Three routes that make up Ciclobrava exemplify Girona’s great appeal to cyclists
For centuries the central plaza of Monells was the location of a profitable cereal market. Passing through this beautiful village today it’s impossible not to imagine the hustle and bustle that went on here all those years ago. In May, this wonderland of stone, this labyrinth of arcades and narrow passageways in the Baix Empordà, will be the location of the main refreshment station of the Ciclobrava. This road event, part of Sea Otter Europe bike festival, welcomes riders to the cycling paradise that is Girona.
We start from Monells because this village captures the essence of an area that embodies cycling in a very special way, and because it’s where the two routes that make up the event converge. The Ciclobrava is, after the Epic Gran Canaria, only the second event in Spain to have been included in the Gran Fondo World Tour® label.
A mecca for both pros and fans, Girona opens up its treasure trove of riches to furnish cyclists with the best possible experience, including coastal routes, wide open plains, Pyrenean foothills and some of the most significant peaks along the border between Spain and France.
The essence of the event is polyhedral, reflected in the two routes that make up the Ciclobrava, both of which start and finish in Girona at the heart of the Sea Otter Europe bike festival on Sunday 31 May.
Ciclobrava: one event, three routes
The longer of the two routes is roughly 140 kilometres with an elevation gain of 1,700 metres. With the city of Girona at the cyclist’s feet, this route has everything. It provides the perfect balance between difficulty and delight and won’t push riders to the limits of their abilities.
The route winds south from Girona through Fornells de la Selva to Llagostera, along flat, low and quiet roads. The relative ease of this part of the route makes it perfect for warming up your legs for the first – and biggest – challenge of the day: the climb to Sant Grau d’Ardenya.
Flanked by dense woodland and gentle ridges, the ascent is challenging, but not overly demanding, and your efforts will be well rewarded when you reach the summit, with its breathtaking views over the Mediterranean Sea which should – at this time of the morning – be lit up beautifully by the rising sun.
From the summit we descend along a gentle downhill that winds its way to the shoreline. The serpentine road to Sant Feliu de Guíxols hugs the coast close at times and cuts inland at others. This familiar route will likely remind you of some of the great cycling races that have traversed it.
The second climb of the day starts from Sant Feliu and takes you up to Romanyà, at the peak of which you’ll find a second refreshment stand. Another challenge then awaits in the form of the Col de la Ganga climb. After this we come to the L’Empordanet region, with its narrow roads between soft green hills dotted with little villages, to challenge the pace of the peloton. These picturesque roads lead you to the most emblematic point of the tour: Monells, about two thirds along the route.
On the return to Girona, once you overcome the final hurdle of Montjuïc – an abrupt, fierce climb that will put those tired legs to the test – you’ll see the city open up suddenly. The route ends in La Devesa Park, where the Sea Otter Europe bike festival takes place.
Meanwhile, another shorter route will also be available to participants.
The shorter route of the Ciclobrava is 95 kilometres long, with an elevation gain of 1000 metres, including four mountain climbs. Three of these are also included in the longer route: Romanyà, La Ganga and the spectacular swansong that is the climb up Montjuïc. The fourth climb is Madremanyà, a small hill that emerges along the diversion to the left after Monells.
Finally, 70 kilometres route, with some attractions from other two itineraries, will open doors to who want to initiate in this kind of events. A distance that seems enough to enjoy the land.
A cycle-tourism event at the heart of an international trade fair
Ciclobrava brings together concepts that are integral to the region, such as cycling, the Costa Brava, and locations that have dazzled riders and fans from all over the world.
As well as the routes that are accessible to riders of all levels, the great appeal of this road event is that it starts and ends at the Sea Otter Europe international bike festival. This the fourth edition of this great trade fair which brings together the world’s top brands for an event that lives and breathes cycling.
The ideal way to take part in the Ciclobrava is to put it at the heart of your Sea Otter Europe and Gran Fondo World Tour® experience. Choose your route, cross the finish line and then enjoy an afternoon immersed in cycling culture, with bikes, new products, and a whole host of other attractions.
Put it in your diary. This May 31st you have a date in Girona.