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Catalonia Cycling Guide

Introduction

The following guide is a compilation of  background, safety and day-by-day routes of the area. Complete with restaurant suggestions and “Points of Interest,” this guide will provide you with thorough, applicable travel information for your next cycling tour through Catalonia. This Spanish region is bordered to the north by the Pyrenees mountains which form a natural border with France, and the sparkling Mediterranean to the east. The quiet, bike-friendly roads snake past ancient villages, through forests and along the coast. The backdrops include rugged mountains, rolling farmland, and the sea. The Day-by-Day section of the guidebook will preview each days route and scenery or points of interest along the way. It’s suggested that you read this before you head out on the day’s ride. Typically, there are three levels of riding each day: easiest, intermediate and challenge. We are passionate about cycle touring and believe there is no better way to experience the sights, sounds and scents of an area than on two wheels. Enjoy! Request Itinerary

Background on the Area

CATALONIA – With its sunny climate and stunning landscapes, Catalonia offers some of the best bike-riding in the world.GASTRONOMY – Catalan cooking is rightly celebrated; Catalonia boasts 54 restaurants with at least one Michelin star.PROFESSIONAL CYCLING SCENE – Girona has a disproportionate number of cyclists for its sub 100k population. It may be due to the rolling country lanes, testing climbs, technical descents plus the varied cuisine and unique history.COSTA BRAVA – The coastal region of Catalonia is world famous for its sandy beaches, crystalline waters, and small coves.CULTURE – Catalonia is the birthplace of Dalí, Gaudí and Miró. They have the Catalan burro (the Catalan donkey), Castellers (human towers), the Catalan language, and fiestas.GIRONA – A city of two halves split by the river. To the east, the ancient walled city with its Cathedral and Jewish quarter. To the west of the river lies the “new” town with museums, upscale stores, and leafy squares.

Catalonia: An Overview

Catalonia is a roughly triangular-shaped region in the north east of Spain: to the north it is separated from France by the Pyrenean mountains; to the east is the Mediterranean Sea; to the west is Aragon; and to the south Valencia. Catalonia is the wealthiest and most highly industrialized region in Spain.

Catalonia’s most populated city is Barcelona: a vibrant city both politically, economically. It is also a hugely trendy travel destination.

Tourism is an important aspect of Catalonia’s economy. The coast, the Costa Brava, is widely regarded as having some of the best beaches in Europe.  Inland, the Pyrenees region is popular with hikers and cyclists. But it is manufacturing – traditionally textiles – that makes the region Spain’s powerhouse. Industries include chemicals, food-processing, metalworking, and balloon manufacturing.

The Kingdom of Spain, not unlike most other European nations, was stitched together from a series of conquests and alliances from what were once separate states. The Basque Country and Catalonia still identify strongly with their ancient local regions and there are separatist movements in both.  In 2010 the separatist fervor in the region rose after a ruling by Spain’s constitutional court set limits on Catalan claims to nationhood.

As you will soon see, away from Barcelona (and less so on the Costa Brava), Catalonia feels as if it is its own separate country. Catalan is the main language spoken and you will see an abundance of red and yellow flags flying proudly.

Climate

This area has a coastal Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. The mountains to the west protect the area from Atlantic weather patterns meaning the area is relatively dry with many sunny days. The Mediterranean Sea moderates the temperatures especially near to the coast while further inland is a little warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.

Spring is pleasantly warm and a great time to visit as there are fewer tourists. The temperatures peak in July and August so cyclists in these months typically start and finish their rides in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Temperatures moderate quickly in September and most people are comfortable riding here through to the end of November. We do not recommend riding here in winter.

The following charts show the monthly average temperatures (in Fahrenheit) and rainfall (in inches) for Girona, the city at the center of our tours.

A Route Overview

This tour is focused in the northeast of Catalonia with the  city of Girona at its center.  Tours typically travel through the smaller towns of Besalú and Olot before arriving into the bustling cosmopolitan city of Girona. Most tours end on the coast in beautiful Llafranc.

The tour gives you contrasts between the rugged beauty of the Pyrenean foothills, bucolic rolling farmland, and the stunning Mediterranean coast.

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Towns & Cities

Besalú

Overview

Besalú is often described as the best-preserved medieval city of Catalonia. It is a superb example of the Catalan Middle Ages starting with its iconic fortified medieval bridge that crosses the Fluvià river and historic old town which includes a monastery, ancient houses and a maze of narrow cobbled streets.Besalú

Besalú is on the eastern edge of the Garrotxa region of Catalonia, with a remarkable landscape including more than 40 volcanoes. Most of the territory is less than 600 meters above sea level and Besalú itself is only 150 meters above sea level. The town has a fascinating history with Celt, Iberian, and Roman settlements. It is also believed that the intriguingly named Guifré El Pilós or Wilfred the Hairy, lived in Besalú and supposedly painted the four stripes of the Catalan flag with his own blood.

Eating & Drinking

Despite its small size, Besalú has a good selection of restaurants.

Restaurant Cal Tronc is a uniquely decorated restaurant that serves substantial, delicious courses at a reasonable price. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful although the wait time between courses can vary. It has an extensive menu and the desserts are a must. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 4:00PM and Thursday to Saturday from 8:00PM – 10:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: 15 Calle Mayor, 17850 Besalú. +34 972 59 00 83. http://www.caltronc.com/

Restaurant Pont Vell’s location has an amazing view of the bridge. The food is very high quality and the decor has some individual touches including handmade ceramics by the owner. Open: Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM and Thursday to Saturday from 8:30PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Carrer del Pont Vell, 24, 17850 Besalú. +34 972 59 10 27. http://www.restaurantpontvell.com/

For a casual meal we recommend Taverna Restaurant, conveniently located in the Piazza. Their slow cooked meat is incredible – the owner designed the slow cook wood fire oven for the purpose. Prices are generally good with maybe a small increase for the location. Open every day in summer. Address: Plaça del Prat de Sant Pere, 17850 Besalú.

On the opposite side of the Piazza is Nox, technically a ‘bar and grill’ but serves the best Paella we’ve ever eaten. A great place to sit and enjoy an evening on the piazza. Open Friday to Wednesday from 8:00AM – 10:30PM. Closed on Thursdays. Address: Plaça del Prat de Sant Pere, 13, 17850 Besalú. +34 972 59 12 55. http://noxarrosseria.com/

Sites and Things to Do

The historic building, El Micvé or Casa de Banys Rituals, is the last vestige of the Besalú Jewish community.  It was discovered accidentally in 1964 by a resident of Besalú who owned the land above it and was digging a well. The Mikvah or Mikveh, a Hebrew word meaning baths of purification, is the only building of its kind in Spain and one of only ten in Europe. It is a Romanesque-style underground hall built with worked stone and housing a bath used to “purify the soul by completely immersing the body three times consecutively”. The water used to fill the bath had to be free-flowing i.e. not stagnant which is why the mikwa is found at this depth. Summer opening hours from 10:00AM – 2:00PM and 4:00PM – 7:00PM. You must make an appointment at the Tourist office (details below). http://www.catalunya.com/el-micve-or-casa-de-banys-rituals-17-16003-201?language=en

The Monastery of Sant Pere was a Benedictine monastery of which there only remains the grand church, founded in 977 and consecrated in 1003. The Benedicrine community was originally made up of 12 monks. During the next century, the Abbot became the town’s highest authority and enjoyed great political influence. This church is the large, grand building that oversees the Plaça, and where your rides start and end. Address:Plaça del Prat de Sant Pere, s/n, 17850 Besalú.

BesalúBesalú’s medieval bridge, Pont Vell, was built in the Romanesque style of the 12th century and is probably the most recognized symbol of the town. Great for photo opportunities both on the bridge and from the riverside below. It has seven arches and is particularly notable for its dogleg layout, due to the pillars being sited on natural rocks of the riverbed. It is 105 meters long and 30 meters high, including the sentry tower.

The monastery of Sant Sepulcre de Palera is 4km north of Besalú and is more than 1,000 years old. At this time the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem owned the monastery and fought in the crusades to defend the Holy Land. This caused the monastery to have the same importance and privilege as those in Jerusalem, even though it was thousands of kilometers away. The CHLG riders pass close by the monastery on the route from Besalú to Olot so if you would like to visit whilst staying in Besalú, program your gps computer for this route. Head north out of town on the GIV-5234, after approximately 3km turn left at the ‘1 Palera’ sign, follow this single track road for 1km. The monastery is at the end of the road. Please note it is uphill to the monastery. Address: Sant Sepulcre de Palera, 17850 Beuda.

Useful Contacts

Oficina Municipal de Turisme (Tourist Information Office). Open 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM and 4:00PM – 7:00PM, every day. Address: Carrer del Pont Vell, 1, 17850 Besalú. +34 972 59 12 40. http://www.besalu.cat/Besalú

Condis el teu Super is a supermarket a little to the west of town. Open from 9:00AM – 9:00PM every day except for Sundays when it closes at 2:00PM. Address: Camí de Can Batlle, 1, 17850 Besalú. +34 972 59 03 63.

There are other (smaller) supermarkets dotted around the old town.

Besalú has a number of souvenir shops which sell locally crafted goods such as woven baskets, pottery, or ratafia – a locally made herbal liquor.

Olot

Overview

Olot is renowned for its natural beauty and is known as “the city of volcanoes”. It is surrounded by four of them (now dormant) with the Pyrenees providing a stunning backdrop. There are four volcanoes: Montsacopa, Montolivet (these two can be visited), Garrinada and Bisaroques. The Volcà del Montsacopa (Montsacopa volcano) has its own church and café at the 510m summit.   Among Olot’s other many attractions are the beautiful old town, several museums, and fine mansions. The town is typically quiet and the residents welcoming.

OlotOlot is in the capital of the Garrotxa region of Catalonia and is a part of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.


La Garrotxa Volcanoes

These volcanoes are the youngest on the Iberian Peninsula. Their activity started 350,000 years ago which, geologically speaking, is a relatively short time. Less than 11,000 years ago they were still active. In contrast, the volcanoes in L’Empordà – around Figueres – were active over 10 million years ago.


Eating & Drinking

The Les Cols restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars and the menu, service and price is aligned with that. They have a tasting menu for €60 per person that is well worth trying. Booking is essential. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 3:00PM and Wednesday to Saturday from 8:30PM – 10:30PM. Closed Monday – Tuesday. Address: Carretera de la Canya, 106, 17800 Olot. +34 972 26 92 09. http://lescols.com/en/home-3/

OlotFor a tasty meal in the center of town, Restaurant Cafè Europa is a good option. The food is well priced for satisfying portions. There is a variety of meats served including steak, duck, or foie gras. Reasonably priced. Open Wednesday to Saturday from 8:00AM – 11:00PM, and Sunday to Tuesady from 8:00AM – 4:00PM. Address: Plaça Major, 2, 17800 Olot. +34 972 27 31 13.

If you are staying at Hotel Can Blanc (or even if you aren’t) Restaurant Font Moixina and La Deu Restaurant are both fantastic options.

Restaurant Font Moixina serves an excellent daily menu with a wide variety of dishes. Prices are good and the setting is idyllic. We can recommend their “Patatas d’Olot” with … anything! Open Wednesday to Monday from 12:30PM – 4:00PM and Thursday to Saturday from 8:30PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Paratge de la Moixina, s/n, 17810 Olot. +34 972 26 10 00. http://www.fontmoixina.com/en/

La Deu Restaurant is practically next door and a little more reasonably priced. Their potatoes are also exceptional and filled with chicken. Desserts are also highly recommended. Open from 10:00AM – late every day except Sunday (closes at 7:00PM). Address: Ctra. la Deu, 17800 Olot. +34 972 26 10 04. https://www.ladeu.es/

More centrally located is La Quinta Justa Restaurant. Their tasting menu is varied and a fair price. Good vegetarian options. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM and 8:00 – 10:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Passeig Barcelona, 7, 17800 Olot. +34 972 27 12 09. https://www.laquintajusta.cat/

Sites and Things to Do

To enjoy the botanical richness of La Garrotxa, visit the Parc Nou which has a wide variety of the most characteristic plant species of the area, reflecting the volcanic nature of the natural park. Open from 8:00AM – 8:00PM every day. Address: Avinguda de Santa Coloma, 43, 17178 Olot, Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica

Inside the Parc Nou, the Museo de los Volcanes (Volcano museum) describes and explains the history and geological formation of volcanoes and includes a room which simulates the experience of an earthquake. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00AM – 2:00PM and 3:00PM – 6:00PM, Sundays from 10:00AM – 2:00PM, closed on Mondays. Address: Parc Nou. Chestnut tower. Av. de Santa Coloma, 47. Olot. +34 972 26 67 62. Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica

Olot’s own volcano, Volcà del Montsacopa, is situated inside the town’s limits. You can walk to the top, following signs for “Cràter del Montsacopa”, where there is the shallow crater, watchtowers, a small church and a bar/café. There are exceptional views of Olot and the surrounding area. It is to the north of the town center and many people start the walk behind the cemetery at Carrer Macarnau, 46.

Pedra Tosca Park is to the south west of Olot and has a collection of medicinal plants historically used to treat illnesses. The INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes ride through this park on their way back into Olot on the Olot Loop rides.

Museu de la Garrotxa is located in the center of Olot and is housed around a large central courtyard in the historic Hospice building, an 18th century construction. It has one of the best collections of Catalan painting and sculpture as well as an extensive collection of modernist posters. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00AM – 1:00PM and 3:00PM – 6:00PM, Saturdays from 11:00AM – 2:00PM and 4:00PM – 7:00PM, and Sundays from 11:00 – 2:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carrer Hospici, 8, 17800 Olot. +34 972 27 11 66. https://museus.olot.cat/museu-garrotxa/

Useful Contacts

Tourist Information Office is called Tourism Olot and the address is Francesc Fàbregas, 6, Olot. Very helpful staff and maps and books nicely laid it in the different languages. Open Monday to Saturday 9:00AM – 2:00PM and 3:00PM – Olot7:00PM, and Sunday 9:00AM – 2:00PM. +34 972 260 141. https://www.turismeolot.com/en/

Stores: There are many supermarkets in Olot. The Mercadona is one of the biggest and best stocked with the market on ground floor and the supermarket below. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00AM – 9:00PM. Address: Carrer de Camil Mulleras, 33, 17800 Olot (almost directly at the end of all gpx routes). +34 972 65 87 17


Catalonian Earthquakes

A series of earthquakes hit Catalonia during 1427-1428 and much of it was destroyed. The largest earthquake is reported to have hit on February 2nd, 1428 and has been named the “Candelera” earthquake. Historical reports say its magnitude was 6.5 and the epicenter was near to the town of Camprodon (18 kilometers north of Olot).

These earthquakes also destroyed the town of Olot. King Alfonso the Kind allowed the population of Olot to decide where they wanted to rebuild – either in the same place or elsewhere. The finally decided to rebuild outside the old city walls and therefore outside the control of the Abbot of Ripoll who was hugely unpopular. It was due to this reconstruction that the area and streets outside the old town, near the main square, are built in a grid fashion.


Girona

Overview

A city of two halves. The ancient walled city, east of the river, is a maze of cobbled streets with a cathedral and well-Gironapreserved Jewish quarter. West of the river lies the “new” town with museums, upscale stores and leafy squares. Girona is also known for its cuisine; it has both Michelin-starred restaurants and outstanding local eateries.

This city is around 2,000 years old and is extremely popular with visitors due to its history, its extensive art treasures, as well as its energetic cultural, commercial, and industrial activity. Girona was born on a hill, fed by the river Onyar,  and only a short distance from the road that connected the two sides of the Pyrenees. It has numerous well-conserved historic buildings that came from the original Roman foundation, known as the Força Vella (1st century BC to 10th century), and the Medieval Quarter that grew between the 11th and 15th centuries.

Eating & Drinking

GironaSince 2009, the Michelin Guide has awarded its maximum number of three stars to the El Celler de Can Roca which is located on the outskirts of Girona. It has also been distinguished as the best restaurant in the world in 2013 and 2015, by the well-known Restaurant Magazine. So clearly, for demanding gastronomes, this is the best restaurant in the city. The in-season taster menu is recommended. Please note reservations are accepted 11 months in advance but you can request to be put on the wait list. Open: Tuesday for dinner, Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday – Monday. +34 972 22 21 57. Address: Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona. https://cellercanroca.com/

Massana has also been recognized by the French Michelin Guide with one star. Serving exquisitely prepared traditional and market cuisine. Open: lunches and dinners from Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sunday – Monday. +34 972 21 38 20. Address: Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 10, 17006 Girona. https://www.restaurantmassana.com/

El Pati Verd has a Mediterranean cuisine lunch-only menu and is known as the most prestigious hotel restaurant in the city. Serves dishes with foie gras, carpaccios, and fish fillets. Dinners and special celebrations to be booked upon request. Open: 1:30PM – 4:00PM Monday to Friday. +34 972 21 12 12. Address: Plaça Miquel Santaló i Pavor, s/n, 17002 Girona. https://www.hotelcarlemanygirona.com/en/

For exceptional, rich Catalan cuisine we recommend Cal Ros. The menu is very creative, from the bread to the desserts. Open: Wednesday to Sunday from 1:15PM – 3:45PM, and Wednesday to Saturday from 8:15PM – 10:45PM. Closed Monday – Tuesday. +34 972 21 91 76. Address: Carrer de la Cort Reial, 9, 17004 Girona. https://calros-restaurant.com/

For an innovative vegetarian menu, we recommend B12 on the Plaça del Vi. Many of their menu option are also vegan and they serve locally-brewed Catalan beer. Open: Monday to Friday from 10:00AM – 10:00PM and Sundays from 6:00PM – 12:00AM. Closed on Sundays. +34 972 01 32 02. Address: Plaça del Vi, 11, 17004 Girona.

If you’re after a classic pizza, La Pulcinella is the place to go. Service is great, pizzas are authentic Italian, red wine delicious, and the homemade Tiramisu is the cherry on top. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 8:00PM – 11:00PM. +34 972 22 13 79. Address: Carrer Bisbe Lorenzana, 18, 17002 Girona.

Restaurant Occi is Mediterranean market cuisine right in the heart of the Old Town. Limited vegetarian options. Open: Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:15PM and 8:30PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. +34 972 22 71 54. Address: Carrer dels Mercaders, 3, 17004 Girona. http://www.restaurantocci.com/index.php?lang=cat

Sites and Things to Do

The Cathedral rules over the city with its imposing presence. The original construction began in 1417, and it is located in the old quarter with the Carrer de la Força on one side and the Sobreportes Portal on the other. The streets to the cathedral keep you shaded and then, as you enter the square, the light from the façade of the cathedral can be blinding. It has a Baroque stairway from the 18th century with 90 steps to the front door. Inside the building is the widest gothic style vault in the world, at nearly 23 meters. The cathedral has a single nave; the second largest in the Christian world after St. Peter’s GironaBasilica in Rome. Open from 10:00AM – 6:30PM from April to October. Visits are €7 per person and include a visit to the Basilica of Sant Feliu (entrance to the cathedral is free during services). Address: Plaça de la Catedral, s/n, 17004 Girona. +34 972 42 71 89. http://www.catedraldegirona.cat/en/

The Basilica of Sant Feliu (14th – 17th centuries) with its stylized bell tower is the other distinctive part of the Girona skyline. Interestingly, its spire was blunted by lightning which is obviously from the way it suddenly stops. Inside, the main altar piece is noteworthy (16th century), as is the sepulcher of Saint Narcissus, the patron saint of Girona, and the reclining Christ (14th century), an alabaster work by Aloi de Montbrai. Open from 10:00AM – 5:00PM. Address: Carrer Trasfigueres, 4, 17004 Girona. +34 972 20 14 07. https://www.catedraldegirona.cat

Outside the Basilica of Sant Feliu and close to the river, you will often find a line of people queuing by a stone statue with a set of steps. This is The Lioness and is a replica of the original piece housed in the Art Museum of a lioness climbing up a column. According to tradition, to be a good resident of Girona or (in the case of visitors) to return to the city, one must touch or kiss the Lioness’ flanks.

Girona’s city walls are made up of the Roman Walls, the Carolingian Walls, and the Medieval City Walls. The original sandstone Roman city walls date back to the 1st century BC and are still visible today at certain points in the city. The Roman walls were extended to incorporate the expansion beyond the Força Vella enclosure after the year 1000 BC and are known as the Carolingian Walls. The ramparts are accessible for walkers and are the longest 9th century Carolingian walls in Europe. The newest city walls, from the 14th-15th centuries are the Medieval ones and are also open to walkers. These provide privileged views over the city including parts of the Força Vella which was the original powerful fortress enclosed with a triangular perimeter. You cn access the walls behind Girona Cathedral, in the Jardins dels Alemanys.

La Plaça del Vi is a bustling square surrounded by restaurants, arcaded shops, Girona City Hall, the Municipal Theatre, and a Gothic-Renaisance building, known as the Palau del General, that, in the 16th and 17th centuries, housed the Catalan government administration of the Girona region and is still the seat of the Catalan Government and a powerful symbol for Catalonia.

Plaça de la Independència is on the other side of the river to the old town and is a porticoed neo-classical square, bustling with popular restaurants. The 1894 monument entitled Girona 1809, sculpted by Antonio Parera, was dedicated to the defenders of the city during a seven-month siege by French forces.

The view of the Houses on the River Onyar is the famous photo of the colorful houses alongside the river that most identifies with Girona. You can see these houses from the unique bridges that cross the river; the “Stone Bridge”, also known as Isabell II Bridge (1856), the red Peixateries Velles Bridge (built in 1877 by the same company that built the Eiffel tower), and the slender lightweight Gómez Bridge (1916).

Museums

Girona has many museums including:

GironaThe Jewish History Museum which tells the story of Catalonia’s medieval Jewish communities. It houses a unique assortment of medieval Hebrew tombstones from the former Jewish cemetery of Montjuïc. Open July and August, Monday to Saturday from 10:00AM – 8:00PM, Sundays from 10:00AM – 2:00PM. September to June, Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00AM – 6:00PM; Monday to Sunday from 10:00AM – 2:00PM. Address: Carrer de la Força, 8, 17004 Girona. +34 972 21 67 61. http://www.girona.cat/call/eng/index.php

Located in a former 18th century Capuchin monastery, Girona History Museum tells the story of Girona city from its foundation by the Romans in 1stcentury BC to the return of democracy in 1975. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30AM – 5:30PM (6:30PM in summer), and Sundays from 10:30AM – 1:30PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carrer de la Força, 27, 17004 Girona. +34 972 222 229. http://www.girona.cat/museuhistoria/cat/index.php

The Archaeology Museum of Catalonia-Girona was founded in 1846 and has finds from excavations in the Girona area all the way from prehistory to the medieval period. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00AM – 6:00PM, and on Sundays from 10:00AM – 2:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 8, 17007 Girona. +34 972 20 26 32. http://www.macgirona.cat/

Festivals and Events

Girona Gastronomy Week is held in March each year. Restaurants serve their best food and wines as they promote the best of Girona cuisine.

The Festival of Saint John is held on the 23rd June each year, the shortest night of the year. Bonfires are lit from fires made of household junk and afterwards there is dancing, firecrackers, cava, and cake!

The city’s annual festival is towards the end of the season at the end of October and beginning of November. There are attractions and stands selling local produce including roasted chestnuts. The nighttime is very busy with live concerts, street fireworks, and spectacular castellers or human towers.

The exquisite Temp de Flors is a fusion of architecture and floriculture and includes courtyards and areas not usually accessible to the general public. This festival is held from the second Saturday to the third Sunday of May and there are more than 100 installations all over the city to receive the thousands of visitors who come to Girona to enjoy this colorful and perfumed explosion.

Saint George’s Day is a hugely popular celebration held on April 23rd. The streets are filled with bookstalls and brightly-colored rose displays for people to buy for their loved ones.

The international A Cappella festival is held in Girona each year in May (it coincides with the floral displays of the Temps de Flors), a contemporary art festival in June, a classical music festival in June and July, a jazz and soul festival in July and August, and a street art festival in September.

Cooking Classes

Local Market is a popular cooking school in the center of Girona. They offer private cooking courses for our guests and can incorporate a market visit as well. These classes are bespoke and can work around guests’ requests as well as any food interests or allergies. For a class of up to 8 people the cost is €99.50 per person. If you want to join one of their scheduled classes, we suggest you look at their website; many are in the evening and incorporate dinner as well. Address: C / Bonaventura i Carreras Peralta, 5 17004 – Girona. +34 872 984 497. Email: events@localmarket.cat. Website: Local_Market_Gironahttps://www.localmarket.cat/

Tots A Taula is another Cooking class in Girona. They offer different options such as “Rice! From starter to dessert”, “Fish Workshop”, and “Sushi to Start”. They also run traditional Catalan classes where you prepare a starter, a main, and a dessert. The class usually takes around 1.5 hours plus the lunch/dinner (around 3 hours total). For 1-2 persons the cost is €210+tax (total), for 4 people it is around €300+tax (total). Address: Carrer del Canonge Dorca, 28, 17005 Girona. +34 620 864 058. Email: info@totsataula.com. Website: http://www.totsataula.com/

Food and Wine Tours

Tapas & Wine By Night is a great way to see Girona town. Highly recommended! The general tour is in English and takes around 4 hours (including stops) and it includes ham tastings, Catalan cuisine, tapas, regional cheeses, local produced wines, olive oils, and ice-cream! Price is €79 per person and the tours run Tuesday to Saturday from 6:45PM – 11:00PM. They do private tours for 2 people with a supplement of €35 per person. Address: Girona Food Tours Shop, Carrer Nord 6 bajos (right in front of Hotel Nord 1901). +34 972 664 649. Email: info@gironafoodtours.com. https://www.gironafoodtours.com/eng/p/foodtours/tour/tours/79.htm

Useful Contacts

Tourist Information Office is located on the main Rambla street, next to the river and the Pont de Pedra (stone bridge). Open: Monday to Thursday from 9:00AM – 7:00PM and Friday to Sunday 9:00AM – 2:00PM. +34 972 01 00 01. Address: Rambla de la Llibertat, 1, 17004 Girona. http://www.girona.cat/turisme/fra/index.php

Stores: There are lots of fantastic shopping opportunities in Girona.

GironaIf you need a supermarket there are lots of smaller stores dotted around the city. There is a basic SPAR in the old town. Open: 9:00AM – 9:00PM Monday to Saturday, and 9:00AM – 2:00PM on Sundays. Address: Carrer dels Ciutadans, 15. +34 872 08 15 82

Handicraft shops, where the owner sells products made in the workshop in the back of the shop, are a dying breed but there are still artisans and representatives of old trades who practise their archaic skills as a hobby and, once a week, display their products at handicraft fairs. The Pont de Pedra Handicraft Fair is on every Saturday on the Pont de Pedra. The local artisans display their products on a rotary basis so there appears to be an ever-changing spectacle of objects on display. Other handicraft shops include:

Estudi Dolors Turró (renowned for her angels). Address: Carrer Nord, 1 cantanada, Carrer de les Hortes.

Ferros d’art Cadenas, a rare example of the old artisan system of manufacturing and selling in the same location. Makes and sells cast iron and other metal articles. Closed on the weekends. Address: Carrer Nou, 5.

As you will see from exploring the city, there are various wonderful ‘Candy Craft’ shops such as:

Rocambolesc – highly recommended to visit as it’s owned by Jordi Roca (one of the brothers of El Celler de Can Roca – the 3 Michelin star restaurant in town) with the wish to “recover the traditional dessert cart of El Celler de Can Roca which had disappeared from the restaurant’s room just when he took care of the sweet part of the menu”. Address: Carrer Sta. Clara 50.

Patisseria Tornés Cake Shop is not located in the best part of the city but known far and wide as the best pastry in Girona – especially the Xuixo (doughnut). Address: Carrer Migdia, 51.

Gluki is a company based in Olot that sells its wares in Girona. Marvelous chocolates made from Central American cocoa. Address: Carrer Nou, 9.

Llafranc

Overview

Upmarket Llafranc is one of the most attractive coastal towns on the Costa Brava. This is a traditional Catalonian town that hasn’t succumbed to any major development. Think sandy beaches, crystalline waters, and small coves fringed with low-rise whitewashed buildings and a handful of restaurants and hotels.Llafranc

Llafranc and nearby Calella de Palafrugell are neighboring bays with a picturesque coastal walk between the two.

Eating & Drinking

Casamar is a one-Michalin-star restaurant and the location in the dining room or the terrace is spectacular. It is fine dining with an extensive wine list. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:30PM – 3:30PM and Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carrer del Nero, 3, 17211 Llafranc. +34 972 30 01 04. https://www.eltenedor.es/restaurante/casamar-restaurant/76149?cc=27317-fa5

If you are staying at El Far Hotel the restaurant is very good with incredible views from the cliff over the bay. As you would expect, the seafood is fantastic. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM and 8:00PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Muntanya de Sant Sebastià, 17211, Llafranc – Palafrugell. +34 972 301 639. https://www.hotelelfar.com/en

Chez Tomàs has delightful courtyard dining with an extensive menu and exceptional service – the maître D is a real character. It’s not on the sea front but the food and experience certainly do not disappoint. We can highly recommend the grilled sea bream or the duck with figs. Generally open every day in summer but we advise calling to book a table in advance. Address: Carrer de Lluís Marquès Carbó, 2, 17211 Llafranc. +34 972 30 62 15

An exceptional no-frills tapas bar is Calau which offers a huge choice and a wonderful atmosphere. Don’t just fill up on the choices at the bar – the waiters bring freshly made options from the kitchen too. Open every day in summer. Address: Carrer de les Voltes, 2, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell. +34 972 61 53 01. http://calaubar.com/

If there was a competition who could serve seafood closest to the sea, Restaurant Fiego would win. Menu includes extensive seafood options, paella, sangria, grilled squid, melon and ham, as well as grilled Catalan pork sausage. Open from 10:00AM every day in summer. Address: Platja del, Carrer del Port Pelegrí, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell. +34 972 61 59 96. https://restaurantfiego.cat/

Sites and Things to Do

LlafrancWhether your hotel is situated in Llafranc or in Calella de Palafrugell, a gentle meander across to the other town makes for a lovely evening stroll. There is an easy coastal path lined with a canopy of trees and sea views.

The eastern end of Llafranc has a charming headland that offers views out in both directions and out to sea. At the tip there is an 1857 lighthouse, a 18th century chapel, and a 15th century watchtower. If you are staying in El Far Hotel you don’t need to walk far as your hotel is it! From Llafranc, follow the steps up from the harbor. The routes are signposted both ‘GR92’ and ‘Camí de Ronda’.

If you would like a longer coastal walk, follow the starting point above and keep walking north to Tamariu. It’s where the EAS route visits on the Llafranc loop day so see our restaurant recommendations in the Day-by-Day – Llafranc Loops section of this guidebook for places to eat.

Kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), and stand-up paddle boarding yoga (SUP yoga) are all popular activities and available from the beaches.

Useful Contacts

Tourist Information Office, there are two local offices. The larger one is located in Llafranc and the smaller one in Calella de Palafrugell. In Llafranc the office hours are 10:00AM – 1:00PM and 5:00PM – 8:00PM every day. Address: Carrer Roger de Llúria, 9, 17211 Llafranc. The Calella de Palafrugell office is usually open on weekday mornings but they do seem to be quite sporadic so we recommend you call beforehand just to check they are open (they will speak English). Address: Carrer de les Voltes, 4, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell. Both offices have the same phone number and website +34 972 30 02 28. http://visitpalafrugell.cat/

Stores:

If you need a supermarket in Calella de Palafrugell there is a SPAR located Carrer Lladó, 40, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell. Open Monday to Saturday 8:30AM – 2:00PM and 4:30PM – 8:30PM and Sundays 9:00AM – 2:00PM. +34 972 61 73 17.

In Llafranc there is Jodofi SL. Open Monday to Sunday from 8:30AM – 2:00PM and Monday to Saturday from 4:30PM – 8:30PM. Address: Carrer del Xaloc, 3, 17211 Llafranc. +34 972 61 20 20.

 

 

Day-By-Day

Figueres to Besalú

Overview

The Intermediate ride begins with a van transfer to the sprawling 18th-century fortress of Castell de Sant Ferran – on the outskirts of Figueres. From here, you ride south through the ancient villages of the Alt Empordà region. The Alt Empordà is the only region in Catalonia that has three classified natural spaces (Espais Naturals) in one territory of 100 km2: the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, el cap de Creus, and la Sierra de l’Albera. When you reach the village of Vilaür your route turns inland following country lanes alongside the El Fluvià river. You pass through a number of attractive villages any of which make a good lunch stop. The village of Esponellà is a particular favorite.Catalonia

Shortly after Esponellà, there is a stunning waterfall where an old church overlooks the water. The last town before you turn northwards to Besalú is Serinyà; famous for its caves that have been occupied since the time of the Neanderthals.

As you arrive in Besalú, you have stunning views of the Pont de Besalú: a Romanesque bridge with arches and towers that date back to the Middle Ages.

Leisure riders will take a transfer to Vilaür where they join the Intermediate route described above.

Route Options

Easiest Route

Riders wanting to ride the Easiest route will transfer along the Intermediate route to start their ride in Vilaür.

Intermediate Route

Your tour begins with a van transfer to the sprawling 18th-century fortress of Castell de Sant Ferran – just outside of Figueres.

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on which route you choose. See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

In Bàscara: A small town with a few good options for a lunch spot. Forn de Pa L´Empordà is a sweet bakery en route selling breads, sweets, and typical Catalan produce. Open 6:00AM – 2:00PM every day and 4:00PM – 5:00PM Tuesday to Friday. Address: Avinguda de l’Alt S/N, 17483 Bàscara. +34 972 56 02 02. https://www.fornemporda.com/

Also in Bàscara, further into town and a little to the RHS of your route is Bar La Plaça and El Portal de Bàscara.

Bar La Plaça is a casual affair, a ‘bar’ rather than a restaurant; popular with locals for a meal and drinks. Plenty of outside seating. Their homemade burgers are particularly good. Open: 8:00AM – 11:00PM Wednesday to Monday. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Plaça Major, n 10, 17483 Bàscara. +34 972 55 16 67.Catalonia

El Portal de Bàscara is a slightly more formal option with charming outside seating on the square. If you haven’t tried ‘potatas bravas’ by this point then this is a great opportunity. Their burgers are also fantastic. Open: 8:00AM – 11:00PM Wednesday to Monday. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Plaça del Pessebre, 2, 17483 Bàscara. +34 972 55 19 29. They are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elportaldebascara/

In Orfes Restaurant La Barretina. Very highly regarded in the area, with a gastronomic menu. They offer “traditional Catalan cuisine such as rabbit with raisins and pine nuts, cannelloni, baked lamb shoulder and a full assortment of specialties made with products from our land”. Prices are reasonable, approximately €25 per person. Address: Pl. Major, 28, 17468 Orfes. +34 972 56 02 80. http://www.labarretinafondadorfes.cat/restaurant.html

In Esponella: Forn de Pa Esteve Bosch Sabater is a small artisan bakery with a long name. It’s a charming village bakery on the roundabout as you enter town.  It also sells basic necessities since there is no supermarket in town. They have a little courtyard with seating and is busy in season. Open: 6:45 AM – 3:00PM Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays. Address: Avinguda de Carles de Fortuny, 6, 17832 Esponellà. +34 972 59 70 08.

For lunch options in Besalú look to the Towns and Cities section of this guidebook.

Points of Interest en Route

For the Intermediate riders, the starting location is Castell de Sant Ferran.  This is the largest monument in Catalonia, an incredible structure and the biggest fortress executed by the Spanish military. It is a town inside a town and the largest fortress in Europe. Located on a hill very near to the Dalí Museum it provides an excellent lookout point for viewing the Empordà plain. Built in the 18th century after the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) when the French and Spanish borders were yet again moved, and Spain was left without any defensive works. It is named after King Ferran VI of Bourbon who managed to afford this monumental fortress without getting into debt. There are different tours for viewing this bastion; the Interior or the Exterior (including underground parts). The Interior: Individually (it takes between 45 minutes – 1 hour, no booking needed), a Guided visit takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 15 minutes (prior booking needed). The Exterior and underground parts visit is an active, guided visit including off-road vehicles and pneumatic boats. Booking in advance necessary. Open from end of March from 10:30AM – 6:00PM every day (from 10:00AM – 8:00PM July 1st to September 15th). Winter hours apply. Address: Pujada del Castell, s/n, 17600 Figueres. +34 972 50 60 94. https://lesfortalesescatalanes.info/en/

If you are exploring Figueres before your tour we recommend the Dalí Theatre Museum. Crowned by a geodesic dome, this museum can be seen from way off. This museum was actually conceived by Figueres-born Dalí and is a grand enigmatic labyrinth with different interior rooms housing paintings by the artist from throughout his career in a complex yet harmonious fashion. Generally open from 9:00AM every day but closed on certain Mondays throughout the year. Pre-purchasing tickets online is highly recommended but not essential. Address: Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí, 5, 17600 Figueres. +34 972 67 75 00. https://www.salvador-dali.org/en/ Note: you can also ride and visit Dalí’s house-museum in Púbol on a Girona Loop B day.

Other interesting museums in Figueres are:

  • The Empordà Museum houses various collections of paintings and sculptures by some of the most important artists who lived and worked in the area in the 19th and 20th
  • The Toy Museum of Catalonia, the second most popular museum in Figueres and considered one of the most important of its kind in Europe. It displays over 10,000 toys from all periods of history.
  • The Technology Museum, based on a private initiative, houses one of the most extensive collections of typewriters and sewing machines.

The Prehistoric caves of Serinyà are 900 m south of the route, along the C-66. An interesting site and the tour-guides are often part of the archeology team excavating the area. They have an introductory movie and the option for handheld speakers in English. Opening hours vary so we recommend calling ahead on the day. Address: C-66, 17852, Serinyà, Girona. +34 972 59 33 10.

Stores

There are a number of supermarkets as you ride through the outskirts of Figueres e.g. Escalat located after the roundabout at 2km. Address: Av. Països Catalans, 2, 17600 Figueres. Open: 9:00AM – 9:00PM Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays.

Each small town you pass through usually has a supermarket of some size. Opening hours will depend on size of the town and store.
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Besalú to Olot

Overview

On the Intermediate ride you leave Besalú on a quiet, rolling road that tracks alongside the El Fluvià River through a beautiful Castellfollit de la Rocaforest. After this pleasant warm up, you begin a gradual climb to the Catalan village of Tortellà – a great pace for a coffee stop. After Tortellà, you begin to get glimpses of the volcanic hills surrounding Olot and, to your right, the ridges of the distant Pyrenees. Castellfollit de la Roca is a stunning place to have lunch. As the name suggests, the town perches on top and right to the edge of the cliff face and some of the restaurants have terraces with views down to the valley. When leaving the town you skirt around a string of small villages before entering the town of Olot.

The Challenge route begins with a stunning climb up the famous Mare de Déu del Mont; nearly 14 miles of climbing with views of the alabaster and chalk quarries. The monastery at the top of the climb offers incredible 360° views of the Catalonian landscape. After completing this warm-up loop, you join the Intermediate route described above for the ride to Olot.

Leisure riders will take a van transfer along the Intermediate route to the village of Tortellà.

Route Options

Easiest Route

Your ride starts with a van transfer to the village of Tortellà.  Please let us know 24 hours in advance if you are taking this option so that we can coordinate your transfer with your luggage move.

Intermediate Route
Challenge Route

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on the route you choose.  See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

For the easy route there are a couple of restaurants along route if you do not want to eat in Tortellà. In Sant Joan les Fonts, there is a classic, simple restaurant; 9 Falguera, on the main square serving omelets and sandwiches. Service seems to either be very fast or very slow. All the food is homemade with lots of local meat options. Address: Avinguda de Cisteller, 1, 17857, Sant Joan les Fonts.

La Cuina De L’Anna is in La Canya, approximately 13.5km into your route, Very good for cyclists, it is a family restaurant with a simple menu of homemade sandwiches, beef stews, or the specialty rabbit breast. Very reasonably prices between €10-15. Open from 8:30AM every day. Address: Carrer del Mestre Josep Maria Gratacós, 17857, La Canya. +34 972 29 04 30.

In Tortellà there are three options for lunch. Bar Casino Restaurant (yes, that is its real name) is a locals’ bar/café/restaurant with a large shady terrace. The food is deliciously homemade and traditional. Open 9:00AM – 12:00AM Tuesday to Sunday but the kitchen closes at 3:00PM. Address: Carrer Ciutadella, 2, 17853 Tortellà. +34 972 68 77 79.

Forn La Torna De Tortellà boasts a new but “authentic” oven that produces a variety of breads (including their famous ‘bread with chocolate’), sugar cakes, croissants, and doughnuts. This bakery is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. Open Tuesday to Wednesday and Friday from 8:00AM – 1:30PM and 4:30PM – 6:30PM, Saturday to Sunday from 8:00AM – 1:00PM. Closed on Mondays and Thursdays. Address: Carrer de Sales, 49, 17853 Tortellà. +34 681 25 83 85. https://www.latornadetortella.com/

The Pizza at Pizzeria el Saüc is a takeaway affair but excellent and the staff are welcoming. Opening hours are sporadic but worth it if you catch them open. Address: Carrer Travessia Ciutadella, 3, 17853 Tortellà. +34 619 14 12 51.

In La Cometa there is a restaurant where the food is highly regarded, Can Suru. Exceptional service and quite a varied menu, including vegetarian options. This restaurant is slightly off route. Open: 1:00PM – 4:00PM Friday to Wednesday. Closed on Thursdays. Address: Carrer de Sant Grau, 15, 17855 La Cometa. +34 872 20 40 89.

In Castellfollit de la Roca, there are a number of options for a drink, a snack and a view. We believe there are better places along route for lunch but the views here are so stunning it’s definitely worth stopping.

Cal Tuset is a muffin shop with a difference. The display of muffins in the window is enough to make anyone pause and, being a bakery, they also sell good bread. Open: 7:00AM – 2:00PM and 4:30PM – 8:30PM every day. Address: Carr de Girona, 17, 17856 Castellfollit de la Roca. +34 972 29 44 96.

Poch’s Cervesa Artesana is a popular artisan brewery where they brew many of their own beers on site. The bar staff are very knowledgeable, there is good music and great views. The Bruna del Pirineu and the Basalt are very good. Open: Monday to Friday from 7:00PM – 9:00PM, and Saturdays from 11:00AM – 2:30PM and 5:00PM – 9:00PM. Closed on Sundays. Address: Carrer Major, 6, 17856 Castellfollit de la Roca. +34 619 07 28 85.

Hostal Mont-Rock is located at the base of Castellfollit de la Roca which offers you unique views of the town rather than from it. The restaurant is simple in décor (typical for a countryside venue) and although the menu isn’t extensive, the food is local with great flavors and the staff are exceedingly friendly. Open: every day in line with the Hostel opening hours. Address: Carr. d’Olot, 56, 17856 Castellfollit de la Roca. +34 972 29 41 06.

Cal Ganxo is strictly a ‘bar with a view’ recommendation, we suggest you eat elsewhere along route but stop here for a drink before making your way into Olot. Located at the tip of the cliff, it is the best seat in the house. Open: 10:00AM – late every day. Address: Carrer de l’Esglesia, 17, 17856 Castellfollit de la Roca. +34 972 29 41 64.

For the Challenge riders there is Restaurant Bar Hostatgeria Mare de Déu del Mont, a restaurant at the summit of Mare de Déu del Mont where you can pause to celebrate your achievement of conquering the mountain. There is the option of a set menu, single dishes from the menu, or more casual bar food. Open Thursday to Monday from 9:15AM – 5:00PM. Closed +34 972 193 074. http://santuaridelmont.com/en/our-restaurant/

Other options for Challenge riders are in Besalú after descending from the Mare de Déu del Mont. See the Towns and Cities section of this guidebook for recommendations.

Points of Interest en Route

The Mare de Déu del Mont, also known as the Sierra del Mont, is the highest in the Garrotxa region. The name translates to ‘Mother of God of the mountain’ and is also the name of the shrine built at the summit. It is often fondly referred to as a huge and chilly canal that descends from the Pyrenees towards the Gulf of Roses. It rises to 1,124-meters and falls steeply on all four sides with the exception of the Pla de Solls and the retreat where the Saint Llorenç de Sous monastery sits. For cyclists it is a beautiful climb; quiet, narrow and offers a unique view of the whole region. Like the Rocacorba (route from Olot to Girona) it is often used by professional cyclists to test their fitness, as from Cabanelles it’s 18 km with an 5.4% average gradient with inclines as steep as 14%. If you’re a Strava user you can see the top times are around 50 minutes – not for the faint-hearted!

The village of Castellfollit de la Roca is a large natural viewpoint. It overlooks a basalt crag 50 meters high and 1 kilometer long. At the tip of the crag are enchanting views of the mosaic of farmland in the valleys and of the Fluvià and Toronell rivers. They have a celebratory festival every September.

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. All shops will close for a (long) lunch. For riders on the CHLG route, you always have the option of stopping again in Besalú on your way through town after climbing Mare de Déu del Mont.

Magdalena Delga Sabater is a small supermarket in Tortellà located at 0.1km on the EAS route, 13.7km on the INT route, and 66km on the CHLG route. Open from 9:00AM Monday to Saturday, closed on Sundays. Address: Carrer de Sales, 1, 17853 Tortellà.


Castellfollit de la Roca

This town covers less than a square kilometer, making it one of the smallest towns in Catalonia. The area was formed by two lava flows from volcanic eruptions, the first took place around 217,000 years ago from the volcano of Batet and flowed along the valley of Fluvià, the second lava flow was from the volcanoes of Begudà and was much more recent, approximately 192,000 years ago Castellfollit de la Rocaand formed into the prismatic shapes now visible after erosion by the river Turonell.

The powerful, erosive, cooling action of the two rivers turned the lava into basalt and left it as we see it today: an iconic cliff over 50 meters high on which the town of Castellfollit de la Roca now sits.

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Olot Loop Day

Overview

The Leisure ride today heads east into the Volcànica de la Garrotxa Natural Park. The reserve has more than 40 volcanoes and pristine beech forests. The ride loops through the park – visiting a number of volcanic sites – to the well-preserved medieval town of Santa Pau. The route then loops back to Olot. The Intermediate route follows the Leisure ride but adds an additional loop to the west of Olot ending with a cycle path through the beautiful Parc de Pedra Tosca.

The Challenge route heads north out of Olot and into the quiet Riera de Castellar valley. Here you climb on near-deserted roads through woodland up to the ancient village of Sant Pau de Segúries. The route then continues across a plateau to Sant Joan de les Abadesses: a beautiful 9th century monastery. The final climb of the day takes you to Coll de Santigosa, the highest point of your ride at 3,477 feet, followed by a thrilling descent to Olot.

The Epic route follows the Challenge route out of town but pushes further north – into the foothills of the Pyrenees. You get to within a mile of the French border before heading south to rejoin the Challenge route in Sant Pau de Segúries. The route also visits the town of Camprodon with its 12th century Romanesque bridge that rises proudly over the River Ter.

Route Options

Easiest Route
Intermediate Route
Challenge Route
Epic Route

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on the route you choose.  See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

For EAS and INT riders we suggest you lunch in Santa Pau. For a relatively small town it is blessed with a good number of great restaurants. In the town we recommend Portal del Mar Can Daina. Their menu choices are varied and delicious and all homemade from local produce. For a more casual choice go for their great tapas: calamares andaluces, chicken and mango chutney, huevos rotos, tostada with avocado and salmon. Open: 1:00PM – 4:00PM Tuesday to Sunday, and 8:00PM – 11:00PM Tuesday to Saturday. Address: Carrer Vila Vella, 16, 17811 Santa Pau. +34 608 17 28 45.

Can Rafelic S L is a good, casual option in Santa Pau. The food is simple but filling and the service is friendly. Open: 1:00PM – 11:00PM Wednesday to Monday. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Placeta Sant Roc, 2, 17811 Santa Pau. +34 972 68 02 02.

On the EAS and INT routes, just outside of Santa Pau, on a beautifully quiet country lane, is Restaurant Masnou. You will find this restaurant around 17.5 km after the town. Their taster menu in particular is highly recommended. The waiters will describe the different dishes and then you are served accordingly. Prices can be quite high but the quality of the food is exceptional and it is renowned as one of the best restaurants in the area. Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 3:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Opening hours seem a little unpredictable so we suggest strongly you call ahead (or ask your hotel to do so) to confirm their hours. Address: Passeig Mas Masnou, s/n, 17811 Santa Pau. +34 972 68 00 61.

Olot is another great option for EAS and INT routes. See the Towns and Cities section in the introduction of this guidebook for our recommendations.

Sant Pau de Segúries or Sant Joan de les Abadesses are great options for challenge riders. In Sant Pau de Segúries, Cafeteria Bar La Serradora serves great coffee and good, simple snacks. Very welcoming to cyclists and tourists. Open from 6:00AM – 3:00PM Wednesday to Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Avinguda de la Vall, 12, 17864 Sant Pau de Segúries. +34 972 74 73 14.

Can Pruna is a relatively new restaurant in Sant Pau de Segúries. Very clean and casual, the menu is small but varied with options for fresh meat prepared on the grill. Open: 7:30AM – 6:00PM Thursday to Tuesdays. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Av. El Mariner, 6, 17864 Sant Pau de Segúries. +34 972 74 72 80.

An exceptional bakery in Sant Pau de Segúries is Fleca Mir. A beautifully decorated, old stone building, their produce is more like works of art. Their bread is superb and their sweets even better. Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 7:45AM – 1:30PM, and 4:30PM – 8:30PM Tuesday to Saturday. Closed on Mondays. Address: Plaça de la Generalitat, 2, 17864 Sant Pau de Segúries. +34 972 74 70 13.

Bar – Restaurant La Nau is a little further off route than the other options in Sant Pau de Segúries (travel north up the C-38 for 1 km) and the location seems unusual as it appears to be in a sort of warehouse but the food is very well regarded locally. Bean stews, meaty casseroles, fish courses, goat cheese salads, mussels, and many other options. Open: 8:00AM – 5:00PM Wednesday to Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Plaça el Mariner, 4, 17864. +34 972 74 70 01.

The sandwich shop in Sant Joan de les Abadesses serves tasty sandwiches (can be grilled) and salads. Open 7:00AM – late every day. Address: Passeig del Comte Guifré, n6, 17860 Sant Joan de les Abadesses. +34 972 72 00 28.

Café de l’Abadia is also in Sant Joan de les Abadesses and is a lovely setting for tapas and their goats cheese salad is divine. Ideal for lunch and a beer, it also has a peaceful outdoor terrace beside the monastery. Open: 8:00AM – late Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays. Address: Plaça de l’Abadia, s/n, 17860 Sant Joan de les Abadesses. +34 972 72 05 35.

On the Epic routes, Beget is a tiny, secluded village with two well-recommended restaurants. Restaurante El Forn is a family run establishment serving excellent local cuisine including grilled lamb and rabbit. A local favorite is the stewed snails. They have good house wines and homemade desserts. Open: 1:00PM – 3:30PM every day. Address: Calle Josep Duñach En Feliça, 9, 17867 Beget. +34 972 74 12 30. http://www.elforndebeget.com/el-restaurant/

Restaurant Can Jeroni de Beget also in Beget, is a stunning old building with outside seating and incredible views. There is an extensive and eclectic menu including local specialties. Average price for a meal à la carte: 24 euros per person. Open: 8:00AM – 10:00PM every day. Address: Carrer Bell Aire, 17, 17867 Beget. +34 972 74 12 39.

Also on the Epic route is Camprodon, where there are plenty of great lunch places. We recommend:

Pizzeria La Toscana – Forn de Llenya, widely agreed to be the best pizza in the area, if not the region, but unfortunately the opening hours are sporadic. Worth a stop by in case it is open. Address: Carrer Ferrer Bàrbara, 4, 17867 Camprodon. +34 972 74 03 41.

Frankfurt Iluro is only open for lunches on the weekends. It is a very small place and usually busy as it’s so popular. They sell very simple sandwiches and their top selling frankfurter sausages and burgers are locally made. Open: 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Address: Carrer Issac Albeniz, 18, 17867 Camprodon. +34 972 13 06 16.

For a more refined lunch we recommend Restaurant El Pont 9, a traditional Catalonian restaurant in a picturesque setting beside the river overlooking the bridge. They serve a varied menu including risotto, local sausages and meats, as well as delicious sweets. Open for lunches Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Address: Camí de la Cerdanya, 1, 17867 Camprodon. +34 972 74 05 21. https://restaurantelpont9.com/en

Bistró La Parra is more of a bistro bar setting, serving fantastic tapas and salads. Open: 8:00AM – late every day. Address: Plaça de Santa Maria, 14, 17867 Camprodon. +34 972 68 40 47. https://bistrolaparra.wixsite.com/bistrolaparra

Points of Interest en Route

santa_pauSanta Pau is on the easy and intermediate routes. The historic center of this town is known as one of the most outstanding of Girona. It is structured around a 13th century castle and has an arcaded main square which is overlooked by the parish church (built in the mid 15th century). The houses of the square are attached to the town’s castle walls. Curiously, Santa Pau holds a kidney bean festival every January.

On the route to and from Santa Pau, you find yourself in the Fageda d’en Jordà. This is a remarkable beech wood growing on a flat terrain, at only 55m altitude, on top of an outflow of lava from the Croscat volcano which is both the highest and youngest volcano on the Iberian Peninsula.

Pedra Tosca Park is to the south west of Olot and has a collection of medicinal plants historically used to cure illnesses. The INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes ride through this park on their way back into Olot on the Olot Loop rides.

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. All shops will close for a (long) lunch.

There is a small Supermecat Triadú in Santa Pau located at the 7.7km on the EAS and INT routes. Closed over lunch from 1:15PM – 4:30PM and on Sundays. Address: Avinguda dels Volcans, 5, 17811 Santa Pau. +34 972 68 00 94

The CHLG and EPIC routes go through Castellfollit de la Roca before they split. There is a very small grocery shop here: El rebost d en Pere. Closed over lunch from 1:30PM – 4:30PM and on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Address: Carrer Migdia, 10B, 17856 Castellfollit de la Roca.

Otherwise, the EPIC riders can find another supermarket in Camprodon at Carrer València, 12. It is a SPAR supermarket and is closed over lunch from 1:30PM – 5:00PM and on Sunday afternoons.


A spot to cool down…

If you’d like to incorporate a walk into your route today, we highly recommend the waterfalls and bathing pools of Can Batlle which can be reached from Santa Pau by following a set walk from the town. The route is approximately 12 km and begins in Santa Pau. After passing by these waterfalls the route returns to the village via the sanctuary of Els Arcs.

For a shorter walk, leave the village via Sant Martí and you will reach the waterfalls and bathing pools after a walk of 8 km.

Visit the tourist office (details above) for a map and directions.

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Olot to Girona

Overview

Today you head southeast from Olot to the vibrant city of Girona; a popular destination for cyclists.

The Intermediate ride starts with a climb through the forests to Santa Pau. Gaps in the forest provide fine views of the surrounding volcanoes. Leaving Santa Pau, there is a fast descent followed by a rolling cruise through a string of tiny hamlets to Banyoles, the location of a stunningly beautiful and popular lake. From Banyoles, the route rolls through villages and on to Girona.

The Easy route begins with a transfer to Banyoles where it joins the Intermediate route described above.

The Challenge route follows the Intermediate route to Banyoles where it detours up a Category 1 climb to Rocacorba. This out and back climb has become famous in the area because the local professionals use it as a yardstick to measure their fitness. It is 9 miles / 13.8 km at an average gradient of 6.5% but it is significantly harder towards the top and has a maximum gradient of 15%.

Route Options

Easiest Route

Your ride starts with a van transfer to the lakeside town of Banyoles.  Please let us know 24 hours in advance if you are taking this option so that we can coordinate your transfer with your luggage move.

Intermediate Route
Challenge Route

Lunch

The lunch town suggestion for today is easy – Banyoles! All routes go to this town and there are plenty of options to choose from; either on the lake or in the town. The Easy route begins with a transfer here so riders can either lunch before they ride or they can ride to Girona and find lunch there.

As you ride around the lake you can choose a lakeside café for lunch. The Aquarium is David Millar’s café of choice. The location is stunning with views across the lake.  There are simple options (sandwiches and salads) as well as delicious paella, excellent coffees and tasty pastries. Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00AM – 4:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Passeig Darder, 39-50, 17820 Banyoles.Banyoles

Lago de Banyoles is a charming spot with seating directly on the jetty on the lake. Varied menu all prepared with quality local food. Open: 9:00AM – late every day. Address: Passeig Lluís Maria Vidal, 25, 17820 Banyoles.

Can Pericus is slightly into town, about 500m from the lake. If you don’t fancy lunch on the lake then this is our first choice. We recommend a burger and a beer and save room for one of their cakes – you’ll see what we mean when you get there. Open: 8:00AM – late, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays. Address: Plaça de Catalunya, 3, 17820 Banyoles. +34 972 58 39 84. http://www.canpericus.com/

Another one to bear in mind is Al Born, located in a little further into town. They offer good Mediterranean cuisine, where tapas is the main event. They also provide an extended menu if you need something more substantial. Open: 1:00PM – 3:30PM Thursday to Sunday, and 8:00PM – 10:30PM Thursday to Saturday. Closed Monday to Wednesdays. Address: Carrer Àngel Guimerà, 14, 17820 Banyoles. +34 972 98 17 08.

For our restaurant recommendations in Girona, see the Towns and Cities part of the introduction to this guidebook.

Points of Interest en Route

Santa Pau is on the intermediate and challenge routes. The historic center of this town is one of the most outstanding of Girona. It is structured around a 13th century castle and has an arcaded main square which is overlooked by the parish church (built in the mid 15th century). The houses of the square are attached to the town’s castle walls. Curiously, Santa Pau holds a kidney bean festival every January.

With its origins in the 9th century, the Church of Santa Maria de Porqueres sits on Banyoles Lake and is an exceptional example of Romanesque art and a National Monument. It has a single nave and is very well preserved. Address: 17834 Porqueres, Banyoles.

The origin of Banyoles, in approximately 822, was the monastery of Sant Esteve. It has a large entrance in late Gothic style (although the cloister and current church are much later, around the 18th century). Address: Plaça del Monestir, 12, 17820 Banyoles. +34 972 57 23 61. http://www.museusdebanyoles.cat/VISITANS/Monestir-de-Sant-Esteve

Banyoles boasts the largest natural lake in Catalonia. The lake of Banyoles is approximately 107 hectares of surface area and is incredibly popular with locals and tourists as a nature spot. It was the venue for the rowing events in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.

Banyoles also hosts the Sant Martirià Fair, which is a traditional horse showcase with competitions dating back to 1243 and an annual fair that began in the 1970s. Held every 3rd weekend of November.

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. All shops will close for a (long) lunch.

Although our route doesn’t take you directly into the town, there are many supermarkets in Banyoles. The closest one to the route is El petit mercatand it is closed over lunch time from 1:30PM – 5:00PM, on Saturday afternoons, and Sundays. Address: Carrer de Mossèn Sala, 8, 17820 Banyoles. +34 972 57 40 67.

There are bigger supermarkets in town such as a Mercadona (Address: Av. de la Farga, Ronda del Monestir, Banyoles) and Lidl (Plaça Europa de les Nacions s/n), neither of which close for lunch.


The Rocacorba Climb

The CHLG route follows the INT route but adds on the out-and-back Rocacorba climb.

Around the time the road was tarmacked, in 2006, this 13.8 km route become an unofficial test track for local riders. Cycling Weekly Magazine states, “by common consent, certainly among the local pros who use the climb as a test of form, the clock starts ticking as you cross the low stone bridge where the road turns left up into the trees. Prior to that point the first 3.8km is draggy false flat and the climb proper – from the moment you cross that bridge – is 10.1km.”

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Girona Loop Day

Overview

Today’s routes head into the hills west of Girona, riding through a landscape contrasting between dense woodland and open farmland. In places, the views are framed by steep limestone cliffs.Girona

The Intermediate ride starts with an easy cruise to Sant Gregori after which it climbs over a pass to Bonmatí on the river Rui Ter. Another pretty climb on quiet roads leads you to a stunning descent back to Girona.

The Leisure ride follows the Intermediate route to Sant Gregori where it heads south to cross the river at the medieval town of Bescanó. After a short, sharp climb it is a lovely long descent back to Girona.

The Challenge route follows the Intermediate route up the first pass but then continues north to create a wider loop on beautifully rural country lanes. After a short stretch on the valley road, you rejoin the Intermediate route near Bonmatí.

The Epic route adds on a further loop to the Challenge route: a climb up to the picturesque dam of Sant Martí Sacalm followed by a descent along the adjacent valley to meet the Challenge route near Bonmatí.

Route Options

Easiest Route
Intermediate Route

Challenge Route

Epic Route

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on the route you choose.  See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

On the EAS route the town of Bescanó has some good options including El Bescanoní, a traditional Catalan restaurant. They have a vast menu which is reasonably priced at around €10-15 per course. Open all day from Sunday to Friday, closed on GironaSaturdays. Address: Carrer Major, 121, 17162 Bescanó. +34 972 44 28 50.

On the EASY and INT routes, in Estanyol, there is Restaurant L’Estanc Nou. They specialize in local calçots (spring onions), bolets (mushrooms), and carns a la brasa (grilled meats). Open all day from Wednesday to Monday. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Ctra. D’Estanyol, s n, 17182 Estanyol. +34 972 44 05 24. http://www.estancnou.com/

INT route we suggest you stop in Bonmatí. Restaurant Duc de l’Obac is generally acknowledged as the best restaurant in this town. They serve lots of local meats and seafood such as their squid and rice. Lunch time menu around €20 per person. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Carrer d’Amer, 69, 17164 Bonmatí. +34 972 42 09 77. http://restaurantducdelobac.cat/

On the INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes Restaurant Cal Ganso at 17.4km is another good choice. This restaurant, run by a mother and daughter team, serves a range of grilled meats and traditional stews. Reservations recommended as it can be very busy in season. Open Thursday to Monday from 11:00AM. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Address: GI-531, Km 13, 17152 Llorà. +34 972 44 30 85.

On the CHLG and EPIC routes you ride through Les Planes d’Hostoles where we recommend Can Remena, a traditional Catalan restaurant that serves an amazing sausage casserole. Open Friday to Wednesday all day. Closed on Thursdays. Address: Carrer del Secretari Salvador Simón, 2, 17172 Les Planes d’Hostoles. +34 972 44 80 12.

Also on the CHLG and EPIC routes is Amer. Fonda Giralt Restaurant is a welcoming establishment that serves typical Catalan food; lots of fish, seafood, snails, and grilled meat options. There are also vegetarian options like mushroom risotto. Open Wednesday to Monday all day. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Plaça de Sant Miquel, 5, 17170 Amer. +34 972 43 00 45.

Can CO – Absis Restaurant, also in Amer, is a little more expensive than Fonda Giralt Restaurant and serves a lovely lunch menu starting at €12 per person. Their desserts are rich and absolutely delicious. Open 11:00AM – 4:00PM every day. Address: Carrer de Borrell II, 17170 Amer. +34 972 42 20 63. https://www.absisrestaurant.com/index.php

For EPIC riders only in the tiny village of Osor, there is Can Sidro; a restaurant offering great homemade and locally sourced food. The Catalan beans with Iberian bacon is a specialty. Open all day every day. Address: Carrer Major, 3, 17161 Osor. +34 972 44 60 54.

Potentially a little late on the route for INT riders but could be a lifesaver if anyone missed out earlier on the CHLG and EPIC routes… La Masia de Mas LLunès in El Mas Llunés is a very remote restaurant with a friendly atmosphere. On the INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes. They serve traditional Catalan food: grilled meats, tapas, tempting homemade desserts and delicious sangria de cava. Open for lunches from Friday to Sunday. Closed Monday to Thursday. Address: Carrer de la Segarra, Parcela 272, 17162 El Mas Llunés. +34 972 42 10 20.

Points of Interest en Route

Sant Gregori is a pretty town on the outskirts of Girona, “a mosaic of bucolic landscapes from the agricultural plain to the mountain of Sant Grau”. Found on the EAS route, at 14.3km instead of turning right, continue straight and you will arrive in the town.Gorg_de_Can_Poeti

On the INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes you ride past ancient volcano sites, Volcà del Clot de l’Omera at 18.6 km and Puig de la Banya del Boc at 20.3 km.

At 21 km the INT, CHLG, and EPIC riders are treated to views of Cinglera de San Roque, a magnificent cliff face to the left.

Both the CHLG and EPIC rides pass through the town of Les Planes d’Hostoles.  Around this town are spectacular mountains and dense vegetation – which is characteristic of the humid Catalan climate. There are also gorges created by the river Brugent. One of these gorges is Gorg de Can Poeti.  To reach it, you turn right (and then right again) down a small track after crossing the Brugent River as you enter the town of Les Planes d’Hostoles. Note that you need to climb down wooden steps to actually reach the water.

Another spectacular pool is Gorg De Santa Margarida. As you exit Les Planes d’Hostoles on the C-63 you will see a pullout on your RHS. You can stop here and walk down (follow the walkers in their swimming costumes) to the waterfall with its small pool. A gorgeous stopping point to cool down and swim. Can be very busy in season but worth the visit.

On the EPIC route, riders tackle the delightfully technical climb up to Coll de Nafré (unmarked). On the way you pass the Susqueda Reservoir (completed 1968) which is a great place to stop and catch your breath. The reservoir can hold 233hm3 and covers the submerged villages of Susqueda and Querós.

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. All shops will close for a (long) lunch.

On the EAS route, there is a Novavenda supermarket in Bescanó, after the roundabout as you turn into town, approximately 18.5km. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00AM – 9:00PM. Closed on Sundays. Address: Passeig Sambola, 1, 17162 Bescanó.

On the INT route in Bonmatí, at approximately 32km, there is Queviures Bonmatí supermarket just off the route. Open Monday to Sunday from 8:30AM – 1:30PM and 5:00PM – 8:30PM. Closed on Sunday afternoons. Address: Plaça Don Manuel E-F, Bonmatí. +34 972 42 20 52.

On the CHLG and EPIC routes there are supermarkets in Les Planes d’Hostoles, Amer, and Anglès. In Les Planes d’Hostoles, at 37km turn right instead of left, there is a Can Cadet which is open Monday to Saturday from 9:00AM – 8:00PM. Address: Carrer Moragas I Barret, 10, 17172 Les Planes d’Hostoles. In Amer, at 45km, there is a Charter supermarket which is closed over lunch from 1:30PM – 5:00PM and on Sundays. Address: Avinguda Barcelona, 4, 17170 Amer. And in Anglès, at 52km on the CHLG route and 76km on the EPIC route, there are numerous supermarkets along the main street including Caprabo supermarket. It is open 9:00AM – 9:00PM but closed on Sundays. Address: Carrer de la Indústria, 62, 17160 Anglès. +34 932 61 60 60.


Xuixos

One star of the Catalan pastry firmament is the xuixo (doughnut): deep-fried, sugar-coated and filled with custard. It is assumed to have originated at the beginning of the 20th century from a cake of French origin – however Girona honors a legendary character known as el Tarlà, who entertained the citizens in a quarantine during an epidemic, with its creation.

A peek into the windows of the Girona patisseries is a reminder that even those with the sweetest tooth would have trouble polishing off everything they have to offer.

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Girona to Llafranc

Overview

The Intermediate ride begins with a famous climb up to Santuari dels Àngels complete with expansive views of Girona, the mountains and the coast. You then descend to La Bisbal D’Empordà – a vibrant medieval town with markets, museums, restaurants and beautiful pottery. It is also a great place for lunch. From here, you meander on quiet lanes through medieval villages and orchards to Llafranc.Llafranc

The Challenge route follows the Intermediate route to La Bisbal D’Empordà where it turns south and climbs the Coll de la Ganga: a smooth, winding forest road. A thrilling descent takes you to the popular beach town of Palamós from where you ride up the coast to Llafranc.

The Epic route follows the Intermediate route to Santuari dels Àngels after which it heads south to tackle two extended climbs. The first climb is up to Santa Pellaia and includes an 8% kicker at the end. The second climb is up to Romanyà de la Selva from where you descend to the beach town of Palamós and then up the coast to Llafranc.

The Leisure route begins with a transfer to Madremanya (shortly before Bisbal D’Empordà) from where you join the Intermediate route.

Route Options

Easiest Route

Your ride starts with a van transfer to the village of Madremanya.  Please let us know 24 hours in advance if you are taking this option so that we can coordinate your transfer with your luggage move.

Intermediate Route

Epic Route

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on the route you choose.  See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

For the EAS and INT routes, Peratallada is approximately halfway (more so on the EAS route) and has some great lunch options. Cala Nena is a very popular and stylish restaurant with a wide variety of seafood, local meats, pastas and vegetables. Open Thursday to Monday from 1:30PM – 3:30PM. Address: Plaça de les Voltes, 11, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 48 03.

Another option in Peratallada is Restaurant El Borinot, with great food and reasonable prices. The ravioli de pina is unusual but an excellent dessert. The background music may not suit everyone’s taste so outside seating maybe the better option. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Carrer del Form, 15, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 42 21.

Potentially a little too fancy for a cycling day (although there is a Michelin star recommendation further down) but too good not to recommend. L’Eixida Restaurant Gastronomic, also in Peratallada provides outstanding food, service, presentation and location. Open Friday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed Wednesday and Thursday. Address: Carrer del Form, 4, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 48 06. https://www.leixidarestaurant.com/

Candelaria in Peratallada is another sophisticated option. The Iberian Pork is highly recommended. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Carrer Major, 9, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 41 81. http://www.candelariaperatallada.com/

On the EAS and INT route, Sant Feliu de Boada has a couple of options in the village. Restaurant Can Dolç is popular and serves traditional Catalan food such as grilled meat and vegetables. The service is pleasant and friendly. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:45PM. Closed on Wednesday. Address: Plaça Esglèsia, s/n, 17256 Sant Feliu de Boada. +34 972 63 50 03. http://www.candolc.com/en

If you ride through on a Wednesday (or Restaurant Can Dolç is too busy) then Can Joan is another great option and welcomes cyclists. The menu includes vegetarian choices. Open Wednesday to Monday from 11:30AM – 4:00PM. Address: Carrer Vilademunt, 1, 17256 Sant Feliu de Boada. +34 972 63 43 13. http://canjoan.com/

EAS, INT, and CHLG riders have the option of lunch in La Bisbal d’Empordà. We recommend Restaurant Cafeteria L’Escut for a casual, unpretentious meal. Their Catalan escargots (small snails in rich sauce) are a local favorite. Open from 9:00AM every day. Address: Av. de les Voltes, 11, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. + 34 972 64 01 02.

Restaurant La Cantonada is a very popular Mediterranean restaurant adjacent to the river, off the main street. Great options for lunch including pesto pasta, and sausages with red peppers and goats cheese. Open every day from 10:00AM – 3:30PM. Address: Carrer del Bisbe, 6, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 34 13. http://lacantonada.cat/

El Teatret is slightly more formal restaurant with a very reasonably priced fixed-price menu. With servings such as rabbit, smoked sardines and delicious tiramisu. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 5:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Passeig Marimon Asprer, num. 5, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 44 09.

For a Michelin-starred experience there is Bo.Tic in Corça (a short detour from ALL routes). Understandably the food is exquisite; there is an extensive wine cellar, and excellent service. There is also a garden area for drinks after your lunch. They offer 3 menus; the “Little Menu” which is still 3 courses (€68 pp), the “Tasting Menu” (€99 pp) and the “Xef Menu” (€149 pp). Booking essential. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 10:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Avinguda Costa Brava, 6, 17121 Corçà. +34 972 63 08 69. https://www.bo-tic.com/

For CHLG riders there is a restaurant in El Mas Pere that can work if you don’t want to stop in La Bisbal d’Empordà. Restaurant Rio de Oro is approximately 42.5km on the route, with a short detour turning right over the bridge. The setting is lovely with a garden terrace and the food is flavorful and they serve vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Closed on Tuesday. Address: Carrer Olivera, 1, 17251 Calonge. +34 972 65 05 37. https://www.restauranteriodeoro.es/

For CHLG and EPIC riders, Can Ramon in Calonge serves high quality local food, with goats cheese salads, king prawns and large portions of ice-cream. Open every day from 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Address: Carrer de Balmes, 21, 17251 Calonge. +34 972 65 19 61.

Late on in the CHLG and EPIC rides there is Palamós, a busy, touristic seaside town. Olivia Trattoria is a stylish restaurant with traditional pasta and rice dishes and of course, local seafood. Open every day from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Address: Av. Onze de Setembre, 73, 17230 Palamós. https://www.oliviatrattoria.com/

La Terrassa dels Pescadors is also in Palamós and serves fresh, homecooked food from a lovely spot overlooking the bay. The seafood crepe may sound odd but it is delicious. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Av. Onze de Setembre, s/n, 17230 Palamós. +34 972 60 06 91.

In Cassà de la Selva (EPIC route only), Restaurant la Brasa Grillada is a great option. Their grilled mussels are a specialty alongside their dessert of rice and milk. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00AM – 4:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carretera Provincial, 97, 17244 Cassà de la Selva. +34 972 46 00 03. http://www.labrasagrillada.com/

Restaurant El Carril in Llagostera is a popular restaurant for cyclists. It is on the route for the EPIC riders. The menu is not extensive but what they do offer is high quality and a good price. Address: Passeig Romeu, 2, 17240 Llagostera. +34 972 83 01 41. http://www.hostalcarril.com/

Also in Llagostera is Ca L’Artau, primarily a steakhouse but one that also serves other exceptional traditional Catalan options. A beautiful location and large portions for a very reasonable price. Plus a lesson in Catalan thrown in for free! Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Ctra. Llagostera a Caldes, Km. 7, 17240 Llagostera. +34 972 83 05 38. http://calartau.com/

Last but not least is Restaurante Can Roquet at 70km on the EPIC route in Romanyà de la Selva. This is at the top of your last “bump” on the route; it’s all downhill from here. The food is presented beautifully and full of delicate flavors, the staff are superb, and the view from the terrace across the rolling hills is priceless. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 3:00PM. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Address: Plaça de l’Esglèsia, 17246 Romanyà de la Selva. +34 972 83 30 81. http://www.canroquet.com/

Points of Interest en Route

La_Bisbal_d'EmpordàThe INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes tackle the Els Àngels classic climb from Girona. The route was made famous by Lance Armstrong as locals say he loved it for a short high-intensity training ride. The gradients aren’t too intense and the road is quiet, with medieval villages, pretty woodland, and ancient churches.

At the top of the climb is the Santuari dels Àngels, which is the chapel where Salvador Dalí was married. There are panoramic views from the top of the steps by the church. There is also a café.

On ALL routes it is well worth detouring through Madremanya village to see the ancient architecture. The first mention of Madremanya as a village dates back to 994. At the other end of the scale, the road between Madremanya and Monells was constructed in 1966.

Monells is a small town that all routes pass through shortly after Madremanya. We highly recommend pausing to see the arcaded square.

La Bisbal d’Empordà is a town on the EAS, INT, and EPIC routes and features Carrer del Call (the main square), the 11th century castle-palace, the Baroque church of Santa Maria and a series of beautiful arcaded houses. It is absolutely chock full of antique centers and there is a street circus fair in July. It is famous for the quality of the clay and craftmanship traditions of its ceramics, making it a capital of the trade. There is no shortage of ceramic shops and workshops to explore.

The EAS and INT routes pass close to the village of Ullastret. The Iberian settlement of Puig de Sant Andreu de Ullastret is one-kilometer northeast of the main village.  This arhiological site has its origins in the 6th century BC and is the largest discovered in Catalonia. It was the capital of the Iberian tribe known as the Indigets and makes for a great visit. General admission is €5 per person. From both the EAS and INT routes, when you reach the town of Canapost, turn north on the GI-644 to Ullastret, approximately 4.5 km, and the museum is signposted from there. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00AM – 6:00 PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: MAC Ullastret, Suburbs s / n, Puig de Sant Andreu, 17114, Ullastret. +34 972 17 90 58. http://www.macullastret.cat/

On the CHLG and EPIC routes you pass Castell de Calonge, a magnificent medieval castle that has been integrated into the town. Both the castle gardens and walls are open to visitors. They often have free exhibits which allows visitors to view the inside too. Address: Plaça Major, 1, 17251 Calonge. +34 972 66 03 75.

The second climb for the CHLG riders is the climb up Santa Pellaia, a 5.9 km road with an average of 4% gradient. You can “race” the current Strava “King of the Mountains” with a time of 11 minutes 1 second.

Peratallada is a fortified medieval town has a fairytale air about it with cobbled squares, pale archways, and sandstone houses. There are handicraft and clothes shops dotted around the winding lanes, crumbling walls, and the 11th century castle: its magnificent keep being one of the largest in Catalonia.

Caldes de Malavella is a thermal town on the INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes. It is famous for its hot springs and the medicinal quality of the water that is brought to the town due to an ancient tectonic trench that had major faults and caused volcanic activity (23 million years ago). The Romans settled here because of their knowledge of the mineral-medicinal properties of thermal water and created thermal baths that are still in use today. The hot springs of this town reach 60ºC and the water was first bottled by the Pla and Deniel family in 1870. The most famous water from this town is Vichy Catalan (1891) water, and it is the norm in Catalonia to be served this when you ask for sparkling water, though some people find it more salty than more familiar sparkling waters.

The town has many spas and spa hotels offering a range of treatments. Two of the more exclusive are:  Prats Spa; located at Plaça Sant Esteve, 7, 17455 Caldes de Malavella. +34 972 47 00 51. https://www.balneariprats.com/  and Vichy Catalan Spa located at Av. Dr. Furest, 32, 17455 Caldes de Malavella. +34 972 47 00 00.

The Roman baths (Termes Romanes del Puig de Sant Grau) of Caldes de Malavella are open to the public and highly recommended to visit as you pass through the town. Address: Carrer de Pla i Deniel, s/n, 17455 Caldes de Malavella. On the INT route the baths are just off route at 18.2km. For riders on the CHLG and EPIC routes, go into the town at the roundabout at 17.4km and explore Caldes de Malavella and its baths.

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. Most shops will close for a (long) lunch.

There is a SPAR in La Bisbal d’Empordà (EAS, INT, and CHLG routes). Open every day from 8:30AM – 3:00PM and 5:30PM – 9:00PM (closes at 2:00PM on Sundays). Address: Av. de les Voltes, 10, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 09 86.

There is a Caprabo in Cassà de la Selva (EPIC route only). Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00AM – 9:00PM. Closed on Sundays. Address: Carrer Fraternitat, s/n, 17244 Cassà de la Selva. +34 932 61 60 60.

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Llafranc Loops

Overview

Today’s Leisure loop heads inland to Palafrugell followed by Aigua Blava on the coast. Then follow a twisting road that runs parallel to the stunning coast to the old fishing village of Tamariu. This is also a good place for lunch with several beachfront restaurants clustered around a small cove. After lunch, you continue down the coast back into Llafranc.Llafranc

The Intermediate route heads further inland before exploring the coast south of Llafranc. This route takes in the pleasant town of La Bisbal D’Empordà before striking out east across stunning countryside and over the Coll de la Ganga before descending to the seaside town of Palamós. From Palamós, you take an inland ride, on country lanes, back to Llafranc.

The Challenge ride is similar to the Intermediate ride but adds on a northern loop up to the ancient villages of Bellcaire and La Tallada complete with churches, castles, and ancient towers.

The Epic ride follows the Challenge ride but pushes even further north to Sant Martí d’Empúries: a well-preserved medieval town on the coast. You will also pass both Greek and Roman ruins.

Route Options

Easiest Route

Intermediate Route

Challenge Route
Epic Route

Lunch

Where you lunch will depend largely on the route you choose. See the route summaries above for the best towns for lunch on each route option.

LlafrancThe first option for lunch for riders on the EAS route is at 12.5km. Platja Cala Aiguablava is a beach cove with a couple of restaurants. Both Toc al Mar and Mar i Vent Restaurant & Beach Club offer similar menus. Fresh seafood, great setting. Both are open all day every day from March to November. Address: Playa de Aiguablava, 17255 Begur.

Tamariu is the highlight of the EAS route. For lunch we recommend El Palangui for the standard (exceptional) fresh seafood. The food is excellent and the setting idyllic. During busy periods the service can be slow. Open all day, every day in season. Address: Passeig del Mar, 19, 17212 Tamariu. +34 972 62 00 44.

Another option in Tamariu is Es Dofi, further around the cove. Probably slightly more expensive than El Palangui but the service is better. Open from 9:30AM every day in season. Address: Passeig del Mar, 22, 17212 Tamariu. +34 972 62 00 43.

Tamariu also has supermarkets (see below) in case you fancy buying a picnic and eating on the beach.

INT, CHLG, and EPIC riders have the option of lunch in La Bisbal d’Empordà. We recommend Restaurant Cafeteria L’Escut for a casual, unpretentious meal. Their Catalan escargots (small snails in rich sauce) are a local favorite. Open from 9:00AM every day. Address: Av. de les Voltes, 11, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. + 34 972 64 01 02.

Restaurant La Cantonada is a very popular Mediterranean restaurant adjacent to the river, off the main street. Tasty options for lunch include pesto pasta, sausages with red peppers, and goats cheese. Open every day from 10:00AM – 3:30PM. Address: Carrer del Bisbe, 6, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 34 13. http://lacantonada.cat/

El Teatret is slightly more formal restaurant with a very reasonably priced fixed-price menu. Servings include rabbit, smoked sardines, and delicious tiramisu. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 5:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Passeig Marimon Asprer, num. 5, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 44 09.

For INT, CHLG, and EPIC riders there is a restaurant in El Mas Pere called Restaurant Rio de Oro. It is approximately 40 km on the route, with a short detour turning right over the bridge. The setting is lovely with a garden terrace and the food is flavorful and they serve vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Closed on Tuesday. Address: Carrer Olivera, 1, 17251 Calonge. +34 972 65 05 37.

Early on in the EPIC route, after the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya – Empúries, there is a seaside town, Sant Martí d’Empúries where we highly recommend you stop for a coffee or lunch. L’esculapi Restaurant-Pizzeria offer pizza and pasta and their tapas is a wonderful starter. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00AM and Monday to Tuesday from 1:00PM. Address: Plaça Major, 1, 17130 Sant Martí d’Empúries. +34 972 77 00 53. https://www.lesculapi.com

A little further on the EPIC route is Sant Pere Pescador. This may be too early on for many riders on this long ride but is a possibility depending on their start time. Pizzeria Eric is another great pizza place. Their menu says 40cm pizzas although we guess they were closer to 50cm! Their pasta is homemade and delicious. Only open for lunch Friday – Sunday from 12:00PM – 3:00PM. Address: Carrer Major, 16, 17470 Sant Pere Pescador. +34 972 52 08 89.

INT, CHLG, and EPIC riders also have the option of lunch in Palamós, a busy, touristic seaside town. Olivia Trattoria is a stylish restaurant with traditional pasta and rice dishes and of course, local seafood. Open every day from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Address: Av. Onze de Setembre, 73, 17230 Palamós. https://www.oliviatrattoria.com/

La Terrassa dels Pescadors is also in Palamós and serves fresh, homecooked food from a lovely spot overlooking the bay. The seafood crepe may sound odd but it is delicious. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Av. Onze de Setembre, s/n, 17230 Palamós. +34 972 60 06 91.

On the CHLG and EPIC routes you ride through Torroella de Montgrí. As it’s quite early on in both routes we recommend this town for a coffee stop rather than lunch.

Forn Marull is a popular luxury bakery on the CHLG and EPIC routes in Parlavà selling light bites and delicious sweet treats. Open from 7:00AM every day. Address: 17133 Parlavà. +34 972 76 90 17. http://www.fornmarull.cat/

Restaurant Iberic is in Ullastret on the CHLG and EPIC routes. A great spot in this beautiful, ancient walled town. The food is local with a focus on providing great flavors. Service is friendly and efficient. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:00PM – 4:00PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: Carrer Valls, 11, 17114 Ullastret. +34 972 75 71 08. https://restaurantiberic.com/en/

INT, CHLG, and EPIC riders go through Peratallada which has some great lunch options. Cala Nena is a very popular and stylish restaurant with a wide variety of seafood, local meats, pastas and vegetables. Open Thursday to Monday from 1:30PM – 3:30PM. Address: Plaça de les Voltes, 11, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 48 03.

Another option in Peratallada is Restaurant El Borinot, with good food and reasonable prices. The ravioli de pina is unusual but an excellent dessert. The background music may not suit everyone’s taste so outside seating maybe the better option. Open Wednesday to Monday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Address: Carrer del Form, 15, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 42 21.

Potentially a little too fancy for a cycling day but too good not to recommend. L’Eixida Restaurant Gastronomic, also in Peratallada provides outstanding food, service, presentation and location. Open Friday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed Wednesday and Thursday. Address: Carrer del Form, 4, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 48 06. https://www.leixidarestaurant.com/

Candelaria in Peratallada is another sophisticated option. The Iberian Pork is highly recommended. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays. Address: Carrer Major, 9, 17113 Peratallada. +34 972 63 41 81. http://www.candelariaperatallada.com/

Points of Interest en Route

Tamariu is the third seaside town belonging to the Palafrugell municipality (the other two are Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc, your overnight towns). Tiny, quiet Tamariu has been described as one of the best beaches on the Costa Brava. It is horseshoe shaped and embraced by pine-clad headlands. If your tour is in the middle of August, you may be treated to the main Festival of Tamariu (August 15th), which includes the traditional watermelon launching, Habaneras singing, a foam party and a clown who performs for children. Tamariu is on the EAS route only. Tamariu

Visible from miles all around, Montgrí Castle is a magnificent, unfinished castle built by James II of Aragon between 1294 and 1302 to control the movements of the Counts of Empúries. Only the 13m high, external walls were built with the four cylindrical towers that encircle it, joined at the four corners. A recently added spiral staircase means that visitors can now reach the top of the walls and towers that provide an impressive panoramic view of the Empordà coast. Open all day, every day. Free entry. Address: 17257 Torroella de Montgrí, Girona.

All three of the inland loops visit the village of La Bisbal D’Empordà. La Bisbal D’Empordà is one of several medieval in the El Baix Empordà area.  La Bisbal d’Empordà features Carrer del Call (the main square), the 11th century castle-palace, the Baroque church of Santa Maria and a series of arcaded houses. It is absolutely chock full of antique centers and there is a street circus fair in July. It is famous for the quality of the clay and craftmanship traditions of its ceramics, making it a capital of the trade. There is no shortage of ceramic shops and workshops to explore.

These loops also pass through Peratallada, it is a fortified medieval town that has a fairytale air about it with cobbled squares, pale archways, and sandstone houses. There are handicraft and clothes shops dotted around the winding lanes, crumbling walls, and the 11th century castle: its magnificent keep being one of the largest in Catalonia.

On the CHLG and EPIC routes pass close to the village of Ullastret. The Iberian settlement of Puig de Sant Andreu de Ullastret is one-kilometer northeast of the main village.  This archeological site has its origins in the 6th century BC and is the largest discovered in Catalonia. It was the capital of the Iberian tribe known as the Indigets and makes for a great visit. General admission is €5 per person. From both the EAS and INT routes, when you reach the town of Canapost, turn north on the GI-644 to Ullastret, approximately 4.5 km, and the museum is signposted from there. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00AM – 6:00 PM. Closed on Mondays. Address: MAC Ullastret, Suburbs s / n, Puig de Sant Andreu, 17114, Ullastret. +34 972 17 90 58. http://www.macullastret.cat/. (This site also featured on yesterday’s EAS and INT rides.)

On the INT, CHLG and EPIC routes you pass Castell de Calonge, a magnificent medieval castle that has been integrated into the town. Both the castle gardens and walls are open to visitors. They often have free exhibits which allows visitors to view the inside too. Address: Plaça Major, 1, 17251 Calonge. +34 972 66 03 75.

Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya – Empúries is on the EPIC route around 39.3 km. This ancient Emporion became the Mediterranean entryway to the Iberian Peninsula for the Greek and Roman civilizations. Empúries is actually the only archeological site on the Iberian Peninsula where the remains of a Greek city – the colonial enclave of Empórion – coexist with the remains of a Roman city – the ancient Emporiae, created in the 1stcentury BC and on the structures of a Roman military camp installed during the previous century. General admission is €6 per person. Open every day from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Address: C/ Puig i Cadafalch, s/n, 17130 L’Escala. +34 972 77 02 08. http://www.macempuries.cat/ca

Stores

There is usually a supermarket in each town although the smaller the town the smaller the store and less reliable the opening hours. All shops will close for a (long) lunch.

There is a SPAR supermarket in Tamariu. Open 9:00AM – 9:00PM every day in season (closes at 2:00PM on Sundays). Address: Carrer del Foraió, 26, 17212 Tamariu. +34 972 62 03 63.

There is a SPAR in La Bisbal d’Empordà (INT, CHLG, and EPIC routes). Open every day from 8:30AM – 3:00PM and 5:30PM – 9:00PM (closes at 2:00PM on Sundays). Address: Av. de les Voltes, 10, 17100 La Bisbal d’Empordà. +34 972 64 09 86.

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Safety and Enjoyment

Your safety is our first priority and should be yours, too! Here, we share some ideas on helping you get the most from your cycling tour – safely and while having fun.

Riding Safely

We have a few simple rules we ask you to follow:

    1. Always wear a cycle helmet fastened securely while cycling.
    2. Do not ride at night or in the dim light of dawn or dusk.
    3. Ride in single file and with the direction of traffic.
    4. Carry identification, details of your medical/travel insurance and emergency contact details.
    5. Sign an accident waiver indicating you are fit to ride and understand the risks.
    6. All cyclists under 16 years of age:
      • Must wear a florescent safety triangle or high visibility clothing.
      • Need to be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21 who is responsible for their safety at all times while cycling.

Daily Bike Checks

Your rental bikes are checked and tuned before every trip.  However, it is useful to do some regular checks just to keep things running smoothly. These checks should take less than five minutes to do.  Of course, if you’re in any doubt or have any concerns, give us a call and we’ll have a guide come out to you.  If they can’t fix a problem they’ll arrange for a new bike.

Brakes: 

  • Do both brake levers engage the brakes smoothly?  This test is best performed first on a stationary bike and then on a moving bike.
  • Are the shoes spaced evenly on either side of the wheel and the brake blocks close to but not rubbing on the wheel rims?
  • Are cables OK – not frayed – and under tension?

Handlebars & stem:

  • Check alignment – does the wheel point forward when the handlebars point forward?
  • Holding front wheel between legs check for lateral movement when flexing/twisting handlebars.
  • With front brake engaged, move bike back and forth to check for any rocking.  If there is movement, the headset may need tightening.

Gear changing.  This check is easily done as you set out at the start of your ride:

  • Check all front gears engage/change smoothly
  • Check all rear gears engage/change smoothly
  • Are cables OK – not frayed?

Chain:

  • If you’ve been riding in rain or on wet roads, you may want to wipe off your chain and apply a little lube the night before.  In the morning, run a clean rag over the chain to remove any excess oil.
  • But don’t overdo it; an over-oiled chain just attracts dirt.

Wheels & tires:

  • Inflate front & back tires to recommended tire pressure which should be written on the side.
  • Check front & rear wheels spin smoothly with little friction or noise and are true (no wobbles).
  • Check there are no loose or broken spokes in either wheel.
  • Check tires including sidewalls for cuts or other damage.
  • Check tires for any foreign bodies embedded in the tires and remove / replace tires as needed.
  • Are the quick-release mechanisms secure, correctly engaged and pointing backwards?

Frame:

  • Check for cracks and alignment in the frame, the headset & the handlebars – especially if you accidentally dropped the bike.
  • Pay extra attention and feel for problems in carbon forks and carbon rear stays where fitted.
  • General check for any loose parts.

Riding Safely

Here are our favorite top tips to help you have a safe trip.

  1. Ride predictably in smooth lines and avoid weaving or wobbling. When you stop – for example to check your map – we recommend that you move off the road. The more people there are in your group, the more important this becomes.
  2. Stay alert, be aware and anticipate; anticipate what other vehicles will do, anticipate what gear you will need to be in after you stop and anticipate the approaching road surface – do you need to avoid gravel, potholes or broken glass? Should you dismount to cross railroad tracks?  [FACT: 50% of urban accidents happen solo.  That is, people just fall off of their own accord.  A little anticipation would work wonders here.]
  3. Be as visible as you can be. Our fluorescent triangles are available to all guests and we recommend that riders of all standards wear them.  [When riding with our florescent triangles, we have noticed that cars give us a noticeably wider berth as they pass by.]
  4. Choose a safe riding position on the road. Stay as close as is safe to the right-hand side of the road as possible but do not be cowed into a dangerous riding position.  For example, avoid riding on grit, or dangerously broken pavement or where you are at risk of being hit by an opening car door.
  5. Obey the law. Drivers will give cyclist more respect, and you are far safer, if you obey all the traffic laws – including stopping at stop signs, riding on the right-hand side of the road and not riding under the influence of alcohol.  [FACT: 10% of ‘cyclist at fault’ accidents are caused by cyclist using the wrong side of the road.]
  6. Ride assertively but defensively. At intersections, make eye contact with drivers.  Assertive riding is easier for drivers to predict, but cars are bigger and harder than we are, so we always try to avoid getting into confrontations with them.  [FACT: 63% of cyclist collisions occur at intersections.  The most common cause of accidents, where the driver is at fault, is the driver’s failure to yield the right of way.]
  7. Check out your bike and make sure you are confident that it is roadworthy. Everyday check brakes, tires, quick release mechanisms, pedals and headsets.  Everything should fit snuggly and move smoothly.  Whether you are riding your own or a rented bike, the roadworthiness of that bike is your responsibility.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Cyclists

[Apologies to Stephen Covey]

As well as having a safe tour, we are keen for you to enjoy cycling and achieve a real sense of accomplishment.  This is likely to include riding within your limits and not exhausting yourself before lunch.  Here are some thoughts on how to stay happy on your bike.

  1. Eat before you are hungry. Even moderate cycling burns around 300 calories per hour so eat plenty of snacks such as power bars or trail mix.  We need to eat in enough time to allow our bodies to process the food and get the fuel to our legs before the fuel gauge reaches on empty.  Recovering from a fuel deficit is very difficult and will leave you tired for the rest of the day.  So, indulge yourself.  [Everybody’s metabolism is different, but when riding extended distances, it is typical to need to eat something every 45 minutes.  A nice big bowl of pasta the night before and a carbohydrate rich breakfast in the morning also help.]
  2. Drink before you are thirsty. It can get very hot on the bike in this area.  As you sweat, you will lose both water and essential salts.  You will not notice the effects until it is too late.  Drink plenty of water before you start to ride and then take regular sips en route.  [A good target is to drink either water or a sports drink at least every 30 minutes.]
  3. Ride at a pace that feels comfortable. Even when climbing hills, it is good practice to be able to keep a conversation going without being out of breath.  This means changing down to a low gear, keeping your cadence high and taking things easy.  If you are a slow rider riding with fitter friends, have them ride at your pace rather than you struggling to keep up with them.  This will also help them avoid sore legs the next day.
  4. The sun can get very intense, especially in the middle of the day so keep your shirt on and use a high factor sunscreen. [Watch for being burned through the gaps in your cycle helmet.  Many of the best helmets have extra wide gaps for better ventilation.  A bandana under the helmet can make all the difference.]
  5. Relax and change your hand position regularly. This helps avoid shoulder cricks or back aches.  Drop handlebars are better for being able to do this than straight handlebars.
  6. Check your bike. A sticking brake or skipping gear stops you relaxing and can be dangerous.  If you are unsure, talk to your guide, who will be happy to help you check things out if you have a concern.
  7. Smile, you are on vacation!

Seat Height Adjustment

Seat height adjustment is more craft than science.  The most important thing is that you feel safe and confident on the bike.  However, getting your saddle to the right height will also help you stay comfortable on longer rides, avoid saddle sores and conserve your energy while you pedal.

Bike fitters can spend hours getting your fit just right, but here are some simple rules of thumb.

  1. Stand and hold or prop yourself up against a wall.
  2. Position the pedals so the pedal cranks are vertical (one pedals at 12 o’clock and one pedal at 6 o’clock).
  3. Get on your bike and place your feet on the pedals. Move your foot so that your heel is on the pedal at 6 o’clock.
  4. When your seat is at the correct height, your leg (of the foot at 6 o’clock) should be straight but your knee shouldn’t be locked (technically, there should be a 25-30-degree flexion in the knee when the pedal is at the bottom most point).

If your seat is too low, it will make it harder to pedal and you may get knee pain at the front of the knee.  Too high and your hips will go from side to side which will make you tend to ride in too high a gear and you may develop pain at the back of your knees.

Saddle Sores

Saddle sores are the great unmentioned subject of cycling.  However, if you have not been riding much recently and start doing a lot of miles on a bike, you may well become just a little too familiar with this phenomenon.

To prevent sores, it’s helpful to know what they are.  Definition: A saddle sore is a skin ailment on the buttocks due to, or exacerbated by, riding on a bicycle saddle.  It often develops in three stages: skin abrasion, folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles) and, finally, abscess.  If it’s not obvious from the definition, it is better to stop the sores in the early stages than try and treat it in the final stage.

The best cure of all is to not get them in the first place.  The best way not to get them is to gradually build up your riding mileage and get used to your bike seat.  Doing rides before you come on the trip will help with this.  Other good preventative measures include:

  • Reducing the friction due to bobbing or swinging motion while pedaling, by setting the appropriate saddle height – see above.
  • If you have a favorite saddle, bring it along and we’ll fit it to your rental bike.
  • Wearing good cycling shorts, with a high-quality chamois insert.
  • Use petroleum jelly, chamois cream or lubricating gel on the chamois to further reduce friction.
  • Do not sit around in damp bike shorts after your ride and thoroughly wash and dry the affected area.
  • A friend who guides extreme mountain biking trips in the Colorado Rockies swears by putting hemorrhoid cream on the affected area. If all else fails, it’s worth a try!

There are pharmacies in all the main towns you’ll stay in if you need medical treatment.  Our primary message would be, if you think you have them, don’t ignore them.

Fixing a Flat

Of course, we hope you won’t ever need this skill – but just in case here is a checklist for fixing a flat – or repairing a puncture in your tyre as the English would say!  If it seems as though there are a lot of steps, you may be reassured by the fact we have seen all these steps completed in just over a minute

Remove the wheel. Sounds simple, but a couple of hints might make this easier.

  • If it’s the rear wheel, first put the chain on the smallest cog. This makes it easier to remove and replace the wheel.
  • Undo the quick release.
  • If it’s the front wheel, you will need to unscrew the quick release a little to get it over the lips on the fork – they’re known as lawyers’ lips!
  • You may have to loosen the brakes a little to get the tire past the brake blocks if there is still some air in the tires. On hybrid bikes this usually means squeezing the brake calipers together and unhitching the cable.  On road bikes there is usually a release mechanism on the caliper itself (or on the brake lever).
  • For the back wheel, you may need to ease back the derailleur a little before the wheel just drops out under gravity.

Let the air out of the tire.

  • For Presta valves, loosen the small nut at the top of the valve and press down.
  • For Schrader valves (like the valves on car tires) press the tip of a tool or stick onto the valve tip.

Before doing anything else, spin the wheel to see if you can find out what caused the flat. If you find it, either remove it now or mark it so you can remove it when you remove the tire.

If you’re very lucky, you’ll now be able to ease the tire off the rim with your bare hands. But to do this you may well need bear’s hands. Alternatively, you’ll need to use tire levers (irons):

  1. Insert the curved end of two tire levers under the edge of the tire about two spokes apart.
  2. Lever back the first tire lever to take the tire off the rim being careful not to pinch the inner tube and so add an extra hole to patch! Hook the free end of the lever around a spoke.  This leaves your hands free to lever back the second tire lever.
  3. Keeping the hooked lever stationary work the other lever around the tire until one side of the tire is completely removed from the rim but leaving the other side still seated on the rim. If a tire is very tight, you may need to engage a third lever.  When the third is in place, the middle one can be removed and re-inserted farther over.
  4. Remove the valve stem of the inner tube first then pull the rest of the inner tube from the tire. Try to keep the inner tube oriented with the tire so that when you find the hole you can navigate back to the same point in the tire and double check that what caused the flat isn’t still embedded.
  5. Look over the external and inside of the tire for damage and embedded debris. Remove any objects.  Then run your finger around the inside of the tire (carefully!) to detect any glass or thorns.  As a final check, inflate the tube and locate the puncture hole.  Check the tire at the corresponding place to ensure the offending object has been removed.  If you skip this step or are just a bit sloppy you may have another flat five minutes after getting back on your bike!
  6. Hopefully, you have a spare tube that your nice tour company gave you at the start of your ride. If not you’ll need to repair the hole in the old tube using a patch kit.
  7. Place some air in the new (or repaired) tube – just enough to give it some shape. Insert the valve stem on the tube into the valve hole in the wheel and then ease the rest of the tube into the tire.  Then ease the tire wall so the tube is sitting in line with the wheel not hanging outside of the wheel.

Now the tricky part.  Starting at the valve, work the tire back onto the rim using your thumbs or the muscle in the palm just under the thumb (actually the abductor pollicis brevis though knowing this won’t help you get the tire back on).  If the last section is hard to get on, try these things:

  • Ensure that the tire that is inside of the wheel is sitting well into the rim.
  • Hold the wheel horizontally against your stomach with the section of wheel without the tire on furthest away from you. Then use your abductor pollicis brevises to roll the tire onto the rim.
  • If none of this helps, use tire levers to work the bead onto the rim. However, if you resort to this there is a real risk of pinching the inner tube and creating another hole and being back to Step 4 above!

Inflate the tire.

As you inflate ensure that the tire is sitting evenly in the wheel.  If not, let out a little wire and reseat the tire in the rim.

When inflated, spin the wheel to ensure there are no bulges or wobbles. If there are, deflate the tire, reseat the tire on the rim and re-inflate.

Replace the wheel. (This is pretty much the reverse of Step 1.)

  • If you didn’t need to loosen the brakes to get the deflated wheel off, you may find you need to do it now to get it back on. A tap with the palm of your hand can also do the trick to ease the tire past the brake blocks.  DON’T FORGET TO RETIGHTEN THE BRAKES BEFORE HEADING OFF!
  • If it’s the front wheel, you will need to retighten the quick release a little after getting it over the fork lips before reengaging the quick release. The pressure needed to close the quick release should be enough to leave a small mark on the palm of your hand but not so much you need to apply all your strength and all the strength of your cycling partner to close it.
  • For the back wheel, you may need to ease back the derailleur a little before the wheel drops into place.

My Customized Itinerary

If you’ve made it this far, there’s likely an Oregon cycling trip in your future. We’d love to create the perfect custom itinerary for you! Please submit your request below for a no-obligation personalized cycling vacation to be created for you.

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