Catalunya Trail 2020

For some time, we wanted to take part in an ultra-distance race and Catalunya Trail was the perfect scenario to try it post lockdown.

Some of us love racing, no matter in which cycling discipline. We only want to pin a bib number, feel the adrenaline, and spend all our energy till crossing the finish line.

This time it was about a gravel event, an endurance race but not a big one if we see it from a long-distance perspective. It was about 540 km and 10.000m+ of elevation gain. The numbers may sound huge but there are other races that are worse.

For us, as it was our first time in this kind of racing, it was perfect.

DAY 1 / Barcelona to Ripoll (278 km / 4.680 m+)

As I renounced  my sleeping bag to have lighter luggage, I chose an ATM as a room to rest for some hours. Not bad at all.

DAY 2 / Ripoll to Berga (134 km / 3.610 m+)

After reaching the sanctuary and enjoying the views for a while, I loaded a new track in my Wahoo Element and I continued to the next checkpoint, located in Bagà.

I had to climb some more kilometers until Castellar de n’Hug, where the downhill started.

A few minutes after starting descending through the valley, the GPS led me to a path towards Puig Roig hill, that was the first serious challenge of the day. It’s around 5 km with technical segments and some hard sections between 15% to 25% of gradient percentage.

The downhill from the top of Puig Roig until Bagà was also hard because the terrain is pretty steep and rocky, and as I’m thin I suffered a lot.

Once in the village, I recovered some energy and I tried to prepare my body and my mind for an “hors categorie” climb, 25 km of continuous climbing with 1.200 m of elevation gain. Definitely, I was in front of the second big challenge but also the most beautiful part of the route.

Pedraforca Natural Park is an amazing place, an authentic jewel of nature, and an emblematic mountain of Catalonia. For us, it’s also special because we started our first adventure of The RAW Stories project here.

The route went through the natural park until reaching the highest point of the trail. The views are awesome, and that helped me to not-stop riding.

I was tired but my legs were still alive and my body felt good. The day was again very warm and you had to take care of your hydration level.

To arrive at Saldes, where the next checkpoint was located, the route went down through a wall of Pedraforca mountain and you could enjoy the opposite views from where I was riding just some minutes before.

Once I arrived at the end of the current track, I decided to eat something refreshing and buy a sandwich for later.

At that point, I was close to reaching the goal of the day, arriving at Berga town, where the hardest part of the whole route ended. From there I would only have two more stages until crossing the finish line.

I was riding again when I realized that my expectations and reality were different. I already knew that the following part was going to be really hard because the organizer informed us about it but, once there, I suffered a lot.

There was a steep downhill, with several technical sections and with a lot of rocks in the middle of the trail. It was difficult but I survived. The worst part was that the uphill from the river, at the bottom of the valley, to the top, was exactly the same terrain or even harder.

Then, hiking time started and I had to push the bike. I tried to keep my mind fresh but that segment hit me hard.

Finally, after spending some time in that nightmare I achieved to reach the top and, luckily, a beautiful and real road was waiting for me. My body was happy, no more gravel until Berga.

I had to climb  Coll de la Mina before arriving in town. I was exhausted, and my mind started to think about stopping and resting a bit instead of continuing to ride until the end of the race.

From the start of the day, just 120 km, I accumulated 3.600 m of elevation gain. I thought to go-ahead for the last two stages but I was really worried about finding more hard or technical climbs.

Finally, when I arrived at the end of the stage that it finished in front of a hostel, I decided to stop, take a shower, have dinner, and sleep in a bed, at least, for some hours. At this moment I was in the 2nd position of the race but sometimes you have to hear your body and make decisions.

DAY 3 – Berga to Barcelona (128 km / 1.820 m+)

The route of the following two stages was really nice, perfect to enjoy graveling, and keep me motivated.

As soon as  I started to recognize some parts of the track I became excited. Meter by meter, I was closer to the finish line.

I arrived at Manresa, the last checkpoint. From there, I only had to overcome one more climb, starting from Navarcles with a length around 12 km but I was ready and nothing couldn’t stop me.

After 7 hours of riding, I managed to cross the finish line with the whole track completed: 525 km, 10.110 m+, and a total  time of 31 hours.

I really love to accept new challenges, explore new routes, find the limits of my body, and enjoy cycling adventures. Satisfaction, achievement, motivation, challenge… all these words, and many more live with me after a race like this.