Route – Off: Castellterçol a Orís (76km)

This route is based on a track from the website Moterus, created by Miguel 650, with an extra segment added at the beginning between Castellterçol and Collsuspina by a mate who is a walking atlas when it comes to offroad routes. Gràcies Ricard!

We meet at 8:30 in a bar called Can Joan on the C-59 just outside Caldes. We were supposed to meet in the Bar Olimpo, a regular meeting point for cyclists and bikers alike, but we found it closed on vacation. After a generously-sized sandwich and coffee, we hit the road.

The route that I have programmed in the GPS starts in the outskirts of Moià, heading for Tona, but Ricard suggests approaching the starting point through a track he knows to warm up. Outside Castellterçol there is a small industrial estate called El Vapor, where the track starts between to warehouses. After a short stop to disconnect the ABS and the TCS, the first two members of today’s group shoot off leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. Clearly, they were craving a bit of offroad action… I have no experience in enduro and I do not usually ride dirt tracks on purpose, rather end up in them, but since I got the new motorbike I have been exploring more and more its possibilities, which are far greater than my offroad skills, to tell the truth. The group I am with today, in contrast, have extensive experience on the brown stuff, so I am in for a crash course (literally).

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The track connects Castellterçol and Collsuspina through fields and is quite flat and easy, in fact it is accessible by car without trouble. Once there, we head west on tarmac for about 5 kilometres until we reach the beginning of the track I have uploaded on my GPS, right outside Moià. The first part of the route is an uphill track through the forest which, after a few tight corners, opens up to faster sections, always with good surface and good visibility, allowing fast progress. A few kilometres further, though, we have to slow down a bit as we see signs of what seems to be a MTB race or event and, sure enough, a bit later we start coming across bicycles heading the opposite way. We ride this bit slowly, and after a short stop to admire the views, leave behind the MTB course and have the track to ourselves until we reach the BV-4316 road just over some tunnels in the C-25.

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After crossing the road, another short track segment brings us to the C-62 main road. At first it seems that we have to ride tarmac for a while, but then we discover a service track that runs parallel to the road, crossing it here and there, allowing us to stay on the brown stuff until the B-433, where the route takes us inevitably on tarmac until Sant Bartomeu del Grau.

From here we start the most remote part of the route, a narrower and winding track through the forest, where we have a great time. In a tight downhill corner, next to an old electricity company hut and a fire extinction pond, the forest opens into a viewpoint perched over the Riera de Sorreig, with beautiful views.

The track keeps going down from here until a small reservoir and then goes up again, the forest thinning to reveal some farms here and there. While riding past one of them, on another tight downhill corner, my front wheel loses grip and I land on my right side. I must have been doing 30 or 40 km/h and, fortunately, have not hurt myself, but it has been without any warning at all. We lift the bike and check for damage; the upper crash bars have moved and made contact with the fairing, but a good pull between three of us bend them back in position, and there is nothing broken – indicator, mirror, brake lever… everything checks out. A closer look reveals that the brunt of the impact went to the lower crash bars, then the upper ones, the hand guards and the passenger footpeg. Crash bars are a good thing to have.

The track goes on, nice and level, until reaching Sant Boi del Lluçanès, where we ride tarmac for a very short while in the BV-4608 before turning left into the forest again. A few hundred meters in, another track starts to the right, going up to the Sant Salvador de Bellver monastery.

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The detour is worth taking, the views from the monastery are stunning, in a clear day like today one can see very far.

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We spend a while enjoying the views, chatting and joking, until we realise that right behind us the monks are in the church, sitting in a circle and meditating, so we decided to move on and not spoil their karma.

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After riding back down to the main track we pursue the route, which describes a long curve around the hill where the monastery was until we pass below it on the north face and the track starts losing altitude in one of the best sections of the morning. The confidence I had lost in the front tire is slowly coming back, and I increase the pace and enjoy this last bit before Orís, where the route ends.

Map

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From here, the C-17 leads back home to Barcelona, but Ricard suggests a nice place to have lunch and make the route a bit longer, this time on tarmac. We ride up the C-17 to Sant Quirze de Besora, where we take a smaller road to Santa Maria de Besora and then an even smaller one, little more than a sealed track, until the Hostal La Serra de Llaers, a farmhouse turned restaurant in the middle of nowhere where we celebrate the end of the route with a huge salad and grilled sausages. The sealed track goes on past the restaurant, but to save ourselves the ride all the way up to the N-260a we take another track, the last bit offroad, that connects to the C-17 just south of Ripoll.

Map

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What to see

This is an offroad route (aside from the short connecting tarmac sections), so the most interesting thing is the riding itself and the views. That said, it is worth taking a detour to visit the monastery and church of Sant Salvador de Bellver, whose origins date back to the year 1100. Abandoned during the 20th Century until it fell into disrepair, it has now been occupied by a community that have restored and enlarged the site. From atop the hill you can see great views including the Plana de Vic, Montseny and Montserrat mountains and even the Pyrenees.

Where to eat

At the beginning of the route, the road bar Olimpo is a classic meeting point for cyclists and bikers alike to have a good breakfast before setting off. At the end of the route by lunchtime, and if you are willing to ride a bit longer (30km), the food in Hostal de la Serra de Llaers is excellent.

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