Cycling is the new golf! As our CEO Nick can often be heard saying. As well as being an avid cyclist and bicycle user, he’s also an ambassador for cycle networking group BDOVELO; a networking group aimed at professionals and business people who share a passion for cycling, business and networking.
This year, they had the inaugural cycling trip, heading to Girona, a paradise for cyclists and favourite training ground for many cycling greats with stunning Costa Brava scenery, varied landscapes, challenging climbs and technical descents, not to mention a fantastic cycling culture.
Nick’s given us a little blog of his trip here to share with you the joys of cycling abroad.
After meeting the gang at the airport with bike boxes a plenty we headed out on our transfer to Girona on a pleasant 20-degree sunny afternoon.
Arriving at the cycle-friendly hotel – safe bike storage, tools, spin room, not to mention complimentary water bottle and handwritten note – a hardcore of us quickly decided to build our bikes and head out for a short spin to check they’d survived the baggage handlers… they had, phew!
After a quick ride through the town, we decided to head ‘up’, climbing 150m in less than 10 minutes we were soon breathing heavily, overlooking Girona and voicing concerns about the impending sunset (and the cold beers the others were tucking into), so we took the wise choice to return to base and ready ourselves for the next day.
An early start to meet our excellent guides Eduardo and Manuel from Cycle Tours Catalonia, for the morning briefing about our 90km ride ahead before we headed off for the day’s riding. Only ten minutes in and disaster struck – a chain (SRAM flat top btw!) snapped on one of the hire bikes. The professionalism of the guides shone through with a quick bike swap and plan to meet Manuel later, we were back on the road.
A decent pace was set in the morning sun and we were soon spinning up and out of Girona as we headed south for the popular Sant Grau climb. A popular 8km climb peaking at almost 1500 ft at the chapel built for the patron saint of cattle (so the guide informed us). However, as I reached the top, I was questioning my wisdom of running an 11-28T on the rear; I’d already spotted others in the group running rear cassette sprockets whose lowest sprocket tooth number began with the digit four, others even running a triple up front!
However, the climbing effort was soon rewarded with our first real descent of the trip and our first taste of hairpin bends, coastal views and speeds in excess of 50 km/h, all captured via drone footage.
Having taken in the views with a quick team photo, we were on the Tossa – St Feliu, touted as one of the best coastal roads to ride and featured in Stage 6 of the 2009 Tour de France. We took a decent pace along this section before enjoying a fast descent down to Sant Feliu before stopping at the picturesque Platja de Santa Pol beach for a carb-loading lunch.
Possibly the nicest place I have ever stopped on a cycle ride for lunch; with the sun beating down, and excitable chat of the morning’s riding mixed with opinions on the latest cycling gadgets. Bliss!
Realising we had already ridding 60km, the afternoon took a more relaxed pace. Taking a post-lunch easy(ish) Bell-Lloc climb and a meander along tranquil and fantastically tarmacked roads before we reached the C-65. At this point our guide Eduarado decided it was time to give us a fast-paced peloton experience as we attempted to keep up with him, grinding along at 42 Km/h, desperate to stay on the wheel of the rider in front.
Before long the sights of Girona were ahead of us, as we cruised back into town for a post ride pint at the lovely Hors Categorie (HCCC) bike friendly café.
Despite a raucous Saturday evening, all riders were present and correct for the 9.30am start and another 90km ride ahead. This time venturing off towards the Les Gavarres mountains and 3,800 ft of climbing.
With no time to find our legs or shake of the effects of the night before, we were climbing the classic Els Angels ascent, 10km of tree-lined vertical before reaching the Santuari dels Àngels a pretty hilltop chapel, (apparently where Salavador Dali married) with panoramic views and welcome snack stop.
With inevitable ‘day 2 confidence’ some of us speed freaks hit the descents from the top at a pace pushing 55 km/h before we hit the flat, cruising through traditional Catalan villages at a more refined rate. Sensing potential storms, Manuel our guide decided a coffee and cake stop rather than lunch was the best option, we stopped in picturesque Monells for our quick refuel.
Our final climb of the day saw us grind the 6km up to Santa Pellaia before the descent down to Cassa de La Selva, technical in the top half with some 20 bends, some hairpin, with long fast straights in the second section.
Delighted with another successful day and having beaten the storm, we headed back to Girona for a well-deserved late lunch whilst watching Colbrelli win the Paris Roubaix.
A great way to finish the 2021 cycling season. Now all I have to do is rebuild my bike now I’m back home with post Girona blues.