Sometimes, when an opportunity rears its head, you don’t think, you just do.
The beginning of October is an unpredictable time in the UK. Some years, the fair weather follows you into an Indian summer, allowing for late afternoon rides in just arm warmers. Others years, by October 1st you are being lashed with with the first of the Winter rains, jackets are donned and the rides are kept short, sharp and purposeful. 2017 was the latter and I, like many British cyclist at this time of year, sought the escape of warmer European climates.
Now I’m fairly sure that in Girona, Spain and all along the Costa Brava, it is always warm. Except perhaps the earliest of mornings and latest of evenings, riders can get away with short sleeved jersey and bare legs. That is, besides the locals who insist on it being ‘cold’ despite the mercury hitting 20 degrees. So naturally it made for a brilliant location for a troupe of Isadore’s ambassadors to take a trip in the sun.
Girona and the surrounding countryside is blessed with beautiful switchbacks, picturesque countryside and panoramic views. But it is also dotted with fierce, unrelenting and rewarding climbs and over the course of 5 days our legs took a punishing.
We spent a day acclimatising, no lenses and no plan. Exploring locally to our villa first, with steady picture postcard accents and sinuous grin inducing downhills like the climb of Els Angels. One of the best things about the Costa Brava and Girona specifically is that you are never far away from the city. Providing endless places to stop for coffee or sample some late afternoon tapas. We often found ourselves looping into the countryside, climbing over a leg breaking climb only to find ourselves fed back into the city by an alternate route. Almost by magic
As our local knowledge improved, we sought out more challenging routes including the accent of Mare de Deu del Mont. A climb of two halves, the lower slopes provided shaded respite from the late afternoon sun, but nearer the top, the landscape becomes harsher and rugged and the road spikes up regularly to an uncomfortable 10%. You band together climbing like this, at points, you need a helping hand just to keep the bike moving forward. At other times, the legs pump rhythmically and you feel like you were born to do it.
The city itself proved to be a warren of activity. Busy bustling streets, full cafes and riverside art displays. Political uncertainty was rife towards the end of 2017 with Catalunya fighting to become its own country and the Spanish government fighting it every step of the way. Whilst it meant little to us as foreigners, you could feel the unrest in the streets and you could not miss the flag of Catalonia adorning every balcony and cathedral.
I’m surprised to say that Girona and the surrounding landscape provided some of the best European riding I have come across so far and it’s no wonder so many pro riders decide to settle in the city’s warm embrace. The roads, the climbs and the city will draw me back time and time again. There is a lot more riding to do. As for my fellow ambassadors We arrived strangers, but left amigos.
Favourite coffee stop
La Fabrica Girona, no questions, great food too
Els Angels at sunset was unbeatable, climbing to the top and taking photos of that incredible view was just unforgettable
The number one kit piece
Isadore Apparel Climbers Jersey, looks great, fits well and keeps you cool all day long. If you like to be bold with colour then look no further
For a little extra behind the scenes insight, check out the below video from Isadore Apparel.