This is the first in a series of very special posts to celebrate the fifth season of MV. I’ll start with the Gran Vertical: Born out of the same minds as Cat700, it’s a non-competitive ride, linking Tarragona, Castellón and Teruel along 360 km, starting in Amposta. Here are some of my reflections on what we experienced at this event, being for me a perfect launching pad for other longer distance challenges.

Since the idea came out, our plan was to ride this route in a #SlowBikepacking mode, you already know what I think about it, and thus reflecting the values of bikepacking as a journey, as interaction with territory, as a learning, as an empathetic and almost symbiotic experience with the places we pedal on.

Eliseu T. Climent, creator of both Cat700 and GranVertical, is in my opinion one of the most important references of those values, and probably one of the persons that most influenced the birth of the «MontañasVacías» creature in 2018.

Complete route info, here

Completing this route as a group, all together, and unhurried, pretended to be a tribute to that philosophy, that is supposed to be the ultimate hallmark and raison d’être of these two events. We would speed up cut-off times, we would use the night to sleep, and we would make as many stops as we could, but trying not to make the organising team too desperate. (Eliseu, Mónica, Carles, Simó, you guys are great!! And… amazing that hidden resupply pointy by David…).

I feel like coming back to an Eliseu event has been a thorn in my side since the 2018 CAT700, when I still was warm-blooded racing animal, approaching that experience in «ultra-cycling» mode, as if I hadn’t understood a single word of what Eliseu wanted to tell with his proposal (here, the article of those days). I have the feeling that a certain selective amnesia made the moments of hardship weigh too heavily on my recorded memories of that time. That’s why I needed to make up for it all and live the landscape, feel it, be part of it, completely remove the hormonal layer of the challenge itself to stick to the basics, with The Journey, in capital letters, with the smiles of my friends, with all the good times I’m taking with me in my bikepacking bags this time.

That’s why we wanted to do it the way we did it, to show (also to ourselves) that there is another way to experience this kind of event. It’s clear that it wouldn’t be possible to do it in all of them, not every route or every cut-off time is suitable for this. It’s also clear that riding 360 kms in 60 h is not within the reach of many of those potentially interested in such experiences (man and women), it’s true, but I also believe that all this can be like throwing a handful of seeds in a field. On one hand, so that as participants, we know that there are other ways of approaching these events, and on the other hand, so that the organisers of experiences like this know that there are many people interested in experiencing them in this way.

It would be highly positive not to turn our backs on these profiles of participants who, in the end, stop in the villages, interact with what they see (because they see it, they ride just during the day!), and probably end up spreading the word about an area where they’ve lived an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Isn’t that what we all want?


  • Crossing the Puertos de Beceite as the first obstacle of the route, including fifteen minutes of «hike-a-bike» because of a stage finish of the Volta a Catalunya. #WeLoveEliseu.
  • Arriving early in the morning in a town like Morella and having three breakfasts on a terrace in the sun. Clearly, one of those reasons why we do bikepacking.
  • Returning to La Estrella, this time without its last inhabitants, Martín and Sinforosa, who for health reasons had to leave their beloved village only a few weeks ago, after more than 40 years being the last ones in La Estrella…
  • Discovering the Sierra de Irta Natural Park, and being amazed at how they were able to protect such a place from the urbanistic atrocities of the middle of the last century. May it continue like this for a long time to come.
  • To change my friends’ belief that Ernesto is «not a bar person».
  • But above all, my pals in this adventure… You have been the real highlight of this route. Cycling three days with you has been a real privilege. Thank you Silvia, Alex G, Héctor, Alex M, Diego, Sergi and Adolf for being one of the moments of the year!

Sketch based on a photo by @conunparderuedas