Sant Hilari from Girona
By Laura Fletcher
Must ride if you are in Girona!
We set off for Sant Hilari at 10 am on a clear morning, leaving from Pont de Pedra: “the stone bridge.” The ride is one of my absolute favourites, with spectacular views, and worth every second, albeit a bit of morning traffic getting to the country lanes. As we hit Aiguaviva, the roads morphed from suburban outposts to rural lanes.
Between Aiguaviva and Brunyola we opened up the legs and lungs, as this stretch of road is the perfect warm up for the bigger climbs ahead. Cresting the short kicker uphills we are greeted with rolling descents, a perfect balance to get the blood flowing. We weaved through farms lanes into Santa Coloma, a spa town with a 14th century cathedral and a 12th century castle to start the eventual slow drag up the base of the climb. (insiders tip- check out Magma Spa thermal ludic in Santa Coloma). As we roll under the highway overpass the climb kicks up.
There are only a few switchbacks where the gradient reaches over 12 %, the average is 6-7%, a beautiful climb to either push yourself, or if you are me, take it easy, breathing in the lush green forest. The trees open up at 3/4 of the way up, giving dramatic views of Montseny, dotted with castles. On a clear day you can almost see all the way to Barcelona.
Arriving at the top in Sant Hilari, we stopped in to Bar Chapete for a quick bite to eat. Its a small town known for its fresh water and springs, although to be honest the town itself is nothing to write home about. The weather can be a bit cooler at the top so if you are lingering over a bocadillo at the summit, make sure to bring clothes to account for the long descent.
And speaking of the descent, as we rolled out the other side, as normal, we did meet our friends from the local farm casually taking over the road, the goats and sheep meandering at their own pace. The biggest risk on this descent is the local livestock, quite a gentle sight, but menacing to a too fast descender.
The descent can feel never-ending, a long drag with shaded cover, I did watch out for a few corners that can be slippery from the lack of sun. Eventually as the cover clears we started seeing the Roman Aqueducts, that’s when you know to turn left, the small bridge that turns over the river we’ve been following. That directly starts the next challenge, the climb up to Susqueda Dam. This is a super steep switchback-ey climb, a snap in the legs after a long downhill.
The view of the Dam though, situated over the river Oser is simply breathtaking. The expansive view is refreshing after the twisty descent. The Sant Hilari loop is a view into all the best inland Catalunya has to offer in just a few hours.