Cycling Costa Brava

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When I’m visiting a new city, it’s always quite nice to do a local bike tour. It can be a great way to get around the city, see the sites, and just get out for a ride. But when I decided that this summer I’d go to Barcelona I became curious to see what there were for options to do bike tours on a grander scale, outside the city, on the open roads of Spain! To my delight I found a couple of tour operators. I checked their routes, reviews, prices and availability. Lucky for me, I got to book with Claudio at Montefusco Cycling. He would provide the bike and I just needed to have my own cycling shoes and jersey. I chose a route that would be accessible to me and something that would also be a beautiful and challenging course: Costa Brava.

I’ve been curious to get into road cycling for many years so this would be an ideal opportunity to dive right in. Before I left Dubai I found a great local shop called Airwerks Cycles. I had a certain pair of cycling shoes in mind after some online research and found they’re the local dealer. They’re also the regional dealer for Basso Cycles, an Italian company that makes bikes so gorgeous they leave you salivating… and wishing you had a bigger paycheque! Contrary to most retail situations in Dubai, my salesman Kostya was actually good at his job and knew what he was talking about. He even invited me to join their store club for a couple of rides out on the Al Qudra Cycle Track on the outskirts of the city, into the desert. This would give me a chance to wear in my shoes and actually get somewhat used to riding with clipless pedals (which I’d never done before!) They were great rides and I enjoyed the group. Too bad I hadn’t discovered them sooner!

From Barcelona I took a train to the east to Caldes De Malavella. It was a lovely journey. It was nice to be able to relax a little and get away from the bustle of the city. The morning was somewhat stressful as I received conflicting information when asking for direction from subway and train staff. However, thanks to Claudio, he relayed text messages with the correct station and lines for me to catch and I arrived on schedule. He found me outside the station and we walked to his van that he had driven there with the bikes in the back. It would just be the two of us on the trip, but just by chance he had three bikes in the back—something that would actually save our trip down the road!

The colourful train station at Caldes de Malavella

The colourful train station at Caldes de Malavella

Caldes de Malavella is about an hour and a half on the train from Barcelona.

Caldes de Malavella is about an hour and a half on the train from Barcelona.

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Claudio brought a nice and fast carbon fibre Orbea for me to use. It fit me well and was a delight to ride. We hit the road and were on our way east towards Llagostera. It was so great to be riding these roads! Many of the riders in the Tour de France come to live and train in these parts. The drivers respect the riders and the road conditions are very good. We were about 10 km into our journey (around where it says “C-35” on this map) when one of the spokes on my front wheel broke. It was probably just a stress fracture and a small bump was enough to cause it to pop free. We stopped to inspect the damage and Claudio decided we head back. So, lucky for us, we could just swap the front wheel from the other bike onto mine and be back in business. It only meant an added 20 km to the journey. No big deal, in fact I was glad to ride it again!

The vistas on the ride through the fields were incredible. There were bright red poppies on the sides of the roads, mountains in the distance, and nothing but peaceful European countryside around us. We continued south to Tossa de Mar. It’s a tourist town known for its beaches. We stopped for a picture and a snack, then would continue the ride. Beyond Tossa de Mar the course would become much more dynamic!

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Riding towards the first village we passed through, Llagostera.

Riding towards the first village we passed through, Llagostera.

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar

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Most of the time we would ride single file, just for safety reasons, but occasionally there were stretches where we could ride side-by-side and talk. Claudio would tell me about the region we were riding, we’d discuss bikes, careers, and life. The weather was perfect for our ride. Not too hot, a bit of a cool breeze, and plenty of fresh coastal air!

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Throughout the ride we had a couple of tough climbs that lasted a few kilometres but I did well to keep up. Actually, Claudio was joking that I wasn’t even breathing! I was helping him get a workout for a change as often he is waiting on stragglers in his tour groups to catch up to him. But we kept up a good pace the entire time. There were some fantastic descents as well… on my GPS I clocked a top speed of 65.6 km/h. 😬 Whew!

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Cool tunnel!

Cool tunnel!

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At the end of the ride we had logged 96 km in four hours. It was a great tour and an excellent workout! Claudio walked with me back to the train station where I got my ticket for Barcelona, found some snacks & a big bottle of water at the shop, and changed into some dry clothes to ride comfortably back to the city.

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Claudio sent me this cool Relive video that takes the data from his Strava account and plots it on the map for this animation:

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Thanks Claudio for an amazing tour through Costa Brava! 🚵

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Dale Nichols1 Comment