The Traka 360 – Girona’s finest Gravel

This year Parcours is supporting a group of amateur athletes, across several disciplines – triathlon, road and gravel – Team Parcours

We caught up with Lisa Schrader, our gravel rider from Germany, to find out about her experience at one of the biggest Gravel races globally, The Traka, in Girona, Spain.

Girona, is known for being a cycling mecca. Many of the Pro Cyclists base themselves in Girona, as well as over the past few years, it becoming a huge home of triathletes too. It’s no real surprise with the training playground it offers, for cycling, running and swimming. Not to mention the European culture of good coffee, food and weather! As the gravel scene has exploded in recent years, Girona has embraced it. It has a huge network of trails in some of the most stunning landscapes. What also has helped is the local event company Klassmark, that really in the last few years has grasped the off road culture, developing and putting on amazing, trail runs, mountain bike and gravel races. They have grown and are now probably one of the best in the business, not just in Girona, but globally! Put Girona on your bucket list, for a training camp, or cycling holiday, on and off road, or check out some of the incredible events that happen during the year. The Traka being one.

Last year when I started to do Gravel Racing, there was this one event that everyone was talking about: The Taka in Girona. Curious what this event is all about, I signed up for the 360km distance.

I have done longer Gravel rides and races before, but more than 300km in one go was the longest distance so far and seemed like quite an ambitious goal. I really like a good challenge and pushing my own boundaries, so I was really looking forward to hit the Girona gravel and see what’s it all about.

When I arrived to Girona things were different as expected, it was raining a lot and a lot of the trails where really muddy and some were flooded, too. The days before where quite nerve-racking and we checked the weather apps quite frequently. Girona and all the vibe was really nice though and made up for the weather. I joined a group ride, did a bit of a recon ride and enjoyed the really nice coffee places and carbo-loading became a thing to do while waiting for the rain to pass. The day before the race they postponed the start to 7am and shortened the route to 340km due to safety reasons. Still a looong way though. At the start line the emotions got intense, I was so excited to start. All the training was done, the bike set-up tested and I was so happy it all worked out and I was ready to go. Due to the weather and trail conditions I decided to ride together with my boyfriend as we shared so many miles together already and work very well as a team. Together we can help each other to go through all the highs and lows. Our main goal was to finish healthy and happy, without any mechanicals, everything before midnight would be a bonus.

The start and first climb was really hectic and fast but after a while it eased off a bit and we found some nice groups to ride with. After the first Feed station we entered the nicest section of the whole course and worked our way up and down on gravel tracks near the French border with amazing views of the snowcapped high Pyrenees on the one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other.

There was a tough hike-a-bike section to master too. The kilometers ticked off and we were rolling smoothly despite the headwinds. It was a long way to reach the second Feed Station as we were craving some proper food. We did a short pit stop, had some pasta, oiled the chains and where ready to tackle the last 90km, including a steep 8km climb in the Gavarres. We reached the top of the climb just before sunset and had some really nice views. The desent was quite technical with loose gravel in the corners and washed-out trails but as there was still a bit of daylight it went by without any incident. As darkness hit I hit my low point, too. Luckily it was only a few km left and quitting was not an option anymore, so we tried to stay motivated and pushed on with the finish line in mind.

We rolled back into Girona exactly at midnight and were warmly welcomed by some friends of ours.

While riding I thought never again will I ride such a long distance, but with a few days passed, I am thinking what could be the next challenge…?

 

 

Lisa’s set up:

I used my Liv Devote Advanced Pro Gravel Bike with the Parcours Alta Wheel Set-Team Edition with Schwalbe G-One R 40mm tyre in the front and G-One RS 40mm in the back. 

The set-up was perfect and I would not change a thing!


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