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10 must climbs in the Costa Brava-Pirineu de Girona
Did you know that Girona is great to cycle, right? Well, we will always say it again.
It is a truly privilege to cycle around Girona. From routes that run through the Costa Brava or through the peaks of the Pyrenees of Girona, wherever you go there are landscapes worthy of admiration and a cycling community wherever you go.
So, if you fancy to visit the Catalan province by bike, here are the 10 climbs not to be missed.
Here are the 10 top cycling climbs on the Costa Brava-Pirineu de Girona …
This climb, located near Banyoles, must have something special because it has become one of the most frequented by cyclists. In fact, it became so popular that they set up a food truck near the top so that no one could run out of a good coffee to enjoy the Rocacorba.
A simple curiosity: on this ascent you can often meet Jan Frodeno, triple IRONMAN world champion, since it is part of his traditional training course, and INEOS cyclists like Rohan Dennis or Cameron Wurf.
Rocacorba takes the name of the Sanctuary, located just before reaching the top, a 12th century construction that still retains its essence. Starting from Banyoles, 13.3 km with a positive slope of 798 m, average slopes of 6%, max 15% and of which the hardest km (8 and 12 respectively) will lead us to average slopes of 10.3%.
Located 20 km north of the capital Girona (part of its success is nearby), this pass has the advantage of a quite calm first kilometer, with few bumps in the first 3 km and where things get serious from the seventh kilometer, from Collet de Pujarnol. In fact, most pros think that the ascent does not start in Banyoles, but from km 2.9, at the crossing of the bridge over El Matamors.
One of the points that cyclists arriving on this section enjoy the most is the detailed signage at each km, indicating which km, the elevation, the average slope and the km remaining to the summit.
The road is narrow and as we get closer to the last few miles there are a few spots with cracked asphalt but little traffic.
As we approach the last kilometers, we can see the Pyrenees in the distance on our right, a picturesque pattern that will give us enough courage to succeed Rocacorba.
Cyclings “beasts” make this climb in less than 30 minutes, but such ambitious goals are not necessary: reaching the top in good conditions is enough.
Once at the top, take your time to enjoy the breathtaking 360º views.
Sant Pere de Rodes
The climb to Sant Pere de Rodes hides at its summit one of the most emblematic Benedictine and Romanesque monasteries of the Alto Empordá. Once at the summit, this architectural treasure really deserves a stop.
Located in the municipal area of Port de la Selva, its monastery boasts an extraordinary view of the Cap de Creus Natural Park.
It is not a particularly difficult climb a priori, but the altimetry of Sant Pere de Rodes can be misleading. 8.8 km with a positive slope of 512 m and an average 5.5%. It is in this last data that lies the question: although the whole climb is quite easy, the first km are averages that always exceed 7% with no stop before reaching km 6, where you can enjoy the last 3 km in a much more relaxed way.
Its proximity to the Costa Brava is likely to invite you to take a dip on the way down to the coast on a summer day.
Once at the top you will find the picturesque hermitage of Sant Grau, in whose bar, by the way, you can have a coffee stop (and you will certainly do so as soon as you see the bike that is perched on the façade of the inner courtyard).
If you make the ascent from the inside slope, be careful on the descent: it has a series of 180-degree curves that will make you hit the brakes hard. The views are beautiful, yes, but you’ll better keep your eyes on the tarmac.
Mare de Déu del Mont
Talking about Mare de Déu del Mont is talking in broader terms. An ascent with very technical sections not suitable for everyone. Starting from Hostal d’en Vilar, more than 18 km with a positive slope of 957 m, with an average gradient of 5%.
The most powerful part of the climb is from the ninth kilometer, because until then the average ascent does not exceed 3.5% at any kilometer. Thus, the first kilometers make this climb ideal to warm up for the complicated section.
Between km 8 and 14, you will have to face one of the most difficult sections of the climb, with kilometers that will average around 8%.
After this part, there are two kilometers of relative calm before reaching the highest point at km 16, with average slopes between 8.9 and 9.6%. Once at the top it is time to spend a few minutes to take a deep breath, breath we lost during the last part of the climb. And then, experience the breathtaking views at the top. You can also have a well-deserved coffee at the bar of the Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu del Mont. Have you already been told we have a route that gets you there?
Turó de L'home
If you are one of those who like to alternate ascents and descents to climb a pass, the ascent of Turó de l’Home can be a great option. In addition, it is rather an essential option! You cannot go to Girona without climbing the Turo de l’Home!
From Arbúcies, 25.6 km with a positive slope of 1495 m and an average 5.9% and with maximum gradients of 15%.
The hardness of this climb is mainly concentrated in the last 6 kilometers, with a descent of around 500-600 m which serves as a prelude to the end of the stage.
From this point we will face kilometers with average slopes that will only descend below 7% from km 25. The tricky part of the ascent is not only the difficult slopes that we have to face, but also the road conditions in some sections, with a lot of gravel in some places and the weird little pothole that can suddenly make us think we are on a Gravel or MTB route rather than a road bike route.
However, the scenery that surrounds us until we reach the Turó is worth appreciating.
Vallter 2000 is probably the most emblematic mountain pass of the Girona Pyrenees, with the characteristic imprint of the horseshoe curves of the last kilometers. An impact that is not for everyone, but that if you challenge this pass, you will appreciate like a child when you reach its peak.
Its altimetry, from Setcases, is 12.2 km with an average 12% and more than 1,100 of positive slope. We warn you in advance: from the start to the end of the climb you will hardly find a break, so be mentally prepared in the kilometers before the ascent. We’re talking about the kilometer with the lowest average grade of 6.3%, which means you’ll never stop climbing. Go slowly but surely.
When we reach the top we’ll be over 2,100 meters above sea level, so if you’re going to climb Vallter 2000 in the colder months you should be well equipped.
The road, although narrow, is in fairly good condition and presents from start to finish a landscape worthy of attention, especially if you find it snowy.
Do you dare to face this colossus?
Coll de la Creueta
Deep in the Pyrenees of Girona, we find the Coll de la Creueta, an ascent which, although it cannot be considered particularly demanding, its summit is over 1,900 m above sea level.
From the Alp slope, 20.7 km with an average of 3.7% and a positive slope of 20.7 km. An altimetry in which we can see climbs and descents to the top, with max ramps of 11% to the top. If Vallter 2.000 was an ascent reserved for the most experienced, the Coll de la Creueta is ideal for those who want to climb without suffering too much.
Sant Martí Sacalm
If you like short and intense climbs, Sant Martí Sacalm is a good option, located in Girona but close to the Osona region.
About 9 km with 644 m of elevation gain and an average slope of 7%, with no kilometer less than 6.3%. Although the max slope is 12%, the most demanding point of Sant Martí Sacalm is that there are almost no breaks until you reach the top.
Although Coll de Bracons is located in the Osona region, we can climb from Can Trona, in Vall d’en Bas (Girona).
Among the cyclists of the region, it is a very recognized and appreciated climb, because it is part of one of the most important cycle touring of the Catalan calendar: Terra de Remences.
Its altimetry does not deceive: a hard and intense climb of 8.4 km with an average gradient of 7.8% (a small thing, isn’t it?). The gradient gets progressively steeper as each kilometre passes, going from an average of 3.5% in the first kilometre to an unbearable 10.4% from the seventh kilometre onwards. This, together with max ramps of 18%, puts your physique to the test.
The hairpin bends and the weekend atmosphere will make you feel like a prof cyclist. And if you climb during the event of the aforementioned Terra de Remences, with the whole crowd lining the banks cheering you on, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the queen stage of the Tour de France.
The puerto de Santa Pellaia is perfect if you are staying near the capital of Girona. It is located only 12 miles from the city center and is not very demanding, perfect for low intensity training.
From Cassà de la Selva, 6.2 km with a positive slope of 208 m at 3.3%. The max ramps are 5.8% so getting to the top is pretty easy. At the top we will find the Church of Santa Pellaia, dating from the 11th century. Although it is not at a great height, the views are quite nice and the scenery with the surrounding trees will make us feel protected. In addition, we will not find excessive vehicle traffic.
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