To kick off the Day 3 report and before we get into a shitload of pictures shot from the back of the group, here’s a Dirty Tip for a road trip of this flavour. Sounds simple, but every day has to have some sort of point to it. It has to build to a crescendo or focal point that is the main act for the day. Random riding around looking at rolling landscape just won’t do, you need to target your prey.
The main act of Day 3? The first real climb of the trip and one of the cliche ‘must do’s’ around these parts:
Its so famous that other cycling websites name their daily newsletter after it, thus whipping Corporate Dogma owners with 80mm’s of spacers under their stems into a frenzy of artisanal sock buying. But before we were going to be put under its mythical spell, we had to start the day the Banyoles way of course, which means sitting around drinking tiny coffee’s.
As we rolled out of town, I was taken aback with how good my legs felt backing up after a monster Day 2. I’ve been rolling like an epic turd all year, so to be able to head out on Day 3 feeling fresher than a Spanish breakfast croissant was welcomed with open hairy arms.
Local Kiwi/Basically Spanish tour guide Matt again had the coordinates for today’s mission plugged in, with Rich rolling out with us for some more 5 Passes flashbacks #cryingontheinside. Pretty soon, we were on bike paths pretending to be roads, with usage appearing to be low to non-existent.
Of course, it wouldn’t do to just roll the short distance out of Banyoles to the Roca a few minutes away, fuck no – We wanted the long and significantly less well travelled option that threw in the metropolis of Olot and a canter through the National park first. Matt had lined up the most obscure and sensational back roads available:
It quickly became clear that A) we wouldn’t have found these sensational little back roads by ourselves and B) it was going to be a day of multiple roadgasims. It felt bit like being at a bike park, but the road version, as it was pretty clear cars couldn’t be fucked navigating these spots.
As I like to say, the key to a good ride is variety and when on the road, sucking as much wheel as possible, especially if you’ve got a couple of svelte weapons on the front. I was more than happy to sit back, relax and let the mileage monsters tap it out as we had mile after glorious mile pass under our wheels.
It wasn’t merely a road porn fest, there was also #oldshit to look at, which we enjoyed even without any context to go with it. Essentially we summed up this was the place to be back in the day when cunts wanted to come to your hood on a raping & pillaging mission. Pass the burning oil please chaps.
If you do decide to mission around these parts, then the template is to hit Olot for lunch and another tiny coffee before rolling back towards the ROCA via the National park, or if you like official titles, then its the ‘Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica‘, which sounds way fucking cooler when a Spanish person says it. Given it was seemingly mainly downhill (aside from the climb out of Olot), we were too busy saying it was fucking cool to worry about pronunciation issues. This is a blast of a ride:
Yes, so that’s all well and good, some nice rolling roads, shit talking about road related froth points like socks and the Vuelta and a nice lunch stop where I once again smashed too much bread, but the main course of the day was still to come. We were now back in the outskirts of Banyoles, so close that I could almost smell the lake and its Lemon Gelato. But we had an even tastier date in store and as the Garmin ticked over 90km’s in, we could see our date with fame in the distance.
Expectations were high obviously, after all, the way that David Millar describes Rocacorba makes it sound like you’re about to have sex with a waif like Vogue model in a Barcelona art gallery whilst wearing a Tom Ford suit and sipping slowly on Verve. As we rolled to the official start point however and ticked over the 90km mark, I was pretty sure it was going to feel more like prison sex and unfortunately, not the kind from ‘Orange is the new Black’.
I certainly wouldn’t be swaying longingly from side to side and not sweating like Mr Millar glides up this classic testing ground. This by the way is how you know that its officially ON:
Its worth remembering its ‘only’ a Cat 1 climb, 10.7km’s long with an average gradient of 7% for its 742m gain. PRO Simon Yates has the segment record at 29.26, which may sound like madness, but legend has it that Wiggo smacked the fuck out of the Roca to the tune of 26 minutes in his Tour winning prime.
Those numbers were pointing and laughing at me in my head as I started my usual hairy sweaty slide out the ass of the group…
Now this is what I was expecting! AT appeared to be back to normal form as he danced away after his racing sardine counterpart Matt, who knows a thing or two about the Roca (36.34 PR up here, fuuuuuuck yes that’s sharp), given its his local stomping ground.
Mind you, the ‘Holy Fuck Cunt‘ award went to Rich, who stopped to put on some German underground techno and then proceeded to hurt himself up the Corba doing intervals that made it look like he was on a motorbike and we were on Bromptons.
The first 4km’s aren’t too bad actually, it even has a cheeky downhill in it, but then the middle section starts to unleash a bit of a finger banging on you, with double digit percentage sections and yes, it was more than a bit warm. This was where it became obvious that AT was still having some systems issues, as in an event as rare as Peter Sagan out climbing Quintana, I suddenly found myself grinding past him at 10kmph, like a couple of pregnant donkey’s racing to the glue factory… Clearly the heat playing its part.
Ok, so Monsieur Millar has a point, this is a relatively beautiful climb for something not in the high Mon-Tons… Not the best surface you’ll ever roadie cum across, but its one way to the top and essentially devoid of traffic, so as you get into the last half you’re most likely alone and can just get on with the business of wrapping yourself in your own delicious suffering… I was reminded why we came to Spain:
It has a sense of humour though, much like the office cock tease on a Friday night, it lulls you into thinking you’re about to smash it with a little downhill with less than 2km’s to go, only to ramp up the punishment for the last 1,500m or so, back into doubt digits for a final run to the line that makes you have to dig into the reserves and suffer it out, especially when the Garmin is about to tick over to the 100km mark. The view out to the right hand side are also fairly sensational and a good distraction as it seems to go on for longer than you expect. And then, you get to see the relatively famous and munted sign:
With a sweet sweet burn in my legs and that golden feeling of the first major climb being ticked off, I approached the line with sweat assaulting my face as PRO looking people who don’t know what ‘sugar’ is watched in amusement and wondered if I would have been able to keep up with them on an eBike.
The final section may not be the most romantic ramp in the whole cycling world, but most likely you’re too fingered by this stage to worry about the slightly ghetto feel. AT also just wanted to be at the bottom of a swimming pool with a can of Aquarius in both hands… The hurt box clearly as claustrophobic as fuck on this particular afternoon.
And here’s a closer look on what it looks like to climb Rocacorba 100km’s in, while still suffering from heat exhaustion and yes, a tiny bit of jet lag… It wasn’t hard to diagnose that AT was still cuntified from the frantic start to the Spanish Training camp, or perhaps he just needed a base layer?
The scenery is pretty banger up here, we didn’t have a blue bird day (thank fuck for the climb up), but the vista is pretty rad once you’ve finished wanting to puke. AT even managed to give an awesome first summit pic display of the kind of thing your mouth does when you realise the huge ENDURO guy riding a bike with discs has Rocacorba bragging rights for EVER (or at least until next time)… Well, as much as you can brag when its taken you Fifty fucking two minutes to haul your carcass up there.
So Day 3 was in the Spanish road spank bank, with some more solid numbers being thrown down early on, indeed after 160km’s the day before its fair to say its unusual these days to back up like this:
- 2,413m climbed
- 5 hours 24 mins ride time
Dirty tip – That Parc National business you can see through the middle below is banger and well worth it coming back from Olot, drops you out nicely to tackle the Big R as well. Although, might I suggest hitting it fresh as opposed to the 100km mark if you want to have a crack at a decent time:
A fucking cool Day 3 needed to be chased down with dinner in Girona for good measure. Might I recommend L’Alqueria Crepe restaurant in town, where you can have a crack at being a Baller by smashing a salad, main Crepe and then drop the hammer on a dessert crepe while your Roadie home boys look on in horror and disgust.
Only 3 day’s down and Spain was already a banger… For day 4 the agenda was attempting to triple down on century rides and take the climbing up a level with one eye on the Pyrenees later in the week. Stay tuned to see how that Spanish goodness rolls.
Another massive Dirty chur to Matt and Rich for sharing some seriously stunning back roads, as well as not muttering “cunts” once while we spent 5 hours as champion wheel sucking hoes.