Girona: the best place I’ve ever ridden a bike so far

I recently got back from a ten-day cycling trip to Girona, Catalonia in Spain. And I want to rave about it.

Girona is a city of about 150,000 just in from the Costa Brava in Catalonia, Spain. At its core is a gorgeous medieval city, with narrow streets, winding alleys, and staircases. Just outside is paradise.

A lot of pro riders do training blocks in Girona. It’s easy to see why. There are lots of hills. There are lots of quiet, paved roads, and tons of places to get coffee, water and snacks.

It’s not always been this way (the city has been around since the middle ages — long before the first rear derailleur) but Girona has evolved to become a sort of holy city of cycling. Cycling-related shops — whether rentals, clothing stores or retail shops are all over the city’s downtown.

It’s got this way, I think, because you can just plunk yourself down somewhere and go out every day to ride somewhere different and awesome. A lot of cycling destinations have you travelling from point to point, either with your stuff on your bike or in a van you and a group hire to go with you.

And where in some cities it can be very hard to find a road bike for rent, in Girona it’s really easy. There are places everywhere. And we’re not just talking GCN Eurobikes, either. Like good bikes. Also tours, guides and support.

Between Google Translate and a lot of patient people who have some english, you can get around, do things and get what you need without needing a lot of Spanish. Although if you do have Spanish, be prepared to be confused as a lot of signage and talking is in Catalan. Which is very different.

It’s fun to stay in the old city. Very walkable. And since it dates back to the 700s and 800s, extremely cool and old. But to get to good riding, you have to get out of town. Which is urban riding through streets thick with pedestrians.

And beyond that there is a bit of urban sprawl, but compared to what we deal with here, it’s a cakewalk. Once you get comfortable with roundabouts. Drivers are extremely patient with and accommodating of cyclists. In contrast to what I experience at home. My three riding buddies and I were out riding on average six hours a day for eight days and encountered not once nasty honk, close pass or other form of aggressive behaviour.

Also I love that…

  • there are lots of roundabouts, instead of stop lights.
  • in eight days of riding, six hours or thereabouts per day, not one revenge pass or anger honk.
  • almost every town you stop in will have a public water fountain.
  • even derelict farmhouses are beautiful to look at as you ride along
  • climbs are challenging but they’re not your whole day
  • it’s a real live city with grocery stores so you can buy your own food
  • but there are also lots of restaurants and cafés
  • lots of opportunities to ‘showroom’ and actually buy nice cycling kit
  • if you need an obscure bit of bike tech, someone in town probably has it

I should really let the pictures do the talking.

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