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Girona

Cyclist’s Guide To Girona

By Girona, Girona Cycling Services No Comments

Girona is now well established as a capital of cycling. It has been decades since the first pros moved here to use the Catalan city as a training base and nowadays around 100 professional riders call Girona home for at least some part of the year. With this influx of pros Girona has raised its profile as a place for those seeking a European cycling holiday. The myriad stunning rides and routes based out of a vibrant and beautiful medieval city has inevitably drawn ever-increasing numbers of cycling tourists to the area. Girona is such a fantastic place for cycling that you could, in theory, arrive with a bike and simply muddle along, discovering a fair amount of what the city and surrounding area has to offer. However being somewhat more organised is preferable and as such we have compiled this comprehensive, but by no means inexhaustible, guide to Girona cycling.

Where To Eat in Girona

Food occupies the average cyclist’s consciousness to a greater degree than most ‘normal’ people. Whether you arrive starving at dinner time or need to know the best lunch spot, here’s our top picks of where to eat and drink in Girona:

Breakfast

  • +Cub – If you’re heading on a ride with Eat Sleep Cycle then the best place to eat breakfast is right next door! Grab a coffee and a croissant, or something more substantial, before discovering some new roads! Carrer de l’Albereda, 15, 17004, Girona
  • La Fabrica – A Girona classic, La Fabrica now has an established reputation for serving delicious speciality coffee and brunch! Carrer de la Llebre, 3, 17004, Girona

Out of Town:

  • Rustik Empordà – Grab a snack on the way out of the door and then ride to Bellcaire D’Empordà to fuel up on a tasty breakfast at Rustik. Carrer de dMolí, 4, 17141, Bellcaire

Where To Eat in Girona - Cyclist's Guide to Girona

Lunch

  • Federal Cafe – Just down the street from the beautiful Girona Cathedral, Federal is a great option for both lunch and dinner, serving brunch earlier in the day and delicious dinners in the evening. Carrere de la Força, 9, 17004, Girona
  • Rocacorba Cafe – Borne of the famous Rocacorba Food Truck, Rocacorba cafe offers a variety of lunch / brunch options from toasts and salads to burgers. Carrer Nord, 5, 17001, Girona 
  • Hors Categorie – Good coffee, healthy food and craft beers, catch them on Tuesdays for Taco Tuesday or join our weekly social which takes place there on Thursdays from 19:00! Carrer del Perill, 3, 17001 Girona
  • Bionèctar – Delicious, organic plant-based food and juices. Carrer D’en Francesc Eiximenis, 8, 17001, Girona
  • Coffee & Greens – Relatively new in town but already hugely popular thanks to their top-notch coffee and tasty food. Rambla de la Llibertat, 25, 17004, Girona
  • Veggana – For those who avoid meat and dairy Veggana is a great option both for lunch and dinner, serving a range of classic Catalan dishes and burgers without animal products. Carrer de la Rutlla, 108, 17003, Girona
  • El Cafe – a local bar serving tapas, coffee and drinks. Carrer dels Ciutadans, 1 17004, Girona

Dinner

  • L’Arcarda & La Tagliatella – Head to either of these restaurants for delicious pizza & pasta to cram in those carbs ready for long days in the saddle! Rambla de la Llibertat, 38, 17001, Girona & Carrer dels Ciutadans, 10, 17004, Girona
  • Arròs i Peix – Visit Arròs i Peix for delicious fresh seafood. Carrer dels Ciutadans, 20, 17004, Girona
  • Txalaka – Delicious pintxos (a Basque speciality similar to tapas). Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 4, 17001, Girona
  • L’Alqueria – Fantastic Paella! Carrer Ginesta, 8, 17002, Girona
  • B12 – another one for the veggies and vegans (and even the carnivores)- B12 also has a huge selection of beers! Plaça del Vi, 11, 17004 Girona

Fine Dining

The Girona area is home to a number of Michel Star restaurants, why not treat yourself to something extra special?

  • El Celler de Can Roca – The 3 Michelin Star restaurant owned by the  famous Roca brothers has twice been named the best restaurant in the world. Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona
  • Les Cols – this 2 Michelin Star restaurant is situated in the town of Olot in the La Garrotxa region, a converted masia (farmhouse) by chef Fina Puigdevall. Carretera de la Canya, 106, 17800 Olot, Girona
  • Massana – Awarded one Michelin Star, Massana’s focus is on local, seasonal products such as game, wild mushrooms and truffle. Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 10, 17006 Girona
  • Divinum – Divinum hasn’t (yet) been awarded a Michelin Star but is certainly worthy, created by chefs who studied under Joan Roca, the food is an original blend of flavours, textures and aromas  Divinum Carrer de l’Albereda, 7, 17004 Girona

Coffee/snacks

  • Mes Cub – For post-ride beers & patatas bravas head to +Cub (right outside the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub) Carrer de l’Albereda, 15, 17004, Girona
  • Espresso Mafia – Another Girona coffee classic! Carrer de la Cort Reial, 5, 17004, Girona
  • Blend – Top-quality coffee from experienced Italian barista, Federico as well as delicious lunch and snacks. Plaça de Catalunya, 21, 17002 Girona
  • Buttercup – Delicious coffee & cakes in a cute square just off Placa de Vi! Carrer Nou del Teatre, 2, 17004 Girona
  • Martina Sweet Cakes – This place is exactly as it says on the tin – delicious sweet cakes! Carrer de la Força, 1, 17004, Girona
  • Gelats Rocambolesc – From the owners of the Michellin Star rates Can Roca comes Rocambolesc ice cream, inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, here you can choose from delicious flavours and add toppings such as candy floss. Carrer de Santa Clara, 50, 17001, Girona
  • Crêpdequè? – A ‘hole in the wall’ serving crêpes with topping of your choice, perfect for a snack or desert as you stroll through the Barri Vell. Carrer de les Ballesteries, 49, 17004, Girona
  • Dulce Pikika – If you ride or drive out towards the coast a stop at Dulce Pikika for one of their artisan cakes is a must! Av. Del Cavall Bernat, 143, Local 3, 17250, Castell-Platja d’Aro, Girona

Where To Sleep in Girona

A good night’s rest is essential preparation to taking full advantage of a day’s cycling in Girona, somewhere to safely store your bike is a bonus, the city has it all:

    • Hotel Carlemany – This four star cyclist friendly hotel has a dedicated bike room and in general is accommodating to cyclists.
    • La Bruguera de Pubol – A stunning guest house in the beautiful village of Pubol with an on-site yoga studio
    • Bravissimo Apartments – Apartments located right above Espresso Mafia in the heart of the old town.
    • Villas in Girona – If you’re looking for an escape a villa in Girona or the Costa Brava region could be just what you need.

Accommodation for Cyclists in Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Where to Cycle in Girona

Now to the important bit, the cycling!

We’ve waxed lyrical on many occasions about the amazing cycling that Girona has to offer both on and off road. When you come to here you will find an enormous selection of roads and iconic climbs at your disposal such as the Girona classic, Rocacorba.

Where to Cycle in Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle

The best way to find your way around on two wheels is to hire a guide. A local guide will know the Girona area inside out and can impart local knowledge you would otherwise not be privy to! The advantage of having someone showing you the way means you can focus on enjoying your surroundings without worrying about taking a wrong turn!

Of course, if you prefer to you can also guide yourself by following a route installed on a device which you can pick up from Eat Sleep Cycle. Or you could simply create your own, hire a bike and just explore!

Whichever way you choose to see Girona by bike you will no doubt fall in love with the smooth roads, abundant climbs and fantastic views that it has to offer!

To See & Do In Girona

Whether you’re having a rest day or travelling with a partner who doesn’t cycle there are plenty of things in and around Girona to occupy your time outside of pedalling.

Barcelona
Barcelona is a relatively short train journey away and as is to be expected from a major city there are plenty of activities to do there. Why not hire a Brompton in Barcelona as a novel way to get around the city?

Wine tasting in the Empordà Region
Located just north of Girona is the autonomous region of Empordà the area is known for its wine production and there are a number of vineyards which you can visit either by bike or another form of transport, and taste the produce.

Figueres Dalí Museum
If impressionist art is your thing then a visit to the place that Salvador Dalí called home is a must. The town of Figueres has a Dalí museum dedicated to the artist which is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Local Market
A Girona gastronomic experience in the Local Market is a must!

Aqva Gerunda
Relax and wind down after a long day of cycling in Girona or simply treat yourself regardless at the town’s Roman baths and spa.

Banyoles Lake
The lakeside town of Banyoles is a short ride, drive or bus journey from Girona and is not one to miss, (our Lazy Lunes ride heads there every Monday at 10am). A coffee by the lake is a must as well as exploring the old town. If rowing, swimming or running are your thing it’s also a perfect location for all three.

Running
There are plenty of on and off road running routes around Girona, which can provide a great way to see the city and surrounding area!

Getting to Girona

Of course, the first part to enjoying Girona is getting here! There are numerous ways to travel to the city, depending on where you are coming from.

Girona Airport
By far the simplest way to get here is to fly into Girona. Flights into the tiny Girona Costa Brava airport, however, are usually from Europe only, plus during the winter months they are few and far between. If, however you do manage to get a flight to the local airport you are a mere 12.8km away from the city. There are no trains from Girona airport but buses are regular during the day and cost just €2.75 for a single. If you prefer to have a transfer arranged for you, you can do so via Eat Sleep Cycle for €35.

Barcelona Airport
If you can’t get directly to Girona then don’t fear as Barcelona-El Prat will serve. Albeit slightly further away, it is still relatively easy to transfer from El-Prat to Girona. A Sagales coach will cost you €19, a taxi transfer (which Eat Sleep Cycle can arrange) will cost €180 or if you choose to take the train it will cost €16 plus the metro fare from El Prat to Barcelona’s main station: Sants. If you decide to take the train be aware that this transfer may not be enjoyable with a bike bag and cases!

Madrid Airport
While Madrid is rather more of a jaunt away there are potentially more flight options for international travellers. Why not integrate a trip to the Spanish capital while you’re there? There are direct trains from Madrid to Girona as well as a bus network.

Train from London, Paris and other places in Europe
For those from Europe for whom time is not of the essence the option to take a train may be of interest. Most large city stations will service trains to the area, although beware that you may have to make changes along the way if you’re coming with a bike bag and luggage in tow.

Drive from other parts of Europe
Driving is also a good option for European-based visitors, northern Spain can be reached relatively easily and surprisingly quickly from most of Europe – just watch out for the tolls!

Girona - A City for Cyclists

Girona – A City for Cyclists

Whatever time of year and in whatever capacity you visit Girona its charms are sure to compel you to return. The sheer number of cyclists who settle in the city are testament to how special it really is for two-wheeled exploring! This cyclists guide to Girona is intended to be an up-to-date guide to our home city and we will be updating it regularly with any new recommendations and activities – so be sure to check back!

Girona Cycling Tours

If this has got you inspired to travel to Girona then why not view our Girona cycling tours and check out what camps and packages we have available. If you’re planning to travel here and don’t want to worry about bringing a bike then take a look at our rental bikes in Girona for top-quality, fully-serviced road, gravel and mountain bikes. If you’ve any questions about your possible cycling tour to Girona give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Factor Bikes Rental from Eat Sleep Cycle

Focus On Factor Bikes

By Bike Hire, Cycling No Comments

At Eat Sleep Cycle we are, first and foremost, cyclists and as such we are always searching for the best bike. Therefore when the chance to work with Factor Bikes, a brand founded on years of experience within both the carbon manufacturing industry and the peloton, we jumped at the chance. We like to work with like-minded brands, those who engage with their audience and are closely involved with the delivery or production of their product. It was in this vein that we chose Ridley for our rental fleet in 2018 and with the same ideal in mind that we are collaborating with Factor.

Factor Bikes – A Winning Combination

Add to this the input of none other than David Millar and you truly have a winning combination. Indeed, winning is exactly what the professional athletes who have had the privilege to ride bikes made by Factor have gone on to do. In their own words the brand “was conceived from a commitment to innovation, speed and performance through advanced engineering”, commitments for a bike manufacturer. So who are Factor?

From Formula 1 to Factor

Factor has an interesting history: despite being a young brand it has years of experience behind it; founded in 2007 by BF1 systems, the Formula 1 engineering company based in Norfolk, UK, the early models were inspired by the supercars and designed to showcase the engineering prowess of the company. The Factor 001 was launched in 2009 and was a concept bike with a built-in computer, disc brakes and an eye-watering £20,000 price tag.

Nowadays the brand is producing somewhat more attainable but still high-performance models designed for racing. Baden Cooke, a former pro of 14 years and 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner, along with Rob Gitelis, co-founder of Carbon Composite bikes bought the brand during this shift from prototypes to the peloton.

Factor Bikes Romain Bardet - Factor Bike Hire and Purchase

Factor Accolades

Thus, with the brand still in its infancy it took up sponsorship of a World Tour team in the form of the French set-up AG2R La Mondiale in 2017. With this came the need to produce a lightweight race bike that complies with UCI regulations and the 6.58kg Factor O2 was born. Since switching to Factor as a bike sponsor AG2R La Mondiale have enjoyed myriad successes in some of the most prestigious races on the cycling calendar including 3rd on GC and a stage win at the 2017 Tour. The most recent success, however, was Romain Bardet’s silver medal at the world championships in Innsbruck. Few bike brands this young can boast the same accolades.

But Bardet and co. are not the only professional riders involved with Factor. David Millar, former pro cyclist and multiple Tour de France stage winner, has been involved with the brand from early on, developing the design with Cooke and Gitelis having lamented the lack of input he was afforded with regards to the bikes he rode during his career. Millar has since collaborated with Factor via his own brand, CHPT3, on a limited edition One which he described as: ‘the coolest bike I have ever had’.

Factor Bike Hire and Purchase from Eat Sleep Cycle

One More Lap Factor 02 Bike Hire & Purchase

If you’re inspired to test out the quality of Factor bikes in the high mountains then you’re in luck, as the Factor O2 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 is available both for bike hire and purchase from our Girona Hub and on tours. Take a look at our photo gallery below & give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online to book your ride!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Summit of Rocacorba

Classic Climbs of Girona #5: Rocacorba

By Girona No Comments

20 km from Girona on a nondescript road in the outskirts of the town of Banyoles, overlooking the sparkling blue lake is the mountain of Puigsou, also known as the climb of Rocacorba. Once a well-kept secret amongst those in the know and only fully paved in 2006 it is now arguably one of the most infamous climbs in the Girona area and one of the first places people head to when visiting the city on two wheels.

Like many of the climbs in Girona the popularity of Rocacorba comes not from its association with huge grand tours and TV coverage but from a slowly built up reputation amongst the professionals who live and have lived here, perhaps none quite so much as David Millar, who founded the Velo Club Rocacorba. As the number of riders in Girona both amateur and professional continues to expand the so-called ‘secrets’ of the area become less so and Rocacorba is no exception.

The fact that the proverbial cat is well and truly out of the bag with regards to Rocacorba is no surprise, the location itself carries enough of an appeal. Banyoles is worth riding to in itself, simply to soak in the beauty of the lake and surrounding area. In addition to its location, part of Rocacorba’s appeal is the challenge of the climb itself, there are few climbs in the area that begin to match it for the gradient and length. When you take the full 14 km into account the average gradient of 5.6% is laughably deceptive and hides the brutal reality of slopes of up to 15% for long periods. However, take the climb as 10 km, starting from the stone bridge over the Matamors river, cutting out the flatter bottom section and the average gradient is a far less forgiving 7%.

How to get a quick time up Rocacorba

But it’s not all just one big wall, the key to climbing Rocacorba in a quick time is to hit the gas on the few interspersed flat sections against your legs’ better wishes. Once the red and white radio masts come into view you can be reassured that the top is near, but don’t get too comfortable, as some of the hardest slopes are within the final few kilometres.

Don’t miss: Rocacorba Food Truck

But, not all of Rocacorba is pain and suffering – alright, most of it is – but the addition in June 2017 of the Rocacorba Food Truck situated 1.5 km from the summit and open every weekend means that the effort required to reach it can be rewarded by delicious local food and drinks. The Food Truck was founded on the concept of passion for mountain sports and local produce and it’s well worth making sure you plan your visit to Rocacorba to be at the weekend to make sure you catch it. Before stopping for a well-earned snack, however, climb the remaining kms to see the stunning views from the top and sit with your legs dangling off the hand gliding ramp feeling on top of the world. There’s only one way up and down so you’ll be going past on the descent anyway.

Want to take on Rocacorba yourself?

No cycling trip to Girona is complete without an ascent of Rocacorba. To experience the challenge of Rocacorba yourself why not sign up to our Girona Experience tour or simply visit The Hub to rent one of our Ridley Bikes and book a local guide to show you the way.

For more information Rocacorba Food Truck visit their Facebook or follow them on, Instagram and don’t forget to check out their jersey’s and tee’s in our Eat Sleep Cycle Girona Hub.

Thanks to Bike Office Espana, Tomas Montes @arriere_du_peleton, Rocacorba Food Truck & Sergi Mas de Xaxars @de_xaxars for the fabulous photos.

Girona Cycling Climbs

Classic Climbs of Girona #4: Mare de Déu del Mont

By Girona No Comments

Girona is renowned as a cyclist’s paradise for a reason: the city provides the perfect base from which to explore the myriad climbs of the surrounding area as well as being home to a plethora of cafes and restaurants – and as we know, cyclists love coffee and food just as much as riding bikes! This is the first of a forthcoming series of blogs on the cycling highlights of the Girona area, and what better way to start than with one of the most iconic local climbs and a real favourite: Mare de Déu Del Mont.

Let us first dispense with the problematic mouthful that is its name: Mare de Déu Del Mont literally translated, means ‘mother of God of the mountain’ and is actually the name of the shrine located at the top. A HC behemoth and one of the longest climbs in the area you would be forgiven for issuing forth a ‘Mare de Déu!’ of your own upon tackling the gradients of it’s upper slopes.

There are two ways to take on Mare de Déu, the ‘easier’ route is from Cabanelles: 18.54km with an avg grade of 5%. The gradient is more constant and less gruelling on this side but there are also short descents and flats in places, which do provide welcome breaks but can mess up your rhythm (this is true of both sides). The bottom slopes are surrounded by woodland so there’s nothing much to look at but your own stem or whoever happens to be in front. As you gain elevation, however, the trees give way to some of the most stunning views around which coincides nicely with the most painful part of the climb so you can concentrate on picking out where you just climbed from instead of your burning legs. Indeed, one of the draws of climbing Mare de Déu del Mont is the spectacular scenery from the very top of its 1,093m summit which include panoramic vistas of the surrounding area including the Pyrenees in the distance, Banyoles Lake and, on a clear day, the Costa Brava coastline.

The second route is through the Medieval town of Besalú, the charms of which make it worthy of its own blog, and I would recommend posing for the obligatory photos with the 12th century Romanesque bridge before Mare de Déu leaves you looking sweaty and knackered. From this side it’s 20km in length and the average gradient is still 5% although much of that comes from the flatter bottom section. After taking a right turn in Besalú the road edges upwards slightly before you reach the tiny town of Beuda where the climb begins proper. From there you need to choose your gear selection wisely as the narrow road can go from a descent to a 10%+ slope in a matter of one corner. After a few kilometres of this and a series of hairpins comes a junction – it will be very tempting to take a right and descend the other side down to Cabanelles but that won’t get you any glory or kudos from your mates so take the left and continue the climb following the same road as the Cabanelles side for the remaining 6.6km of 7-10% gradient to the top.

It’s worth adding that, once you’ve enjoyed your fill of the scenery on offer from the top, the descent should be treated with great respect and care as the roads are narrow, steep, and twisty and there may be oncoming traffic.

Ridley Helium SLX

First ride: Ridley Helium SLX

By Bike Hire One Comment

The brand new, custom painted Ridley Helium SLX had been sat staring at me for 3-weeks. I’m a bit funny with riding a new bike without a proper fitting session and I simply hadn’t had time. But when Tiesj Benoot won Strade Bianche on it, I dropped everything, put on the nearest cycling clothes (lucky for you no photos of that catastrophe) and headed out into the Girona sunshine.

A new bike normally feels strange on the first ride. Especially because this time, I decided to trial a new saddle. I’ve had some numbness troubles downstairs and determined to fix that, will test the Eat Sleep Cycle Fizik saddle fitting programme (Test any saddle before buying). I am starting with the Antares which is wider than my previous Arione. Idea being the sit bones rest on it rather than that important nerve which eventually causes numbness. For the first few rides, the sit bones hurt a bit, but that’s a sign of a good position.

In addition, this was the first time I’d used Rotor cranks. Since they are manufactured in Madrid it seemed fitting to have them on our rental and race bike fleet. I know, you can’t fault Shimano, but I wanted to give it a go. I’m not sure if it’s the shape of the Rotor cranks or if they genuinely are better but they felt good from the offset.

Other upgrades on the bike include the legendary Fatboys, the creation of Drew Gill at Spin On These (http://ridefullgas.com/). I could write a blog just on these wheels which have broken the age-old idea of narrow tyres and high pressure. The opposite results in more comfort, more grip and a better looking bike! Finished with the new Ultegra shifters, brakes and derailleurs, what is left is a very light and attractive looking bike.

From the off-set the bike felt stable, if not a little high at the front. The Helium has a reasonably large stack and I´m used to riding slammed race bikes. Due to a combination of back problems and more riding in the high mountains, I’m open to giving a higher front end a go.

Instantly I noted great responsiveness when accelerating to beat the red lights out of town. The bike felt super stiff. Once into the countryside things started to speed up and in the aero position, I was pushing 50 km/hr easily. A great start!

It was the first climb that signed and sealed my decision to ride the Helium this year. As the bike is the race choice of our sponsored race team “Rocacorba Racing” it only seemed fit for that climb to be Rocacorba. At nearly 1,000 meters it’s tough, with gradients of over 14% in places.

As soon as the slope steepened the bike just seemed to ride away from me, begging to be ridden faster, jump out the saddle on the bends instead of cruising around and keep the pace up all the way to the top. Wow, the bike is light and yes I noticed a big difference from last year’s race bike (a Guerciotti).

Chatting to several other professional riders in Girona who also ride the Helium, we´ve heard plenty of stories of the bike being under the legal limit of 7 Kg. But us amateurs don´t need to worry about that and every gram in our favor is potentially more kudos!

All that was left was the ride down and a combination of the Fatboys and bike stiffness made that very enjoyable. The slightly higher stack was not detrimental to the descent.

Last and not least, the bike looks great. Ridley´s custom paint jobs are top notch, with a full colour palette and several designs to choose from. I went for a stealth look, with a touch of Rocacorba Racing blue, but below you’ll see just how adventurous you can be with it…

A Grand Départ we will never forget

By Girona No Comments

This weekend we opened the doors to our brand new Girona Hub, a pretty momentous & proud moment in our short (but intense) history.

Our early blog readers will remember how Eat Sleep Cycle started: in August 2016 we ran our first tour from Girona to Biarritz with a rented Enterprise van and 6 intrepid clients. In November 2016 we opened a tiny local in the Barri Vell and stocked it with 7 Cinelli rental bikes.  That winter we developed our blog into a website, added some tours and started to take more & more rental bookings. By April 2017 we had a fleet of 20 Orbea bicycles and were opening a second premises just over the plaza.

We thought we had made it but had little idea about the surge in business to come. The 2017 season was bonkers & brilliant. We ran tours across the Pyrenees, recced new itineraries in the Dolomites & Picos mountains, rented bikes, guided rides around Girona and worked all the hours we could. By the end of 2017 we knew we needed more bikes which, in our 20 bike-hook HQ, was not an option. We started taking bookings for 2018 and worked out we needed around 70 bikes to meet the demand of early bookers. We went to see out of town storage units, considered a 3rd local on the same plaza & tried convincing (ie. bribing) our landlord to rent us his garage.

Then one day in December Lee walked past a beautiful glass locale on Placa Catalunya, located next to popular cafe +Cub, with a sizable Terraza. There was a ‘For Rent’ sign on the door with a number to call. Lee called it & the wheels started turning.

Fast-forward two months (nothing takes very long at Eat Sleep Cycle) and we are the proud tenants of Carrer del Vern, 3. We have 70 beautiful Ridley rental bikes (now including Gravel & Mountain bikes), two workshop spaces, a bike fit studio, a bike rental pick-up space and a beautiful retail space showcasing kit made in Catalunya, Worx Bikes and leading brands Assos & Ridley.

Friday night was opening night and we were overwhelmed by the turnout. Our Hub was THE place to be seen on Friday night. It was a party packed with people who’ve been part of our journey – family, friends, teammates, club members, our lawyer, our builder, the ladies from Tourist Info, town hall representatives, pro riders, colleagues from other cycling businesses & journalists all flocked to the Hub. We overflowed out the door and onto the terrace, people were jammed into both floors, queuing to get in and see the new space. It was a very proud few hours for the team.

+Cub (our new favourite neighbours) welcomed us by running a bar for the event with delicious juices, cava & beers. Silvia (our new favourite employee) baked an Eat Sleep Cycle cake to die for (prepared with the pastry chef from El Celler Can Roca no less!) and ESC volunteers kept everything running behind the scenes.

We followed the opening night with a weekend of cycling, offering free guided road, gravel & mountain bike rides, a trip to the Rocacorba Food Truck and a delicious lunch at +Cub. We hosted a Retul Bike Fit talk by the legend that is Emi Molina from VeloLoveFit, we offered massages by Gabinet Medic Girona, we launched our race teams Rocacorba Racing & Els Àngles Racing.

The whirlwind weekend is over and now we’re working in the Hub and turning our attention to delivering an epic 2018 of cycling. Here’s to the next chapter in the journey, we cannot wait!

Photo Gallery by George Harper

Cycling Climbs of Girona: #3 Sant Marti Sacalm

By Girona No Comments

Sant Marti Sacalm is THE 20-minute power test cycling climb of the Girona region and if you come here for a visit you can´t leave without giving it a blast, as we say in Eat Sleep Cycle language.

At 5.2 miles, or 8.6 kilometres it´s not particularly long and at an average of 7% it´s not leg-breakingly steep either, which is probably why I like it so much.

But there´s a lot more to it than that  and in no particular order, it´s a climb with a paved road all the way to the top with your reward being absolute solitude and a pretty basic cafe.

If you´re really going well you can ride it in the big chainring – though the steepest section is inside the opening few hundred metres so be careful not to go into the red zone here as you´ll pay for it later.

 

To reach the start, you simply ride west out of town through Salt, Bescano and Angles before swinging down right at the roundabout there and on towards Olot.

After 10 kilometres of undulating road on a hard shoulder you´ll reach the town of Amer but before you exit it you´ll see a sign left for Sant Marti Sacalm.

Enjoy the last breaths that you can call your own because when you reach the top of the plateaux and see that road snaking around to the left, that´s what you´re looking for.

Yes, Sant Marti goes up and up and up and up and up. It doesn´t level off ONCE so just settle in and find your rhythm.

The key to a good time here – and I´m just outside the top 50 guys to have went up it so I´m hardly an expert, is ride within yourself for the first two minutes until you´re over the steep stuff.

Then prepare to suffer for the rest of it.

If you´re lucky like I was you´ll have someone just hanging ahead of you to help drag those last few beats out of your heart.

I recorded a pretty embarrassing average of 169 beats a minute for my effort, so I´m convinced there´s loads more in me on this climb…though probably not the six minutes I need to beat Simon Yates´time.

VITAL STATS

Distance: 5.2 miles/8.3 kilometres

Average grade: 7%

Max. Grade: 11%

Altitude at the top: 816m/2,346ft

Elevation difference from the bottom: 605metres

Els Angels Girona Cycling Climb

Cycling Climbs of Girona: #2 Els Angels

By Girona No Comments

Els Angels, often mistakenly called “Hells Angels” by Girona newcomers (a simple error in pronunciation, not down to its difficulty…read on) is the climb that got me to Girona. Tired of poor training routes around my work for lunchtime escapes, I was determined to do any job that had good riding on the doorstep. So when I zoomed in on the windy switch backs of Els Angels in Google Maps, the base of which happened to be 500 m from the office, I knew that job was for me.

Funnily enough, when we (Louise and I) moved to Girona, the very next day was the annual hill climb competition up, you guessed it, Els Angels. It’s part of the annual Girona Cycling Festival run by Bike Breaks, the best cycling festival I’ve seen and I love to participate in every year.

The night before the competition I thought I better check out the climb. Louise had really bad cramps that week. Foolish me had booked an apartment on the 4th floor with no elevator and that had aggravated her legs. So it was a lone recce of a climb that was to become an integral part of my life.

The first thing that hit me is it is literally 5 mins out of Girona center. I didn’t even have to stop at a traffic light to get there. A common complaint from locals is it isn’t enough time to warm-up. Anyhow, there I was at sunset in June cruising up this beautiful wooded climb thinking “I’m in paradise…..ah yes, a race tomorrow, must take note of bends…and stuff”. A few things came to light. It’s reasonably long at just a smidgen over 10 km. It flattens off and even descends at least twice. That’s a nightmare for keeping a high power going but a lovely break if you are cruising up. It has a bit of everything – long straights, switch backs, hidden sections in trees and open sections staring out onto the mountain range. It’s a truly special experience.

You know you are at the top when you see a large cross. If you are feeling strong at that point you can do the 500 m extra to the Santuari of Els Angels where you will be treated to stunning 360 degree views.

The day of the hill climb came. I pushed Louise to the start line, she could only pedal with one leg. Our hopes of her winning the posh watch (to pay our first months rent) were blown so the pressure was on me. But there was no way I could beat these local guys. Great excuse to pay the man a visit though, its my favourite place to be.

I ALWAYS go off to hard on TT’s, especially up hill. But on a short one that isn’t always bad, it depends how badly you can bury yourself within your own pain and suffering! I just went as fast as I could, span those pedals at the highest cadence I could whilst pushing as hard as I could. I wasn’t looking at any numbers which all would have told me to stop. At the top I collapsed, you could tell I’d tried hard put it that way.

When I was called up for first place I couldn’t believe my ears. With a time of 22:40 I’d managed to secure the watch. We’d be staying in Girona after all.

Girona Cycling Els Angels Hilll Climb Granfondo

Last June was my 3rd Hill Climb competition. It never gets any easier. Though the climb itself only averages a measly 3%, when you go full gas it really hurts! I have beaten that first time by over a minute, now at 21:32 (14th on Strava with a pretty prestigious crew). Its my claim to fame, one of the only races I’ve ever won and a piece of suffering I like to re-visit every year to check I’m still cycling enough.

VITAL STATS

Distance: 10.1 km
Average grade: 3.0%
Max. Grade: 8%
Altitude at the top: 414 m
Elevation difference from the bottom: 344 m

Cycling Climbs Girona #1 Sant Hilari Sacalm

Cycling Climbs of Girona: #1 Sant Hilari Sacalm

By Girona 2 Comments

My introduction to Sant Hilari couldn´t have been any worse; a freezing cold gilet-less descent on January 7th, 2012 followed by my training partner hitting the deck VERY hard and escaping the sharp edge of a steel road barrier by the width of a tyre.

He can count himself lucky he got away with a night in hospital, half a dozen stitches over his right eye and a broken bike.

Yes, that´s the first thing about Sant Hilari Sacalm: you never descend into Anglés between December and March because it´s just too dangerous.

Now, it IS possible, but how much can you enjoy a slippery descent that could wipe you out in a millisecond?

Take my advice; climb Sant Hilari Sacalm from Anglés and descend into Santa Coloma de Farners. And enjoy sun on your face for most of it.

This is a Girona Classic and is still, three years on, one of favourites because the only thing I love more about the climb is the descent. And from Santa Coloma de Farners it´s a pretty flat run home, save for the little ´kicker´in Sant Dalmai which I always use as a burial ground for my final effort of the day.

Now, back to the climb. The quickest way to get there is head west out of Girona through Salt, Bescano and Anglés, a 20-kilometre ride.

Next you take the GI-542 to Sant Hilari Sacalm and once on it you just stay riding the whole way.

From bottom to top it´s 25.4 kilometres at a very generous 2.6% average gradient.

Everybody has a gradient they´ll feel suits them best and for me, this is mine.

The gradient allows you to settle into a really comfortable, smooth rhythm without much need for changes in gear. In fact, it´s so gentle that if you´re fit you can do it in the big chainring.

The maximum gradient is ´just´ 7% and this is just after the midway point by which time you´re probably well warmed up and into your stride.

Starting at 144 metres you climb to 810, so it´s not exactly in the clouds and thus you won´t freeze at the top unless you´re completely under-prepared.

The climb is ideal for a 20-minute power-test as it´s very quiet and relatively traffic-free.

The only place where you´re likely to get held up is in Osor about 9 kilometres in.

After this, the grade is a solid 4-5% for around 6 kilometres but you´re rewarded with a flat section and some very gentle stuff at 1-2% for the rest.

You know you´re almost at the top when you see the water tanks on your right-hand side on the last few corners and when the road yawns out ahead of you with a slight rise at the end, that´s your cue to sprint!

The climb is as peaceful as they come with a river flanking the right-hand side for much of the way up before it disappears from view.

The surface is paved the entire way, though do be careful on corners as there´s often leaves and gravel. It´s very possible to crash hard going up this hill so take care and don´t push it too hard on those switchbacks.

I love the climb because it offers great peace amd you don’t have to be that fit to get up it. By that I mean there are no steep gradients that require you to get out of the saddle.

My own personal record is around 50 minutes though I haven’t really tested myself in well over a year now.

Maybe it’s time for another showdown…stay tuned!

VITAL STATS

Distance: 25.4k

Average grade: 2.6%

Max. Grade: 7%

Altitude at the top: 815m

Elevation difference from the bottom: 675m

 

 

 

Girona in ‘winter’ and the season of base miles

By Girona No Comments

I absolutely love this time of year in Girona; the tourists have moved on, the light at sunset is magical and the markets are exploding with colour and flavour.  We are still riding with our arms and legs out and some of the Eat Sleep Cycle team are actually improving their tan lines! But then again it is still Autumn and we are normally blessed with warm temperatures right through December with Girona’s short Winter starting in January and lasting until the end of February.

For racing and leisure cyclists, the start of November is typically the time when some form of structured training is recommenced after an October break. At Eat Sleep Cycle we are no different and for the next four months we are focusing our energies on getting the very best out of the great weather.

There seems to be a myth that it´s too cold here to base yourself in Girona for Winter training but having spent the last three winters here, I´m well-positioned to say that´s not the case at all.

This year, we had a week in February where the maximum temperature on each of the seven days of the week were as follows: 17, 19, 20, 21, 17, 15 and 17. Hardly Baltic?

January is probably the coldest month and it is chilly in the mornings if you´re planning to ride early. But wait until 11am and the Mercury will already be up into double figures.

Far from wanting to be accused of biasthe coldest temperatures it got down to on that same week were 5, 2, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 2 degrees Celsius, but these are all hit at night time when you are tucked up in bed and resting those legs after a long day in the saddle.

So, you can see the temperature range on any given day is quite wide – and the same can be said for the actual conditions. We do get wind and rain, but more of the former (especially further north towards the coast) and much less of the latter. Statistics actually show more rainfall in Girona in May, March and even April than January or February. So expect plenty of blue skies and sunshine even if it is a little cooler than the Spring months.

One question we often get asked is what to bring and how to dress appropriately for Winter in Girona. To that we say the following; be prepared for all types of weather, be it wind, rain or sunshine. We get it all, and sometimes we get it on the same day!

Always pack Winter kit (It´s worth noting that Team Sky riders flew home from Majorca last winter as the island got snow, so expect the unexpected!). Bring a good base layer as well as leg and arm warmers, and a skull cap is one of the first pieces of kit I pack wherever I go as you lose a huge amount of heat through your head. Keep your fingers and toes warm with overshoes and gloves – though expect to shed both these layers as the day progresses.

Girona is quite unique in that it is situated between the high mountains and the sea, meaning you have access to all types of riding. So even on a day where rain is forecast there is always a ride window and somewhere in the Girona Province where it is not raining. You’ll often hear a local rider telling their heroic story of escaping rain byheading in another direction!

Aside from it being a top cycling destination it doesn´t ´close up´ in Winter like so many other training destinations. Being a University town there is an amazing energy to the place with so many bars and cafes and restaurants – and more are opening by the week. 

The price of hotels and apartments is a fraction of what you will be charged in summer while you’ll also benefit from the quietest training roads.

So, ask yourself what you want out of a Winter training holiday and if it’s any or all of the above, then why not give Girona a shot this year? See more info here