A lifetime spent on bicycles traveling the world has allowed us to visit some fantastic areas with phenomenal riding. One of our favorites is Priorat, a region just south of Barcelona, Spain with rolling hills, steep mountain slopes, quiet country lanes and endless scenery.
The Priorat Cycling Wine Tour was routed around four of the D.O. (Denomination of Origin) wines produced in Catalonia. The rides, accommodations and dining were all chosen to highlight the different areas, wines, culture, architecture and food.
After arriving in at Barcelona airport, the Mariposa Cycling Tour guests were transferred by vans to Falset, the capital of Priorat with just 2,600 inhabitants. It is the largest town in the area. Staying at the Hostel Sport, we climbed some of the most challenging mountains of the region, enjoyed views of the slate-soil steep sloped vine terraces, Roman and Moorish ruins characteristic of Priorat and tasted the wines of D.O. Montsant and D.O. Priorat.
On the third day, we rode from Falset to La Selva del Camp passing through Escaladai to visit the ruins of the monastery, a little olive oil shop in the square and passing through the Montsant Natural Park before arriving at our hotel, the historic Mas Passamaner.
The fourth day, we rode to the Cistercian Route to see the Monastery of Poblet, a Cistercian Monastery founded in the 12 Century with an active population of 31 monks. This monastery, like most of the monasteries of the region helped to develop the agriculture and winemaking in the area.
On the fifth day, we traveled by bicycle from La Selva del Camp to Sitges, along olive and almond tree lined roads and through the extensive vineyards of Baix Camp. With views of the cistercian Monastery of Sant Creus and the Foixa reservoir (a popular rest stop for cyclists in the area) it was a lovely ride to the beach in Sitges.
Sitges is a small beach town of 28,500 inhabitants that has an impressive architectural and cultural heritage inspired by patrons like Santiago Rusinol and Ramon Casas. Sitges is rich in culture and continues to be the home to many writers, musicians, architects and other intellectuals.
Our final ride traveled through the rolling hills from Sitges through the D.O. Cava and Penedes, where we had a special lunch at the oldest family owned winery in the world, Cava Codorniu and toured their famous caves. Codorniu is where cava was first produced commercially in 1872. The company owns 11 wineries and rents the Pinot Noir vineyards at Poblet Monastery. Their crown jewel is the modernist cellar in Sant Sadurni which is considered the capital of cava, designed by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Beneath the winery are an impressive 30 km of cellars, some of which we visited by train.
The tour has left us wanting to return before long, as there are more roads to discover, restaurants to try and wines to taste. It is a place that should be shared.
Mariposa Bicycles in collaboration with Bikecat Cycling Tours, hosts custom road and gravel cycling tours in the Pyrenees, Girona, Priorat, Emporda and Cuenca regions of Spain for private groups of 8+ people. Our standard tours are 8 days / 7 nights and start at €2500 euro / $3700 CAD / $2800 USD per person. For more information, please contact us at [email protected]
“We have a group of guys who have been going on cycling trips together for years – some of us for over 20 years! We’ve been to 9 countries and we’ve ridden with 5 or 6 different companies, but Mariposa and Bikecat put them all to shame. Last year 10 of us rode around Girona, this year 12 of us rode the Priorat route, we are already planning for next year. Jaume, Michael and their team give us the best bikes, find the quietest most scenic routes, find the greatest stops for coffee and lunch as well as dinners and hotels. They are well organized, and they just happen to live in cycling heaven!
But what really distinguishes them is the riding. They keep us safe but also teach us and challenge us so by the end of the week the strongest are tired and the slowest are riding a wheel in a pack with the rest. They use walkie talkies to keep us together and safe in roundabouts and traffic and a drone to take the best pictures and videos ever. And the staff clearly all like each other and love riding and always put the emphasis on having fun….Hard to imagine how it could be better – but we’re coming back to see if they can add something to the complete cycling vacation next year!” – Howard Ovens, Toronto