I often think about how life can change from one day to the next. To me, it happened. It was in 2013 when a raffle –yes, a raffle– reconnected me to sport, adventure and competition. I won a number to participate in the Titan Desert and, after the experience, sport returned to the foreground of my life. I like to compete, but, above all, I like adventure, effort, the journey, new friendships... Over the last seven years, I have enjoyed biking and ski mountaineering like never before, transforming myself into a professional athlete. Never could I have imagined that one day I’d be the world champion, win medals in European competitions or bring home national championships in two so different disciplines.

I love the mountains and am passionate about sport and, now, I enjoy it every day: riding close to home, getting muddy pedalling through streams or discovering new mountain passes, some days by mountain bike, other days on a gravel bike and, even, with a road bike. In fact, even though my playing field tends to be the mountain, I like riding on asphalt, too: it makes me discover new sensations and there are four mountain passes in the Catalan Pyrenees which fascinate me.

Porth Deth Portilhon 

Difficulty: Cat 2 | Road in perfect condition

It was just a few weeks ago when I crossed this mountain pass by road bike for the first time, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. With Porth Deth Portilhon we can connect Val d’Arran (Bossòst) with the valley of Luchon, crossing a dense but lovely forest of beech, almond and cherry trees which turns, as you descend, into a forest of firs. One of the things I like best about this pass is that it lets us ride alongside some spectacular views of Val d’Aran: I can still picture, in my mind, sights from the day I completed it. 

Departing from the town of Bossòst, there are 8.6 km of ascent via national road N-141. The truth is that the climb has a significant elevation change, of 583 metres, at an average of 6.8% with maximum slopes of 8.2% at three kilometres from the summit. Prepare yourselves! 

With an orientation of east to west, it is a short but very difficult mountain pass and, more than once, it has formed part of the course of the Vuelta a España or Tour de France. In fact, if you decide to do it, along the way you’ll find more than one memorial to the Spanish champions of the French tour. In addition, Col du Portillon can be the start or finish of different bike trips through the valley of Aran or form part of a route through the great Pyrenean passes like Peyresourde or Superbagnères on the French side.

View route at strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/2839548940135362076

Porth Deth Portilhon


Port del Cantó 

Difficulty: Cat 1 | Road in perfect condition

The Port del Cantó mountain pass has also played a starring role in various stages of the Vuelta a España, so before doing so on a bike, I’d already been able to enjoy it in a certain way from home. Located in the Catalan Pyrenees, between the Segre and Noguera Pallaresa basins, it is considered one of the most interesting mountain passes between valleys in the Catalan geography.

It is a pass to put our persistence to the test: 19.5 km with an average slope nearing 6% and an elevation gain of more than 1000 m. Departing from Sort, we are met by an ascent with no excessively steep slopes but very long, capable of wearing us out if we try it insufficiently prepared. 

Right from the start, the beginning is complicated but don’t give up: the difficulty progressively wanes until you reach the town of Vilamur, which marks the start of a more accessible stretch ideal for recovering your strength. The pass goes, in large part, through a wooded area, but this doesn’t prevent it from being an ascension fairly exposed to wind or sun, so dress warmly or protect yourselves well depending on the time of year you're giving it a go. 

As altitude is gained, on the high part, the slope once again puts us to the test with a kilometre over 7% but, in spite of the difficulty, it is one of the points of the ascent that you’ll enjoy the most. It consists of a meadowland where it's easy to see a wild horse or two and after crowning the pass, you can rest accompanied by some incredible views of the Cadí. It’s awesome!

View route at strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/2839522492636036146

Sort - Port del Cantó


Vallter 2000

Difficulty: Cat 1 | Road in perfect condition

Vallter is one of the passes I’ve ridden the most times on a road bike. It is situated in the eastern Catalan Pyrenees, in the valley of Camprodon. It starts from the town of Setcases and reaches the ski slopes, at the beginning of the Bastiments peak. Enjoy it with all your senses because it offers an alpine landscape and a very wide range of greens. It is, however, one of the hardest and most spectacular rides in the Pyrenees, with a very demanding initial part and finally a series of spectacular horseshoe curves. In fact, it has been the last leg in multiple editions of the Volta a Catalunya!

The road of Vallter, at an altitude of 1260 m, covers a fully marked 12 km distance and ends in the ski resort parking lot at 2,155 m. It is Catalonia’s cycling ceiling, the highest point in the country accessible by road. In fact, to this distance, we have to add an average gradient of about 7.3%, with slopes approaching 15% and an 895 m elevation change.

The ascent in Vallter 2000 can be divided into multiple segments. The first three kilometres are quite strenuous but from the third to eighth kilometre, the ascent becomes much more difficult, with slopes reaching 14%. Once the worst is over, my favourite stretch arrives: with views of the Cirque of Morens, we cross a more-or-less flat kilometre with a short downhill for recovery. In the last kilometres, we find the famous seven curves and, finally, we see the finish line of the ski resort on the horizon at an altitude of more than 2100 m, in an exceptional spot. If you’d like to add a bit of emotion and competition to the experience, you can challenge yourself with the Strava segment of this stretch and look for the KOM or QOM. The road markings and signage will indicate the start and end of a segment where the names of cyclists like Thomas de Gendt, Carlos Verona and Noemí Ferrer have been inscribed.

Before discovering it by bike, I’d crossed it many times by car on my way to the ski slopes. I approached it for the first time on two wheels with some friends and I still remember how the views enthralled us, especially at the end, where the whole valley appears before you and leaves you practically speechless.

View route at strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/2839547932356999708

Setcases - Vallter 2000


Rasos de Peguera 

Difficulty: HC | Road in perfect condition

Rasos de Peguera is one of the hardest ascents that can be done in Catalan lands. It is, though, one of the passes which, on the clearest days, can offer the most views of the sea and, moreover, gives one the chance to have a good lunch halfway. All this gives it a lot of charm and makes it a good option to do with friends. The pass is relatively close to Barcelona, in the county of El Berguedà, in an area halfway between Barcelona and La Cerdanya, in the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees, but with an important quantity of passes with some difficulty.

It presents a 13-kilometre distance, with an approximate climb of 1000 metres and an average slope of 7.4%, and it brings you to an altitude of 1894 metres. You’ll notice, however, that often, the slopes can reach 11% and 12%. During the pass’s first stretch, with a slope reaching 13%, metres are gained after overcoming Espinalbet, with views of the sanctuary of Queralt and a magnificent panoramic of Central Catalonia, with Montserrat in the background. The last few horseshoe curves entail a fairly hard kilometre, with a slope of 8.1%, a prelude to the even-more-demanding final stretch: a one-way lane where we finish this intense pass.

After giving yourself time to take a break and catch your breath, get ready for the downhill of a dream. During the whole first part, you’ll enjoy some astounding views of the Valley of Lord, where we can often contemplate a lovely sunset.

View route at strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/2839522316458398770

Berga - Rasos de Peguera