The Rapha Travel Pro Team Camps are short breaks to the world’s cycling capitals; places where professional riders base themselves when not competing. Next year, we’re offering you the chance to get in shape in these cycling hubs by holding trips in Girona in Spain, and the Côte d’Azur in France.
Below, we take a look at why Girona is such a hotspot for those that pedal bikes for a living, and why you should go and grab a slice of the pro life with Rapha Travel.
A professional cyclist can easily spend up to half the year on the road. In stop-start bursts of check-ins and baggage reclaim, of anonymous hotels and days lost on team buses, the pro lifestyle is a nomadic one. And in between racing, these men and women need a home that guarantees great training routes, reliable weather, and people to go riding with.
Girona, the location of two recent Rapha photoshoots and several Rapha Travel trips, is one such halfway house adopted by anglophone riders. Set between the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava coastline, the charming catalonian city has become known for hosting pro cyclists ever since Lance Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service crew rocked up in the mid 90s looking for a European base.
Today, dozens of riders call Girona ‘home’, including Dan Craven, formerly of the Rapha-Condor team, and an invaluable local guide on the best roads to ride: “The area around Girona has got every type of terrain you want: steep, gradual, and flat,” he says. “The road surfaces are amazing. It just keeps going – more roads, more roads and more roads. I’ve never been to a place where the drivers treat cyclists so well, either.”
It isn’t just the riding. A stroll through the historic Old Town offers a glimpse of what the now-retired Michael Barry once called “an affluent, educated, cultured community”. Catalans are a proud people, and the yellow and red flag of the region flies freely from balconies and car windows, proving the spirit of independence still burns fiercely. The spanish language is tolerated, catalan expected. For cyclists, the Mediterranean siesta is the perfect match for the daily routine, providing some post-ride shut eye, and the culinary offerings emphasise quality over quantity – handy for those looking to maintain race weight.
In short, it is an enviable lifestyle (aside from all of that hard training…), but Rapha’s Pro Team Camps offer you a chance to enjoy it for yourself. The trips are aimed for riders looking for a long weekend getaway to build form at the start of the season and prepare you for the challenges to come. It might mean some mountain experience on the way to peak form for a Gran Fondo, or a serious block of training designed to hone race fitness before the start of a season’s campaign. Your every need will be catered for, leaving you to ride hard and relax in comfort.
The trip to Girona, on 16th – 19th March 2017, will take in some of Dan Craven’s favourite training haunts. Just outside of town, the Els Angels loop offers two beautifully winding, medium-size climbs through the trees, with a break for coffee at an enchanting village half way round. For those enamoured with a sea view, a ride south takes you over a punchy little hill before the reward of the coastline.
Finally, the trips could tackle Mare de Déu del Mont and Rocacorba, the region’s toughest ascents. Don’t be too disheartened if you don’t get near to the times of talented Brit Adam Yates, who reigns over most of the Strava segments around here. Just focus on your own effort – you’re being looked after by the best in the business, after all – and enjoy the sublime riding on offer in every direction.