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Cycling in the Natural Park of Olerdola

After dealing with the parks of Garraf and Foix, the Parc Natural d'Olerdola was the only natural area missing of the three ones easily accessible from Vilanova i la Geltrù. If Parc del Foix could boast the presence of an ancient castle and a fine medieval hamlet (Castellet), no less so for Parc d'Olerdola. Indeed, besides a series of beautiful natural landscapes, this area also offers the possibility to visit the castle of Olerdola, dating back to the 10th century and located in a dominant position, right at the top of a hill. Perhaps the best way to visit it, provided you have a car at your disposal, is driving from Vilanova to San Miquel d'Olerdola (along the highway heading for Vilafranca del Penedés) and then reaching the castle after a couple of kilometres of ascent. Although, for those who may be interested in feeling the emotion of a cycling route in the heart of the park, here you will find a possible itinerary (though I must warn you that it will be no easy task).


Setting off from Vilanova i la Geltrù, you will at first head for Sant Pere de Ribes, which you may reach following either the county road BV2113 (quite flat and uninteresting) or the alternative BV 2112 (presenting a short climb and a few interesting views, including the final descent towards the castle of the small town). Once in Sant Pere, after admiring en passant the curious cathedral, the route will continue following the signals for Vilafranca del Penedés. A stretch of 6-7 kilometres in moderate ascent on the C15B leads to Canyelles, the last outpost of the Garraf county. Leaving temporarily aside the village with its dominant fortress, we will leave Garraf and enter the Alt Penedés county. Although, pay attention not to follow the indication for Vilafranca, which would lead you on the highway: cyclists may use the parallel road, which though quite solitary and winding will lead them safely to San Miquel d'Olerdola.


Actually, a few metres before reaching the village you will find the deviation climbing up to Castell d'Olerdola. After an ascent of about 2 kilometres (almost devoid of bends), you will reach the castle, which dates back to the 10th century and is really worth a visit. Before starting the vertiginous descent, you had better have a look at the breathtaking views which may be enjoyed from the hilltop, both on Vilafranca del Penedés and on the mountainous range of Montserrat, clearly visible at distance. Back to the foot of the hill, you will turn left to reach the tiny village of Sant Miquel, and having gone through it you will turn left again towards Moja.


Nevertheless, right before entering the village, a few metres past the local churchyard, you will have to turn left again into a well-kept country road. Cycling in a pleasant rural environment (in late summer the surrounding vineyards are really spectacular), you will then resume climbing. After a few kilometres of moderate climb, you will reach the top of a small hill, where it is advisable to stop for a while to appreciate another amazing view towards Montserrat. The pause will also help you cope with the upcoming stretch of ascent, which despite being short will prove a hard test for your cycling abilities. The wonderful sight on the nearby hills will partially make up for the effort.


After a short and steep descent, the road will resume climbing gently, leading in the heart of Parc d'Olerdola in an unspoilt natural environment. Having reached a cluster of buildings, the small village of Daltmar, you will turn left once again, completing the climb with a last stretch. Once at the top, an extremely sloping descent (be careful, especially approaching the bends) will bring you back to Canyelles, where your tour for the Parc had started. This time, though, it will be better to opt for the shortest way back to Vilanova i La Geltrù, namely the wide C15Z. After one kilometre in moderate ascent (do not be disheartened, it will be the last effort), you will transit under a peculiar bridge which will mark the end of your suffering.


Just one last precaution will help you to avoid the highway: at the end of the descent, you will have to turn left, following the signal for La Pedrera. Going past the extraction site, then, you will cross a spectacular bridge hanging over the highway, before safely turning right and finally heading for Vilanova (keep on the left at the first crossroads, or you will end up on the highway once again!)

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