El Carrilet

From Olot to Girona cycling along the greenways

El Carrilet: From Olot to Girona cycling along the greenways

This is a nice, fairly easy bike ride. Since you start in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it’s downhill most of the way. Olot is in a volcanic area, although there hasn’t been an eruption in 10,000 years. But, there are occasional earth tremors to keep people on their toes

 

There are many geological formations to visit: “El Croscat” volcano, “Santa Margarida” volcano, and  basalt rock formations in Catellfollit de la Roca and Sant Joan les Fonts. Other scenic areas are “La Fageda” a magical beech forest, the park around “La Moixina” spring, and Parc Nou. Olot also has some modernist mansions, and it is also a hotbed of artistic activity.

 

 

Leaving Olot on the Via Verda, you’ll pass by a sports complex on your right. It was designed by the RCR architecture company, which won the Pritzker Prize for the different projects they’ve carried out. It’s like the Nobel Prize for architects. And a little further down, you’ll pass the Parc de Pedra Tosca.

Continuing south, you come to open farmland, with Puigsacalm, the highest mountain in the Garrotxa region, on your right. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in the middle of Sant Esteve d’en Bas. From here, you could take a detour and ride to the Hostalets d’en Bas. It’s a picturesque village, especially in autumn, when people hang corn cobs from their balconies to dry them out. Another tradition is to buy some “coca” in the local bread shop. It’s not a drug, but some people could get addicted to it.

Then, head back into Sant Esteve and pick up where you left off. Soon, you get to the hardest part of the whole ride. You have a long climb to the mountain pass that takes you out of the Vall d’en Bas (the Bas Valley). This is the view of Sant Esteve from
the pass:

From here, it’s all downhill! Well, more or less. And to recover from that long slog, you can take a long swig of a cold beverage at the bike center in the next town, Sant Feliu de Pallerols.

Then, it’s back to pedal-pushing. If you can find your way through the next town, Les Planes d’Hostoles, you come to my favorite part of the trip: a shady downgrade that’s steep enough that you can practically coast the whole way to the town of Amer.

As you reach Amer you will find “Font Picant” (a sparkling water spring). It’s just off the north end of the parking lot of the Fonter bottling plant, and its water is analyzed quite often. So, it’s safe to drink. But you might not like it: the high level of iron and minerals in it gives it a bitter, acidic taste that some people love and others can’t swallow.

After Amer, the level of fun goes down as the sun and temperature go up and the path flattens out and becomes virtually shadeless. But, before you get to the plain, the Via Verda designers send the bike path
up some challenging hills, so that riders can avoid the main highway and have one last intense workout. (God love ’em! — because maybe you won’t at this point!)

From Amer to Bescanó, there’s not much to write home about. The town of La Cellera is noted for furniture making. The town of Anglès has an old textile factory that has been turned into a museum. Bonmatí village (Goodmorning in Catalan ) has a bicycle center across the highway from the bike path, in case you or your bike are in need of a little TLC. In the area of Vilanna, you’ll find a “pou de glaç”, literally an “ice well”. It’s a thick-walled silo that the people would fill with snow all winter long, packing it down as hard as possible so that it would become ice, and keeping it as well insulated as possible with straw and other coverings. That way, they had ice until the end summer.

Once you pass Bescano and get down near the Ter River, you get shade again. You can cool you feet in the water at “Pas d’en Prat” (Prat’s Crossing). From here to Girona, you share the path with runners, walkers, horseback riders, dog walkers, cycling groups, tractors, cars, you name it. So, you have to be ready for anything. But, soon you’ll reach your destination, and you’ll be able to wash 60 kilometers’ worth of dust and gnats off your body, take in the sights of Girona, and swap stories about your trip.

 

 

You can join the El Carrilet – Vies Verdes de Girona in this bike trips of Touring Catalonia:

From the volcanoes to the Mediterranean sea bike tour

Girona greenways bike tour – “El Carrilet”, the ancient railway

The Brompton experience – The Girona greenways bike tour

 

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