Winter miles in Girona

With wintery days creeping in, Sarah escaped for a couple of days cycling with Rocacorba Cycling. Headed up by team CCC Liv’s Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and her husband Carl and based in a gorgeous villa in Banyoles (half an hour from Girona), they’re perfectly located for the wealth of fabulous cycling in the Girona region. She had a ball and can’t recommend it highly enough. So, if you’re thinking about going abroad for some dry, sunny training this winter, here’s what she learned …

Overview:

A beautiful and extremely friendly cycling base with all the facilities you could want in one of the best cycling locations in Europe. Lots of scope to tailor things to your (or your group’s) exact needs. Gorgeous accommodation, great communal areas, swimming pool, spectacular cycling, brilliant guides, top-spec bike hire, cyclist-specific massage service, meals as an optional extra, free washing machine, lovely town/lake 2km down hill with plenty of shops, cafes and local services.

Who’s this for:

The beauty is the flexibility. You can make of it what you want, but the best scenario would probably be at least 2 or 3 cyclists up to a group of 16 (max for the accommodation) in order to split the cost of a guide. Having seen the advantages, I’d recommend hiring a guide for at least a couple of rides because they know the roads, the cafes and the local chat. But if you’re quite self sufficient, you’re in the centre of all the best cycling routes and being that bit west of Girona actually makes a big difference in the routes that become accessible as a day ride.

You won’t get organized rides at set times – so it’s not for you if you’re hoping for guaranteed company and big groups to learn from.

Another plus is that it would be very possible to visit with non-cycling partners. They’d have plenty to do while you’re out riding and the area and accommodation are both brilliant.

Accommodation, food, massage etc:

The guest accommodation is split between two detached houses (with a third house containing the dining room, bike work shop and massage room): one with three bedrooms and one with five bedrooms. Every bedroom is ensuite and huge (there’s no better or worse) and every bedroom can be a super king or twin. Each house has a big communal lounge, TV, fully equipped kitchen and washing machine.

We had breakfast provided both mornings and ate dinner in the main house on one of the evenings. It’s a continental breakfast and includes eggs, cheese, ham, avocado, cereals, yoghurt etc etc. The dinner was outstanding.

If you wanted to self-cater, it would be very easy. And if you want to pop into Banyoles for dinner, there are plenty of places to choose from including lake side restaurants, tapas bars and a very good sushi restaurant.

We didn’t have time for massage but other guests reported the service to be well worth it – from very professional cycling-focused therapists.

The rides:

We did two rides during our visit: On the first day we did a relatively fast 115km loop to the coast and back with just over 1000m of climbing. We stopped once for a tapas lunch at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront half way round, which was a nice break given that the afternoon was slightly hillier and thus slower than the morning. The roads were absolutely delightful; super-smooth tarmac, almost no traffic and great views to the Pyrenees and coast…

On our second day, I squeezed in an early morning lake swim (19 degrees in November) while a couple of the others went for a gravel ride (and loved it). Then we all went for a hilly 60km loop, passing a few spectacular villages including a stop in Santa Pau’s cobbled square for coffee and shoo-shoos (the queen of the doughnut family). The pace was very chatty but the cycling was actually pretty tough with some long, sustained climbs (the reward: very fun descents) and the scenery and roads were so gorgeous that if we’d have stayed an extra day, I’d have happily repeated the exact same ride (except there are probably a dozen more perfect routes to choose from).

We didn’t have time to ride up Rocacorba but as it’s almost next door, it would be very easy to tack it on to the end of a ride or squeeze it in to an arrival or departure day.

The bikes:

We hired Cervelo R3 road bikes which were fantastic and saved all the hassle of putting a bike on a plane.

Interested:

Check out their website: Rocacorba Cycling CC. Drop Rocacorba’s Johan Moolman an email, tell him you heard about them through us, and he’ll look after you! The team there know all about Le Loop so if you’re riding with us this summer, they’re ready to offer specific advice and guidance for your preparation.

Enjoy the ride!