A couple of weeks ago, we published a post on which I made some hiking proposals for this autumn. Nevertheless, since it’s not good to be limited to a single activity, today I’m bringing up 5 BTT routes through Catalunya: Cavalls del Vent, the Oliba Route, the Cathars’ Trail, Pedals de Ferro and the Trans-Pyrenean Trail. Most of them are inspired in hiking trails, although adapted for cycling. And the fact that they are long is not a problem because we offer infinite possibilities to adjust them to your level and availability. Come on, try to tell you’re not even a little interested!
Cavalls del Vent –I’m sure you already know– is a trail traversing the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park, and it was originally planned as a hiking journey. However, nowadays it’s quite a renowned brand. Hence, it had to be in reach of bike lovers. The MTB route slightly surpasses the boundaries of the Park, but, anyway, it’s still a lovely stroll and a unique experience. With Cavalls del Vent on BTT, you’ll be facing 225 km and 7.300 m of positive slope in a circular route through the Pyrenees of Berguedà, Cerdanya and Alt Urgell. The proposal in 4 stages is quite equilibrated and of mid-high level, although we’re still talking about 50 to 60 km and around 2000 m of total positive slope per stage, which is not bad at all. If you truly are a machine, you may make it in 3 stages, but –unless you don’t have 4 days– it’s better to take it easier. Or do only a part of the route, but I’ll talk about that possibility later. First, let me introduce the routes to you!
The Oliba Route on BTT is a bit longer (246 km), but it’s also calmer (6.634 m of total positive slope). Furthermore, it is designed to be done in 6 quite feasible stages (around 45 km per day, on average). Thus, you have the time to entertain yourselves discovering the Romanesque heritage of the towns you will pass through, which is the ultimate goal of this journey. All that, of course, while coming upon a thousand different landscapes of Catalunya: from Montserrat to the Pyrenees of Ripollès, passing through the Vic plain, you will cross mountains and woods and lovely agricultural areas.
The Cathars’ Trail is also a classical hiking journey, but adapted for BTT. This one takes us to follow the footsteps of the Cathars who escaped from persecution by the Catholic Church. The route starts at the Sanctuary of Queralt, in Berga, and takes us across the Pyrenees to Foix. The standard proposal is to split it into 8 stages of 35 km on average. Sounds easy, but I won’t lie to you: it’s a tough one. Physically, it’s a very hard route, all of it. In the technical aspect, it depends on each stage, but the difficulty varies between medium and very high. Hence, you need to be well prepared. Another option is to do only a part of the journey, but we’ll discuss that later.
Pedals de Ferro, on the other hand, was already born as a BTT route. It’s the great BTT tour of Berguedà, and it’s quite a challenge: 260 km and 8.350 m of positive slope connecting the most amazing landscapes of Alt Berguedà and Baix Berguedà, from the Cadí-Moixeró –already in the Pyrenees– to the Catllaràs, Peguera and the textile colonies in the South. Obviously, the physical demand of the route depends on how many stages you divide it into. Generally, the route is split in 5 stages (mid-high level, with no risk of getting bored nor of dying in the attempt), but you may do it in 4 or even in 3 stages. And, if you are real pros, you can dare the Pedals de Ferro Weekend, which is an adaptation than enables to take a stroll around the region in just a weekend. You better be ready, however, since you’ll be facing 123,5 km and 4.406 m of positive slope in two days!
The Trans-Pyrenean Trail may be the crown jewel among the routes I’m presenting you today, although it goes far beyond the Catalan border: in an almost 1.000 km route traversing Pyrenean lands, it takes us from the Mediterranean to the Cantabrian Sea, from Llançà to Hondarribia. It is designed in 17 stages (yeah, I mean it, 17 days on the bike), but that’s obviously not in everyone’s reach. Not only because of the difficulty –which is high, remember that we are crossing the Pyrenees all along– but for a matter of time. Having 17 days off in a row a spending them on a BTT route is quite a life experience, that’s for sure, but most people would rather diversify. Hence, it is usually done in stages, or in groups of stages, split in several weekends or short getaways, which is much more feasible. It’s alright; you can make a collage with your pictures, and that’s it!
Well, the thing is, you can do the same thing with any route! For the linear ones, it’s obvious: the taxi trip back to the starting point is inevitable, so, in case you have no time to complete it, the transfer service can pick you up halfway and you can face the remaining stretch in some other occasion! But this applies to the circular routes as well, as Cavalls del Vent or Pedals de Ferro! It’s only a matter of discussing it with the organizing firm, then you can build any route according to your needs. You think the stages are too long? No problem! We can take a look at it, find a nice lodging in a town halfway and, that’s it, now you’ve got shorter stages. You want to do the Route of the Cathars, but you don’t have the time nor the level? Never mind! We can choose the easier stages and, if you want to skip any of them, you can do it by taxi, we’ll keep the secret!
There’s one important thing, however. If you are planning to do a BTT route, make sure you’ll enjoy it. If you find it too hard, you’ll never do it again. Be reasonable when splitting it into stages and, if you want a piece of advice, do an organized route. It doesn’t have to be guided, but it’s nice to have an agency holding your back. You know, someone who finds good lodgings for you to make sure you’ll be fully rested in the morning; someone who can assist you if there’s any incident; who knowingly helps you adjust the stages to your needs; and, above all, someone who takes cares of the luggage transport! There’s a huge difference between cycling 50 km with 1.000 m of positive slope every day with a little bag and doing it while carrying 12 kg! But I’m sure you already know that…
So, that’s my point, you don’t have to worry about distance or difficulty or luggage! Your only concern should be enjoying your getaway, the route, the landscape. Everything else is our job. All you have to do is pedal!