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A Different Side of Catalunya - The Pirinexus 360 - Cycle Tour

The Pirinexus 360 – A Different Side of Catalunya

By | Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours, Pyrenees | No Comments

Catalunya is well known for its road cycling pedigree by now, the droves of riders that frequent the roads around Girona are testament to that. But if you’re after a different way to explore the region then look no further than the Pirinexus 360. As the name suggests the route is a circular 360 km loop. From Girona, it heads north to Olot, Camprodon & France via the Pyrenees Mountains, before heading south and downhill to the Costa Brava, and looping back around to Girona. The route can be completed in either one monster chunk for the epic riders out there, or in smaller more leisurely rides taking in the beautiful towns and villages along the way.

The Pirinexus 360 Cycle Route

The Pirinexus route is divided into 7 stretches of distances between 22 and 73km and is designed to be completed in small segments in order to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and tranquillity of the off-road riding. The well-signposted route crosses through some of the most beautiful landscapes and charming villages Catalunya has to offer including the coastline of the Costa Brava and charming towns in the south of France.

Starting from Girona the route is best completed at a leisurely pace over 5 – 8 days to take full advantage of the varied and richly cultured towns and villages interposed throughout. So let’s break down the Pirinexus 360 route!

Girona – Olot

The first section is a 57 km stretch that sees you head north-west from Girona to the town of Olot, passing through three ‘comarcas’ and 12 towns and taking in the valleys of the Rivers Fluvià, Brugent and Ter. The first ‘comarca’ is Girones, heading out of the city towards the industrial towns of Salt and Bescanó and Bonmatí to the town of Anglès, which is home to a walled medieval town. The medieval town of Amer is the final town in the Girones comarca before the route enters the ‘Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa’ of which Olot is the capital, an area of astonishing natural beauty and geological interest. As you pass through Sant Feliu de Pallerols you will be able to spot volcanic rocks parallel to the route. From here both the natural and man-made spectacles are in abundance, from a 9th century castle, to natural springs and gorges, sprawling valleys and beautiful churches.

Stay in:
– La Rectoria de Sant Miquel de Pineda, Sant Feliu de Pallerols
– Mas Rubio, Joanetes

Eat at:
– Les Cols, Olot
– La Rectoría offers a fabulous menu.

The Pirinexus 360 Cycle Tour - Girona - Olot

Olot – Camprodon

The shortness of this section of the Pirinexus 360 belies its difficulty, it is the hilliest section of the route with 900m of elevation but it is possibly the most beautiful.

From Olot the climbing begins straight away with the Coll de Coubet, a steady climb of around 9km, at the top the road plateaus to reveal fantastic views of the Pyrenees. From there the route takes a right along the rolling road to the Coll de Santigosa and beautiful comarca of El Ripollès. The route follows the road until the 12th Century Romanesque Church of Sant Pol and then crosses the Gothic bridge into Sant Joan Les Abadeses. From St Joan the tranquil lanes traverse the valley until Camprodon, a picture-postcard town populated mainly by the moneyed Barcelona second home owners and the 12th century Pont Nou bridge. Also home to the Birba biscuit factory, whose produce can be found in most shops in the area.

Stay in:
– Alberg Rural Ruta del Ferro, Sant Joan de les Abadesses
– Hotelet del Bac, Camprodon

Eat at:
– Mitic Restauraunt, Camprodon
– Ca ‘Enric Sant Joan

The Pirinexus 360 Biking Route - Olot - Camprodon

Camprodon – Ceret

It is on this section of the route that you will enter France for the first time. Leaving Camprodon, the juxtaposition of the contrasting cultures of medieval Catalunya and the low Pyrenees become apparent. The area is steeped in history with and a wealth of cultures and cuisines to sample. The views from the Coll d’Ares, which marks the border between Spain and France, are breath-taking and stopping to savour them before crossing into France is essential.

Ceret itself is known as the cherry capital and is also widely considered the home of the Cubism art movement so for art lovers a visit to the Museum of Modern art is a must.

Stay in:
– Hôtel Vidal, Céret

Eat at:
– L’Atelier de Fred Ceret

The Pirinexus 360 Cycling Tour - Camprodon - Ceret

Ceret – The Costa Brava

From Ceret the next point of interest is the communce of Le Boulou, where various remains of the old part of the village can be seen including an magnificent 832kg bell-tower, the ornately decorated Eglise Sainte-Marie and the statue ‘du petit tambour’ or little drummer boy which depicts the child mortally wounded in battle. Indeed this entire section of the route is peppered with plenty of historical interest and medieval, historical remains. The area is also known for having been at the forefront of the cork industry throughout the 20th century. Crossing the Coll de Panissars and back into Spain through La Jonquera, a town of dual interest as both a commercial and cultural centre the route eventually reaches Capmany – an integral location within the wine-making trade home to an array of cellars producing D.O Empordà wine.

Tasting Empordà wine is a must in this area, there are plenty of producers, many of whom offer tours of their vineyards and cellars with tastings. Following the river Llobregat from Capmany comes the town of Peralada which is steeped in history home to the ancient walled settlement of Ibers as well as a castle museum. A short detour from the route on this section of Pirinexus is Figueres a town perhaps most famous for being home to the Salvador Dalí museum dedicated to the surrealist painter who resided in the down. Those interested in nature will enjoy the Aiguamolls Natural Park which is home to an array of local bird life. Crossing the wooden bridge over the River Muga you will reach the coast and Empuriabrava, the largest residential marina in Europe. Following the coast down you will then reach the fishing town of L’Escala famous for its anchovies. Stop just north of the town for a luxurious evening by the Mediterranean.

Stay in:
– Hotel Spa Vilamint Garriguella,
– Hostal Empuries, L’Escala

Eat at:
– Hostal Empuries

Pirinexus 360 Bike Route - Ceret - Costa Brava

L’Escala – Girona

A large section of this segment runs parallel with the coast taking in the many towns of the Baix or ‘low’ Empordà region including Pals, where yet more medieval remains can be seen. Following on from Torrent is the area of the Gavarres Massif bordered by Palafrugell, a picturesque town characterised by an unfinished bell tower and the Modernist Tower of Can Mario, an old factory which has been converted into the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture. The coastal section comes to an end at the fishng town of Sant Feliu de Guixols, the route then heads north-west and is scattered with towns containing myriad medieval structures and remains before finally re-entering the Girones commarca. Through the corkwood forest comes the town of Lllagostera before crossing the fault lines which created the hot springs that are dotted in the area into Casa de la Selva. From the cork region comes the ceramic region and the town of Quart where a pottery museum can be accessed straight from the Via Verde before heading back to Girona.

Stay in:
– Hotel Alga****, Calella de Palafrugell
– Hotel Sant Pol, Sant Feliu de Guixols
– Hotel Ultonia, Girona
– Hotel Peninsula, Girona

Eat at:
– Calau, Palafrugell
– Massana, Girona

Pirinexus 360 Cycling Vacation - L'Escala - Girona

Tailored Pirinexus 360 Cycle Route

The Pirinexus route provides a fantastic vehicle by which to view an area rich in culture and history from the tranquillity of cycling-specific infrastructure free from traffic. Cycling the Pirinexus allows for a thorough exploration of the area which the road does not always provide and the accessibility of the roads and trails means that it can be enjoyed by riders of all abilities.

There are a myriad of ways to tailor your cycling tour of the Pirinexus like:

  • Luxury Leisure – Take as many days as you possibly can, stay in the best luxury hotels, enjoy gourmet food experiences. Enjoy the company of a private guide & the back up of a personal support vehicle.
  • Self-Guided Simplicity –Find your way along the trail at your perfect pace. Enjoy the freedom of a light bike and the luxury of luggage transfers – your bags will be waiting for you at your final destination.
  • Bikepacking Cycling Adventure – Go it alone with a GPS (or map and compass for a true adventure), and bike-pack your way to happiness. If you’re time-pressed, pack your tour into 3 or 4 days and up the pace on a lightweight bike, elegantly packed with all your gear.
  • Endurance Challenge – Did you know every year cyclists attempt to ride the whole 360 km loop in under 24 hours? Fancy it? Let us know and we’ll gladly support your valient attempt.

Tailored Pirinexus 360 Bike Route - Eat Sleep Cycle

Pirinexus 360 Cycle Tour

If you think that riding the Pirinexus route sounds like something you would like to take on then make sure to give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info! We’re now accepting bookings for next season so make sure you secure your saddle now!

See more information about our Pirinexus Cycle Tour packages.

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Top European Winter Cycling Destinations To Avoid The Cold - Eat Sleep Cycle

Top European Winter Cycling Destinations To Avoid The Cold!

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Epic Tours, Girona, Gran Canaria, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours, South Spain | No Comments

Winter is coming… but imagine you could avoid donning those woolly overshoes and rain jacket and chase the summer around the world, where would you go? Here are some of the top European winter cycling destinations for some winter sun in 2018/19!

Autumn/Early Spring Cycling Destinations

The first cycling destinations that we’re going to look at are the ones which are most suitable for Autumn or Early Spring. They are still perfectly acceptable destinations for deep winter, but you might need a few extra layers!

Best European Winter Cycling Destinations

Girona – The Pros’ Home

Maybe we’re biased but we think that Girona provides an amazing base for year-round riding. Autumn and early spring are key times of year as Northern Europe is under a chill but Girona’s climate remains temperate with very little rain. September – November is the perfect time to extend late summer by taking a cycling trip to the Catalan city and explore the place that so many pros call home. Girona also enjoys warmer weather from as early as February and March making it a perfect European winter cycling destination for when winter feels never-ending at home.

The golden combination of city, coast and mountains in Girona means that you can explore a plethora of terrain in one single ride. In addition, unlike many tourist locations it doesn’t completely shut up shop during winter as there are many locals and students living there. Take the perfect post-ride stroll through the old town to see the stunning Cathedral or visit one of the many excellent restaurants and cafes on offer. Access to Girona is also incredibly easy with the nearest airport a mere 12km away and the next closest, in Barcelona, is an hour’s train ride away.

Where to stay: in the old town, Hotel Ultonia, Hotel Historic.

Mallorca – The Original Cycling Mecca

The original cycling mecca, Mallorca has long seen sun-seeking cyclists making a pilgrimage to the island. Like Girona the best time to make a winter-sun getaway is September-November and February-March. In line with it’s Catalan counterpart Mallorca boasts a combination between coast and mountains meaning that the landscape is varied. Few riders will find the Mallorcan roads too challenging, there is a combination of flat and mountainous terrain alike meaning that riders of all abilities can enjoy what the largest of the Balearic islands has to offer.

One of the most popular rides on the island is to the Cap de Fortmentor lighthouse – the most northern point of the island, for nothing else if not a photo opportunity.  An ascent of the sinewy climb of Sa Colabra, by far the most famous climb on the island and one of the most well-known in the world is also essential. Off the bike there is plenty to see and do including visiting the capital, Palma.

Where to stay: Sóller, Pollença

Southern Portugal – The Same But Different

It’s no surprise that Portugal is growing in popularity as a location for cyclists considering the warm climate, rich history and excellent riding, not dissimilar to the already well-established Spanish locations in terms of climate, culture and cuisine. Those who are looking for something the same but different will love what Portugal has to offer.

In the past year the country has been awarded numerous tourism accolades and has firmly established itself as a European holiday destination. For cycling over the winter months the southern part of the island is the place to travel to for the warmer weather. Head to the Algarve coast in the south-west for a combination of flat coastal riding and in-land mountains. Away from the riding Portugal has many ancient medieval villages to explore as well as a rich variety of wine and seafood to taste.

Where to stay: Alentejo, Algarve

All Winter Cycling Destinations

The following destinations are ready to be explored all throughout the winter months without a leg-warmer in sight! The go-to locations for a mid-winter getaway or epic training camp these are the fail-safe, tried and tested all-winter cycling destinations.

Gran Canaria – Cycling Heaven

More than just a beach holiday destination, a visit to Gran Canaria by bike will leave you wondering if the island was actually designed by cyclists. Year-round temperatures of between 22 and 25 degrees, a mere 148mm of rainfall on average over 12 months, plenty of climbing and some of the smoothest tarmac you’ll ever ride on make it a cycling haven.

Likely due to this winning combination Gran Canaria cycle routes are a winter camp favourite of many a pro team in recent years. The landscape of Gran Canaria is uniquely stunning and diverse ranging from sparse and volcanic to lively and green. The climbs here can be steeper than the neighbouring Canary Islands meaning the riding is somewhat more challenging and varied – perfect training terrain. Those who aren’t all about pushing their limits on a cycling getaway can take advantage of recovery time on the many beautiful beaches the island has to offer.

Where to stay: Maspalomas, Cruz de Tejeda, central locations.

Southern Spain/Calpe – Sun & Smooth Tarmac

The Southern regions of Spain are a long-held favourite location of leisure cyclists and World-Tour teams alike. It’s no surprise that so many fly south for winter; Andalucía enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine a year and only 40 days of rain on average. Calpe and the surrounding area boasts a similarly temperate climate and is swarming with cyclists engaging in some winter training during the colder months.

The cycling in Southern Spain is like most good training locations – the area is very hilly, several climbs over 2,000m, good road surfaces and sparse traffic. The Calpe/Alicante area is known in summer as a haven for those seeking sun-soaked partying but in winter it attracts a very different kind of clientele who mix with the stalwart mahogany ex-pats. Cyclists flock to the region in search of sun and smooth tarmac, which they receive in abundance. As with the rest of Spain the draw is not only the fantastic riding but also the laid-back lifestyle and delicious food and drink on offer, re-fuelling with some delicious tapas and a cerveza is a must. Check here to see what cycling kit you’ll need for winter cycling in Southern Spain!

Where to stay: Mojacar, Calpe, Almería

European Winter Cycling Locations from Eat Sleep Cycle

Inspiring Winter Cycling Spots

Inspired? Each of the 5 winter cycling spots above give you the ability to indulge in a cycling tour or training session when it should be too cold to be enjoyable! Take a look at our winter camps to see how you can enjoy some cycling in the sun this winter. For more information or to find out about how we can tailor a winter trip to your needs email us on info@eatsleepcycle.com or contact us online!

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Let Down By Rapha Travel Cancellation - We Have A Solution For You - Eat Sleep Cycle

Let Down By Rapha Travel Cancellation? We Have A Solution For You..

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Epic Tours, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours | No Comments

Have you had your 2019 Rapha Travel tour cancelled? At Eat Sleep Cycle we see ourselves as part of a wider global cycling community united by a shared passion for the freedom of riding. We understand what these bucket-list trips mean to hard-working cyclists all over the world who look forward to visiting some of the most famous cycling destinations. That’s why we’re extending a €100 discount on all 2019 tours to guests who have had a Rapha Travel trip cancelled*.

Cycling Tours Similar to Rapha Travel

We provide tours in most of the same European destinations as Rapha Travel and we also hold ourselves to the same high standards; hotels are 3 and 4 stars and our expert and experienced staff are always on hand to assist with your every need, trips are full board with breakfast and dinner served in hotels and a roadside lunch provided to fuel your ride.

European Cycling Tours for 2019

So, before you spend that Rapha Travel refund on another new bike why not take a look at some of 2019 tours and avoid missing out on an amazing cycling experience:

Alps
New for 2019 is our Classic Climbs of the Alps tour: 7 days of fully supported guiding, stay in the best hotels and guesthouses in the region & sample delicious Alpine food. Highlights include the legendary Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, and the beautiful lake Annecy.

Italy
Tackle the giants of the Giro in the Dolomites and Italian Alps on our Trans Dolomites cycling tour covering all of the classic history-soaked climbs including the Passo Dello Stelvio and the Zoncolan and of course, plenty of pizza!

Pyrenees
The Pyrenees are right in the back yard of our Girona base and provide some of the most varied and exciting terrain for cycling there is. Our Trans Pyrenees cycling tour is an epic adventure from our Hub in Girona to the beautiful coastal town of San Sebastian across some of the most stunning Pyrenean landscapes and including some classic Tour de France climbs such as the Tourmalet and Aubisque. Other tours we offer in the Pyrenees include our Womens’ Pyrenees, and Tour de France Experience.

North Spain
Asturias, Cantabria the Basque country & Galicia offer quiet roads, lush green landscapes, beautiful routes along the Costa Verde and hardcore stage finishes for the Vuelta España. The people of Northern Spain are open and friendly, the food hearty and delicious, making this unique region perfect for a cycling tour. We offer two tours in this region: Trans Asturias from Cangas de Onis to the Angliru, and Trans-Picos de Europa from Cantabria to Asturias.

South Spain
Southern Spain is the perfect destination for a winter getaway, when the rest of Europe is still stuck in the depths of winter look no further than Andalucia for some sunshine. Our Andalucia Experience cycling tour is all about discovering the region, it’s culture, food and of course, fantastic roads to ride! Alternatively, Trans Andalucia takes you from Grenada via the highest paved road in Europe, Pico de Veleta, through the Costa del Sol and to the coastal town of Nerja.

Girona
The heartland of Eat Sleep Cycle and a hotbed of cycling, Girona has become a classic holiday destination for cyclists looking to find out what makes the pros flock here from far and wide. Discover it for yourself on our Girona Cycling Experience tour and uncover the unique charms of Girona and it’s fantastic riding.

European Cycling Tours for 2019 - Eat Sleep Cycle

A Rapha Travel Alternative

If you’ve been let down by a Rapha Travel cancellation then don’t fret, with our European cycling tours we’ve got you covered! For our full selection of 2019 tours visit our European Cycling Tours page for more details. For more information or to request a brochure contact us online or email us at info@eatsleepcycle.com and we’ll get back to you asap.
Happy riding!

*Proof of booking & cancellation with Rapha must be presented to claim discount.

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8 household items you’ll be glad of on your cycling holiday…

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Epic Tours, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours | No Comments

Take care of your bike on holiday and don’t jeopardise the trip! Following our simple tips should help you get the most out of it.

We’ve just returned from a week-long cycling trip around Lake Como in Italy with 8 guests from the US.

We travelled over land and sea during the trip, had all kinds of weather and different terrain each day, so naturally, delivering these trips presents logistical and practical challenges.

However, with careful planning – and some household items we often take for granted, your trip can be greatly enhanced.

Here is a list of things you should always pack before heading away on a cycling holiday…and why

Bungee cords

Why? No support car driver likes anything moving around in the back and if you respect your bike, you should never allow anything hard come into contact with any part of it! There is no uglier mark on a bike than a pedal scraping the chainstay or seat stay, and it can all be avoided by packing everything neatly and tightly together. The best way to achieve this is bringing some bungee cords!

Bubble wrap and/or cardboard

You can’t even imagine the horror of what your bike goes through on some flights and some transfers so eliminate the risk of damage by bringing your own packing material. 9 metres of bubble wrap will set you back about €4 and this will protect your precious frame from being scratched. Bubble wrap+bungee cords = happy bike.

Baby wipes

Your hands will get sticky when that energy gel bursts, when you need to remount a dropped chain and when you’ve reached into your pocket for a mushy energy bar. You’ll get chainring marks on your right leg and probably your shoes too. Your face will be covered in chocolate – and your bidons too, so keep yourself neat and tidy with a simple baby wipe.

Masking tape

Does it even need an explanation? This week alone we found masking tape useful when building a cardboard bike box for shipping, for taping cardboard and bubble wrap to frames pre-flight and pre-transfers. We taped the day’s profile to each rider’s stem, we taped the route profile to the dashboard and we taped gels to bidons to hand out at the feed zone. Genius!

Newspaper

Is there anything worse than descending a climb in the cold with your chest taking those icy gales? Yes there is….stepping into a pair of wet cycling shoes you forgot to dry out after yesterday’s  ride. Thankfully, a newspaper forms a brilliant wind protector and it can be very neatly tucked under the straps of your bib shorts. Simply bin it at the bottom and you’ve perhaps avoided picking up a nasty cold. As for the shoes, stuff a sheet of paper towards the top of each and have bone dry feet the next day!

Lights

Tunnels are common in Europe, especially in the French Alps and Italy. Many have ways around them but some are unavoidable. They can be scary places as there’s often no hard shoulder. Solution? Front and back lights. They weigh nothing, cost a pittance, and could save your life!

Adaptor

Is there anything more frustrating than running out of charge on your bike or worse, your computer dies six hours into a seven-hour day? Don’t expect hotels to supply the adaptor so bring your own.

Sandwich bags

Keys, cards, cash, phone and map. Keep them dry and keep them together by using a sandwich bag.

Tin foil

Keep those feet warm and dry on icy cold days by packing some tin foil into the top of your shoes, over your socks. Yes, the Galibier and the Stelvio can be freezing, even in July, so take no chances!

Gravel Cycling Girona Ridley Ignite Bike

5 reasons why you should consider Gravel Cycling

By | Cycling, ESC Explore, Girona, Gravel, Leisure Tours | No Comments

Let’s face it, once a roadie always a roadie. Or not? Read on to see why you should seriously consider gravel cycling as a new discipline to add to your repertoire of excuses to ride and reasons to go to new places.

  1. Gravel cycling can be really fast. If you are a roadie you are probably a speed junkie – hurtling down descents at uncontrollable speeds and trying to do the same up-hill. On the right gravel tracks, and with the right set-up you can pull upwards of 30 Km/ hr. The gravel bike you’ll want in this instance is basically a road bike with disc brakes and wider tyres, so you can still get aero, tuck into the drops for descents and lean into the corners, with the added joy of keeping those tyres the right way up!
  2. Zero traffic. This has to be experienced to be appreciated. Imagine a road training ride without a single car, lorry, even pedestrian. Only the tweeting of birds and that lovely mechanical sound from your bike. Not only does it make for a far more enjoyable ride, it’s far safer too. You get points with your better half because you are partaking in a safer style of cycling.
  3. Many more routes and combinations. Have you run out of roads to ride? Come on, we all get tired of the same road leaving town or slog back home. Imagine taking away the need for your route to be tarmacked. Having wheels on your bike to enable you to jump up on the curb and skip through a park or around that dodgy roundabout (put your posh carbon rims to one side for once). You will see where you ride in a completely different light. From our Hub in Girona, we ride the gravel paths around Rocacorba, a famous road climb in the area. On road, there is one way up and one way down. You see the mountain from the same angle every time. On the gravel bike, you can duck and dive around the beautiful landscape taking it in from every angle. It’s unreal!
  4. You may not actually need a new bike. We all love a new bike and we hate to break the n+1 rule but we will. Around Girona, we ride many of the gravel routes on our Ridley road bikes. The trend in road already is wider rims and wider tyres. With a 28mm rim and nice wide tyre, setting the pressure right will have you hurtling down gravel paths like they are a road. For the more technical ascents and descents you may need more clearance for a wider wheel, so why not have a through axle set-up that you can change from road to gravel wheels. BOOM – 2 bikes in one!
  5. You can still ride in a group. One of the drawbacks of mountain biking is it takes away the social aspect of riding together, which we love on the road. 2 abreast is not possible on a technical trail if you’re going up or down. But on many gravel trails, it is still possible. In Girona, large groups take to the gravel trails for their Sunday social rides.

We’re sure that if you try you too will get the gravel bug! In Girona, we have gravel bikes for rent and can show you the best trails. Watch this space for exciting gravel tours over Europe coming soon!

Cycling in Spain Top Destinations

Top 10 Must Ride Cycling Destinations in Spain

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Epic Tours, ESC Explore, Girona, Gran Canaria, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours, Picos de Europa, Pyrenees, South Spain | No Comments

There’s much more to cycling in mainland Spain than sunshine and smooth roads. From the highest paved road in Europe (Pico de Veleta in the Sierra Nevadas) to the green countryside of the País Vasco, Spain’s vast and diverse landscape will have you begging for new adventures. Be sure to tick off these cycling destinations from your bucket list.

1. Girona

There is no doubt that Girona is the cycling capital of Europe. Home to hundreds of professionals, the old town has a charm that is hard to not fall in love with. Riding is the perfect mix of flat, rolling countryside and some challenging climbs in the foothills of the Pyrenees. If you want character, culture and good food alongside high-quality cycling, look no further than Girona.

2. Andalucia

South Spaniards are very laid back (and who can blame them in the roasting temperatures of the Summer). But visit Andalucia from October through to May and you’ll have a spring in your pedal stroke. The rustic towns of Antequera & Ronda both provide a great base to ride from and are easily accessed from Málaga airport.

3. ‎Picos de Europa

Hugely underrated, the Picos de Europa or “Peaks of Europe” were named by Columbus for being the first mountains he saw on his return from America. They are beautiful rock formations comparable to the Dolomites. Don’t miss Lagos de Covadonga, a stunning series of lakes over 1,000 m up in the sky. Puerto de San Gloria is a hidden gem of a climb that will leave you wanting to find more “off the radar” climbs and there are plenty of those in the area.

4. ‎Cantabria

Los Machucos was the climb which sparked rider protests in the 2017 Vuelta España. It’s brutal kicks are rewarded by stunning rural views all the way up. Cantabria is home to many other feature climbs of the Vuelta such as the Peña de Carbaga and Puertos Alisas & Ason. There’s no wonder that when the Vuelta reaches Cantabria things get exciting.  Close proximity to Santander & Bilbao is helpful for logistics but you are better off avoiding the big cities and staying out in the lovely countryside.

5. ‎Sierra Nevada’s

You are just as likely to see a skier in the Sierra Nevadas as you are a cyclist. Often used for altitude training by professional cyclists, you’ll need your climbing legs on because it’s up or down with not much flat! There are plenty of authenticly Spanish places to choose to stay in the region, from the cultural hub of Granada to tiny villages in the mountains.

6. ‎Asturias

Oviedo is a bustling city with all the culture of Asturias and its wonderful food, friendly people and interesting architecture. Ride for just 5 km south and you meet what can only be described as a theme park for cyclists. Scores of short steep climbs scattered over several valleys, the Big One being the Angliru. Often stated as the hardest climb in cycling its something every cyclist should do, but just once.

7. ‎Basque country

With its own language and Spanish-Basque and French-Basque regions, the Basque country is a mixing pot of cultures which creates the best food in the world. Rolling green hills line the distance with characteristic white and red chalets. It’s a treat on the eyes and lushness that of course warrants some occasional rainfall, typical of the north Spain area. Whilst the climbs are not long, some are steep so you can easily rack up plenty of climbing metres over a days ride.

8. Costa Brava

The Costa Brava runs from France down to Blanes (a town just northeast of Barcelona). It’s one of the most unspoilt coastlines in Spain, with no billboards or high rises to distract from the jaw-dropping views. Easily accessible from Girona and coastal towns like Begur and the more popular Tossa de Mar, the winding and hilly road that hugs the coastline provides hours of sun-kissed enjoyment. Whilst traffic is never that bad, in the winter you’ll be lucky to stumble across other cyclists, let alone cars.

9. ‎Calpe

Whilst Calpe is not the most charismatic cycling location in Spain, it makes it onto the top ten list due to its popularity for training camps with professional teams. Miles in the sun on smooth roads are sometimes all people look for and this is a good place for that, with affordable hotels plentiful. Test your legs on the likes of the Cumbre del Sol and the Col de Rates.

10. Andorra

In at number 10 (because it’s technically its own country and not actually in Spain) the tax haven of Andorra is packed with slopes to delight the most hardened of cyclists. Every year Andorra hosts La Purito, the toughest sportive in Europe, and thousands flock to attempt 5,200 meters of elevation in one painful ride. Andorra is best enjoyed over 2 or 3 days (or 1 if you’re feeling sadistic). Must ride climbs are La Gallina, Collada de Beixalis, Col D’Ordino, La Rabassa and Els Cortals D’Encamp.

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