Away from the traffic and into the green mountains I can quickly find the serenity that is elusive within the city. We climbed for an hour or so, up to 2000 meters altitude, where we found a gravel road that would take us between two ski stations. Even though it was warm enough for shorts and a jersey, patches of snow remained at the roadside. The peaks towered above us and the villages in the valley below looked like a child’s model. Pedalling with others, or alone, I could hear the grass blowing in the breeze, the cascading mountain streams, the tick of my chain, the crunch of gravel under my tires, and the buzzing of bugs. Over five hours we saw a handful of people and a couple of cars. Each day, for a week the experience was similar as we rode from the Catalan Pyrenees to the Mediterranean.

Throughout my professional career some of my fondest memories are of long training rides on the backroads of Girona, Spain. Sometimes, I would ride alone, other times with my wife, Dede, or with a teammate or with my good friend, Jordi. Part of the adventure was mapping the route out the night before to find roads, or tracks, where few cars go, and where I had not yet been. Those rides were physically draining but mentally rejuvenating—the best kind of bike ride. This was the kind of riding I grew up with and that professional cycling took me away from due to the demands of the job. Those rides were an escape where I again felt like a kid on an adventure. 

In my last year, of racing, I commented to Jordi one day, when we were way up on a pass, that this was the type of riding every cyclist should know. It wasn’t about watts, or winning, but about a journey and a challenge. Each time we set off, I would discover something about the environment in which we lived. We met farmers in small towns at the local bars and we ate fantastic meals way up in the mountains in restaurants that served food from local farms. With each ride we looked for a different route, a different place to stop and another adventure. We spent the entire day on our bikes and they were days I didn’t want to end. 

There are an endless number of places to see and roads to discover in Catalonia. I told him then, that in retirement, we should share the experience with others so that they can discover a different kind of cycling, away from the traffic and off the beaten path that so many follow. 

For several years, Dede, Jordi, our friend Jaume, and I have been organizing bike tours in Girona and Catalonia. Many tours have been on the paved roads but we’ve also taken guests on journeys on the gravel backroads and trails. 

La Ruta Tierra is a adventurous and challenging cycling tour on Catalonia’s remote dirt and paved roads.  The trip includes 6 rides guided by locals, 3 nights in remote refugios, 4 nights in 4 to 5 star hotels and culinary delights at some of Spain’s finest restaurants. Routes are custom designed to accommodate the level of the group.  It is a unique cycling experience.

“Each year, I rode ten of thousands of kilometers through the Catalan countryside while training for the professional races. The routes I sought were not only challenging roads into the mountains and along the coast, but also the most picturesque and serene. They were routes where a dozen cars, or fewer, might pass in five hours. Some were gravel roads that wound their way up a mountain, past secluded cork tree farms, orchards, or shepherds as they walked with their flocks. Up in the hills with a friend, we would stop for a workman’s lunch in an country restaurant where a fire was roaring and the patrons were chattering about the day’s events over pints and steaks, before plowing on down the road and home. Of all the hundreds of thousands of kilometres I’ve ridden in my lifetime, the rides in Girona were some of the finest. La Ruta Tierra is a weeklong tour on many of those roads. The Ruta will stretch across the province, from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees. The experience will be unlike any other: the countryside is idyllic, the riding technically and physically challenging and the cultural experience unparalleled.”

~Michael Barry

Our standard trip includes:

  • Transfers to and from Barcelona Airport
  • 8 days / 7 nights
  • 3 nights in remote Pyrenean refugios
  • 4 nights in 4-5 star hotels
  • 6 guided rides
  • Breakfasts and lunches daily
  • Energy bars, drinks, ride snacks and coffee stops on rides
  • 4 dinners in specialty restaurants representative of traditional Mediterranean, Spanish, and Catalonian cuisines.
  • Support Van and luggage transfer between hotels.
  • Repair service and bicycle tune up.
  • Road Book with detailed maps and complete information for the rides.
  • Specially designed trip jersey
  • Bicycle rental options

Trip price starts at 3,500 Euro.

For more information and to book a custom trip, please contact us at info@mariposabicycles.ca or +14164230456

                                                               

 

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