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Words: Carlos Verona | Photos: Brazo de Hierro
If we were to ask you for the first mountain range that comes to mind when thinking of Europe, we wouldn’t fault you for saying, “the Alps.” But although they are omnipresent, the Alps aren’t alone. Further south, the Pyrenees reign supreme. Less crowded and some would say wilder, with better weather and at least as stunning – this mountain range can certainly hold its own.
Someone who knows the Pyrenees inside and out is Mitchelton-Scott pro Carlos Verona, who takes us along on his favorite ride.
Though much of my year is spent as a cycling professional, I’m a true cycling enthusiast at heart. And today, I’m proud to introduce you to my favorite ride in my home country of Spain. My adventure mate for today is Dani Juncadella – a car racer for Mercedes Benz in DTM, SCOTT Ambassador and a good friend of mine for years. We have always been connected via our love for road cycling.
I discovered this 130km long loop around the eastern Pyrenees when I was 16 years old and living in Barcelona. I was looking for some big mountains for training, and I found out that just one hour away by car from Barcelona there was this place. I came here for the first time 10 years ago, and I immediately fell in love with the mountain passes of all lengths and difficulties, meadows, forest, water, nature and lonely roads.
I’d stumbled upon a paradise not only for training but also for cyclo-tourism.
Early autumn, 8:00 am, watching the sunrise at the Intrepid Hotel, and after one more coffee, Dani and I are ready to ride. The first rays of the sun are coming up behind La Tossa de Alp, inviting us to ride our bikes and enjoy a day of exploration in one of the nicest places that I have ever ridden. And luckily, it is very close from home.
We first go in the direction of La Callada de Toses, the first climb of the day. It is 20km long, but its easy slopes allow us to chat. It is Dani’s first ride on his SCOTT Foil, the bike that he has chosen for the 2019 season. It’s a very versatile bike that I have used extensively throughout my two years with Mitchelton–SCOTT, but for today I’ve chosen something different. We’ll be climbing close to 3,000 meters, so I’m going for the Addict RC. I have the advantage of knowing the terrain and what awaits.
The route starts in Bellver de Cerdanya, one of the oldest towns in Catalonia. Almost from kilometer zero the road rises slightly for the next 25km to the top of La Callada de Toses. Next comes a technical descent to Planoles, from where the road goes up again. A very narrow and quiet road leads all the way to the top of Collet de Cal Climent. After a short flat section, the main climb of the day starts: El Coll de la Creueta, 20km long and rising to 1992m. From there a long descent brings you back to the start point in Bellver de Cerdanya.
To learn more about The Escape series, head over to the Scott website.