With so many places to choose for our next HotChillee CC training camp, where do you start? Whilst the lure of Mallorca has been there for so many years, we wanted to look further afield. On our list we had islands such as Corsica, Sardinia and Tenerife.
Then Girona was suggested. It’s almost like it was a trade secret, let out of the bag by those who know and aren’t we glad the secrets out?! It’s an amazing place.
Early June this year, we ventured over, via Barcelona, which is about a 1hr 20min transfer. Alternatively, you can also fly direct to Girona airport currently from Stanstead with Ryanair, giving you a simple 20-minute taxi into town.
On the first day we explored the coast of Costa Brava. Famous back in the 70s and 80s as a holiday destination for the Brits, Lloret Del Mar was our base for the beginning of our trip and whilst the town itself has, on first appearance, little obvious appeal; the hotels are excellent and enable you to sample what is an incredible coastline of gorgeous bays, stunning landscapes and quiet roads.
Within 10 minutes of leaving the town, you are into the first climb of the day, hugging the coast before turning inland, towards Llagostera, where the gravel route into The Pyrenees begins (but that’s for another adventure I think Sven!)
From here begins the focus of todays ride, the climb up Sant Grau. At around 9km with an average of 6% it’s not too painful and approaching from this side, the route delivers a beautiful descent down to the coast, with glorious views over the Mediterranean. Once the descent has been soaked up, it’s a stunning ride along the coast, capturing so many views down to the beaches. It’s very hard to keep a good pace as we keep stopping for photo opportunities.
The Lloret tourism team were brilliant and we have amassed a considerable road book from them, providing differing routes for the coast and mainland, each detailing difficulty, distances and GPX files we can provide to our members.
Day 2 we took a short trip (of around 30 minutes) moving our base to the heart of Girona. With around 15 hotels all geared up for cycling, including secure basement cycle parking we were spoilt for choice. Girona has a really great atmosphere, with everything you could need. A commercial area for great shopping and just over the river Onyar, the historic old quarter, made famous by a number of episodes of Game Of Thrones.
For most, the medieval architecture is the main draw, along with the stunning world class restaurants. We spent a fair bit of time soaking up the culture in Independence Square and just wandering around discovering new places.
On Sunday we rode the Sea Otter Classic with the region tourism team; a 125km sportive up into the hills surrounding Girona. Of special interest was the route out towards the volcanic area of Garrotxa, with some beautiful quiet and scenic roads.
Our last day we moved again to Banyoles, a short trip north of Girona, enabling us to climb the infamous Rocacorba. Said to be David Millar’s favorite climb and used by many of the pro riders who live in the region, it’s a very challenging ascent, deceiving on paper as it suggests it’s much easier than the reality. Once at the top, the view seems to take away all the pain in your legs and you are then treated to a swift decent back towards the beautiful Banyoles lake, used as a training base by many triathletes and rowing teams worldwide.
The HCCC training camp will take place 5-8 April 2019 and will be open to both 2018/ 2019 members. Current HCCC members, check your inbox for more information. If you can’t find your Training Camp invite email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not a member of HCCC and would like to find out how you can join, click here.
Thanks to the Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona, Agnes, Albert and Gerard for their support!