Equipe Flamme Rouge  

Girona Bike Breaks ~ Shop Ride

dave walsh mick heald

Bike Breaks Girona top man Dave Walsh,
with flamme rouge Road Captain (and author) Mick Heald

Girona, and its surrounding area, is fantastic cycling country with literally something for everyone.  From gentle tourist rides through beautiful medieval villages, to scenic and challenging road rides around the numerous hills and valleys in the surrounding area, to hundreds of mountain biking trails suitable for all abilities.

Local Knowledge
Whilst the local tourist authority has invested heavily in excellent cycling trails and facilities all over the region, there is nothing like a bit of local knowledge when you are on an all-too-short holiday and are seeking a couple of decent road rides.

This was my third visit to the area. For the first two, Dave Walsh of the Girona Cycle Centre took me on a couple of classic guided rides, which he tailored to meet my needs (and level of fitness!).

The first was a big loop though lush green valleys and a climb to the village of Santa Hilari Sacalm, the second up the brutish Rocacorba mountain. Dave's knowledge of the area, plus his engaging personality meant that these rides quickly felt like going out for a ride with a mate.

The Girona Cycle Centre has everything a cyclist could need when visiting the area. They do bike hire (including Cannondale carbon road bikes!), guided rides, group rides, route maps, repairs and sell a range of clothing, including team issue kit sourced from the numerous professionals in the area.

It is run by husband and wife team Dave and Saskia who have extensive cycling and guiding experience and have the kind of local knowledge you can only get from 15 years of living in the area.

The recent addition of a weekly Thursday morning shop ride is something that I was keen to try out on my latest visit.  From the various Facebook posts, I was aware that this was something that had grown in popularity since the first one in June 2013.

For a cyclist on holiday, it is always good to know that there is a regular ride with the opportunity to meet fellow roadies, and this one did not disappoint.

shop ride

Roll call and breifing, before the off

A group of nearly forty riders lined up for the now traditional pre-ride photo outside the shop, including groups visiting the area and a smattering of female professionals who live in the vicinity.

Ride With The Pro's
The shop is a magnet for many of the professionals who live in Girona; Dave often fixes their bikes as well as displaying their signed kit around the shop. Dan Martin was the notable addition to the professional cyclists I met at the shop.

Having picked our way out of the suburbs of Girona (always tricky), we headed out towards the beautiful green countryside in the sunny and warm late September weather.

Heading out into what is effectively the foothills of the Pyrenees provides a stunning, varied and sometimes challenging ride although no-one gets left behind.  Like any good club ride, it was an opportunity to chat to other riders, including a group of friends over from Scotland for a long weekend, a group of ladies from Lancaster and a few extremely fit looking local riders.

A number of riders had hired the excellent Cannondale SuperSix road bikes from the shop, which included bike computers, basic toolkit, helmet and water bottle.  This is hardly surprising as a week’s hire compares very favourably with the cost of flying your own bike from the UK and back.

leading the way

Mick, "doing a Zabel" and getting pipped for the coffee shop sprint;
Dave celebrating his lead out to victory, too presumptuously...

Choices & Options
After about 20k we stopped for a coffee in a local bar, which is a further opportunity to chat to other riders and swap the inevitable cycling war stories.  Fully caffeined up, the group now has three choices; a short hop back to Girona, another 40k to stretch the legs, or for the real head-bangers another 100k!

Along with the majority of the others, I took the 40k route which continued in the same vein as the rest of the ride.  Having picked our way back through the suburbs we found ourselves back at the shop and a chance to replenish supplies of energy bars or buy some kit before heading off for lunch.

Girona and its surrounding area is fabulous for cycling.  As a roadie I would recommend a visit, whether for leisure purposes or to test yourself against the routes and circuits regularly frequented by the pro riders in the area.

If you are in the area, why not check out the Girona Cycle Centre website?  Or look up Dave and Saskia on facebook, who will always give you a warm welcome.

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