This loop is very popular with pros (so no need to worry if a stranger drops you on the climbs, they have most likely been training professionally for years) The Cyclist team completed a 166km clockwise circuit. From Pont de Pedra in the heart of Girona, aim north to join the 531 heading west for the village of Sant Gregori. Stay on this road, passing through Llorà, before turning onto the 532 at a sign to Les Serres and Bonmati. Keep going until you hit the C63. Turn right towards La Cellera and Olot.
In the town of Amer, look out for a left turn to St Marti Sacalm to tackle the first major climb (819m). On returning, follow the C63 and C152 to Olot. Follow signs to Santa Pau on the 524 and follow it all the way to Banyoles lake. Turn right at a sign saying ‘Pujamol 5’ to do the Rocacorba climb (970m). Return and follow the C66/N11a back to Girona. Other popular climbs in the area include Sant Hilari, Els Angels and Sant Grau which are all easily accessible from Girona.
Total distance: 166km approx.
Total elevation: 3,561m
How we got there
Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) will get you from Sydney to Barcelona and then it is a 1.5 hour drive to Girona. Avis, Hertz and Europcar all offer car hire services from Barcelona airport.
We stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, which was clean and central. The rooms are simple but do the job, and there was no whinging about taking bikes up to the rooms. Breakfast is a buffet of meats, cheeses, bread, cereals and fruit to help you fuel up before a ride. Prices start from $120 (www.hotel-peninsular.com).
Food and drink
There are hundreds of cafés, restaurants and bistros in Girona. Wander through the collonaded square of Placa Independencia and you’re likely to spot pro cyclists feasting on tapas or sipping coffee. We ate at Placa del Vi 7, a wine and tapas bar, and Dolce Vita, a cyclist’s dream that serves up giant portions of pasta and pizza.
Bike Cat (www.bikecat.com) offers guided road bike tours in the Girona region from $60 per person and the chance to hire ex-team Cervélo and Felt bikes from $60 a day. It’s backed by the European Project Res’pir (www.respireeurope.eu), which encourages active, sustainable and nature-based tourism.