I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about Girona that keeps me coming back. It doesn’t hurt that there is some outstanding and varied riding nearby, of course, or that you are nearly guaranteed to see a pro or three out on the road, or while sipping your cortado. For me it’s those things, plus the great vibe of this little city that you get to experience après ride.
Spain, like Italy, kicks France’s fesses when it comes to coffee, but it gets even better in Girona, with Christian and Amber Meier’s La Fabrica ‘cycling cafe’. More on this in May, when I will hopefully interview both of them over a cafe con leche and that kickass cake down below.
Girona is more or less surrounded by a pretty old wall, onto which you can climb up and walk along, with snow-capped views of the Pyrenees if you hit the season right.
Also a matter of timing, the annual Volta Ciclista a Catalunya usually pays a visit to the city, this year starting one of the stages just outside the old town. Here, a group of fanboys and girls wait for a glimpse of Contador.
A 45 km ride to the south and you’re at the Mediterranean, with a few touristy beach towns that have at least an equal measure of kitsch and beauty, depending on your general outlook on life. It’s a nice place to stop for coffee, we can attest to that.
The coastal road, which zigs and weaves in and out of the many coves along the coast, is pure joy.
We did a long ride into the Volcano Natural Park to the west of the city that had great climbs, wonderful views and just enough sheep and donkeys to make us feel at home.
Then you get back to town and there’s a place like B12, which has two full pages on their menu of micro-brewed Catalan beer that you could never buy outside the province. It’s also conveniently located next to a tattoo parlor, if you’re feeling adventurous after your 2 or 3 IPAs.
At night Girona offers up a ton of reasonably-priced restaurants, but if you see some of these babies in the window on your way, stop in, order a glass of wine, and dig into a few pintxos – Catalan tapas, I guess. On our last night, John and I had two rounds of these things before heading over to finish off the night with a burger and ‘onion hoops’.
And finally, Girona has a long history with cycling and cyclists, including the most infamous of all – Lance Armstrong – who pretty much started the whole shebang back in the 90s. Here’s the door of his former apartment, or so I was told by a credible source (seen carrying his case of Catalan wine in the distance).
Our May Girona BreakAway is more or less full, but we’re not averse to adding another one later on in the year. It’s never a bad idea to go back to Girona.