Last week, 8 British Cycling Club Members arrived in Andorra for a fully hosted cycling holiday courtesy of Love Velo and Andorra Tourism. The 8 lucky members enjoyed two days on the bike alongside visits to Andorra’s top hotels and meals in the finest restaurants.
Each member returned with memories of the roads and mountains that will last with them forever. Find out more about the unforgettable trip from Naomi Hartopp (Clapham Chasers CC), Richard Marjoram (Brighton Excelsior CC), Robin Brown (BDO Velo) and Martin Brown (7Oaks Tri Club):
Naomi: I love cycling holidays… I do not love holiday admin. I love mountain climbs… I do not love the hoards of other tourists on the mountains. Cue Love Velo and Andorra Tourism. All I knew about this trip was that I flew into Barcelona and was to spend two days cycling in Andorra.
Fortunately for me, that was all I needed to know because the whole trip – which ran like clockwork – was organised by Love Velo for myself and 7 others from various UK clubs.
Robin: What a joy; a few days in early June away from some horrendous weather in the UK, summer – what summer? It appears no one has cycled in Andorra so we don’t know what to expect. The scenery is spectacular as we drive through the Spanish countryside heading closer to our cycling base for the next few days.
Richard: Col D’Ordino. Coming in at 8.9km, 451 metres of climbing at an average of 5.1%, this certainly gave us an indication of what to expect. Weather conditions were perfect with the stunning scenery a pleasant distraction from the tarmac. Descending (quickly for some!) the 1980m summit we took a break at Mirador Roc del Quer, a suspended 20-metre platform with the statue aptly named ‘The Ponderer’ perched on the end overlooking his domain.
Simply breathtaking, a great view of the many switchbacks we were about to do on the descent.
Back in the saddle and onto the next climb. The 1796m summit of the Collada de Beixalis was next. At 8.7km, 594m of climbing and an average of 6.8% this was a tough climb in the 25 degrees heat. My 18.46 on the 10.9% gradient section didn’t quite compete with the KOM Vincenzo Nibali set last September (8.50)!
The lack of traffic and perfect tarmac roads made the descending fun, even though I was generally out the back, admiring the scenery was my excuse!
Robin Brown: The guides rode us out of Andorra into an immediate 1000m of climbing. Beautiful, tough, not too hot and very enjoyable followed by one of the best descents I have ever experienced with great scenery, fantastic road surface and – what a view!
Lunch at the Anyos Park restaurant is like stepping into a beach resort on any of the top European island destinations; white billowy sheets protect you from the sun with wine and great food as a wonderful post cycle recharge… feeling a wee bit sleepy but nothing a Cafe Solo can’t fix!
Martin: The hotels and food (especially the food) were on another level compared to our usual training camp fare. The hotels are set up to be cyclist friendly and they all had fully kitted out bike garages with washing facilities and tool stations. They provide menus for cyclists with vegetarian and vegan options. No surviving on slivers of fish and paper thing steaks.
Naomi: The landscape on our first day was like something out of the sound of music (I just managed to stop short of singing “the hills are alive…”) and on day two I half expected dinosaurs to appear in the distance as Jurassic park-esque greenery rolls out undisturbed in front of us. Although Coll de la Gallina feels like the hardest climb, it is quite possibly my favourite ascent, with forests towering either side.
Robin: Great day again with 2000m in 60km so steep and hard but glorious (Coll de la Gallina and La Comella). Really enjoyed the climb with serious scenery, the most amazingly quiet roads and the best road surface I have ever ridden on. Mountain taps spewing fresh river water were a godsend and a fantastic cool down as it was hot but not too hot!
Naomi: Our rides are officially over, but three of us are not quite ready to hand over our bikes just yet. We are told there are easier rides (thank goodness, I hope to visit Andorra for longer in the future and I can’t climb 2000m every day for a week!) so we head off in the evening to ride a short portion of the flat route. It runs along the side of a flowing a river and would make for a good ride for those in our club who are newer to cycling and don’t want to ride a mountain every day.
Robin: Quaint villages, nice food, friendly people and proper cycling exist in Andorra…I have been really impressed with the facilities for children as well and am planning a club trip and a family trip at some time soon.
Richard: That was it, my first cycling experience in Andorra. Would I recommend it? Certainly would. What we saw was a stunningly beautiful country with safe and quiet roads in great condition, well marked out for cyclists. Our hosts were exceptional. Never felt more welcome. Everyone proud to show their hotels off and the gastronomy everywhere we went was to a high standard. Andorra has to be on the cyclist’s to do list.
I’ll be back!
Click here to start planning a cycling holiday in Andorra with Love Velo. Ride amongst the mountains of one the most exciting holiday destination this year, you won’t regret it.