Sant Hilari from Girona
By Jon Street and Laura Fletcher
Must ride if you are in Girona!
If you are in the Girona area, this ride is not to be missed!
A firm favourite
Leaving from Pont de Pedra “the stone bridge” the Sant Hilary loop is a firm favourite of Epico. Get ready for spectacular views and to enjoy every second.
The first 10km takes you through Girona and out to the village of Auguaviva, from here the main arterial routes transform into rural lanes.
Now we start the warm-up, stretch the legs, and open the lungs. The road to Brunyola is the perfect prep for the climbs ahead of you.
The climb starts here
Cresting in Brunyola you weave down farm lanes to the spa town of Santa Coloma, the home of a 12th-century castle and 14th-century cathedral.
Insiders tip — check out Magma Spa thermal ludic in Santa Coloma.
Leaving Santa Coloma the climbing begins. As you ride under the arches of the highway overpass, almost like a gateway to a cycling theme park, the road starts to point up. Despite a few switchbacks that push the gradient over 12% the climb to Sant Hilary averages 6-7%. And it is beautiful. With lush tree-lined roads that open up at ¾ of the way to reveal dramatic views of Montseny, dotted with castles. On a clear day, you can almost see all the way to Barcelona.
Time for a break
Completing the 20km climb you arrive in Sant Hilari, the ideal stop to rest the legs and refuel. Bar Chapete in the main square is a good recommendation. The town is small but well known for its fresh water 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.
Time to hit it, but take care, It’s quite common to find friends from the local farmyard meandering across the road at their own pace. Goats and sheep are commonplace around this area and are one of the main risks to an overzealous descender. Beautiful to see but dangerous nonetheless!
It’s a long descent and great fun, watch out when in the shaded sections though for wet and leafy corners. The cover soon clears though and the Roman aqueducts come into view, this signals the left turn and the start of the next challenge. The climb to the Susqueda Dam.
Dam good views
We hope you took a chance to get your legs back on that descent? The super switch back style climb ahead is a nice test so you’ll need them! You have just under 5km to ride and a gain of just over 250m. With sections hitting over the 10% mark it’s a test, so pace yourselves! Climbing done it’s a short and steep 4km descent with a nice couple of hairpins before you reach the dam, keep your wits about you though as those corners can come up fast in tree lined routes!
Take in the expansive views across the dam of the River Oser, a refreshing break after a hectic last 10km.
Leaving the dam it’s all (mostly!) downhill back to Girona. You have just over 40k to go and the first 10km from the dam is stunning. It’s a race against the river as you both snake and wind through the valley. Crossing the river at 82km there’s the perfect opportunity to refuel, if needed, at the bar La Parada.
With one small climb at just over 90km in its time to sit back and reflect on your ride. The Sant Hilari loop is a clear view into the best inland Catalunya has to offer, all in just a few hours. It will leave you asking, “shall we ride that again tomorrow?”
The ride is one of my absolute favourites, with spectacular views, and worth every second...
The Peloton Brief
El Àngels, Girona
A certain ‘ex’ 7x tour winner regularly rode this route for a tough short workout, but there’s far more than just a test of fitness to be had. Cross the Gavarres mountain massif twice and climb to the chapel where Salvador Dali married. This loop is an ideal intro to Girona road cycling.More
8/9 hours or 2 days
A big day out on the bike taking in the Gavarres and Serra de Rodes Mountains on a route to the crystal blue waters of the Med. You will definitely earn your stripes with this one! It’s a ride through true Salvador Dali country - although this experience will be firmly rooted in reality.More
1 hour to summit
Rocacorba has been used for over a decade by many local pros as a test of form, the famous mountain is a challenge to anyone and everyone. The 10.7 km climb has a deceptive overall gradient of 7%. Starting teasingly gentle before levelling off, disciplined pacing will pay off.More
A ride that will burn itself solidly into the memory banks. Twisting gentle climbs, grin-inducing descents, views for miles, turquoise seas, a cycling experience for the soul. If you are cycling in Girona this is a must ride, you won’t regret it. Head to the coast!More