ride recap

The Rainmaker Rollercoaster 2022 Recap

We are back from Girona, the home of this years Rainmaker Rollercoaster and a special edition of the event, something completely different to the usual format in South Africa.

With the world in lockdown for the past 2-3 years, travel restrictions and covid policies have made it harder than ever to plan international cycling events. With this in mind, the decision was made to adapt the event and host it closer to home. Somewhere with plenty of gravel, heat and hills – the recipe for any successful Rollercoaster.

Girona / Hotchillee

We think it’s safe to say that the event was a success!

Girona is a cycling paradise which is yet to be discovered and overrun like many of the well known destinations in Europe. Endless networks of gravel trails cutting through pine forests and open farmland are visible from above as you come in to land, building the excitement. Once you are in Girona, you’re only a few minutes ride away from world class road routes, gravel trails and MTB runs. 

Originally a hide out for professional cyclists, it’s now become one of Europes cycling Meccas with what feels like more bike shops and cafes than normal ones. There’s something for any type of cyclist, easy gravel loops, or epic routes to the coast and back. We’ll be back in spring of 2023 for the Girona Rendezvous, tickets are nearly sold out so make sure you grab your spot on this epic trip.

The format for this years Rollercoaster was simple.

4 days of riding with a total distance of 260km and 6000 metres of climbing. Our first day took us up and out of Girona old town and into the mountains behind the city, panoramic views of the ancient walls and cathedral greeted made the tricky ascent worth it. The gravel switchbacks were a true baptism of fire at 8am but beautiful wide descents over the other side rewarded us well.

First day completed, having cycled 70km from the centre of Girona we arrived to a warm welcome at Rocacorba Cycling – the project and business run by world class athlete Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, husband Karl and Ed. Beers were drunk and their very own in house chef prepared us a delicious meal from the organic garden on site.

Day two took us on another rollercoaster adventure covering 45 miles of prime Gironian gravel, a loop masterfully designed by planning wizard Ed. Another undulating and challenging day of riding in some of Girona’s most beautiful areas was made even better with a stop at Dos Kiwi’s brewery and kitchen – a haven of beer and incredible food hosted in an outdoor and very Kiwi fashion. We finished up at Rocacorba again for another outstanding meal, dip in the pool and relaxation before the big day ahead of us. 

The queen stage on day three took us on a 135km out and back loop to the stunning Costa Brava coastline on faultless gravel roads. Sublime wide farm tracks, trails and forest sections shepherded us east from Rocacorba cycling and to the coast where lunch awaited us. At exactly half way on the loop at 75km in, we made it the coastline and were greeted with freshly made Poke bowls by event organiser Jane. Devoured in seconds, we savoured the experience of sitting on the beach in this sublime location, having powered ourselves the whole way there under our own steam. A firm 5 minute warning was issued by Ride Captain – Captain, and we readied ourselves to tackle the remaining half of the ride. Temperatures were rising and despite a dip in the sea, we were sweltering under the hot Spanish sun in minutes again. Dreaming of a cold beer upon arrival back at Rocacorba saw us through till the end and we were treated to exactly that on arrival back at the house.

With stiff legs and sore heads, we debated our last day’s ride and route. Finally it was concluded that we would split the group depending on who would attempt the famous Rocacorba climb itself. Those who wanted more of a rest day with less climbing and more beer, headed straight for the shores of Banyoles Lake for Cervezas and Bravas while the others powered up towards the iconic masts of Rocacorba with 1000m of gravel climbing ahead of them. The climbers soon joined the others after a brutal and technical ascent for a last beer and celebrations before our final meal together.

In summary, we were astounded to find such amazing gravel cycling so close to home. A complete must for any gravel cycling fanatics, Girona has it all. 

Join us for the 2023 Girona Rendezvous!

The Girona blues are definitely already kicking in. Due to popular demand and to ease your FOMO, we’ve released the waiting list for tickets to the 2023 Girona Rendezvous. Tickets sell out fast, so save your space now and we look forward to seeing you next year!