When we named the fifth edition of Among the Giants “ATG5: Coming full circle” it was because it represented the final chapter in the Alps. We knew we would have to look for other mountain ranges if we wanted to continue the trend of one different country per edition, or at least we would have to redefine the project concept and approach it in an alternative way.
The names of many exotic countries and unknown mountains were mentioned during our brainstorming sessions. We were browsing on the internet to find the highest paved roads in Europe and North Africa, until we came up with the conclusion that a “giant” is not only defined by the altitude at the summit but by many other factors. The landscapes along the way or the accumulated elevation from the bottom of the climb are equally relevant when distinguishing an average uphill segment from a climb that you should add to your bucket list.
With that in mind, we continued our search with a new perspective. We talked wonders about the times we have been to the north of Spain to ride our bikes, hike, or simply do tourist things. It is one of the most humid regions of the country, which means green fields and dense forests all year around. Particularly for cycling, you will not find climbs over 2.000 meters there, but the aforementioned green landscapes and narrow roads turn this region into a true hidden gem, where you feel trapped among steep climbs with narrow roads and tiny villages surrounded by breathtaking views.
Location and base camp
We planned some tentative routes, and after checking with locals, we were confident about our choice; Asturias will be the destination of our upcoming edition of Among the Giants, which takes place from August 30th – September 3rd.
More concretely, everything will be around the Natural Park Las Ubiñas – La Mesa, within the Cantabrian Mountains. Our base camp is located in Quirós, with Oviedo being the nearest big city. As usual, we will sleep in a valley, which means the only way from there is up.
Each ride will feature at least one major climb and yes, the mighty Angliru will be in the mix. El Gamoniteiru and Puerto de Cubilla are not very well known outside the region, but after taking a look at the view and hearing the comments of locals, we are sure they will be as beautiful and tough as the main climbs of past editions. Additionally, we will test in exclusive a climb that will be ridden in La Vuelta for the first time this year, La Cruz de Linares.
The unpaved second half of Colle delle Finestre was one of the highlights of the previous edition so, although we are mainly sticking to the road, we can tell you that ATG6 will again feature some spicy gravel sections. It will allow us to link different climbs and create a nice loop as a result, instead of going from point A to point B and back.
This time we wanted to go big also in terms of the number of people that will gather to conquer the giants together. That is why we will be based in an old school made of stone and wood that later turned into a hostel, with space for up to 30 people. It opened its doors to the public in 2015, and the new owners are making the most of what the place has to offer with live music on a weekly basis and all the facilities needed for a stay immersed in nature.
We are sure that the intimate, family vibe will remain untouched, and the potential of such nice facilities opens the door to endless cross-collaboration possibilities and synergies between the participants.
Talking about participants, it is time to unveil which brands will be part of this expedition, some of them directly present with a representative and others sending us their products to put to the test.
Tactic was part of ATG4 in Austria, and we are happy to say they are again involved in Among the Giants. Several things have changed for the Girona based clothing brand since the last time we partnered up, as now they offer custom clothing, together with a broader range of collection products. They now also partner with national federations like South Africa and Namibia and by wearing their kits during ATG we will surely realize the reason for their international growth.
How cool it is to have Sturdy Cycles on board for ATG6? Bespoke bikes clearly have a place in our event, and the founder Tom himself will be on location to put the titanium bikes of the South West England brand to the test. Designed, engineered, and built to suit the rider’s unique fit, handling preferences and needs, we hope that Tom is bringing a bike that is prepared to face the Angliru and the rest of the hard climbs of this edition. What is clear is that we will learn a lot from his experience in frame building, and suffer while trying to follow him.
ATG6 takes place in Asturias, and we are proud to count on the biggest cycling company in the region for this edition. MMR stands for ‘Machines Made for Racing’, and even if Among the Giants is not about leaving the others behind, be sure that we will bring their brand new Adrenaline 5.0 to the limit. It is the lightest frame MMR has ever made, so whoever rides it during our stay in Asturias will have an advantage over the rest on the steep climbs. And there are a lot of steep climbs.
It is not only about brands directly related to cycling, and Laser Barcelona will bring a different point of view to the mix. Those aware of their collection range and the several collaborations with sports brands and businesses know the quality and creativity of the mastermind behind it, Justo Heras. In which way will they be present in Among the Giants? That is something we will unveil during the event.
Cycling computers are nowadays much more than a simple navigation device, as they provide you with all the info you need about what’s ahead, and all the data you generate while riding. Ahead of the curve we find Hammerhead, with its frequent feature releases and upgrades. The feature we will probably use the most is CLIMBER, which displays color-coded gradient information to optimize our pace during the climb. We don’t know by heart which color a 23% ramp corresponds to, but we will soon find out.
Next, we have a brand that we have also crossed paths with before. ENVE is mostly known for manufacturing some of the best wheelsets available in the market. For example, Tadej Pogacar and the rest of the UAE Team Emirates team now race with several components of the American brand, highlighting the quality of their products. By now most people already know that they also offer full builds with ENVE frames too, and we are lucky to ride their Melee to tackle the challenges ahead in Asturias.
Last but not least, we have Coffee Union Place. CUP was founded around a year ago by Victor Bercero aka Last Leaders, who has played a relevant role in the history of RAW Cycling Magazine. It is a small business of specialty coffee in Castelldefels, south of Barcelona, and it has become a mandatory stop for cyclists in the area. With Victor and CUP as participants in this edition, the good vibes (and very good coffee from Right Side) are guaranteed.
What’s to come
Over the past five editions of Among the Giants, we have tackled the most feared climbs in Europe, and that is not changing this time. We are aware of the magnitude of the challenge and that we will suffer quite a lot, but by experience we know that what’s left from those days is an immense sense of achievement. We are looking forward to meeting the nice group of individuals we have gathered and celebrating together the 10th anniversary of RAW Cycling Magazine. See you on the road!