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Amy Jones

Basso Palta Bike Review - Eat Sleep Cycle

Basso Palta Bike Review

By | Cycling | No Comments

The Basso Palta is a machine turning heads in the gravel world so naturally we decided to add them to our fleet of Girona rental bikes. Not content with re-branding their cyclo-cross bike, Basso literally went back to the drawing board to design a bike specifically for gravel riding. And so, we sent ex-racer, Eat Sleep Cycle founder and gravel aficionado Lee Comerford out to put the bike through its paces at this weekend’s Rocacorba Gravel Gran Fondo.

Basso Palta - Rocacorba Gravel Gran Fondo - Eat Sleep Cycle Review

Basso Palta Ride Review

Before detailing the various components that make the Basso Palta I’ll give you the quick review of the pros and cons, thankfully there are plenty more pros than cons!

Pros

  • Stiff, light, fast
  • Comfortable, stable
  • Looks awesome

Cons

  • The wheelset is an upgrade opportunity!

Manufacturer: Basso
Price: €3,999 RRP

Basso Palta Bike Review - Frame - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Basso Palta Frame

I first rode that Palta on the road to get to the start of the gravel Gran Fondo. I was expecting a slog and for it to feel like any other bike with fat tyres on tarmac. I was pleasantly surprised as it felt like a road bike. The frame felt stiff & light and I really had an advantage over the others in the group.

The Palta looks good and demands attention wherever you ride. Basso have really nailed the frame design and paintwork – it has a beautifully shaped flat top tube and is finished with a luxurious paint job which suits its Italian heritage.

If you want the Palta can be set up like a road bike but I prefer a more upright position to best enjoy the demands of Rocaroba. The more comfortable position is perfect for seated climbing which loose gravel demands. The bike handles beautifully. It’s responsive and really sticks to the trail. Climbing the steep gradients of Rocacorba was amazing – it had all the forward momentum and lightweight feel of a road bike & the comfort & stability of a mountain bike. Needless to say, I got used to the Palta straight away.

Sram Force 1x Groupset

I’ve always used Shimano so didn’t think I would like Sram. But it’s intuitive and only took 5 minutes to get used too. The shifting is smooth I love that you don’t have to think about a front derailleur.

The 1 x system handled gradients of up to 20% with no problem and there was plenty of range for the terrain. I’m yet to be convinced about the shape of the Sram hoods & levers – they felt really rounded and a little odd after my years of riding Shimano.

Basso Palta Bike Review - Wheelset - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Basso Palta Wheels

The only small downside of this build is the wheelset as it’s where most of the weight comes from. Whilst they’re a little on the heavy side they roll really well and are they’re durable. The rims hit a rock mid-ride and there wasn’t a scratch on them.

Tyres

For the event I rode Michelin Power Gravel 40 mm tyres. On the road they’re really fast with high pressure. At the start of the Gran Fondo I took the air out to run 40 psi and was able to fly down off-camber descents fast and safely. The tyres gripped beautifully and were well equipped for the dry conditions.

Saddle & Seatpost

I rode a Selle Italia saddle which was comfortable. The ride was noticeably smoother than other gravel bikes I’ve ridden; in part due to the carbon layup of the frame and also the vibration damper doing it’s work in the seatpost.

Basso Palta Bike Review - Value for Money

Basso Palta – Value for Money?

I think you get a lot of bike for the money. It’s a classy bike that looks the part and performs perfectly. The build and components used speak for themselves:

  • Basso Palta frameset, available in 4 sizes
  • Custom Palta fork
  • Sram Force 1 x Groupset
  • Hydraulic Sram Force Disc brakes
  • Wheels
  • Clearance for 42 mm slicks or 40 mm gravel tyres
  • Integrated seat clamp system
  • Vibration damper Palta seatpost

So, that’s what it’s like to ride and whath the Basso Palta is made of but what about maintaining the bike? We asked Eat Sleep Cycle Head Mechanic Borid del Cid for the lowdown.

Mechanics Perspective on the Basso Palto

Q. What do you think about the bike?
A. I really like it! I especially like the fact that this bike still looks and rides like “a road bike with bigger tyres”, and not “a mountain bike with drop bars”. As anybody in Eat Sleep Cycle will tell you, I spend most of my day ranting about how gravel bikes with 650b super wide tyres are really just mountain bikes hiding in plain sight, so being able to ride and rent this bike makes me very happy.

Q. What tyres would you run?
A. If it was for me, I would probably run a pair of fast rolling WTB Exposure 34s, but probably the most versatile option, especially year round, is the classic WTB Nano 40 tire.

Q. What gearing would you choose?
A. I think a 10-42 cassette is ideal. The range is wide enough to tackle almost any climb around Girona, I would probably keep the 40 teeth chainring at the front, maybe have a 42 that I can use for flatter days and coast rides.

Q. What’s the bike like to maintain?
A. Super simple! I’ve always been a proponent of simple, no nonsense bikes that make you forget what bike are you riding, and focus on the ride itself. But more importantly for me, It’s super easy to maintain and service. With only one cable, the Force 1x groupset is very reliable. The bike is really easy to maintain, but cleaning the sandy mud that we have around Girona is another story.

Q. Why this spec for the rental bike?
A. The bike we rent comes pretty much stock. We use Michelin Power Gravel tyres, which should roll really well on the fire tracks around Girona this summer.
The only thing that is different is the stem. We stay away from the proprietary stems that come with all Basso bikes. Even though they look super cool on the bike, they are not the best option when we are trying to fit the bike to each cyclist that wants to rent it.

Q. Where would you ride it?
A. Probably on too sketchy terrain! I’ve been known to ride it down some rocky single tracks around Sant Miquel and Els Àngels where the bike had no right to be in. That’s the most fun though!
I would also love to ride this machine across the Pyrenees or Portugal, on a bikepacking adventure (only with the best ortlieb bikepacking bags! 😉  )

Basso Palta Test Ride - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Want to Test Ride the Basso Palta?

You can rent this beautiful machine from us during your next Girona cycling break – we run gravel tours in Girona all year around and are we’re heading Trans Alps on gravel this July which is going to be epic! Give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 or contact us online for more info!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Womens-Cycling-International-Womens-Day

A Celebration of Women’s Cycling

By | Women's Cycling | No Comments

International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate women’s cycling, from professional riders, to amateur racers, to those who ride for the sheer joy of it, we want to pay tribute to women who ride bikes!

Cycling brings people together through a shared joy of the feeling of freedom that getting out on a bike brings and bikes have been a symbol of emancipation for women in the past, providing them with the freedom & means to travel independently. Women all over the world ride bikes for myriad reasons, from the need to get from A to B, for the sheer pleasure of a ride, or to tear each other’s legs off in a race.

In the past twelve months alone a woman broke the cycling land speed record, American Denise Mueller-Korenek hit 183.932 mph (296.010 km/h) breaking not only her own record but the men’s as well. Scottish mother Jenny Graham broke the women’s record for cycling around the world in 24 days, 10 hours and 50 minutes and just last week the women’s peloton caught the men’s in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Inspiring Women’s Cycling

We asked some inspiring women from the world of cycling about what riding bikes means to them:

Claudia-International-Womens-Day-CyclingClaudia Marin, mountain biker from Girona

How did you get into cycling?
I started mountain biking with my dad, who taught me until one day I decided to try a Duathlon. When I managed to finish it I was super happy and eager to do another

What is your favourite aspect of women’s cycling?
To get to know other women who share the same hobby, to visit new places, talk and enjoy the practice of cycling that leads us to live unique and indescribable moments!

Do you think attitudes to mountain biking are different to road as a woman?
Yes, I think the attitude towards the MTB is different from the road attitude, since one requires more technique than the other. Therefore, there is more possibility of needing more strength and concentration with the MTB.

How is riding with women different to riding with men?
I think there are several differences. Neither better nor worse, simply different. Strength is an aspect that is different.

Who are your main cycling inspirations?
There are several, but I would highlight the talent of Jenny Rissveds.

What advice would you give women who are considering taking up cycling?
If you like sports and in particular cycling, take this, dedicate time. Meanwhile, ENJOY everything it can bring (friendships, places, excursions, vacations …) and you will see that little by little you will progress and every time you will enjoy more and more

Leah_thorvilson_zwift_international-womens-day-cycling-2Leah Thorvilson, winner of the 2016 Zwift Academy

How did you get into cycling and did you feel like you faced any challenges as a woman?
I got into cycling as an alternative means of exercising and chasing the endorphin addiction when a series of injuries and surgeries forced me to take an extended break from running. I was previously a competitive marathon runner. The biggest challenge I faced was that I was dropped in at a level way over my head after winning Zwift Academy…it had nothing to do with being a woman. BUT, I will say that from the point of view of a professional cyclist, the ability for a female to make a decent living as a cyclist compared to a male….it’s embarrassing what is considered a “salary” for women. I know there are a lot of women actively working to change that, but for the time being, the large part of the women’s peloton are forced to have second and third jobs to make cycling a reality. And those who ARE paid as a full time athlete, many of them are doing it for next to nothing.

What is your favourite aspect of women’s cycling?
My favorite thing about women’s cycling is the camaraderie. I think especially in the US where we are still trying to grow the sport, the women who are involved are really eager to encourage more women to get on bikes and especially to try out racing.

What did you learn from riding in the women’s peloton and how do you think it differs from the men’s?
Oh man….. what did I learn….. EVERYTHING. It was all new to me, so literally I learned all about racing from my first year as a pro. I don’t know that I have a very good answer for this one…. I don’t have one simple take away from the peloton…. maybe I need a more specific question. I mean, I think the biggest thing I learned is the importance of experience and confidence in order to be successful… but I feel like that isn’t what you meant… I dunno

Who are your main cycling inspirations?
I’m so new to the sport, and to be honest when I was younger I didn’t follow cycling much at all… maybe I watched the Tour de France when it was on, but I had never watched a women’s race before I started the Zwift Academy. During that, I wanted to learn about the team so I started to follow. Because of this, my biggest inspirations were my own teammates when I was selected as the ZA winner and joined Canyon SRAM. They all started cycling when they were so young, they were able to teach me so much. I became really close with Alexis Ryan. She was like my big sister… except that she was almost half my age. 🙂 Her talent and professionalism as a cyclist was really incredible, but also just as a human….she had a lot of other interests beyond cycling, and she cared a lot for her teammates and her family. If I were a young cyclist just starting out, I would aim to be like her when I grow up.

What advice would you give women who are considering taking up cycling?
Just go for it. No matter what your age or what level of cycling you want to get involved in from social rider to wanting to get fit to competitive racer…. there is a community for you

Stay In Touch with Women’s Cycling

If you’re inspired to ride & keep up to date with the latest news from the women’s pro peleton & the wider world of women’s cycling, follow these two great websites!

Want to experience women’s only cycling?

Why not join one of our women’s camps for an opportunity to ride some iconic roads in the company of inspiring women! Or, if you’re based in Girona join our weekly women’s only ride from the Eat Sleep Cycle hub. 

 

The Synergy of Yoga and Cycling - Eat Sleep Cycle

The Synergy of Yoga and Cycling

By | Leisure Tours | No Comments

At first glance, cycling and yoga may not seem to naturally go hand in hand, however the benefits of practicing yoga off the bike has been linked to some serious on the bike benefits. That’s why we’ve joined up with our friends at La Bruguera de Púbol to offer a yoga & cycling retreat to combine riding and relaxing in the heart of Girona with cycling-specific yoga classes.

Benefits of Yoga for Cyclists - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

The Benefits of Practicing Yoga as a Cyclist

Kirsti Abernethy of Bindi Yoga explains, (Kirsti lives in the beautiful Empordà, has practiced & studied Yoga for over 20 years):
“Cycling is such a regular, repetitive, rhythmic pursuit, that it often creates tension, tightness and chronic pain in participants. Yoga is an ideal, low-impact, low-stress way of addressing these issues. Stability and strength of the core muscles is also critical to delivering power to the legs, which makes Yoga an ideal way to make your cycling body more efficient.”

Breathing is key in cycling – and many riders have no idea this can be trained and improved. Breathing techniques to improve endurance, as well as staying focussed and calm, can be learned through yoga, and applied to cycling.

Also, cycling, either at endurance, challenge or racing levels, is a heavily mental pursuit, and requires focus, energy management, and mental strength to get through the highs and lows of competition and achievement.  Yoga again, is ideal for developing riders’ awareness of the needs of their minds, bodies and souls, on and off the bike.”

The Yoga Classes

For these interests in common, yoga teacher Kirsti Abernethy (http://bindiyoga.life ) and cycling coach Mike Duff (La Bruguera de Púbol) have come together to develop a series of classes for cyclists, bringing the benefits of yoga to the world of two wheels.

Kirsti’s Hatha yoga classes include asana (postures), breathing techniques for equilibrium, vinyasa (moving sequences with rhythmic breath), deep relaxation, mantra (chanting) and contemplation. Her teaching is inspired by her constant learning and experience of Qi-Gong, martial arts, Dhrupad (North Indian classical singing) and Indian dance.

Yoga Poses for Cyclists

Yoga Poses for Cyclists

Here, she demonstrates two yoga poses, and explains their benefit from a cyclist’s perspective:

Pose: Anjaneyasana
Benefits for Cyclists: Elongates the thighs, opens up the groin and chest – all areas of tension and tightness in regular cyclists. Brings awareness of how to isolate and release the muscles of the lower back consciously, giving riders the ability to do this on the bike.

Pose: Prasarita Padottanasana
Benefits for Cyclists: Strengthens & lengthens the inner legs & backs of legs, tones abdominal organs, and opens the chest.  Also helps to relieve lower back ache.

La Bruguera Eco-Retreat Centre

La Bruguera Eco-Retreat Centre

The setting for these activities is worth a mention – introducing La Bruguera de Púbol. Formerly the home of Catalan artist Casademont “Le Vieux” and his family, it consists of 9 acres of oak and pine forest and gardens, a large villa, a purpose built yoga studio, a forest treatment room and a heated saltwater pool, nestled in the beautiful rolling countryside of the Baix Empordà.

Sustainability is important to the new owners, Mike & Michelle, and they’ve completely renovated the estate’s infrastructure such that electricity is provided from solar panels, heat and hot water from heat pumps or log boilers, and water from on-site wells. Guests can focus on their self-improvement, knowing it comes at no cost to the environment.

Guests can enjoy meals prepared onsite by chef Cabell d’Àngel, with ingredients grown in the estates vegetable gardens. In keeping with the philosophy of sustainability the menu is vegetarian, with each dished designed to contain all the macro-nutrients yogi’s and cyclists require to stay fueled all day.

Yoga Classes for Cyclists

Experience The Synergy of Yoga & Cycling

If the above has got you interested in the benefits of yoga for cycling then find out more information by following Kirsti & La Bruguera on Instagram:
@labrugueradepubol & @yogakirst or visit them online at labrugueradepubol.com and bindiyoga.life. For any of your cycling needs (or to book a yoga cycling retreat) give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online.

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Bike Hire Girona - How To Chose Your Perfect Rental Bike - Eat Sleep Cycle

Bike Hire Girona – How To Chose Your Perfect Rental Bike

By | Bike Hire | No Comments

When planning a cycling holiday a key consideration is what bike to ride. Whilst some people choose to travel with their own bike the majority opt to save the plane fare & hassle of lugging a bike box around and rent instead. Renting a bike can be daunting – so many colours, models, sizes, groupsets, braking systems, frame materials, companies etc etc. But, renting a bike is a golden opportunity to try something new or even test ride the bike of your dreams.

By asking yourself these simple questions you can decide which bike to choose from all the options out there. Given our location this will be focused on Girona Bike Hire but should help choose your perfect rental bike wherever you’re traveling to!
Road - Off Road and City Cycling in Girona Bike Hire - Eat Sleep Cycle

What Type of Cycling Would You Like to Do?

It sounds obvious but if you know what terrain you’ll be riding on this is a big part of the puzzle & you can start to narrow down your bike hire options:

  1. Road – Girona is a hub for road cycling in Europe. Professional road cyclists choose to make Girona their base for training and racing. Quiet roads, respectful traffic a huge variety of terrain & route options make road cycling the most popular type of cycling in Girona (and as a result one of the most popular types of bike hire in Girona).
  2. Off-Road – Girona also has a network of gravel roads, mountain bike trails and family-friendly bike paths. There are plenty of bikes to choose from in the off-road category, depending on which type of terrain you’d like to explore.
  3. City – Cruising around the city and Devesa park on a bike is a cool way to see the city. You could even consider taking a 40 min train to Barcelona and bike around there too. This is a great option for families and groups of ‘normal’/non-cycling people. A Brompton has to be the ultimate city machine – it’s great fun to ride & is completely foldable – perfect for carrying on and off trains & into cafès and restaurants (for more info make sure you check our guide to cycling in Barcelona!)

Road Bike Hire in Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle - Climber - Endurance -AeroRoad Cycling: What Type of Cyclist Are You?

Ok, so you’ve decided you want to explore Girona’s beautiful roads. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of road bikes and see how to separate the options so you can choose the perfect rental road bike. Road bikes tend to fall into three broad categories and are best suited to different types of cyclist.

  • Lightweight – The Climbers Rental Bike: For cyclists who love to climb then a bike designed around the ability to climb will maximise the enjoyment of the ride.
    • Top Pick: Factor O2 Ultegra Di2 – ok, so it’s a treat but we think a Factor 02 rental is the ultimate climbing machine. With a precision engineered Factor 02 frameset, Black Inc carbon wheels, bars, seatpost & stem & the high performance lightweight groupset that is Shimano Ultegra Di2 this is a machine that flies uphill.
    • Best Value: Ridley Helium X Ultegra – if the Factor’s way out of budget there’s no need to panic. Enter Ridley’s lightweight sensation that is the Helium. Aptly named this is a beautiful frameset which heads skywards with ease.
  • Comfort – The Endurance Bike: For riders who love long days in the saddle on varied terrain the endurance bike is the way to go. These bikes tend to offer a more relaxed geometry giving the rider a more comfortable position, best for long days in the saddle.
    • Top Pick: Ridley Fenix Ultegra Disc – The Fenix is Ridley’s answer to Paris-Roubaix. Designed to absorb the shock of the cobblestones the Fenix promises a smooth, sweet ride. Disc brakes offer powerful braking & the ultegra groupset promises perfect shifting.
    • Best Value: Ridley Fenix 105 – the same as above but with rim brakes and Shimano 105 groupset. Perfect for a smooth ride for those on more of a budget.
  • Fast – The Aero Bike: we don’t recommend this type of bike for cycling in Girona. With a more aggressive geometry & added weight for the aero features this is a bike that will neither climb particularly well or be that comfortable for a long day in the saddle.

Off Road Bike Hire in Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Off-Road Cycling: What Type of Terrain?

If you’re heading off road the key consideration when renting a bike in Girona is to decide what type of terrain you’d find most enjoyable – this will best help you to select your steed:

  • GravelA good definition of a gravel road is anything that a car can be driven down, any more technical and gravel riding starts to head into mountain bike terrain. A gravel bike has wider tyres and more tread compared to a road bike – offering better grip off road. A gravel bike has a more relaxed geometry than their cyclo-cross counterparts. Make sure your rental bike is geared for the rides you’re planning to do: the steep trails around Girona tend to need a larger cassette that what might otherwise be normal. Get an introduction to gravel cycling in Girona from our ESC tour guide Peter Gaskill.
    • Top pick: Basso Palta – ‘Palta’ is Italian for mud & this is a high-end carbon gravel bike which thrives in dirty conditions. With a specially designed fork and shock-absorbing seatpost enjoy a stable and comfortable ride. There’s also space for up to three bottle cages – great for a hot, off-road bike-packing adventure.
  • Trails & Single-trackIf you’re planning on tackling more technical trails then consider a mountain bike. A hardtail will cope with most of what Girona has to offer. A full-suspension is pretty niche and not widely available to rent in Girona.
    • Top pick: Ridley Ignite – A lightweight 29’er hardtail designed for cyclocross competition, this is an ultrafast bike for ultimate off-road fun.
  • Bike Paths – Girona has a network of bike paths, the most popular being the Via Verde, stretching from San Feliu at the coast to Olot in the foothills of the Pyrenees. A hybrid bicycle is best suited to these trails. Equipped with wider tyres than a road bike for extra grip on the gravel and a super comfortable upright position. Hybrid bikes often come with a rack for carrying bags – perfect for stashing a picnic for when you reach the beach!
    • Top pick: Ridley Tempo Disc – a comfy, versatile bike for enjoying bike paths & roads alike. This bike comes in female specific & men’s geometry & comes equipped with a rack for carrying your bags.
    • Add Some Gas: Orbea Keram Comfort Electric – turbo boost your ride and take the edge off the climbs with this dreamy electrified hybrid. Equipped with a rack you can carry everything you need for a lovely day out on the bike.

If some of the rental bikes mentioned above have piqued your interest you can check our range of rental bikes in Girona here and we also have some of them available for purchase if you’re really tempted!

What About Renting an Electric Bike in Girona?

The trend of electric bikes is booming here with electric bike rentals on the up. Sales across Europe are up & more & more people are turning to electric bikes and it’s no surprise why. Electric bikes offer many people the opportunity to ride a bike in places they never imagined they could physically cope with. Electric bikes mean groups of friends & families with riders of different abilities can ride together and enjoy shared experiences. Electric bikes are a serious amount of fun.

  • Top Pick: Orbea Gain M20 – this is a very special electric road bike. A carbon frame & ultegra groupset mean this bike oozes quality and puts Orbea at the forefront of electric bike design. The battery is discreetly hidden in the downtube meaning the bike doesn’t stand out in a field of non-electric bikes.

Bike Hire Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Bike Hire Girona – Choose Your Bike!

If you’re in Girona and looking to hire a bike we hope the above guide has given you some useful information about the types of rental options that are available and which one would suit you best. If you’ve any questions about which rental bike is for you then give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info.

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Guide to Cycling in Barcelona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Guide to Cycling in Barcelona

By | Cycling in Spain | No Comments

Barcelona is one of the most famous cities in the world, the Catalan capital is home to some fantastic architecture and stunning scenery and attracts an estimated 32 million tourists every year – but what is it like for cycling? A bustling city may not be the first port of call for those seeking tranquil roads and mountains to climb, however despite its size and population Barcelona has all of this in spades on its doorstep. And, after giving you a guide to cycling in Majorca and cycling in Girona it’s time to give you a guide to cycling in Barcelona!

Road Cycling Barcelona

One way get the most out of riding in a new place is to hire a local guide to show you the way & help you to get out of town. CycloCat is a great resource for off-road routes and ideas about where you can reach from Barcelona.

If you’re looking for more than a couple of days of cycling from Barcelona we recommend taking a 40 min train ride east and making Girona your base. Plenty of local Barcelona riders regularly make the journey to their sister city and make the most of a weekend or day-trip to add variety to their riding.

Cycling Climbs Near Barcelona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Climbs Near Barcelona

If you’re looking to get off the road and test yourself with some climbs then these are some spots near Barcelona to check out!

  • Santa Fe de Montseny
    From Sant Celoni this climb is one of the most popular in the area, whilst the gradients are not particularly challenging (4.8% average) it is the length (24km) that mean that is can be a tough climb if you do not pace your effort!
  • Montserrat
    This climb is stunning however choose the right time to attempt it as the roads can get extremely busy during peak seasons with tourists visiting the monastery at the top. The name of the climb translates from Catalan as ‘saw mountain’ due to the jagged peaks of the rock which are spectacular to see. The climb itself is 8.5km long with a somewhat challenging 6.9% average gradient and gets steeper at the top – so save energy!

Although Barcelona can be great for road cycling the best riding in the region really is further North towards the Pyrenees around Girona where there are a wealth of climbs and a mixture of terrain.

Gravel & MTB Barcelona

Of course, you could avoid the roads altogether and hit the trails! Why not explore the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, the trails on Montjuic & the limestone hills of Parc de Garraf. Cyclo Cat offers the best resource of routes & every January hold an annual gravel ride from Barcelona to Girona.

Barcelona Cycling Culture

Whilst Barcelona has amazing cyling on the road, gravel and climbs it also has a great cycling culture that can really enhance any trip to the region.

Best Bike Shops in Barcelona
One of the best bits about Barcelona is the amazing bike shops and city cycling culture. Be sure to visit Velodrom & Brompton Junction to complete your Barcelona Cycling experience.

Best bike shops in Barcelona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Best Coffee
Whether you’re stopping for coffee on a ride or just on the hunt for a caffeine fix whilst exploring the city. Check out On y Va for coffee and brunch or Nømad Coffee for a home-roasted cup.

Food
Barcelona is packed full of incredible places to eat for cyclists on all budgets. Top of our list is Flax & Kale for a fresh, healthy feed and tiny Tapas bar La Cova Fumada to try ‘La Bomba’, a Barcelona specialty.

Barcelona Cycling Day Trip

On top of the culture Barcelona is perfect if you’re looking for a cycling day trip – either explore the city or take in some scenery.

  • Brompton Bike Tour of the Famous Sites – cruise along Barcelona’s network of cycle paths on a Sunday for a perfect day out.
  • Head to Girona – Girona is a mere 40 minutes away by train and is home to some of the best road & gravel riding in Catalunya. Rent a bike and guide from Eat Sleep Cycle and take in the scenery or simply explore the beautiful medieval city.

Barcelona Cycling Day Trip - Eat Sleep Cycle

Bike Friendly Places to Stay

If you’re racking up the km in the saddle whilst exploring Barcelona then you’re going to need good spot to rest your head (and keep your bike safe). Here are some bike friendly places to stay whilst you’re in Barcelona.

  • If you’re a cyclist on a budget stay at Bed & Bike Barcelona  a bike-friendly hostel in a great location
  • Try Hotel Villa Emilia for a spot of 4* Luxury for excellent value. Enjoy an evening on the rooftop bar & soak up the views.
  • It’s well worth spending a few nights in Girona if you’re a keen cyclist!

Cycling Trip to Barcelona - Eat Sleep Cycle Tour

Cycling Trip to Barcelona

We hope the above has piqued some interest in a cycling trip to Barcelona or has helped you plan out some of your next tour when here. If you’ve any questions about cycling in Barcelona or would like to find out more about our Barcelona cycling tours then us give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info.

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Guide to Cycling in Majorca - Eat Sleep Cycle

Guide to Cycling in Majorca

By | Cycling in Spain | No Comments

Majorca (or Mallorca as they say in Spanish) is arguably one of cycling’s most popular winter cycling destinations for getaways and is synonymous with pre-season training camps as teams escape to catch some early-season sun and take advantage of the smooth, well-maintained roads. The best times to visit the island are spring and autumn when the weather is not too hot but is warm enough to get those cyclist tan-lines going.

The Mallorca 312

The island even hosts its very own sportive the hugely popular Mallorca 312 – the course of which originally traversed the entire 312km lap of the island but now maintains the same distance but varies in terms of parcours year-on-year.

Majorca Cycling Highlights

Because so many cyclists have been coming to the island for such a long time the locals are accustomed to them frequenting the roads and as such give them due respect, which makes enjoying some of the fantastic cycling in Mallorca even more enjoyable. Here are some of the standout rides that Mallorca has to offer!

Majorca Cycling Tour Highlights - Eat Sleep Cycle

Sa Calobra
Stats: 9.4km at 7%
Sa Calobra is the most well-known climb on the island and one of the most well-known roads in Europe, famous for its spaghetti-like switchbacks the road was designed by Italian engineer Antonio Parietti and built manually in 1932.

Cap de Formentor
Stats: 17km at 2.8%
From Pollenca this climb is more of a series of kickers than one long climb, however gradients remain mostly low making it a steady ride with spectacular views up to the iconic lighthouse. It is the Northernmost point of the island and is known as ‘the meeting point of the winds’ and the wind can indeed get quite strong at the top.

Col de Soller
Stats: North 7.4km at 6%, South 5km at 5%
The Southern side of Col de Soller from Bunyola is the most popular and easier side to climb with a gentle and consistent gradient owing to the many hairpins, no longer the main road to Soller since a tunnel was built in the 1990s the road is usually empty of cars barring a few.

The Northern side of the climb is slightly harder although still not hugely challenging once again thanks to numerous hairpins of which there are more than Alpe d’Huez!

Puig Major
Stats: 14km at 5.9%
The only thing which could make this climb challenging is its length. Highest climb in Mallorca, located within the Tramuntana mountains and as such is largely sheltered within woodlands.

Off The Beaten Track Riding in Mallorca

The next set of spots for cycling in Mallorca are a bit more off the beaten track than the previous ones but are still worth the ride.

Valldemossa
Stats: 5km at 7%
If you want to take the road less pedalled whilst still experiencing what’s best about Mallorca then Valldemossa is the place to go. Steeper than the majority of other climbs but also much quieter so in our opinion it’s worth it!

Tramuntana Coastal Road
Through the Tramuntana mountains along the Southern coastline from the town of Esporles to Andratx is the rolling route of the Tramuntana coastal road. As you ride along this road the Mediterranean sea is visible on your right and the Galatzo peak is on your let making for stunning views. The road surface is high-quality and there is very little traffic making this one of the most enjoyable routes on the island.

Els Vergers/Sobremunt
Stats: 7km at 10%
Crowned by the GCN show as the ‘hardest climb on the island’ this rough stretch of road ramps up to a maximum gradient of 25% and averages 10% – with downhill sections included. At the top is a restaurant which gives the climb it’s name and is well off the regular cyclist trail.

Mallorcan Culture

We believe that a huge part of taking a cycling vacation is discovering a new culture, cuisine, architecture and unique character of each place. So many European destinations are steeped in history just waiting to be discovered and Mallorca is no exception and there are lots of spots worth visiting whilst there.

  • Palma
    Head to Palma on a rest day for a spot of shopping or to dip in and out of the numerous cafes and tapas bars. La Seu cathedral is a must-see the Gothic building is the focal piece of architecture in the city and is truly stunning to see.
  • Alfàbia Gardens
    Go for a stroll in these multiculturally influenced gardens in Bunyola in the North of the island and therefore within a close distance of the most popular places for cyclists to stay. The gardens contain exotic plants as well as orange and lemon trees.
  • Deià
    We would recommend staying in this picturesque village if you can, but if that’s not an option then a visit is certainly needed anyway just to see how stunning it is. Whilst there, visit the house of Robert Graves – the British poet and author of I,Claudius who lived in the village, which is now a museum.

Mallorcan Culture - Majorca Cylce Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

Mallorcan Food

To go with the Mallorcan culture there is also the Mallocan cuisine which has to be tasted to be believed. There are a number of Michelin Star restaurants dotted around the island, a sign of the refined palettes that frequent the island and worth visiting if you can.

Where To Stay in Mallorca

Most cyclist visitors to Mallorca stay in the North of the island, far removed from cities like Magaluf to the South which are renowned more for partying than pedalling. In the North Port de Pollença and Alcudia are most popular as these areas are on the coast and close to the UNESCO World Heritage site Tramuntana Mountains – the highest point of which is the tip of Puig Major. The versatility of flat riding along the coast and the challenge of the  mountains are what makes the area attractive.

Hotels:
The number of cyclists that visit the island each year (in the hundreds of thousands) means that most hotels are bike friendly with many offering places to store bikes.

In the Cycling Hub:
If you want to be around more cyclists than just regular tourists then the cycling hub of Hotel Hoposa Bahía in Pollenca should be considered.

For Something Different:
And for those of you who would like something a little bit different you should check out Hotel Des Puig in Deia.

Where To Stay In Majorca - Cycling Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

When (and how) to Travel to Mallorca

The best times to visit the island are spring and autumn when the weather is not too hot but is warm enough to get those cyclist tan-lines going! You can fly into Palma airport – the island’ capital of Palma hosts the island’s main airport. You can also get a ferry from mainland Spain (although beware that this could take up to 8 hours).

Cycling in Majorca

If the above has piqued your interest for a trip to one of the de facto cycling Meccas of Europe then we’ve got the perfect tour for you. Check out our Majorca Experience to really discover the island or take a look at our Mallorca Ride Camp to rack up those quality miles. If interested give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to give you more info about it!

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Romantic Gifts for Cyclists – Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

Whether you choose to celebrate it or prefer to ignore it, there’s no escaping that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and love is in the air! After our guide to Christmas gifts for cyclists it’s time to double down and give you some ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts. If your true love is a cyclist or you just want to treat yourself (do we cyclists really need an excuse to buy some new gadgets or kit?) our gift guide has got you covered. There’s really no excuse for getting some petrol station flowers or a pair of socks now!

A Mini-Break – The Ultimate Romantic Gift for Cyclists

Top of any list for Valentine’s gift-giving is a romantic getaway, and what better for a cyclist couple than a cycling mini-break? Combine riding and romance in a three-day getaway to the stunning, unspoiled Pyrenees including a stay in a beautiful C12th guest house!

From €699

Weekend Mini Break for Cyclists - Eat Sleep Cycle

The Gift of Style

Make sure your other half is the best-dressed in the bunch – we think these offerings from MAAP and Tactic are sure to have your love looking pro.

For Her
Tactic long-sleeve ‘Hard Day’ jersey in Leaf
€170 buy now

For Him
MAAP Pass Pro long-sleeve jersey in navy
€108 buy now

The Gift of Style - Valentine's Day Gifts for Cyclists - Eat Sleep Cycle

The Gift of Comfort

Long hours in the saddle call for comfortable kit and ASSOS have you covered – their bib shorts have one of the best chamois out there for both men and women for matching comfort and style – how romantic!

For Her
ASSOS T.LAALALAISHORTS_S7
€190 buy now

For Him
ASSOS T. MILLE_s7 shorts
€130 buy now

The Gift of Comfort - Valentine's Day Gifts for Cyclists - Eat Sleep Cycle

Cycling Sunglasses

An essential aspect of looking the part on the bike is a stylish pair of sunnies!
For Her
Oakley Flight Jacket in pink and black.
€212 Buy Now

For Him
Oakley Jawbreaker Cavendish special edition.
€222 Buy Now

Oakleys Cycling Sunglasses - Valentine's Day Presents for Cyclists

The Gift of Safety – Kask Protone Helmet

Give your significant other the gift of safe riding with the Kask Protone Helmet. A gift that very much shows that you care!
€190 Buy Now

KASK Cycling Helment - Romantic Gifts for Cyclists - Eat Sleep Cycle

Strava Summit Membership

If, like many, your cyclist loved one spends hours on the bike followed by hours of analysing their ride on Strava then a Strava Summit membership might be for them. Choose a pack based on their goals and interests resulting in tailored extra features.
From €2.00 /month buy now!

Strava Summit Membership - Valentines Day Gift Ideas

A New Bike

The number one gift for any cyclist is of course a new bike – n+1=<3!

Ridley Helium X
Both light and stiff, the Helium X is sure to get their heart racing!
€1,949 -> buy now!

Ridley X-Trail Carbon Ultegra Ex-Rental Bike
A gravel bike for those who love to adventure together!
€2,325 ->buy now!

Brompton
For those who commute or just need to get around the city a Brompton is perfect for travelling in style!
€ ->buy now!

Valentines Day Gift Ideas for Cyclists - A New Bike

Romantic Gifts for Cyclists

The above isn’t an exhaustive list of romantic gifts for cyclists but should help give you some ideas about what to get the cyclist in your life this Valentine’s Day. If you’ve any top tier romantic gift suggestions then comment below as we want to hear about them!

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Secret Pyrenees: El Castell de La Pobla de Lillet

By | Cycling in Spain, Lifestyle | No Comments

The Pyrenees are best known for the iconic cols of the Tour de France where epic battles are played out between the best riders of the pro peloton. The headline climbs such as the Tourmalet steal the show and are on many cyclist’s bucket lists. But some of best riding and more in the Pyrenees is off the beaten track, hidden amongst the tiny towns and villages dotted in the mountains.

Culture and History Meet Epic Riding

The Catalan Pyrenees are a perfect example of this and one such place is La Pobla de Lillet. A picturesque village in the comarca of Berguedà around 114km north-west of Girona with a rich artistic and industrial history; La Pobla is home to the Artigas Gardens designed by Antoni Gaudí in the 1900s as well as a cement train – a remnant of the industrial revolution in the area which still runs today. 

La Pobla de Lillet is also surrounded by some fantastic riding including climbs to test even the strongest of riders such as the killer Vallter 2000 – a climb up to a ski station at 2,000m consisting of 11km at an average gradient of 7%. Col de la Crueta is also a must-climb for the amazing views from where you can see the mountain of Pedraforca, named as such because its three points resemble a fork.

And that’s just on the road – hidden amongst the forest are some fantastic mountain bike trails too as well as plenty of trails for running or hiking.

A Guest House with a Story

Located in La Pobla de Lillet is an incredible guesthouse with a long and interesting history. El Castell, run by couple Alvaro & Montse, was originally built in 1927 and they have transformed it into a stunning place to stay with an open kitchen, spa and beautiful mountain views. We sat down with them to learn more about both them and El Castell.

Montse, tell us about the history of El Castell? When was it built and how long has it been a hotel?

The original Castell dates back to 1297. At the beginning of the ’90s, my parents bought the building of El Castell, which was absolutely in ruins.. After almost 4 years of work, we finally have the finished result!  A hotel of 9 rooms, a spa area with massage service and a show-cooking service for the foodies. We think it’s a perfect spot for groups (to celebrate or just to come together) or even for businesses who want to make a retreat to do team building, meetings, etc. But when there’s no group bookings, it’s a perfect place for those couples who want to relax and enjoy a few days in nature.

Alvaro, where are you both from?

I am from the south of Spain and Montse is from the Berguedà region. In 2015 we got married here in the Artigas Garden and started a new phase at El Castell as managers. 

Why did you choose to live & Pobla de Lillet and run El Castell?

Montse: For 7 years my parents were in charge of managing el Castell, but when they retired we took over and dedicated ourselves exclusively to renovate it and spread the word about this fantastic place that deserves to be discovered!

Alvaro: I studied gastronomy and cooking has always been his passion. I loved that the kitchen was open to the public meaning that showcasing the cooking was inevitable which would mean a transparency and communication between the cook and the guests.  

Montse: I love the Berguedà area and discovering new corners of it to recommend to guests. Making the change to come and live in La Pobla de Lillet is one of the best decisions we have ever made!

Alvaro, you are the chef, tell us about your inspiration to cook? Describe your food…

The combinations and concoctions that are possible with cooking are infinite! I love to discover new products and to cook from different points of view.

Our objective is to make sure that the food we serve in el Castell is kilometre zero – so from local producers, growers, farmers and cooked with love!

But without doubt the best aspect is seeing the faces of pleasure and surprise from our guests when they try our taster menu of seasonal products and our surprise menu!

Montse, you are the hostess, tell us about how you like to welcome your guests & the experience you want them to have at El Castell?

We like to receive our guests like family or friends when they visit us. We make sure they know about all of the unmissable places in our area. If they like walking we can give then routes on the Catllaràs. If they like romanesque architecture there are plenty of churches, monasteries and sanctuaries in the area. If they would like to learn about the industrial history of the area then the Cement Museum is unmissable – a factory that began the industrial revolution here! It’s amazing how much there is to discover here!

Thanks to Alvaro & Montse for the insight into their guesthouse and their home town!

Inspired to explore the Secret Pyrenees? Our Pyrenees Mini-Break is a three day trip from Girona to La Pobla de Lillet with two nights in El Castell. La Pobla de Lillet is also the first stop on our Trans Pyrenees Challenge and our Gourmet Tour of Catalunya!

Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Journeys of a Lifetime

Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges: Journeys of a Lifetime

By | Advanced Tours, Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees | No Comments

Trans Cycling Challenges, Point to Point Challenges, Journeys of a lifetime – there are many different names for them but there is one thing that is consistent: a Trans Cycling Challenge is an unforgettable, epic adventure! In this post we will explore which we think are the best.

What is a Trans Cycling Challenge?

A challenging point to point ride by bicycle from one place to another. Riding from point to point has a long history in cycling, indeed, it is the basis of most stage races. Usually this is designed to showcase two different towns with the start and finish locations having requested and paid to be in the spotlight.

What Is A Trans Cycling Challenge - Eat Sleep Cycle

Can a Cycling Challenge make a Good Holiday?

But how do Trans Cycling Challenges translate to cycling vacations? There is a real sense of adventure in riding from A to B, using your bike to propel you from one place to another with an end goal in sight that is very different to simply riding loops out of one location. With the greater sense of adventure comes greater challenge and risk, and with that a huge sense of satisfaction from completing the journey.

Riding a point-to-point route means you get to see more, each day brings a new challenge, a new location, new scenery to enjoy from the saddle and new cuisine to enjoy post-ride, it is the ultimate way to get the most out of a cycling vacation.

Our Top Three Trans Cycling Challenges

So, now that you know what a trans cycling challenge is and that they can make for great holidays let’s now look at our top 3 trans cycling challenges – the Trans Pyrenees, the Trans Dolomites and the new kid in town, the Trans Andalucia!

Trans Pyrenees Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Pyrenees

This is the original Trans Challenge. The first ever Eat Sleep Cycle Tour was a version of our current Trans Pyrenees tour (from Girona to Biarritz) and it remains one of our absolute favourite routes to ride.

Starting from our base in Girona the journey takes you north to the Catalan Pyrenees and the beautiful La Pobla de Lillet before crossing the border into France the following day. From there, the route covers a total of thirteen cols including some of the most prominent climbs of the Tour de France; the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Col d’Aspin and more before reaching the final destination – the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian.

The characteristics of the Pyrenees mean that the landscape is rugged and varied, making for spectacular views and stunning climbs and descents which then give way to the rolling roads of the Basque Country.

Trans Pyrenees Tour Highlights

  • La Pobla de Lillet –  a beautiful hidden gem in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, this picturesque ‘pueblo’ is home to the Artigas Gardens designed by Antoni Gaudi and our accommodation of choice is El Castell de la Pobla de Lillet, a castle from the year 1297!
  • Col du Tourmalet – the iconic Col of the Tour de France is a must-ride for every cyclist looking to challenge themselves. This year featuring as a stage finish promising plenty of excitement!
  • The ‘Cirque du Litor’ – this is incredible section of road links the Col du Soulour to the Col d’Aubisque. Roughly translated as the avalanche circle, this is one of the last roads to open in Spring.

Looking for more of a Cycling Challenge?
The Raid Pyrenees is a 100 hour epic ride from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean via set check-points.

Trans Dolomites - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Dolomites

The Trans Dolomites Challenge traverses the Carnic Alps to the Italian Dolomites and across to the Italian Alps. Bookmarked by the mighty Monte Zoncolan and the legendary Passo Mortirolo and Passo Gavia with a whole host of renowned climbs of the Giro d’Italia and beautiful scenery in between it promises to test and excite in equal measure.

The beauty of this route lies in the drastically varying landscape. From the stunningly picturesque limestone rock faces of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites to the characterful Italian Alps that contrast with their polished French counterpart.

Trans Dolomites Tour Highlights

  • Monte Zoncolan – the iconic climb of the Giro d’Italia, this beast is considered by many  to be the toughest climb in cycling!
  • Passo Stelvio – built in the years 1820 – 1825 this 48 km stretch of road connects the Valtellina in the south-west with Val Venosta in the north-east. Over 70 hairpins take the road to a leg-cramping 2,757 m altitude.
  • Passo Gavia – stunning, every changing, scenery and a pitch black tunnel characterise this 17.3 km killer climb. Perhaps best known for the heroic efforts of American Andy Hampsten who battled with apocalyptic, snowy conditions to seal the Giro d’Italia pink jersey in 1988.
  • Passo Mortirolo – synonymous with the late, great El Pirata – Marco Pantani – of whom you will find a tribute on the climb itself as you battle with the 10-20% gradients!

Meet our local Guide in the Italian Mountains

If you book a Trans Dolomites Tour then there is a good chance you’ll meet Mario, our local guide to the Italian mountains!

Italian Cycling Tour Guide - Mario - Eat Sleep Cycle

Name
Mario

Where are you from?
Italy – a little town called Conegliano, 40 km from Venice

Where do you live?
In my hometown

What drew you to cycling and why?
I’ve always be passionate about the bicycle. I started working for the French brand Mavic & I had to start practicing riding to be able to give feedback on the apparel and products I was selling. Since then it became my biggest passion.

What’s your favourite thing about guiding?
That I made a job out of my passion and the fact that I can share my time with people who share my same passion – it comes pretty easy to me.

Describe your favourite climb?
Lots of climbs & cold weather! There’s a pass called Passo San Boldo 10 km from where I live – its quite atypical, breathtaking with tunnels. I love mountains!

Tell me about the best meal you’ve had in Italy
My Grandma’s – torn between risotto & sausage & potato – she was also from the mountains so its a typical dish.

What do you do when you’re not cycling?
In the winter when its too cold to cycle – I’ve been a cross-country skier since I was a kid so when I have a chance I head to the mountains.

Trans Andalucia - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Andalucia

The Trans Challenge new kid in town but already a firm favourite amongst both guests and staff, the Trans Andalucia challenge is a cycling dream. We recently waxed lyrical on this blog on the beauty of cycling in Andalucia, the smooth roads, the gentle climbs, the weather and the culture together make it a paradise for a cycling holiday.

Starting from Almeria and heading west to Seville via the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada, the ancient Moorish city of Antequera, Ronda & Arcos de la Frontera it is a tour filled with as much cultural interests as riding, not to mention the food!

Trans Andalucia Tour Highlights

  • Caminito del Rey – The 2015 Vuelta was the first road race to visit the ‘Pathway of the King’. Short and sweet is the best way to describe this 4 km climb. With ramps of up to 15% legs are likely to sting as the road winds its way up to a restaurant and a dead end.
  • Ronda – The mountaintop city famous for its Moorish history and the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge over a deep gorge which separates the new and the old town.
  • Granada – There is yet more history to discover in Granada famous for the stunning Alhambra, which started life as a fortress, before being transformed into a palace in the mid 13th century.

Trans Cycling Challenges – Start Your Journey Now

Each of the Trans Cycling Challenges about will give a cycling experience like no other and all of our tours can be tailored to your needs. If you’d like to start the journey of a lifetime give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Spring Classics Cycling Season - Eat Sleep Cycle

The Drama and Excitement of the Spring Classics Cycling Season

By | World Tour | No Comments

As the winter comes to an end, before fingers and toes have fully thawed out and with the season crescendo of the Tour de France still months away, come the Spring Classics. Often considered the ‘true’ cycling fan’s favourite races these prestigious one-day events are synonymous with cobbles and chaos. Such is the nature of one day races that riders give their all, more likely to attack and take risks making them truly exhilarating viewing. Indeed, many riders, so-called ‘classics specialists’, focus their seasons around these races, often those who hail from the areas where the races take place.

Defining “The Classics” of Cycling

Held throughout northern Europe ‘The Classics’ is a loose term often applied to the most prestigious of these races, also known as ‘Monuments’. As the races mainly take place in Belgium and Northern France their history is entangled with that of the First and Second World Wars and the courses often negotiate terrain where battles took place. There is, in fact, no official definition of what a ‘classic’ is, but we want to focus on the races that we at Eat Sleep Cycle think are the most exciting.

Strade Bianche Spring Classic - Eat Sleep Cycle

Strade Bianche – 9th March

One of the youngest classics, first held in 2007 Strade Bianche has rapidly acquired the status of a bona fide monument. In part due to the eponymous white gravel roads which give the race its unique character. More than 50km of the race takes place off-road and the growing popularity of gravel riding only compounds the appeal of this early-season race.

The Strade Bianche traverses 176km over the hilly terrain of southern Tuscany. It starts and finishes in the UNESCO World Heritage site and medieval city of Siena and covers 9 sectors of gravel roads. The race culminates on the extremely steep and narrow Via Santa Caterina climb before finishing on the Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena. Since 2015 a women’s Strade Bianche has been held on the same day as the men’s race over approximately half the distance won in 2018 by Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen.

Strade Bianche Gravel Sectors:
La Piana – this is sector four in the race and is 5.5km long and has been included since the first edition.
Asciano – sector 8/11, consisting of 11km is the hardest sector of the race as it is mostly uphill with some steep gradients.

Recent winners of Strade Bianche

  • 2018 Tiesj Benoot
  • 2017 Michał Kwiatkowski
  • 2016 Fabian Cancellara

Most wins: Fabian Cancellara

Canty’s call for 2019: Romain Bardet

Mattia Bettagno - Eat Sleep Cycle Italian Tour Guide

Meet Mattia – The ESC Italian Tour Guide

If you’re going take on the Strade Bianche then you’re going to need a tour guide who knows the route, speaks the language and can handle a bike like no other. Regazzi, the ESC team are delighted to introduce you to Mattia, our main man in the saddle in Italy!

What is your name?
My name is Mattia Bettagno

Where are you from?
I’m from Varese, Lombardia. Land of cycling, mountains and lakes!

Where do you live?
I live in Cuasso al monte, a small town on the little mountains just outside Varese.

What drew you to cycling and why?
When I was 8 my dad bought me a road bike and I never stopped riding! I raced since then until U23 category.

What is your favourite thing about guiding?
Guiding is discovering! It’s beautiful to show other people the places I love – priceless!

Describe your favourite ride or favourite place in Italy?
I feel really good and free in Tuscany, on the white roads, better if I’m on a old steel bike during the Eroica day. That is the best day on a bike I can remember.

What do you like to do when you’re not on a tour?
Riding! I like to ride any kind of bike. Mountain bike is a big part of my days off. The mountains where I live are amazing so it’s not hard to get out and enjoy my days.

What’s the best meal you’ve enjoyed in in Italy?
It’s hard to say ! Every place has different specialties.. I have a passion for the cakes during my rides so I know quite well where to get a good snack..Off the bike I’d say: Pizzoccheri if I’m in Bormio, Trippa if I’m in Siena.

Milan-Sanremo Spring Classics Cycling - Eat Sleep Cycle

Milan-Sanremo – 23rd March

Milan-Sanremo has a long history with this year marking the 110th edition of the race, its name in Italian ‘La Primavera’ literally means spring. Run along an epic course it is the longest one-day race on the professional calendar. As the name suggests, the course traverses around 300km in north-western Italy from the city of Milan to the coastal city of San-Remo.

Although it is considered one for the sprinters due to its relatively flat course there are still plenty of climbs to catch the bigger or less prepared riders out. The race has been taken on many occasions by a well-timed attack from a non-sprinter in the closing kilometres, which is indeed how most recent winner Vincenzo Nibali sealed the deal.

Key Climbs of Milan-Sanremo
Passo del Turchino: In the past this was the only major climb in the race it is the first climb and the highest point of the race, 13.2km long and not particularly challenging averaging 1.5%.
Cipressa: ordinarily 6 km at 3.9% would not prove too challenging, however after 260km of racing this can be a decisive climb.
Poggio: The climb itself is not remarkable but is often the springboard for attacks from climbers looking to outfox the sprinter’s teams thanks to its proximity to the finish making it an exciting point in the race.

Recent winners:

  • 2018 Vincenzo Nibali
  • 2017 Michał Kwiatkowski
  • 2016 Arnaud Démare

Most wins: Eddy Merckx

Canty’s call for 2019: Fernando Gaviria

Tour of Flanders - Spring Cycling Classics

Tour of Flanders – 7th April

Also known as ‘Ronde Van Vlaanderen’ or ‘De Ronde’, the race is based entirely in the Flemish region of Belgium and was first held in 1913. The Tour of Flanders is the only classic to have been held on German-occupied territory during the Second World War and in full agreement with the German command.

Usually held one week prior to the pinnacle of the ‘cobbled classics’: Paris-Roubaix, Flanders is also characterised by cobblestones and the chaos that they cause. The race starts in Bruges in north-west Flanders before heading south through the flatlands and on to the hillier Ardennes – the climbs are short, steep and mostly cobbled.

Key Climbs of Ronde Van Vlaanderen
The longest climb is the Oude Kwaremont at 2.2km which although not the steepest it is considered the most challenging due to its length and cobbled surface.
The Oude Kwaremont is trumped only by the Koppenberg which while only 600m in length, features sections over 22% and is on a rough surfaced narrow road.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Trivia
A women’s edition of the race has been held since 2004 with Anna van der Breggen taking the win.
The record for the most number of victories (three) is shared between Belgians Achiel Buysse, Eric Leman, Johan Museeuw and Tom Boonen, Italian Fiorenzo Magni and Swiss Fabian Cancellara.

Recent winners:

  • 2018 Niki Terpstra
  • 2017 Philippe Gilbert
  • 2016 Peter Sagan

Canty’s Call for 2019: Yves Lampaert

Paris-Roubaix Spring Classic - Eat Sleep Cycle

Paris-Roubaix – 14th April

Paris Roubaix or ‘The Hell of the North’ starts just north of Paris and traverses a brutal course through 29 sectors of ‘pavé’, or cobbles which determine the race. Paris-Roubaix also features a unique finish as riders enter the Roubaix velodrome and ride one lap before crossing the line. Widely considered the pinnacle of the cobbled classics season the race usually garners plenty of excitement from fans and riders alike. Such is the nature of Paris-Roubaix that the course has inspired the creation of specialist bikes and equipment designed exclusively for tackling the torturous course.  Each year, the winner of the race receives a cobblestone as part of the prize.

Key Sectors of The Hell of the North
Trouée d’Arenberg or ‘Trench of Arenberg’: A 2.4km long section of pavé and one of the most difficult sections of the race, it crosses the Forest of Arenberg and is known as one of the roughest cobbled sectors in the race owing to lack of maintenance and fans removing cobbles as souvenirs.
Carrefour de l’Arbre: A 2.1km sector just 15km from the finish making a decisive points in the race. Like the Trench of Arenberg it is considered one of the hardest sectors due to the rough nature of the cobbles.

Recent winners:

  • 2018 Peter Sagan
  • 2017 Greg Van Avermaet
  • 2016 Matthew Hayman

Most wins: Roger de Vlaeminck, Tom Boonen

Canty’s call for 2019: Jasper Stuyven

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Spring Classic - Eat Sleep Cycle

Liège-Bastogne-Liège – 28th April

First held in 1892 Liège is the oldest of the ‘Monuments’, nicknamed ‘La Doyenne’ or ‘the Old Lady’ as a result. The event was cancelled during WWI but resumed in 1919 and had some brief interruptions during WWII. The race is the last of the three spring classics races held in the Ardennes region and is typically around 250 km in length. As depicted by the name, the race starts in Liège before heading to Bastogne and back. The myriad steep climbs and challenging course make Liège a true war of attrition providing an exciting race with plenty of attacks. The course changes year-on-year and climbs are added and removed with each edition of the race.

Since 2017 a women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège has been held over roughly 130km sharing the final 45km with the men’s course, both editions so far have been won by the dominant Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen (intersted in women’s only tours? Then check out our selection of women’s only cycling tours!

Key climbs:
Côte de La Redoute 1.6km at 9.5% with a maximum gradient of 22% it has recently lost its status as a decisive point in the race but it still proves a challenge.
Côte de Saint-Nicolas the last categorised climb of the race and often proves very decisive, it is 1.4km long at an average gradient of 7.6%.

Recent winners:

  • 2018 Bob Jungels
  • 2017  Alejandro Valverde
  • 2016 Wout Poels

Most wins: Eddy Merckx

Canty’s call for 2019: Dan Martin

Experience Your Own Spring Classic

A lot of our cycling tours are inspired the by Spring Classics so whether you’re looking to test yourself in the Hell of the North, traverse the white gravel of the Strade Bianche or take on the cobblestone chaos of the Tour of Flanders we have a tour for you! Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

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