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21 April 2016 No comments

The Best Cycling in Girona

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By Juliet Elliott
The Best Cycling in Girona
Last week, the husband and I took a short break in Girona, where we set about cycling the best routes we could before stuffing ourselves with food and falling asleep at about 9pm every evening – pretty much what happens every time we go away together – we’re so romantic like that. There was a time in the not too distant past where you’d have to wrestle a pint/shot/wine glass out of my hand as the hour approached midnight but now I find riding at threshold makes me slur and stumble enough to be a really cheap date. Girona first began attracting cyclists in the 1990s when professionals such as George Hincapie chose the city for its mild climate, quiet roads and convenient location between mountains, sea and the international airport at Barcelona. But it was when the dreaded Lance Armstrong bought an apartment that the city was really put on the cycling map and its now a mecca for pro cyclists, some permanently relocating with their families, others simply enjoying a few months of winter training in the hills around the city. Cycling Best Routes/Rides Girona It’s now the base of so many pro riders that you can’t turn a corner without bumping into someone recognisable; it was almost pro cyclist bingo every time we went out for a ride and I felt like such a fan girl, getting excited when they’d nod and smile at us out on the road. In the city itself we saw Giant Alpecin riders sipping Café con leche and eating Hummingbird cake at La Fábrica and Dimension Data riders relaxing in the sun on Plaça de la Independencia. At Girona Cycle Centre you can even buy the pro riders’ unwanted kit, marked with the name of the rider selling it – they had some really nice stuff and cheap too, but realistically, I wouldn’t have worn it so I had to turn away. There are a great many fantastic routes that start and end in Girona so it’s not at all difficult to ride something different every day, selecting the a ride that perfectly fulfils your needs. The following four routes are available to download by clicking the link and visiting Wikiloc, where you can grab the GPX file to upload to you cycle computer of choice. But a word of caution: I’d suggest you use these routes as a guide because if you follow every single turning on the GPX file you might end up retracing our random or long winded searches for coffee stops, or minor detours. Have fun!
The Armstrong/Els Angels/Hincapie/Whatever loop  Call it what you want, this ride is a well-known jaunt from Girona taking in two long climbs, Els Angels and the Hincapie climb. Some people roll south out of Girona and hit Els Angels from the city side but we rode the route anti-clockwise and did it at the end. Stop for a coffee in Madremanya – it’s a beautiful little old villages built of warm, sandy coloured stone, but bring your own snacks unless you want a full meal in the restaurant. The Fairytale Lanes - Girona, Cartella, Canet d’Adri, Llora, Les Serres, Constantin I spotted this route on my friend and Brooks sponsored 5th Floor team rider Sophie Edmondson’s Strava account and it was a new one to me. Seeing as she’d called it the ‘Fairytale Lanes loop,’ I was totally fished in. The ride heads north east out of Girona and you’re quickly rolling up and down hills through woodland before beginning a long but mellow ascent on smooth, quiet road through open farmland dotted with lavishly converted barns and villas. A fun descent is followed by another climb through the mountains where we never saw another soul as we rolled through deserted villages – be sure to take enough water and food, as we didn’t find any cafes. The route is quiet, beautiful and fairly bumpy though there are no mega steep climbs. The Girona Seaside/Sant Grau Loop A much loved route, not just by us but by pretty much everyone that visits Girona, the seaside loop is around 100km long and includes a includes a fairly long but enjoyable climb that winds its way up to the village of Sant Grau. From there it’s a spectacular descent – switchback after switchbacks as the road hugs the steep hillside that drops away steeply to the Mediterranean Sea. From there we followed the coast road to seaside town Sant Feliu where we stopped for lunch before riding through some quite busy resorts to on our way back into the hills. A peaceful climb followed by some flattish main roads delivered us back to Girona. The Banyoles Loop A short but sweet ride of around 55km which is fairly flat and very enjoyable. The lake at Banyoles is a fab place to stop for a coffee, even though you've not been riding for long! The lovely return journey takes you through sleepy villages and open farmland and back to Girona for the world's best ice cream sandwich at Rocambolesc! Words: Juliet Elliott / Photos: Dave Noakes