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Louise Laker

New Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

New Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour – Embrace It!

By | Gravel | No Comments

The Alps, the Dolomites, the Sella Ronda. Romeo & Juliet, Garda, the World Champs. Verona, Innsbruck, Munich. Italy, Austria, Germany. Groads. Yes. Our Trans Alps Gravel Bike tour is happening this summer, and you’re invited.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stages

This is an incredible new itinerary rolling out in July 2019 linking Munich in the north to Verona in the south, via the cities of Innsbruck (host to the 2018 Cycling World Championships), Bolzano & Trento and straddling the Alps. Designed & tested by Joan Calvera Porta of CycloCat the route links bike paths & gravel roads on a journey through changing landscapes and spectacular scenery.

Stage 1: Munich to Bad Tolz, 60 km, 418 m

The gravel bike Trans Alps Tour starts in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Located to the north of the Bavarian Alps & on the banks of the River Isar the city makes a grand start to the ride. Spin south towards the mountains through woodland, trails & traffic free roads. The River Isar runs from Munich with our path to Bad Tolz, the first stop on the route. Bad Tolz is the gateway to the Alps!

Route Highlight: Munich

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 2 Munich to Bad Tolz

Stage 2: Bad Tolz to Innsbruck, 109 km, 864 m

From Bad Tolz the scenery starts to change dramatically as the route enters Austria & the Alps. The route passes through the town on Lenggries, runs across the Sylvenstein Lake and on into Austria. The road reaches 1,000 m altitude at the town of Maurach before a steep descent meets the River Eno, which carves a flat route to Innsbruck.

Route Highlight: Sylvenstein Lake

  • At the Austrian frontier is the spectacular Sylvenstein Dam, a reservoir which provides flood protection & maintains a steady flow of water to Bad Tolz in the valley below. Ride around and across the damn before leaving the River Isar and crossing the Austrian border.

Route Highlight: Innsbruck

  • The Austrian city of Innsbruck made a name for itself when it hosted the road cycling world championships in September 2018. The high mountains of Tirol served as a spectacular battleground where Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Dutch woman Anna van der Breggen emerged victorious.
  • Innsbruck is the captial of the Tyrol region and is located in the broad valley between high mountains, the Hafelekarspitze, (2,334 metres) to the north, and the Patscherkofel (2,246 m) and Serles (2,718 m) to the south.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 3 Innsbruck to Klausen

Stage 3: Innsbruck to Klausen, 68 km, 351 m

30 kms south of Innsbruck lies the Brenner pass. The Brenner Railway provides transport for the first part of the day, taking riders safely past a busy section of road. Brenner station is at 1,371 m altitude – the highest point reached on the Italian & Austrian rail networks. At the pass is the Italian border & the gravel road begins again with a glorious descent through Italy.

Drop through Colle Isarco & a myriad of Italian villages to our resting place in Klausen, conveniently located at the base of the route to the Italian Dolomites.

Route Highlight: Brenner Pass

  • The Brenner Pass connects northern & southern Europe. Dairy cattle graze in alpine pastures throughout the summer in valleys beneath the pass and on the mountains above it. At lower altitudes, farmers log pine trees, plant crops and harvest hay for winter fodder.

Stage 4: The Sella Ronda Gravel, 53 km, 2,200 m

It was impossible to resist adding a day to explore the iconic Sella Ronda route away from the usual holiday traffic. Our route combines sections of the classic road route with off-road sections which provide a unique and gorgeous perspective on this well-ridden route. It’s today that riders need their climbing legs with altitudes reaching over 2,200 m.

Route Highlight: The Sella Ronda

  • Guidebooks of the Dolomites region are graced with images of the stunning Sella Ronda mountain range. The Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella make up this iconic cycling route. The loop passes through the ski town (and summer cycling hub) of Corvara in Badia, itself synonymous with the annual Maratona del Dolomiti Granfondo.

Stage 5: Klausen to Trento, 100 km, 550 m

After a day in the Dolomites it’s time to head south again, this time to the Italian city of Trento. The route follows the gently descending valley through Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol. Bolzano is considered as a bridge between the North and South due to the three spoken languages in South Tyrol – Italian, German, and Ladin, and the confluence of Italian and German-Austrian culture.

Route Highlight: Trento

  • Trento is located on the Adige River in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtiroll. Formerly part of Austria and Austria-Hungary, it was annexed by Italy in 1919. With almost 120,000 inhabitants, Trento is the third largest city in the Alps and second largest in the Tyrol.
  • Trento is an educational, scientific, financial and political centre. Soak up the picturesque Medieval and Renaissance historic centre & make sure to take a look at the ancient Trento Cathedral and the Castello del Buonconsiglio.
  • Trento was awarded the title of Alpine Town of the Year 2004.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 6 Trento to Verona

Stage 6: Trento to Verona, 124 km, 809 m

The final stage is also the longest stage. Continue south on a flat trail through the town of Rovereto. Detour up a gentle climb to see the spectacular Lake Garda. Retrace and follow the trail to the heart of Verona, a city made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Route Highlight: Lake Garda

  • The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda is located on the edge of the Dolomites and is an exquisite destination for holiday-makers throughout the year. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery on one of the Lake’s islands in 1220. Now travellers around the world enjoy peace, tranquility and a touch of luxury at the lake.

Route Highlight: Verona

  • Roman architecture, Opera & Shakespeare make for a glamourous city to host the grand finale of our Trans Alps gravel adventure!

Italian Basso Palta Gravel Bike

What Gravel Bike For The Trans Alps Tour?

To best enjoy the Trans Alps gravel tour we recommend a gravel bike (no surprises there!) – something fast enough on paved sections & super comfortable on gravel. Try the Italian Basso Palta to truly pay homage to the route.

Trans Alp Gravel Bike Tours – Secure Your Place

We’re really excited about this new tour of the Trans Alps on gravel bikes and the interest we’re receiving about this tour is phenomenal but what’s not to love about it? Gravel, bikes and the Alps – perfect! If you’re interested in securing a place on the tour 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!

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Why Join a Women’s Only Cycling Camp?

By | Women's Cycling | No Comments

Why Women’s Only Cycling?

Cycling Camps just for women are becoming more and more popular as more and more women across the globe take up the sport and seek a female-friendly environment to improve bike-skills, confidence and fitness in the company of like minded women. But what makes a women’s only cycling experience unique & why consider trying it?

Meet Our Female Cycling Guides

We caught up with three women who work as guides on the Eat Sleep Cycle Women’s Cycling Camps in Girona & the Pyrenees to find out first hand about what makes a women’s only cycling experience so special.

Cheynna: Camaraderie & Support

Hello! My name is Cheynna Treto Sutherland and I am originally from southern California. I visited Girona frequently when I was a university student in 2003 and 2004, but we moved to Catalunya permanently in 2011 as my husband is a professional cyclist and this seemed like a great place to be based.

I have been a cyclist since 1988–over 30 years! My favourite ride in Girona is the coastal loop over Sant Grau. Is there anything more beautiful than the Mediterranean? I have been fortunate to ride my bike on five different continents, but my favourite place to be is right here in Catalunya. We have it all–the Pyrenees, the coast, rolling hills, fast descents. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world I’d rather be.

I love being a guide and sharing my cycling knowledge with women. This can be an intimidating sport for anyone and the ESC Women’s Camp has a sense of camaraderie and support that you will not find elsewhere. Female guests, female guides, female support. It creates a sense of community that is often lacking between women. I leave this camp feeling energised and motivated from the amazing female energy and I think more events like this would encourage women to get involved with the sport of cycling.

Nicole: Less Testosterone!

Nicole-Millar-Womens-Cycling-Girona

Where are you from originally?
I am a life long expat born to Dutch and South African parents. I grew up in the Middle East, before moving to the UK then Catalunya in 2006.

What brought you to Catalunya ?
My husbands job, he was a pro cyclist till 2014

How long have you been a cyclist for?
About 13 years

What is your favourite ride in Girona?
I love the roads around Esponellà/Crespia and Mare de Deu for a big day out.

If you could ride your bike anywhere in the world where would it be?
I have been lucky enough to ride in some beautiful places. But I am always happiest riding in Catalunya.

How do you think guiding women differs?
Less testosterone! Jokes aside, I haven’t encountered much difference to date. Everyone I have ever guided as always wanted the same thing, just a great day out on the bike.

What do you think would encourage more women into cycling?
Groups like the ESC Sunday girls ride are a perfect introduction. And if it is roads that make you nervous the new craze of gravel riding is brilliant way to start.

Louise: More Fun!

Where are you from originally?
I’m from Kent in the UK

What brought you to Catalunya ?
I wanted a change of lifestyle and to try and reach my potential as a cyclist. Girona was an obvious place to be based with the great climate, beautiful roads & welcoming community.

How long have you been a cyclist for?
Since birth! My parents are both cyclists so a bicycle has always been a way of life for me. I began with cycling to school and then got into cycle touring – it’s a great way to discover new places. I started racing a bike in 2014.

What is your favourite ride in Girona?
I have to agree with Cheynna, you can’t beat the coast road, especially at this time of year when the Costa Brava is empty.

If you could ride your bike anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’d love to cycle in South America but, as Nicole says, the cycling is really hard to beat here in Girona. For my work I’m lucky enough to travel and ride in new locations – in the last couple of years I’ve been riding in the Pyrenees, North Spain & Gran Canaria and have seen some truly incredible roads & landscapes.

How do you think guiding women differs?
Groups of women always have more fun than groups of men! Even when groups are pushing themselves on a climb the atmosphere is always less serious (even if it can still get competitive!) and women tend to be much more supportive of one another. Women are also way more willing to learn and actively want to improve their bike skills. Women tend to underestimate their abilities and strength on the bike whereas men often think they can achieve more than they’re capable of. Some of the strongest climbing I’ve seen on our tours was on last years Women’s Pyrenees Camp – every single rider was nervous about how they would cope in the mountains and worried about being last, but the group rode the most consistently out of all the groups I’ve led in the mountains & maintained a solid average speed for the whole week. (Comparable groups of men tend to ride faster for the first couple of days then slow to a crawl by the end of the week!)

What do you think would encourage more women into cycling?
I think accessible women’s only rides, access to a bike & friendly advice & guidance from fellow women all have a huge part to play. As Cheynna says, cycling can be a very intimidating sport which requires a significant initial investment in bike & kit as well as a way of learning routes & basic mechanics such as how to fix a puncture. There are so many barriers to getting started that a supportive group for beginners can have a huge impact. It’s also important to get the message out that it doesn’t matter what kit you wear or what bike you ride – anything with wheels, comfy clothes & a helmet is all you need to get started.

Finding a Women’s Only Cycling Group

It can sometimes be difficult to track down other women to ride with. Whilst mixed groups are common and most places have their own cycling club, lots of women start out cycling solo & continue riding alone. If that sounds familiar it’s worth trying to track down some company as finding a group has loads of benefits. For example you can learn how to ride in a group, get a little shelter from the wind, enjoy a good chat and learn new routes. It’s also great to have some moral support in-case of a puncture or mechanical. But, how to find them?

  1. Strava – it’s worth having a look at the women’s leaderboard for segments on your regular rides – it’s likely you’ll find local women there and you can get in touch via leaving them a comment. You can even contact those who are riding at a similar pace to you!
  2. Sign up to a women’s only camp – if local ladies are proving difficult to track down look for a women’s only cycling camp. A week surrounded by women who love cycling can be super motivating and you may find yourself some cycling friends for life.
  3. Join your local cycling club – ok, so this is likely to be full of men but you’re likely to meet some women too. You only need one partner in crime to start your very own local women’s ride!
  4. Social media – if someone in your area is running a women’s cycling group it’s likely to be on facebook, instagram or twitter. Try searching #womenscycling and see what you can find!

Women’s Cycling Camps

If the above has piqued your interest for a trip in the sole company of other women who cycle then we’ve got the perfect tour for you. Check out our Girona Women’s Camp to enjoy the best of Girona’s roads or take a look at our Pyrenees Women’s Camp for a true climbing adventure. 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!

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

 

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Girona Biking: Get off the Beaten Track this Spring

By | Cycling in Spain | No Comments

As temperatures start to nudge towards Spring cyclists all over the world are dreaming of ripping off the leg warmers and indulging in some quality legs-out cycling. Here in our Girona HQ that dream is already coming true with the early arrival of Spring in mid-February.

Girona Biking in Spring

Whilst most cyclists choose to visit Girona in April, May & June, February & March also offer great cycling. Whilst temperatures are ‘fresh’ in the mornings they climb steadily during the day to often reach 20 degress by lunchtime – perfect riding conditions. They are also ‘dry’ months with much less rainfall than the warmer months that follow. Add to this the quiet roads, yet to be filled by holiday makers heading to the Coast, early Spring is one of the best times of the year to enjoy cycling in Girona.

Enjoy Girona Off-Season

Avoiding the peak Girona cycling season has many benefits:

  1. Accommodation is more widely available and can often be secured at a cheaper rate
  2. Pro-Spotting can begin as professional riders return to their Euopean base for the race season
  3. The Costa Brava is divine with empty beaches and empty roads
  4. Have your pick of the rental bikes on offer – lower demand for bikes in February & March means your bike of choice is highly likely to be available
  5. Enjoy the pick of the best restaurants in town – less visitors means restaurants which can be fully booked in the peak times are available for you to enjoy.

Our Favourite Spring Girona Cycling Routes

It’s a tough one to call but February & March are the perfect time of year to explore the Empordà region and the beautiful coastline of the Costa Brava. Both these areas can get a little congested as temperatures warm and should be avoided completely by cyclists in July & August (unless riding at sunrise, which is still stunning!)

Hidden Costa Brava

From Girona cycle south through the lanes to San Andreu Salou and on to Llaostera. From here climb up to San Grau and swing a left when the road hits the Mediterranean. Enjoy the rollercoaster of one of the best roads in the world to San Feliu where you can choose an elegant coffee at the harbour or keep going a little further to the secuded beach at S’Agaro. From here there are many options  depening on how long of a ride you’re looking for. One option is to keep hugging the coast as far as Platja D’Aro. Here you can visit the cake shop Dulce Pikka for a caffeine & sugar hit ahead of tackling the super-steep climb up to the golf course. Descend and head home via Llagostera –  a nice option is to take the Via Verde from here back to Girona.

Empordà & the Begur Hills

Another treat of a ride taking in the lanes of the Empordà region. Ride north out of Girona and skirt around the mountains to the farmlands around Celrà. Climb up to Foixa and drop down to the flatlands of the Empordà. Set a course east through a myriad of lanes, taking care to avoid the main roads. Emerge in Palau-Sator, Ultramort and continue on to the medieveal village of Pals. It’s here that the fun starts with a steady climb to the Begur headland. Here enjoy a series of short, sharp climbs which navigate the coves & beaches around Begur. Pause in Tamariu for lunch and set a course home via Palafrugell and the lanes to Calonge. From here choose your climb – Rumanya or Calonge and make your way back on lanes to Girona.

Girona Biking Events in Spring

There’s plenty happening on the local cycling scene for all to get involved in.

International Women’s Day Rides, 8th March 2019

One for the ladies and supporters of gender equality! We’re hosting a day of rides for cyclists of all levels to celebrate women in cycling.

Rocacorba Gravel Gran Fondo, 17th March 2019

If gravel’s your thing this is one of the best new events in town with a challenging off-road route to reach the summit of Rocacorba.

Rocacorba Gran Fondo, 25th May 2019

A new event this year this is set to become a Girona Cycling Classic, with a route designed around conquering the mighty Rocacorba.

Terra de Remences, 12th May 2019

An incredible ride exploring the region west of Girona. Packed full of climbing the parcour includes the Capsacosta, Col de Canes and the 1st Cat Col de Bracons. Find out more on the Terra de Remences site.

Travelling to Girona in Spring

March is the month when Girona Airport starts to welcome direct flights from all over Europe for super cheap prices. Flying direct into Girona means a travel day can also be a bike ride day as the airport is just a 20 min transfer from the city centre. If that’s not an option for you Barcelona welcomes flights from all over the world and a well timed flight can also leave you time to pedal up Els Àngels before sundown.

Inspired to Visit Girona this Spring?

If you’re planning to cycle in Girona check out our Spring cycling tours, including our Girona Ride CampWomen’s Camp, Tour of the Costa Brava & Girona Classic Climbs. Or why not contact us and we can arrange anything from a full custom package to sorting you out with your dream bike rental.

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

Gran-Canaria-Ride-Camp-Cycling-Tour-of-Gran-Canaria

10 Essential Tips for Cycling in Gran Canaria in Winter

By | Gran Canaria | No Comments

Gran Canaria is establishing itself as one of the go-to destinations for cyclists seeking sun in the cold winter months. The island is located off the west coast of Africa and is subject to warm weather, sunshine and very little rain all year around. We asked Eat Sleep Cycle founders Lee & Louise to compile a list of tips for cyclists after they visited the island last week.

1. Winter Cycling Paradise in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is one of the best destinations in the world to enjoy in January & February. Don’t bother packing leg warmers – our friend Normando, who is from the north of the island, doesn’t own a pair and rides every day. Make sure you cover your legs in sun-cream instead as UV is very high. Factor 50 is best, and you’ll still get tan lines!

2. Pace Yourself

Pace yourself & prepare yourself for some tough climbing, the island does not contain a single flat road. There are two particularly challenging climbs on the island – the legendary Valley of the Tears & the climb up to Pico de Nieves via the village of La Pasadilla. Do not start out too fast on Day 1 when your legs are fresh – the roads to not let up and you’ll be off the bike by Day 3 if you hit the climbs too fast.

3. Tranquilo Traffic

Traffic is generally very respectful of cyclists and it’s quiet on the mountain roads. The coast road should be avoided at busy times of the day but it does have beautiful sections which are well worth riding, particularly in the north and west of the island.

4. Go Local

Locals ride in the north, visitors ride in the south – both are amazing and it’s well worth exploring the north of the island if you can. The north of the island offers greener landscapes with plenty of Eucalyptus trees and a friendly cycling culture (there are so many cyclists in the south it’s more difficult to keep up the enthusiastic greetings!) 

5. Be Prepared & Know Your Roads

Do your homework – roads on Gran Canaria are in a constant state of flux with frequent closures & resurfacing. There are two key sections of the coast road which are falling away. One section has been closed for 3 years and the other has just been blocked off in the name of safety – ask around when you arrive on the island for the latest updates. Whilst roads generally have a great surface they deteriorate quickly so prepare yourself for some bumpy rides on roads which are due for resurfacing – some roads are fairly dangerous to descend but enjoyable to climb.

6. Perfect Planning

Plan to your ride up to Pico de Nieves on the clearest day of your trip so you can enjoy the otherworldly view of Mont Teide on Tenerife. Sometimes the wind blows a fine layer of dust over from Africa, blocking the view and making all the effort not so worthwhile – the dust is not likely to last more than a couple of days so it’s worth planning your ascent carefully 

7. Ride Nutrition for Epic Days

Food in supermarkets is relatively expensive but there are some great value bars & restaurants. In local bars off the tourist bus route coffee hovers around the €1 mark. If you’re bonked and in need of some serious sustenance order a ‘leche leche’ and you’ll fly up the next climb. A ‘leche leche’ is a cafe bonbon on steroids. A cafe bonbon is an espresso served with deliciously sweet condensed milk. Both drinks are €1 in the best places – make sure you carry cash, cards tend not to be welcome in these areas.

It’s also well worth carrying a stash of food in your pockets and stopping at every opportunity for water. It’s easy to run out of both if you’re on a big day & some rides take you to some fairly remote places.

8. Look Up! It’s Beautiful.

If you’re expecting to ride on a brown volcanic island, think again. Gran Canaria is full of green, lots of cacti, Eucalyptus, banana plants and there are some incredible rock formations in varying colours. Make sure you look up from the the wheel in front of you and take time to appreciate the incredible landscape.

9. Enjoy the Friendly, Welcoming Vibe

The local language is Spanish but it’s very easy to get by with English as the island’s economy is centered around tourism. It’s hard to find a menu in a cafe which has not been translated into several languages.

10. Think Pantani

Legendary Italian climber Pantani trained in Gran Canaria & every ride contains 2,000 m of climbing unless you choose not to venture off the coast road. Just something to be aware of when planning your rides!

Planning to Cycle in Gran Canaria?

If you’re planning to cycle on Gran Canaria check out our blog outlining some of the best Gran Canaria Cycle Routes & the best places to stay. Or why not sign up to our Gran Canaria Ride Camp or ultimate Gran Canaria Experience and save yourself the hassle!

Cycling Barcelona to Girona: A CycloCat Adventure

By | Gravel | No Comments

Sunday 22nd January 2019 saw the third annual edition of the Ladies & Gentlemen’s Barcelona to Girona Gravel Ride. The ride was desgined & organised by CycloCat, a non-profit organisation on a mission to map all the off-road, safe cycling routes in Catalunya.

When CycloCat approached Eat Sleep Cycle looking for a venue in Girona to host the finish we jumped at the chance to get invovled in this unique event.

Naturally Eat Sleep Cycle sent a team to take part and check out the route. DS Brian pulled together a squad made up of Eat Sleep Cycle riders Lee, Lou & Boris with guests David Millar of CHPT3 & Miguel, local brompton-riding legend. With over 300 riders on the start sheet it was set to be one hell of a ride.

The Gravel Adventure Begins

An already damp team met at a wet Girona train station to catch the 07:04 train to Barcelona. It hadn’t rained for months but the team were in cheery-ish spirits with the promise of an epic day on the bike ahead.

7 hours and one deluge of mud, sweat, broken brakes & hardcore river crossing later we caught up with the riders of the ‘Paulaner Express’ to capture their impressions of the 140 km route.

Lee: Ex-Engineer, Eat Sleep Cycle Partner

Describe your ride in one word:
EPIC

Best moment?
When Boris repaired Miguel’s brakes, which meant we would make the ride.

Darkest moment? 
Riding to the start in the cold, wet & rain.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
Wish I was wearing what David had on (CHPT3)

Will you ride again next year?
Most definitley but only if Brian does it.

David-Millar-CHPT3-Barcelona-Girona-Gravel-Ride

David: Founder of clothing brand CHPT3, ex-Pro Cyclist

Describe your ride in one word:
Complicated

Best moment?
Getting all my shit ready the day before, I hadn’t done that in years.

Darkest moment? 
Catching a glimpse of the blue AVE autoroute bridge 4hrs after we’d started and realizing we were still miles away.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
All of it. LSWBL Baselayer, J/J Jacket, K61 Jacket, Nanoflex tights – I stayed completely dry and correct body temp the whole time, which even I was impressed with.

Will you ride again next year?
If Brian does I might.

Boris: Bearded, Eat Sleep Cycle Mechanic

Describe your ride in one word:
Never-ending

Best moment?
Finding my pace after finding myself doing a solo effort.

Darkest moment? 
Realising I was not in Llagostera but Tordera.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
I would say water, but since I forgot that, I’m going to say my Assos winter bibs.

Will you ride again next year?
Next year I’ll ride it on a  Brompton

Louise: Tiny person, Eat Sleep Cycle founder

Describe your ride in one word:
eesh.

Best moment?
That sweet sweet coffee in Caldes de Malavella. The team had scattered but home was in sight.

Darkest moment? 
When we hit gravel 10 km out of Barcelona and saw a disturbed rider coming back the other way shouting ‘molt aigua’.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
I nearly died. I needed actual winter kit. CHPT3 for women, David?

Will you ride again next year?
err. If Silvia does it.

Miguel: Girona local, Brompton lover

Describe your ride in one word:
The river crossing!

Best moment?
Personally, I had the feeling ‘nothing could stop me’…!

Darkest moment? 
That we were called the Paulaner team and only had coffee at the end.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
No comment.

Will you ride again next year?
Perhaps. It was a great #7hrGravelChallenge

Hat’s off to the team. Out of 300 riders who signed on around 80 started the ride and around half completed it without the aid of a train. Thanks also to the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub team and the kind bakery’s & cafes who welcomed and fed some extremely dirty cyclists along the route.

CycloCat & the Origin’s of the Gravel Ride

Whilst bang on the current trend for riders to get off road, organiser & founder of CycloCat, Joan Calvera, reveals the origins of the ride in the 1940’s. We sat down with Joan after the event to learn more about the Ladies & Gentlemen’s ride and to find out more about Joan’s motivation & vision for CycloCat.

What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Joan Calvera Porta. I was born and raised in Sant Andreu del Palomar, Barcelona, so my first kilometers on MTB were on the mytical Collserola mountain. After Barcelona I lived in Girona, Brussels, England and South-Tyrol (so I can speak 5 languages!)

Tell me about how and why you started CycloCat?
We (together with my wife Anna) started CycloCat after coming back to Catalonia and realising that there was no information about cycling paths connecting urban centres. We checked how other systems worked in places like Belgium & Italy and then we created our Catalan version of that.

What inspired you to start the Ladies & Gentlemen’s Barcelona to Girona event?
When I started racing on MTB at 16 years old, my Grandpa told me that he was also a cyclist. He was able to ride from Barcelona to Girona on a single speed, wooden wheeled bike. No helmet, no culotte, no jersey. So, when we had completed mapping all the safe cycling tracks from Barcelona to Girona then we decided to recreate this ancient route. In fact, now it’s more difficult than in the 40’s, as my Grandpa rode on the N-II (not totally asphalted, a lot of cobbled sections) and the easiest route from Barcelona to Griona. But, nevertheless, today’s route is so nice because it sneaks between small vilages and green fields with very few cars at any time. Even being a cyclist, we all tend to think as a car driver, and when somebody asks you how to reach certain village we all think first how to get there by car, without considering slopes, for example.

You rode the event – how was it?
Yes I rode. Well, I understand it could be hard for some people especially at the begining. But if you have good clothes and certain experience of riding under the rain, it was a very nice journey. After 3 hours riding in the rain, good clothes get dry. Once we were in Sant Celoni (less than half of the route) we were already dry. I like the course very much, especially the changes from tarmac to dirt or to single track. Gravel bikes give you that freedom to go fast on road and manage the mud on single-tracks.

What is your favorite gravel ride in Catalunya?
I use to train close to Girona (when I have a chance): Vidreres, Llagostera, Caldes. La Selva and Gironès are very good for training and have good gravel tracks. Then Osona and Urgell are also amazing places to ride. I use to train a lot around Vallès, but it’s mid mountain and sometimes there’s too many cars due to the proximity to the big city of Barcelona.

What’s next for CycloCat?
As you know, CycloCat is a private non-profit organisation that documents and classifies the safest cycling routes in Catalonia. Out criteria is our moto as well: “minimum slope, maximum safety”. We have already documented 1300 Km that join the 4 main capital cities in Catalonia.

In the next month we are going to release the tracks to reach Lleida (an amazing gravel area through Urgell) and we are trying to develop software together with Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona that allows us to create the routes in a easier way.

Thanks to the brave photographer Gonzalo Rodríguez from Fotos Cursa who risked hypothermia to capture the event –  check out the full album from the event on the Foto Cursa facebook page.

Thank you to Joan & Anna at CycloCat for organising a great day out on the bike and for continuing to build an incredible resource of bike routes for everyone to enjoy. Check out the CycloCat website to see the maps.

For anyone with kit-envy or planning a suitably wintery excursion it’s worth checking out David Millar’s CHPT3 winter range. Seriously good kit.

Experience your own Gravel Cycling Adventure in Catalunya

If you want to explore the network of gravel roads in Catalunya check out our Girona Gravel Adventure, or why not hire a gravel bike & bags and head off on your own bike-packing extravaganza on the Pirinexus Trail. The sun does normally shine, promise! Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

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Celebrating 2018 Year of Cycling with Eat Sleep Cycle

Eat Sleep Cycle in Four Seasons: 2018 in Review

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It’s the time of year to crack out the bubbly and to reflect on the year just passed – and we certainly have a lot to reflect on from 2018 at Eat Sleep Cycle. We take a look at the last four seasons at Eat Sleep Cycle, from opening our new Girona Hub back in February, to conquering new climbs in new destinations on our tours in Spring & Summer, as well as partnering with new brands. It makes us wonder what 2019 will bring. 

Winter 2018

We started 2018 with the launch of our new brand, designed by Aussie cyclist & designer Matthew Slade. Our Sismic kit is modelled here by Zeta & Peter – a stylish way to kick off the year.

In February we opened our new Eat Sleep Cycle Hub in Girona, our home & heart of the Eat Sleep Cycle community.

As 2018 got underway our brand new fleet of Ridley bikes started to arrive at our Girona Hub – it felt like Christmas every day!

We travelled south to Calpe and climbed some vuelta classics under the winter sun – here’s the gang up Cumbre del Sol.

Spring

Under a moody sky we conquered the 3 peaks of Girona: Els Àngels, Mare de Deu de Mont & Rocacorba. Kudos to all who continued riding after the freak hail storm.

With Spring well underway we partnered with Assos in May for a ride to our local mountain Rocacorba. Best dressed peleton of the year perhaps?

In May we went for a luxurious jaunt to the sun soaked Lake Como. We ate pizza, pasta, took ferries to restaurants to watch the sunset and even managed to take a day trip to see the Giro D’Italia pass through town. Magic.

Summer

We gathered the Eat Sleep Cycle crew at the top of Montjuic, ready for the season of cycling ahead. It was great to see our amazing team of staff and guides all together.

In June our road turned north to the lush green landscapes of Cantabria & Asturias, home to the fabled climbs of Los Machucos, Lagos de Covadonga, Sotres, Les Praeres and, the giant of them all, the Angliru. Here’s one of our favourite roadside picnic stops from the year.

Meanwhile back in Girona a sea of blue, in the shape of the London Dynamo Club, descended on the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub for a week of cycling and the Girona Gran Fondo.

The Full Monty Cycling Club landed in Italy and climbed straight up Monte Zoncolan to kick off their Trans Dolomites Challenge with a bang. Here’s Coby at the top after his brutal effort to conquer the beast.

July came and with it a trip to the Pyrenees to see the Tour de France.

Back in Girona we teamed up with local cycling brand Tactic to head out for a ride.

Our August Trans Pyrenees Challenge saw blue skies and determined riders. Here’s our champion crew ahead of the toughest day from Saint Savin to Saint Jean Pied du Port.

We travelled to Andorra and Europe’s tougest sportive, the one and only La Purito. Here’s guide Knut giving our guests some moral support…

Autumn

In September North Spain was calling again, this time the rolling climbs of Pais Vasco. With incredible food a staple of the tour the cycling did more than match its culinary challenge – here’s Alejandro decending Monte Oiz with misty views of the Costa Verde.

A strong contender for our photo of the year on the first edition of our Women’s Pyrenees Tour. Here are the ladies climbing high on the Col D’Aubisque.

In September we went to Viella in the picturesque Vall D’Aran to support the first edition of the Bonaigua Gran Fondo. We’ll be back for sure next year. What a ride!

Welcoming the boys and girls of Maap to Eat Sleep Cycle & Girona for the Maap in the Field ride.

We welcomed David Millar’s Chapter 3 into the Eat Sleep Cycle fold along with the brand’s latest collection inspired by the architecture & landscapes of Girona.

In November we followed the sun south to explore Andalucia & soak up the winter sun in the Costa del Sol & the Sierra Nevada mountains. Here’s Steve loving one of our last Eat Sleep Cycle tours of the year!

In December we welcomed Brompton Bicycles to the Hub – here’s a couple of special edition beauties designed by Chapter 3.

Entering the terrible two’s! Lee, Lou & Brian celebrating two whole years of Eating, Sleeping & Cycling (there was a huge bike ride before the cake was demolished!)

To get ourselves in the festive spirit we teamed up with Chapter 3 and our friends at the Rocacorba Food Truck to mount a botifarra fuelled christmas ride.

We hosted guests from England, Ireland & Scotland for a week of cycling over Christmas. Here we are with our Girona community on Christmas Day at Can Pol. A fitting end to the year!

We couldn’t have had such a successful year without the help of all of our staff, guests and partners. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of our wonderful staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes and in the Hub, everyone who visited us in Girona or came on tour, and all of the wonderful brands that we have worked with this year. Here’s to achieving all of this and more in 2019! Happy New Year!

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

Special-offer-refundable-deposit-2019-tour

Secure your place on a 2019 Tour with a Refundable €100 deposit

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Secure your place on a late season 2019 Eat Sleep Cycle tour with a fully refundable €100 deposit.

Whether you’re dreaming of racking up some quality miles in Girona, thinking about a luxury tour of the south of France, or plotting a hardcore challenge riding across the Alps or the Pyrenees, we think we’ve got the perfect tour for every cyclist.

Special Offer For Your 2019 Cycling Tour

Whilst money may be tight over the festive season it doesn’t mean you need to delay booking your cycling holiday for 2019. Until 31st January 2019 you can secure your place on any of our scheduled tours with a €100 fully refundable deposit.

6 months before your tour departs a 50% deposit is due – up until this point we’ll give you your €100 deposit back if you change your mind about the tour or can no longer travel.

Give the Gift of Cycling

If there’s a special cyclist in your life why not treat them to the holiday of a lifetime? With four levels of tours for riders of different abilities to choose from, tour collections designed for riders of different tastes & inclinations & destinations to choose from all over Europe there’s a perfect Eat Sleep Cycle tour for you.

Browse our website or drop us an email with your requirements & we’ll be happy to help.

Cycling Inspiration

  1. The ‘big three’ mountain ranges: the Alps, the Pyrenees & the Dolomites are packed full of classic cycling climbs to tick off your bucket list.
  2. The Tour de France. There’s nothing like watching the world’s greatest bike race as it hits the high mountains, especially when you can attempt your own PR up the same climbs.
  3. If you’ve already conquered the cols it’s time to branch out and discover the hidden gems of European cycling. Cycle Trans-Picos, discover Pais Vasco, the Cevennes mountains, Andalucia & the Sierra Nevada.
  4. Looking for luxury? Whilst all of our tours offer quality hotels & excellent food, sometimes only 5* luxury will do. Try our new Tour of Provence, soak up la dolce vita in the Italian Lakes & watch out for our all new Gourmet Tour of Catalunya, coming soon!
  5. Try out a Gran Fondo Challenge. From the Paris Roubaix Challenge & the gravel roads of Tuscany in the Strade Bianche, to the excruciatingly hard slopes of La Purito, to newcomers like the Bonaigua Gran Fondo, these events provide the perfect motivation to train and excuse to travel with your bike.

Check out our Tour Calendar to find a tour to suit your travel dates.

How to Secure Your Tour Place

Complete the form below and we’ll be in touch with any further information and with payment details for your €100 refundable deposit. Remember, 50% of the balance is due 6 months before your tour departs, but up until then we’ll give you your deposit back if you change your mind or can no longer travel.

  • Tell us your telephone number if you'd like us to call you.
  • Where would you like to cycle? Who are you travelling with? Are you interested in a particular tour?

Special Offer Terms & Conditions

This offer is valid until midnight on January 31st 2019 and can only be applied to scheduled tours as advertised on our website. This offer is not valid for private & bespoke tours.

Your €100 deposit is fully refundable until 6 months before the departure date of the tour.

6 months before the tour departs 50% of the balance is due, with the final balance due 2 months before the start date of your tour.

A Grand Départ we will never forget

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This weekend we opened the doors to our brand new Girona Hub, a pretty momentous & proud moment in our short (but intense) history.

Our early blog readers will remember how Eat Sleep Cycle started: in August 2016 we ran our first tour from Girona to Biarritz with a rented Enterprise van and 6 intrepid clients. In November 2016 we opened a tiny local in the Barri Vell and stocked it with 7 Cinelli rental bikes.  That winter we developed our blog into a website, added some tours and started to take more & more rental bookings. By April 2017 we had a fleet of 20 Orbea bicycles and were opening a second premises just over the plaza.

We thought we had made it but had little idea about the surge in business to come. The 2017 season was bonkers & brilliant. We ran tours across the Pyrenees, recced new itineraries in the Dolomites & Picos mountains, rented bikes, guided rides around Girona and worked all the hours we could. By the end of 2017 we knew we needed more bikes which, in our 20 bike-hook HQ, was not an option. We started taking bookings for 2018 and worked out we needed around 70 bikes to meet the demand of early bookers. We went to see out of town storage units, considered a 3rd local on the same plaza & tried convincing (ie. bribing) our landlord to rent us his garage.

Then one day in December Lee walked past a beautiful glass locale on Placa Catalunya, located next to popular cafe +Cub, with a sizable Terraza. There was a ‘For Rent’ sign on the door with a number to call. Lee called it & the wheels started turning.

Fast-forward two months (nothing takes very long at Eat Sleep Cycle) and we are the proud tenants of Carrer del Vern, 3. We have 70 beautiful Ridley rental bikes (now including Gravel & Mountain bikes), two workshop spaces, a bike fit studio, a bike rental pick-up space and a beautiful retail space showcasing kit made in Catalunya, Worx Bikes and leading brands Assos & Ridley.

Friday night was opening night and we were overwhelmed by the turnout. Our Hub was THE place to be seen on Friday night. It was a party packed with people who’ve been part of our journey – family, friends, teammates, club members, our lawyer, our builder, the ladies from Tourist Info, town hall representatives, pro riders, colleagues from other cycling businesses & journalists all flocked to the Hub. We overflowed out the door and onto the terrace, people were jammed into both floors, queuing to get in and see the new space. It was a very proud few hours for the team.

+Cub (our new favourite neighbours) welcomed us by running a bar for the event with delicious juices, cava & beers. Silvia (our new favourite employee) baked an Eat Sleep Cycle cake to die for (prepared with the pastry chef from El Celler Can Roca no less!) and ESC volunteers kept everything running behind the scenes.

We followed the opening night with a weekend of cycling, offering free guided road, gravel & mountain bike rides, a trip to the Rocacorba Food Truck and a delicious lunch at +Cub. We hosted a Retul Bike Fit talk by the legend that is Emi Molina from VeloLoveFit, we offered massages by Gabinet Medic Girona, we launched our race teams Rocacorba Racing & Els Àngles Racing.

The whirlwind weekend is over and now we’re working in the Hub and turning our attention to delivering an epic 2018 of cycling. Here’s to the next chapter in the journey, we cannot wait!

Photo Gallery by George Harper

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European Cycling Tours Pyrenees

A brand-new look for Eat Sleep Cycle

By | Cycling, News | One Comment

It was a key moment in the Eat Sleep Cycle journey when our good friend and web designer Hollie told us that we needed to re-brand. It hurt a little bit knowing that our trusty logo (a collection of triangles and circles mushed together on Microsoft Word to make a mountain and some bicycles) just wasn’t going to cut it as the company grows. She put us in touch with a designer (and cyclist) in Oz and he set to work sprucing us up.

It was a fun and necessary journey, thinking about how we wanted to present ourselves to the world, our core values and our company mission. Eat Sleep Cycle is our mantra and at the core of what we do, that means good food, good rest and, most importantly, damn good rides.

Our signature images are epic landscapes, our natural habitat for our collection of tours. Our logo is our company name and mantra, two orange dots a homage to our two cyclists and a pair of bicycle wheels. Our icon is a mountain, for we would be nothing without them. We Eat, Sleep, Cycle them and then attempt to conquer the next one.

Our colours are not testosterone driven, they are subtle and elegant like the beautiful act of riding a bike. Our overall feel is relaxed, fun, epic and inclusive. For the bicycle is for everyone who wants to join the ride. Our feel is modern and fresh, as the bicycle is our future.

To outgrow our homemade logo in just over a year isn’t a reason to mourn, it’s a reason to pop the corks and celebrate, an excuse to order custom paint jobs for our rental bike fleet and an excuse to order beautiful new cycling kit.

The result? Eat Sleep Cycle is no longer Lee, Lou & Brian, it’s a European Cycling Tour operator with international ambitions and we’re determined to be the best.

Girona food cycling tour

A blissful union of food & cycling on our first Gourmet Tour

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Warning!! Contains images of food and cycling!!

The Gourmet Tour of Catalunya is an itinerary inspired by all our favourite rides and all our favourite places to eat and drink in the Girona region. Here´s a taster…

Wine tasting in the Emporda region is a must for any self respecting Gourmet Tour. The ride takes our cyclists through idylic country lanes to the only bodega in Catalunya that still uses traditional wine making methods. The results are divine.

A visit to the Costa Brava and a taste of seafood from the Mediterranean is yet another treat for body, soul and stomach. We ride from Girona through farmland and small villages before tackling the climb up to San Grau. From there riders enjoy a spectacular descent and work up an appetite for the 3-course extravaganza that awaits.

We enjoyed the first Gourmet Tour so much that we´re running two more for 2017 and more dates will soon be released for 2018. Join us for a true Eat, Sleep, Cycle experience.

Thanks go to Tristan Cardew for the fab videos and to Colleen, Gil & Harriet for making our first Gourmet Tour extra delicious and to our fabulous hosts on the ride.

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