KC Wheelers Catalonia Tour (25th - 30th September 2021)
On Saturday 25th September a group of 12 intrepid cyclist from KC Wheelers departed from Dublin to set out on a cycling odyssey in Southern France and northern Spain. The group were joined by seven guests who have been regular participants on previous KC Wheelers European cycling adventures.
Day 1 Canet - Roses 115km/1759m
The odyssey commenced on Sunday 26th when the group set out from Canet a small town in Southern France and cycled through the coastal towns of St. Cyprien and Argeles-Sur-Mer before heading upland to take on the Madeloc Hills which had a peak of 444m and an average gradient of 4.3% but included significant sections with gradients of 8 - 10%. From there the route passed into Spain and while the remaining 70kM did not have the peaks on the French side of the border the route was very lumpy with seven significant hills to conquer. However the scenery along the route was stunning as the road twisted and turned, rose and fell as it followed the coastline. Before reaching the ultimate destination of Roses there was a detour for a coffee/ice cream stop in the picturesque town of Cadaques which required a significant drop to sea level and an 8.4km climb to return to the main road that leads to Roses. On arrival at Roses most of the cyclists availed of the sea to soothe and relax tired bodies.
Day 2 Roses - Olat 109km/1618m
On the second day we headed inland towards the Pyrenees where the terrain proved rather lumpy. There were two significant climbs. The first was before lunch which peaked at 620m and had sections of 7 and 13.4% on a surface that was somewhat below the high standards of Spanish Roads. Lunch stop was in the town of Besalu which left 30km of uphill cycling to be completed in the afternoon and included a climb with a section of 21%. The afternoon temperature rose to 30 degrees and to the delight and surprise of the group the hotel had a swimming pool which was most welcome after a strenuous day in the saddle.
Day 3 Olat - Figueres 114km/1833m
The direct route between Olat and Figueres is less than 50kM but the route set out for the third day of cycling was much more circuitous, extending to 114km. The first section was primarily downhill and continued for almost 25km across the Baixa Garrotxa to the edge of Lake Banyoles where the rowing events of the Barcelona Olympics were staged. However before reaching the lake a detour was taken to conquer perhaps one of the most famous climbs in the region, the Rocacorba. This climb is a favourite of the local professional and amateur cyclists. The climb was 10km long, peaked at 956m, and averaged 7%. However there were a number of significant sections where the gradient was between 9.8 and 12.5%. After lunch the cycle was relatively flat, over a route of 50kM into Figueres which was the birth place of Salvador Dali. Unfortunately, unlike the first two days, there were no swimming facilities in Figueres to ease the aching parts of the anatomy.
Day 4 Figueres - Sant Feliu 134kM/1106m
A diversion was also included, at an early stage, in day 4 to tackle the San Pere de Rodes climb which stretched for 7kM with a peak of 514m and an average gradient of 6% that also included sections of 8.5 and 11.2%. With the exception of one more smaller climb that came after lunch the remainder of the cycle was through flatlands. The highlight of the day was lunch in Peratellada, a walled town with uneven cobbled streets that obliged cyclists to dismount. The afternoon climb was quite short stretching over 4.5kM with a gradient 3% on the first half and 5% on the second. Once this climb was completed the remainder of the route consisted of a descent into the coastal town of Sant Feliu. However there was a sting in the tail in the last two kilometre when on the run into the hotel there was a gradient of 20.4% over 104 metres. To finish off the day a number of brave cyclists availed of the sea to refresh their tired bones despite difficulties in accessing and egressing the sea over slippy rocks.
Day 5 Sant Feliu - Girona 101km/1594m
On the final day the group set out along the coastal road from Sant Feliu which was described as the Vico on the Mediterranean, although far longer and much more lumpy stretching over 26km. It made for great cycling as it presented great vistas on every bend along what is an extensive unspoilt section of coastline. Having completed the coastal section three more climbs remained to be completed. The final climb on Els Angels was the most challenging of the day. It is very popular training run with the professionals in the region. It stretches over 5.6kM with middle sections having gradients between 7 and 8%. From the Els Angels peak there was a most enjoyable 14kM downhill spin into Girona where the celebrations of completing the adventure extended well into the night.
Pat Conlon Pat Burke
Micheál Mullin Don O'Shea
Kevin Coakley Pat Halpin
Pat Cunningham Brendan Linehan
Tommy Doran Louis De Courcy
Bart O'Connor Dave Byrne