Ride Report - THE TRAKA 2022

Once you’ve entered The Traka, you know it means only one thing - you’re headed to Girona. The iconic Catalonian town that’s become synonymous with cycling, with little lanes that are lined with specialist boutique shops, restaurants, and coffee shops run by retired pros.

Image courtesy of Klassmark

Any lover of two wheels knows that you live and breathe cycling while in Girona, and this springtime event captures that better than almost anything else. It’s basically a festival around the bicycle—with fast-rolling gravel at its core.

The organisation takes care of the details, offering different routes and options to please virtually everyone. Just milling around the start and finish zone, you can tell there’s a mixed bag of riders, with some approaching it as their sporting challenge of the year, while for others it is just one more race on their calendar...

But what cannot be denied is that Girona is all about riding fast. You can’t hide from the speed. The atmosphere is so competitive that the startline is literally buzzing with pre-race nerves. Fortunately, the concept of gravel bikes (and gravel bike racing) has evolved so much in such a short time that the idea of going fast in a peloton is now safer and far less intimidating than it seemed just a few years ago, when it was basically unthinkable... 

Image courtesy of Klassmark

Thanks to specific developments from within the bike industry, we can cover a range of terrain for hours and hours, knowing that hydraulic disc brakes will rarely (if ever) let us down, and that having a wide tyre clearance means we’re able to handle the bikes better and spec it with wider, knobbly tires if needed, not to mention the evolution of frame geometry – comfier or more aggressive – that keeps you upright and stable around turns and over rough terrain.

Even so, the day before taking part in the 200km distance at The Traka, I was able to observe how several of the 360 km participants broke their wheels – in one instance, one even snapped a frame when they were involved in a crash – so I decided I needed a careful approach - go fast, but without risking a mechanical nor the physical integrity of me or my bike... The gravel season is long, and I don't want to cause an injury so early on. For this reason, I hung back at the start and put myself on the last row of the box. I think I made the right choice; the tension was palpable in the minutes before the official start and even in the first few turns, you could see how other peoples’ nerves were causing mistakes. 

Image courtesy of Klassmark

After a few kilometres, everyone had found their rhythm and natural order was restored – for me, this meant overtaking people as the kilometres ticked by and I settled into a decent pace. Ticking along at a good speed, I was finally able to enjoy what I had come to do: disconnect from routine and spend a magnificent day riding gravel with friends.

Image courtesy of Klassmark

What I took away The Traka was an appreciation for how the entire event strives to leave the smallest-possible footprint on the environment—they do this through recycled materials and opting for an event guided by GPS devices rather than flags or painted marks on the ground, thus leaving no trace along the route.

Image courtesy of Klassmark

If you’re interested in entering The Traka 2023, you can find all the details on the Klassmark website

ibai fradejas

Ibai Fradejas headed off to Girona in search of some full-gas gravel racing and he wasn’t disappointed.

Ibai Fradejas

Ibai is based in Bilbao, Spain and is part of the Shimano Gravel Alliance. He loves heading out into the wilds of the Basque Country in search of adventures on his gravel bike, but he can be found gravel riding and racing all over Europe.

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