Cycling Climbs of Girona: #1 Sant Hilari Sacalm

By December 3, 2017 March 27th, 2019 2 Comments
Cycling Climbs Girona #1 Sant Hilari Sacalm

My introduction to Sant Hilari couldn´t have been any worse; a freezing cold gilet-less descent on January 7th, 2012 followed by my training partner hitting the deck VERY hard and escaping the sharp edge of a steel road barrier by the width of a tyre.

He can count himself lucky he got away with a night in hospital, half a dozen stitches over his right eye and a broken bike.

Yes, that´s the first thing about Sant Hilari Sacalm: you never descend into Anglés between December and March because it´s just too dangerous.

Now, it IS possible, but how much can you enjoy a slippery descent that could wipe you out in a millisecond?

Take my advice; climb Sant Hilari Sacalm from Anglés and descend into Santa Coloma de Farners. And enjoy sun on your face for most of it.

This is a Girona Classic and is still, three years on, one of favourites because the only thing I love more about the climb is the descent. And from Santa Coloma de Farners it´s a pretty flat run home, save for the little ´kicker´in Sant Dalmai which I always use as a burial ground for my final effort of the day.

Now, back to the climb. The quickest way to get there is head west out of Girona through Salt, Bescano and Anglés, a 20-kilometre ride.

Next you take the GI-542 to Sant Hilari Sacalm and once on it you just stay riding the whole way.

From bottom to top it´s 25.4 kilometres at a very generous 2.6% average gradient.

Everybody has a gradient they´ll feel suits them best and for me, this is mine.

The gradient allows you to settle into a really comfortable, smooth rhythm without much need for changes in gear. In fact, it´s so gentle that if you´re fit you can do it in the big chainring.

The maximum gradient is ´just´ 7% and this is just after the midway point by which time you´re probably well warmed up and into your stride.

Starting at 144 metres you climb to 810, so it´s not exactly in the clouds and thus you won´t freeze at the top unless you´re completely under-prepared.

The climb is ideal for a 20-minute power-test as it´s very quiet and relatively traffic-free.

The only place where you´re likely to get held up is in Osor about 9 kilometres in.

After this, the grade is a solid 4-5% for around 6 kilometres but you´re rewarded with a flat section and some very gentle stuff at 1-2% for the rest.

You know you´re almost at the top when you see the water tanks on your right-hand side on the last few corners and when the road yawns out ahead of you with a slight rise at the end, that´s your cue to sprint!

The climb is as peaceful as they come with a river flanking the right-hand side for much of the way up before it disappears from view.

The surface is paved the entire way, though do be careful on corners as there´s often leaves and gravel. It´s very possible to crash hard going up this hill so take care and don´t push it too hard on those switchbacks.

I love the climb because it offers great peace amd you don’t have to be that fit to get up it. By that I mean there are no steep gradients that require you to get out of the saddle.

My own personal record is around 50 minutes though I haven’t really tested myself in well over a year now.

Maybe it’s time for another showdown…stay tuned!


Distance: 25.4k

Average grade: 2.6%

Max. Grade: 7%

Altitude at the top: 815m

Elevation difference from the bottom: 675m





  • Andrew says:

    I lived in Girona when I was racing professionally during the 96-98 seasons. First race of the year (in Feb), we descended the long side of Saint Hilari when a guy slipped out in front of me on a turn. Too wet to keep the rubber side down but not dry enough to even get much road rash despite sliding quite far. Not the way I wanted to start the season–but that’s bike racing.

  • Brian says:

    Hey Andrew, Brian here. Honoured to have you read the blog! No way should there be racing down that in Feb! You been back since?

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