourmalet climb, on the Luz St Sauveur side, connecting the small village Bareges with almost the top of the mythic climb. This road, with a total length of 4190 mts, is much nicer and narrower that the big road you take today, has been kept just for cyclists, and other vehicles cannot get in. It has become a pilgrimage destination for cyclists all over the world. It was named after Laurent Fignon, the great french cyclist, a little after his death in 2010.

As cars don't get in, the maintenance of the road may be scarce. It is recommended to take this road on the way up to Col du Tourmalet, and then descending to Luz St Sauveur in the much wider new road, or you can also descend to Sta Marie de Campan following the main road.

The new road was built to improve the access to the Bareges ski station.

Great painting of Laurent Fignon
Laurent Fignon was one of the best french cyclists in the '80 and he won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984. Also, he lost Tour de France by just 8 seconds in 1989 in front of Greg Lemond (the tightest difference in Tour de France history). Another significant victory was the Giro d'Italia year 1989. He passed away in 2010 at the youg age of 53 after a cancer.

The top of Col du Tourmalet

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Cycling in Andorra, the mountains country

Andorra Vuelta a España 2019
Stage in Andorra in La Vuelta 2019
Andorra has always been a paradise for skiers. The little country between France and Spain consisting basically in a busy street plenty of shops and hotels is now getting into the cycling world. In fact the history of Andorra and cycling is pretty old starting in the '60 when Tour de France arrived to Andorra via Port d'Envalira in a famous stage (year 1964) in which Jacques Anquetil was dropped of the group. But it has been recently that Andorra is also becoming very popular as a living place for many professional cyclists. Obviously it is a fantastic place to train in the mountains. Also, a good place to pay less taxes (Andorra is reputed as a tax free country).

The amount of climbs in Andorra is certainly astonishing, let's give a short list of some of the most important climbs you can find in Andorra:

- Port d'Envalira, 2407 mts height. The highest asphalted road in the Pyrenees. Pity that it is a pretty busy pass between France and Andorra, specially on the south side. The top is filled with Oil Stations and shops which makes the top very little appealing for cyclists. The climb from Ax les Thermes is, nevertheless, a much more interesting road, which gets to the top in 35 km with an elevation gain of 1700 mts. Not many climbs have these numbers!

- Port de Cabus: 2300 mts. A road leading to Pal (village and ski station) and afterwards to Coll de la Botella. Then the roads leads nowhere with summit at 2300. From that point you can get a gravel path to Catalonia. Said to be a smuggler way (to get tobacco out of Andorra).

Cycling in Andorra
Statue dedicated to Purito Rodríguez
- La Gallina. Recently asphalted on both sides, La Gallina has become one of the most important and steep climbs in Andorra. Very popular also thanks to the Granfondo "La Purito" celebrating in August. A monument dedicated to Joaquim "Purito" Rodríguez is on top of La Gallina. Vuelta a España arrived for the first time to La Gallina on 2012 (winner Alejandro Valverde), then also arrived on 2013 (winner the italian Daniele Ratto)  2018 (winner Enric Mas).
Details of the climb: http://www.ramacabici.com/altimetrias/gallina.htm

- Collada de Beixalis: Also a recent discovery for cycling and the perfect mate to Coll de la Gallina (this is why they are usually included both in same stage). Very steep as its brother, but a little shorter.

- La Rabassa: A classic climb from Sant Julià de Lòria with 2 sides doing a loop. At the top of Bosc de la Rabassa there is the Naturlandia Adventure Park. It has been stage ending in Vuelta a España 2008 (winner Alessandro Ballan) and 2018 (winner Thibaut Pinot), and has been included in stages a number of times.

The iconic ring at the top of Ordino Arcalis
- Ordino-Arcalis: Summit at 2225 mts height, Ordino Arcalis has been stage ending several times in big tours. The most important ones are of course the Tour de France 1997 (memorable Jan Ullrich victory in stage Luchon Andorra), 2009 (stage Barcelona-Andorra, which winner was Brice Feillu), 2016 (Tom Dumoulin winning in the rain). Also Vuelta a España arrived to Ordino Arcalís years 1994-1999-2000-2001-2005 and 2007.
Details of the climb:

http://www.ramacabici.com/altimetrias/arcalis.htm

- Coll d'Ordino. If I have to choose one climb in Andorra it would be Ordino. Beautiful twisty scenic solitaire road. And as most of the climbs in Andorra every km you have a road sign indicating the km and the gradient. aside of the road you will find one of the most espectacular view points or all the Pyrenees: Mirador de Roc de Quer, stunning! Not to be missed. This climb was included some years ago in some cycling tours named as Collet de Montaup.

- Els Cortals d'Encamp. Very steep climb leading to the intermediate station of Funicamp (Cable car belonging to Grandvalira ski station). It is a cul-de-sac climb (no exit). Details here:
http://www.ramacabici.com/altimetrias/cortalsencamp.htm
Els Cortals d'Encamp was stage ending in Vuelta a España 2015, who won the spanish climber Mikel Landa. Also included in Volta a Catalunya year 2003
Elevation profile for Comella and Engolasters lake
- Engolasters and La Comella . Engolasters is a nice lake close to Andorra la Vella. First time climbed in Eddy Merckx times when the Setmana Catalana multiday race took place on the '70. Not very steep, not very long, but nice anyway. La Comella and Engolasters will be included also in Vuelta a España 2019 including a gravel road for the first time in Vuelta a España.
La Purito Andorra
Elevation profile for La Purito
Most of the climbs described are included in the Granfondo "La Purito", disputed every August since 2017 with a very demanding route (5200 meters elevation in 145 km). If you are searching for a Challenge, this might be your best choice.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Cycling from Barcelona to Girona

Barcelona Girona gravel ride (Picture by Sergi Ros)
Cycling from Barcelona to Girona is a nice challenge, very doable in one day. Putting together the big metropolis of Barcelona with the small Girona, capital of cycling.

Once in Girona you can take the train back to Barcelona. Trains in Catalonia work very well, fast, clean, on-time, therefore in just about 1 hour you are back to Barcelona. Unfortunately, with the bikes you cannot take the high speed train (AVE), otherwise, you would be back to Barcelona in hardly 40 minutes.
Cycling Barcelona Girona
Barcelona Girona by road bike 104 km, 820 mts elevation
The fastest way to do it in a road bike would be in inner and mostly flat roads. The key roads are BV 5001 (Carretera de La Roca), C-35 (road to Hostalric) and then leading to Caldes de Malavella, Sant Andreu de Salou, Fornells de la Selva and Girona.

Cycling Barcelona Girona
Barcelona Girona gravel ride 125 km 1146 mts elevation
But the route we suggest today is in some gravel paths and solitaire roads. Very safe and adventurous way to get to Girona. For some parts you will take the very popular greenway 97 km long that links the Pyrenees (Olot) with the coast (Sant Feliu de Guixols). Lovely path that we take for some km on our way to Girona.

If interested in any of these rides and also in bike rental (being road or gravel) you can contact us at https://roadcycling.barcelona/bike-rental/ .
We can also provide the gpx files to upload to your gps device. 

Cycling Barcelona Girona
Girona Barcelona stage in Tour de France 2009, 181 km
And now, by the way, it is good to remember that in 2009 Le Tour de France did a stage Girona Barcelona, in 181 km. This is a very good choice for die-hard cyclists, getting some of the best roads in all of Catalonia (coastal road from Sant Feliu de Guixols to Tossa de Mar), and also some nice climbs close to Barcelona (Collsacreu, La Conreria).

Multiple choices to put together by bike those 2 nice catalan cities!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Transpyrenees cycling trip, a different trip for everyone

Transpyrenees cycling trip
Steep road leading to Burdinkurutxeta!
One of the nicest things about the Transpyrenees cycling trip is that you can fully customize the trip depending on your needs. The only mandatory thing ig getting from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea, or opposite, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Transpyrenees cycling trip
Of course Tourmalet is one of the highlights of thr trip!
The classical Hendaye Cerbere trip is organised by the french Cyclo Club Bearnais, based in Pau. It is a fixed route with 720 km that must be done in less than 100 hours. Such a challenge!
The route includes some of the very big climbs such as Aubisque and Tourmalet. Unfortunately it includes also some busy roads as Col de Puymorens which is not exactly the type of experience a cyclist would like when riding in the Pyrenees.
Transpyrenees cycling trip
The classical Hendaye Cerbere Transpyrenees card!
As said before, there are many different ways to plan this trip. First, let's say that the right direction to lead is going back home. Then, for a catalan rider, it should be west to east from Atlantic to Mediterranean. For a basque cyclist the opposite, from Mediterranean to the Atlantic. For a foreigner similar thing, if you are flying back home from Barcelona you should make weat to east, ending in the Mediterranean. Simple answer to this: once you ended the trip you don't want to get a train or a car for 700 km more!
Transpyrenees cycling trip
Port de Bales, amazing!
Planning the trip is part of the same trip. You can make the trip as long as your vacation is, and you can also include as many famous climbs you want. If you are travelling along the Pyrenees you don't want to skip those famous mountains as Col du Tourmalet, Aubisque, Aspin, Peyresourde... Those are the classical ascents! But during the years just by watching the Tour de France stages you see that you have a lot of possibilities. Let me suggest a couple climbs which are between the nicest in the Pyrenees and should be included in every Transpyrenees trip: Port de Bales and Port de Pailheres.
A very good choice is doing the trip in 7-8 stages about 100 km long.
Transpyrenees cycling trip
Coll de la Creueta, solitaire unknown road
The Hendaye Cerbere and most of the usual Transpyrenees trips go along french roads, but the spanish side is also plenty of nice choices. Just let me point amazing and beautiful ascents as Port de la Bonaigua, Coll de la Creueta or Coll de Cantó. Also, some of the ascents which are just on the border between Spain and France: Pierre St Martin and Port de Larrau (terribly steep!).

More things: There are basically 2 ways of doing the Transpyrenees trip: supported (with a sag van) or selfsupported (with a rack and panniers). First one is about lightness, safety, being confortable, riding faster, having suport in case of bad weather. Second one is about adventure, adventure and adventure. You choose!!





Sunday, February 10, 2019

Volta a Catalunya 2019 professional cycling race

Overall map
From March 25th to March 31st will take place de 99th edition of Volta a Catalunya professional cycling race

Volta a Catalunya was first disputed on 1911, which makes this race the second oldest race in Spain (first is Volta a Tarragona, which now is not a professional race)

The route has plenty of attractions. Every day there is something interesting in the route, being on the sportive side, being on the touristic sid.

And what about the participation? Some of the best cyclists in the world are expected to attend: Alejandro Valverde (world champion), Chris Froome (4 times Tour de France winner), Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot (Giro di Lombardia winner), etc.

Stage 1 Calella Calella, 164 km getting to our beloved Montseny mountains. The climbs to Coll Formic and Santa fe del Montseny will be the highlights of the stage.

Volta a Catalunya 2019 stage 1
Stage 1 Calella Calella through montseny mountains
Stage 2 Mataró-Sant Feliu de Guixols, 179 km Sant Feliu de Guixols is one of the nicest towns in Costa Brava. Guaranteed breathtaking views during the stage!

Volta a Catalunya 2019 stage 2
Nice stage by the coast!
Stage 3 Sant Feliu de Guixols-Vallter 2000. 179 km with a very demanding final climb to Vallter 2000, and a couple of previous first category climbs. This could be one of the key stages, and teams should be ready for some cold in the Pyrenees, late March!

Volta a Catalunya 2019 stage 3
Stage 3 Sant Feliu de Guixols Vallter 2000, in the Pyrenees!

Stage 4 Llanars-La Molina, 150 km. Another stage in the Pyrenees including one of our favourite climbs in all the Pyrenees: Coll de la Creueta, amazing landscapes! Arrival to La Molina, already included several times in the Volta route.

Volta a Catalunya 2019 stage 4
Still another stage in the Pyrenees
Stage 5 Puigcerdà Sant Cugat del Valles 180 km. Stage descending from the Pyrenees to Sant Cugat, very close to Barcelona. Collada de Toses will be climbed outside Puigcerdà, at the beginning of the stage.

Volta a Catalunya stage 5
Arrival to Sant Cugat del Valles, close to Barcelona

Stage 6 Valls Vilaseca 174 km. Arrival to the famous Costa daurada, paradise for cyclists, including towns as Cambrils and Salou.
Volta a Catalunya stage 6
Stage in south part of Catalonia
Stage 7 Barcelona Barcelona 143 km. Final stage arriving to Barcelona including the steep (but short) climb to Montjuic 8 times! Spectacular ending at the city center.

Volta a Catalunya stage 7
Arrival to Montjuic, in Barcelona

More information and details here:
http://www.voltacatalunya.cat/ca/home/

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The best family bike tours in Catalonia


Family vacation, lot of fun!
When planning a cycling vacation for the family things are a bit different than planning a trip with friends, aren't they?

In Catalonia we have several options if we would like to do a family cycling trip, but the most appealing is the so known Ruta del Carrilet. This route, 97 km long, follows a former train line from Olot to Sant Feliu de Guixols.

Gravel paths in Ruta del Carrilet
This route, mainly graveled, but also asphalted for some parts, is a great and safe way to discover the best cycling paths around. On top of that, the very famous Girona is half way, then it is very easy to put together a trip in 2 stages sleeping in Girona half way.

This trip, going from Olot to Sant Feliu de Guixols, slightly downhill, is very easy, perfect for beginners or small children. On the other way, from the coastal Sant Feliu de Guixols to Olot, in the vulcanic region of La Garrotxa, is slightly uphill, a bit more difficult but also doable in 1-2 stages.

Also very interesting the fact that the former train stations have been converted into hotels and restaurants. This way, we have plenty of nice options to rest for a while and have lunch just aside of the path.