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Girona Gravel Cycling Tour Why You Should Come On One - Eat Sleep Cycle

Girona Gravel Cycling Tour – Why You Should Come On One!

By Girona, Gravel No Comments

Gravel cycling is tricky to define. In terms of terrain, ‘gravel’ can mean anything from unpaved roads to MTB single track and everything in between. On the subject of bikes, bike manufacturers use terms such as ‘all-road’, and ‘adventure’ to define their gravel machines, but one thing that gravel cycling can be defined by though, is how much fun it is to ride – and consequently, how addictive it is.

So, if you’ve exhausted the road, or even if you haven’t and you just want to try something new or want an excuse to buy a new bike / book another cycling trip then we’ve got you covered with the following reasons to join a gravel cycling tour!

Reasons to Come on a Gravel Cycling Tour

The Novelty of a New Discipline
Off-road purists may sneer at the advent of gravel cycling, at best dismissing it as a poor relation to cyclo-cross and at worst denouncing it as a mere marketing ploy by bike brands to sell more products. But there’s more to it than all of that, for starters, there are key differences between gravel and cyclo-cross bikes, namely that the former is designed for all-day endurance and thus comfort and the latter for flat-out racing on varied terrain over approximately one hour.

Gravel cycling is a novelty, but definitely not a gimmick, and it’s a novelty that doesn’t wear off, namely because there are always…

Girona Gravel Cycling Tour - New Places to Explore - Eat Sleep Cycle

…New Places to Explore

Uncovering new places you didn’t know existed, or completely rediscovering places you thought you already knew is part of what makes gravel so fun. The added benefit of a gravel cycling tour is that you can experience this without the danger of getting lost thanks to the addition of a knowledgeable, local guide. Gravel continuously surprises and when you’re on a bike that makes riding virtually any surface possible it’s always fresh and exciting. Taking this exploration to another level with bike-packing trips is just another way that gravel cycling enables you to see and do so much more.

Beginner Friendly

Never ridden a gravel bike before? No worries. A gravel cycling tour is the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and test your limits without worrying about traffic or hard tarmac. If you’re familiar with road riding and are just dipping your cleats into the off-road world then gravel is the perfect place to learn. Plus, on a gravel cycling tour your guide can coach you through technical sections and routes can be adapted to your level.

In addition, Gravel cycling is more inclusive than road or other disciplines, it’s not about what you wear, how much you know, your average speed, or how many Strava KOMs you own, if you’re up for an adventure then gravel is for you. You’ll never forget your first gravel ride!

Gravel Biking in Girona - Eat Sleep Cycle

Gravel Biking in Girona

So you know Girona for the pros, the classic climbs, the cafe culture, the quiet Catalan, country roads, you’ve got it sussed out, you know what it’s about. Think again. Girona is a gravel wonderland waiting to be discovered. For every classic Girona climb, you can bet there’s a gravel version. Done Sant Grau already? Do it on gravel and see it through a whole new perspective. Ever wondered if there was a different way to get to Banyoles Lake? There is, on gravel. If you thought road cycling in Girona seemed like an inexhaustible labyrinth of new discoveries then prepare to be amazed by what you can uncover off-road.

Basso Alta and Ridley - BIkes for Gravel Cycling - Eat Sleep Cycle

Weapons of Choice for Gravel Cycling

Of course, the right bike is vital for making the most of a gravel cycling tour. A versatile machine that can take you on almost any terrain is the order of the day. At Eat Sleep Cycle our go-to gravel steeds are the Basso Palta and Ridley X-Trail. You can read reviews of both on our blog!

Girona Gravel Cycling Camp - Eat Sleep Cycle

Want to Test the Girona Gravel?

Whether you’re a seasoned gravel rider or you just want to give gravel a try, our Girona Gravel Camp is for you! Give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 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!

Photos by Daan Van Meeuwen

Basso Palta Bike Review - Eat Sleep Cycle

Basso Palta Bike Review

By Gravel No Comments

The Basso Palta is a machine turning heads in the gravel world so naturally we decided to add them to our fleet of Girona rental bikes. Not content with re-branding their cyclo-cross bike, Basso literally went back to the drawing board to design a bike specifically for gravel riding. And so, we sent ex-racer, Eat Sleep Cycle founder and gravel aficionado Lee Comerford out to put the bike through its paces at this weekend’s Rocacorba Gravel Gran Fondo.

Basso Palta - Rocacorba Gravel Gran Fondo - Eat Sleep Cycle Review

Basso Palta Ride Review

Before detailing the various components that make the Basso Palta I’ll give you the quick review of the pros and cons, thankfully there are plenty more pros than cons!

Pros

  • Stiff, light, fast
  • Comfortable, stable
  • Looks awesome

Cons

  • The wheelset is an upgrade opportunity!

Manufacturer: Basso
Price: €3,999 RRP

Basso Palta Bike Review - Frame - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Basso Palta Frame

I first rode that Palta on the road to get to the start of the gravel Gran Fondo. I was expecting a slog and for it to feel like any other bike with fat tyres on tarmac. I was pleasantly surprised as it felt like a road bike. The frame felt stiff & light and I really had an advantage over the others in the group.

The Palta looks good and demands attention wherever you ride. Basso have really nailed the frame design and paintwork – it has a beautifully shaped flat top tube and is finished with a luxurious paint job which suits its Italian heritage.

If you want the Palta can be set up like a road bike but I prefer a more upright position to best enjoy the demands of Rocaroba. The more comfortable position is perfect for seated climbing which loose gravel demands. The bike handles beautifully. It’s responsive and really sticks to the trail. Climbing the steep gradients of Rocacorba was amazing – it had all the forward momentum and lightweight feel of a road bike & the comfort & stability of a mountain bike. Needless to say, I got used to the Palta straight away.

Sram Force 1x Groupset

I’ve always used Shimano so didn’t think I would like Sram. But it’s intuitive and only took 5 minutes to get used too. The shifting is smooth I love that you don’t have to think about a front derailleur.

The 1 x system handled gradients of up to 20% with no problem and there was plenty of range for the terrain. I’m yet to be convinced about the shape of the Sram hoods & levers – they felt really rounded and a little odd after my years of riding Shimano.

Basso Palta Bike Review - Wheelset - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Basso Palta Wheels

The only small downside of this build is the wheelset as it’s where most of the weight comes from. Whilst they’re a little on the heavy side they roll really well and are they’re durable. The rims hit a rock mid-ride and there wasn’t a scratch on them.

Tyres

For the event I rode Michelin Power Gravel 40 mm tyres. On the road they’re really fast with high pressure. At the start of the Gran Fondo I took the air out to run 40 psi and was able to fly down off-camber descents fast and safely. The tyres gripped beautifully and were well equipped for the dry conditions.

Saddle & Seatpost

I rode a Selle Italia saddle which was comfortable. The ride was noticeably smoother than other gravel bikes I’ve ridden; in part due to the carbon layup of the frame and also the vibration damper doing it’s work in the seatpost.

Basso Palta Bike Review - Value for Money

Basso Palta – Value for Money?

I think you get a lot of bike for the money. It’s a classy bike that looks the part and performs perfectly. The build and components used speak for themselves:

  • Basso Palta frameset, available in 4 sizes
  • Custom Palta fork
  • Sram Force 1 x Groupset
  • Hydraulic Sram Force Disc brakes
  • Wheels
  • Clearance for 42 mm slicks or 40 mm gravel tyres
  • Integrated seat clamp system
  • Vibration damper Palta seatpost

So, that’s what it’s like to ride and whath the Basso Palta is made of but what about maintaining the bike? We asked Eat Sleep Cycle Head Mechanic Borid del Cid for the lowdown.

Mechanics Perspective on the Basso Palto

Q. What do you think about the bike?
A. I really like it! I especially like the fact that this bike still looks and rides like “a road bike with bigger tyres”, and not “a mountain bike with drop bars”. As anybody in Eat Sleep Cycle will tell you, I spend most of my day ranting about how gravel bikes with 650b super wide tyres are really just mountain bikes hiding in plain sight, so being able to ride and rent this bike makes me very happy.

Q. What tyres would you run?
A. If it was for me, I would probably run a pair of fast rolling WTB Exposure 34s, but probably the most versatile option, especially year round, is the classic WTB Nano 40 tire.

Q. What gearing would you choose?
A. I think a 10-42 cassette is ideal. The range is wide enough to tackle almost any climb around Girona, I would probably keep the 40 teeth chainring at the front, maybe have a 42 that I can use for flatter days and coast rides.

Q. What’s the bike like to maintain?
A. Super simple! I’ve always been a proponent of simple, no nonsense bikes that make you forget what bike are you riding, and focus on the ride itself. But more importantly for me, It’s super easy to maintain and service. With only one cable, the Force 1x groupset is very reliable. The bike is really easy to maintain, but cleaning the sandy mud that we have around Girona is another story.

Q. Why this spec for the rental bike?
A. The bike we rent comes pretty much stock. We use Michelin Power Gravel tyres, which should roll really well on the fire tracks around Girona this summer.
The only thing that is different is the stem. We stay away from the proprietary stems that come with all Basso bikes. Even though they look super cool on the bike, they are not the best option when we are trying to fit the bike to each cyclist that wants to rent it.

Q. Where would you ride it?
A. Probably on too sketchy terrain! I’ve been known to ride it down some rocky single tracks around Sant Miquel and Els Àngels where the bike had no right to be in. That’s the most fun though!
I would also love to ride this machine across the Pyrenees or Portugal, on a bikepacking adventure (only with the best ortlieb bikepacking bags! 😉  )

Basso Palta Test Ride - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Want to Test Ride the Basso Palta?

You can rent this beautiful machine from us during your next Girona cycling break – we run gravel tours in Girona all year around and are we’re heading Trans Alps on gravel this July which is going to be epic! Give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 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!

New Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

New Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour – Embrace It!

By Gravel No Comments

The Alps, the Dolomites, the Sella Ronda. Romeo & Juliet, Garda, the World Champs. Verona, Innsbruck, Munich. Italy, Austria, Germany. Groads. Yes. Our Trans Alps Gravel Bike tour is happening this summer, and you’re invited.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stages

This is an incredible new itinerary rolling out in July 2019 linking Munich in the north to Verona in the south, via the cities of Innsbruck (host to the 2018 Cycling World Championships), Bolzano & Trento and straddling the Alps. Designed & tested by Joan Calvera Porta of CycloCat the route links bike paths & gravel roads on a journey through changing landscapes and spectacular scenery.

Stage 1: Munich to Bad Tolz, 60 km, 418 m

The gravel bike Trans Alps Tour starts in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Located to the north of the Bavarian Alps & on the banks of the River Isar the city makes a grand start to the ride. Spin south towards the mountains through woodland, trails & traffic free roads. The River Isar runs from Munich with our path to Bad Tolz, the first stop on the route. Bad Tolz is the gateway to the Alps!

Route Highlight: Munich

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 2 Munich to Bad Tolz

Stage 2: Bad Tolz to Innsbruck, 109 km, 864 m

From Bad Tolz the scenery starts to change dramatically as the route enters Austria & the Alps. The route passes through the town on Lenggries, runs across the Sylvenstein Lake and on into Austria. The road reaches 1,000 m altitude at the town of Maurach before a steep descent meets the River Eno, which carves a flat route to Innsbruck.

Route Highlight: Sylvenstein Lake

  • At the Austrian frontier is the spectacular Sylvenstein Dam, a reservoir which provides flood protection & maintains a steady flow of water to Bad Tolz in the valley below. Ride around and across the damn before leaving the River Isar and crossing the Austrian border.

Route Highlight: Innsbruck

  • The Austrian city of Innsbruck made a name for itself when it hosted the road cycling world championships in September 2018. The high mountains of Tirol served as a spectacular battleground where Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Dutch woman Anna van der Breggen emerged victorious.
  • Innsbruck is the captial of the Tyrol region and is located in the broad valley between high mountains, the Hafelekarspitze, (2,334 metres) to the north, and the Patscherkofel (2,246 m) and Serles (2,718 m) to the south.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 3 Innsbruck to Klausen

Stage 3: Innsbruck to Klausen, 68 km, 351 m

30 kms south of Innsbruck lies the Brenner pass. The Brenner Railway provides transport for the first part of the day, taking riders safely past a busy section of road. Brenner station is at 1,371 m altitude – the highest point reached on the Italian & Austrian rail networks. At the pass is the Italian border & the gravel road begins again with a glorious descent through Italy.

Drop through Colle Isarco & a myriad of Italian villages to our resting place in Klausen, conveniently located at the base of the route to the Italian Dolomites.

Route Highlight: Brenner Pass

  • The Brenner Pass connects northern & southern Europe. Dairy cattle graze in alpine pastures throughout the summer in valleys beneath the pass and on the mountains above it. At lower altitudes, farmers log pine trees, plant crops and harvest hay for winter fodder.

Stage 4: The Sella Ronda Gravel, 53 km, 2,200 m

It was impossible to resist adding a day to explore the iconic Sella Ronda route away from the usual holiday traffic. Our route combines sections of the classic road route with off-road sections which provide a unique and gorgeous perspective on this well-ridden route. It’s today that riders need their climbing legs with altitudes reaching over 2,200 m.

Route Highlight: The Sella Ronda

  • Guidebooks of the Dolomites region are graced with images of the stunning Sella Ronda mountain range. The Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella make up this iconic cycling route. The loop passes through the ski town (and summer cycling hub) of Corvara in Badia, itself synonymous with the annual Maratona del Dolomiti Granfondo.

Stage 5: Klausen to Trento, 100 km, 550 m

After a day in the Dolomites it’s time to head south again, this time to the Italian city of Trento. The route follows the gently descending valley through Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol. Bolzano is considered as a bridge between the North and South due to the three spoken languages in South Tyrol – Italian, German, and Ladin, and the confluence of Italian and German-Austrian culture.

Route Highlight: Trento

  • Trento is located on the Adige River in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtiroll. Formerly part of Austria and Austria-Hungary, it was annexed by Italy in 1919. With almost 120,000 inhabitants, Trento is the third largest city in the Alps and second largest in the Tyrol.
  • Trento is an educational, scientific, financial and political centre. Soak up the picturesque Medieval and Renaissance historic centre & make sure to take a look at the ancient Trento Cathedral and the Castello del Buonconsiglio.
  • Trento was awarded the title of Alpine Town of the Year 2004.

Gravel Bike Trans Alps Tour Stage - Stage 6 Trento to Verona

Stage 6: Trento to Verona, 124 km, 809 m

The final stage is also the longest stage. Continue south on a flat trail through the town of Rovereto. Detour up a gentle climb to see the spectacular Lake Garda. Retrace and follow the trail to the heart of Verona, a city made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Route Highlight: Lake Garda

  • The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda is located on the edge of the Dolomites and is an exquisite destination for holiday-makers throughout the year. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery on one of the Lake’s islands in 1220. Now travellers around the world enjoy peace, tranquility and a touch of luxury at the lake.

Route Highlight: Verona

  • Roman architecture, Opera & Shakespeare make for a glamourous city to host the grand finale of our Trans Alps gravel adventure!

Italian Basso Palta Gravel Bike

What Gravel Bike For The Trans Alps Tour?

To best enjoy the Trans Alps gravel tour we recommend a gravel bike (no surprises there!) – something fast enough on paved sections & super comfortable on gravel. Try the Italian Basso Palta to truly pay homage to the route.

Trans Alp Gravel Bike Tours – Secure Your Place

We’re really excited about this new tour of the Trans Alps on gravel bikes and the interest we’re receiving about this tour is phenomenal but what’s not to love about it? Gravel, bikes and the Alps – perfect! If you’re interested in securing a place on the tour then 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!

Cycling Barcelona to Girona: A CycloCat Adventure

By Gravel No Comments

Sunday 22nd January 2019 saw the third annual edition of the Ladies & Gentlemen’s Barcelona to Girona Gravel Ride. The ride was desgined & organised by CycloCat, a non-profit organisation on a mission to map all the off-road, safe cycling routes in Catalunya.

When CycloCat approached Eat Sleep Cycle looking for a venue in Girona to host the finish we jumped at the chance to get invovled in this unique event.

Naturally Eat Sleep Cycle sent a team to take part and check out the route. DS Brian pulled together a squad made up of Eat Sleep Cycle riders Lee, Lou & Boris with guests David Millar of CHPT3 & Miguel, local brompton-riding legend. With over 300 riders on the start sheet it was set to be one hell of a ride.

The Gravel Adventure Begins

An already damp team met at a wet Girona train station to catch the 07:04 train to Barcelona. It hadn’t rained for months but the team were in cheery-ish spirits with the promise of an epic day on the bike ahead.

7 hours and one deluge of mud, sweat, broken brakes & hardcore river crossing later we caught up with the riders of the ‘Paulaner Express’ to capture their impressions of the 140 km route.

Lee: Ex-Engineer, Eat Sleep Cycle Partner

Describe your ride in one word:
EPIC

Best moment?
When Boris repaired Miguel’s brakes, which meant we would make the ride.

Darkest moment? 
Riding to the start in the cold, wet & rain.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
Wish I was wearing what David had on (CHPT3)

Will you ride again next year?
Most definitley but only if Brian does it.

David-Millar-CHPT3-Barcelona-Girona-Gravel-Ride

David: Founder of clothing brand CHPT3, ex-Pro Cyclist

Describe your ride in one word:
Complicated

Best moment?
Getting all my shit ready the day before, I hadn’t done that in years.

Darkest moment? 
Catching a glimpse of the blue AVE autoroute bridge 4hrs after we’d started and realizing we were still miles away.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
All of it. LSWBL Baselayer, J/J Jacket, K61 Jacket, Nanoflex tights – I stayed completely dry and correct body temp the whole time, which even I was impressed with.

Will you ride again next year?
If Brian does I might.

Boris: Bearded, Eat Sleep Cycle Mechanic

Describe your ride in one word:
Never-ending

Best moment?
Finding my pace after finding myself doing a solo effort.

Darkest moment? 
Realising I was not in Llagostera but Tordera.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
I would say water, but since I forgot that, I’m going to say my Assos winter bibs.

Will you ride again next year?
Next year I’ll ride it on a  Brompton

Louise: Tiny person, Eat Sleep Cycle founder

Describe your ride in one word:
eesh.

Best moment?
That sweet sweet coffee in Caldes de Malavella. The team had scattered but home was in sight.

Darkest moment? 
When we hit gravel 10 km out of Barcelona and saw a disturbed rider coming back the other way shouting ‘molt aigua’.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
I nearly died. I needed actual winter kit. CHPT3 for women, David?

Will you ride again next year?
err. If Silvia does it.

Miguel: Girona local, Brompton lover

Describe your ride in one word:
The river crossing!

Best moment?
Personally, I had the feeling ‘nothing could stop me’…!

Darkest moment? 
That we were called the Paulaner team and only had coffee at the end.

Item of kit you would have died without and/or item of kit you wish you had?
No comment.

Will you ride again next year?
Perhaps. It was a great #7hrGravelChallenge

Hat’s off to the team. Out of 300 riders who signed on around 80 started the ride and around half completed it without the aid of a train. Thanks also to the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub team and the kind bakery’s & cafes who welcomed and fed some extremely dirty cyclists along the route.

CycloCat & the Origin’s of the Gravel Ride

Whilst bang on the current trend for riders to get off road, organiser & founder of CycloCat, Joan Calvera, reveals the origins of the ride in the 1940’s. We sat down with Joan after the event to learn more about the Ladies & Gentlemen’s ride and to find out more about Joan’s motivation & vision for CycloCat.

What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Joan Calvera Porta. I was born and raised in Sant Andreu del Palomar, Barcelona, so my first kilometers on MTB were on the mytical Collserola mountain. After Barcelona I lived in Girona, Brussels, England and South-Tyrol (so I can speak 5 languages!)

Tell me about how and why you started CycloCat?
We (together with my wife Anna) started CycloCat after coming back to Catalonia and realising that there was no information about cycling paths connecting urban centres. We checked how other systems worked in places like Belgium & Italy and then we created our Catalan version of that.

What inspired you to start the Ladies & Gentlemen’s Barcelona to Girona event?
When I started racing on MTB at 16 years old, my Grandpa told me that he was also a cyclist. He was able to ride from Barcelona to Girona on a single speed, wooden wheeled bike. No helmet, no culotte, no jersey. So, when we had completed mapping all the safe cycling tracks from Barcelona to Girona then we decided to recreate this ancient route. In fact, now it’s more difficult than in the 40’s, as my Grandpa rode on the N-II (not totally asphalted, a lot of cobbled sections) and the easiest route from Barcelona to Griona. But, nevertheless, today’s route is so nice because it sneaks between small vilages and green fields with very few cars at any time. Even being a cyclist, we all tend to think as a car driver, and when somebody asks you how to reach certain village we all think first how to get there by car, without considering slopes, for example.

You rode the event – how was it?
Yes I rode. Well, I understand it could be hard for some people especially at the begining. But if you have good clothes and certain experience of riding under the rain, it was a very nice journey. After 3 hours riding in the rain, good clothes get dry. Once we were in Sant Celoni (less than half of the route) we were already dry. I like the course very much, especially the changes from tarmac to dirt or to single track. Gravel bikes give you that freedom to go fast on road and manage the mud on single-tracks.

What is your favorite gravel ride in Catalunya?
I use to train close to Girona (when I have a chance): Vidreres, Llagostera, Caldes. La Selva and Gironès are very good for training and have good gravel tracks. Then Osona and Urgell are also amazing places to ride. I use to train a lot around Vallès, but it’s mid mountain and sometimes there’s too many cars due to the proximity to the big city of Barcelona.

What’s next for CycloCat?
As you know, CycloCat is a private non-profit organisation that documents and classifies the safest cycling routes in Catalonia. Out criteria is our moto as well: “minimum slope, maximum safety”. We have already documented 1300 Km that join the 4 main capital cities in Catalonia.

In the next month we are going to release the tracks to reach Lleida (an amazing gravel area through Urgell) and we are trying to develop software together with Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona that allows us to create the routes in a easier way.

Thanks to the brave photographer Gonzalo Rodríguez from Fotos Cursa who risked hypothermia to capture the event –  check out the full album from the event on the Foto Cursa facebook page.

Thank you to Joan & Anna at CycloCat for organising a great day out on the bike and for continuing to build an incredible resource of bike routes for everyone to enjoy. Check out the CycloCat website to see the maps.

For anyone with kit-envy or planning a suitably wintery excursion it’s worth checking out David Millar’s CHPT3 winter range. Seriously good kit.

Experience your own Gravel Cycling Adventure in Catalunya

If you want to explore the network of gravel roads in Catalunya check out our Girona Gravel Adventure, or why not hire a gravel bike & bags and head off on your own bike-packing extravaganza on the Pirinexus Trail. The sun does normally shine, promise! Give us a call 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!

First Gravel Ride: Ridley X-Trail

By Gravel No Comments

Amy Jones, long time road rider, reports on making the transition to Gravel in this account of her first ever gravel ride. Guide Ed takes her for a spin on our Ridley X-Trail rental on his favourite trails around Girona.

I’m slowing you down, joked Ed who was showing me the ropes on my gravel debut, 30 seconds later I became rather too well acquainted with the grass verge. Thankfully this didn’t set too much of a precedent for the rest of the ride and as we traversed every kind of terrain from road, to mud, to rocks and naturally, gravel I only hit the deck on one other occasion.

I had been aware of the growing trend for gravel and had thought how fun it looks for a while now, however I hadn’t got around to trying it out myself. Of course, the main barrier to trying out any new kind of cycling is acquiring the appropriate bike, but when you work somewhere that hires them out that’s hardly an excuse. So, with some (very little) encouragement, I took out a Ridley X-Trail from Eat Sleep Cycle and was all set for my first ever gravel ride.

We could have headed to the via verde for my first gravel experience, indeed, that would have been the logical move. However, not one to shy away from a challenge I decided I’d ride some of the long route of the gravel edition of the Rocacorba Gran Fondo. Things started off pretty mildly as we went around Banyoles lake until we headed onto a grassy path that was only wide enough to go single file and I got a taster of what was to come – adrenaline-filled sketchy moments that were simultaneously great fun.

Accustomed to harder, skinnier tyres it took a while for my brain to adjust to the fact that I could take that gravel-scattered corner faster, or bunny hop without the discomfort of coming clattering to the ground on 90psi. Once I had processed this, and put my trust in the bike I started to test the limits, and I loved it. There is so much amazing road riding around Girona but being able to take things both on and off-road adds a whole new level of fun and exploration.

I was surprised to find that I was at my most comfortable descending, rather than climbing – a dynamic that is the reverse for me on the road. For my first real off-road experience the Ridley quite literally guided me through the mud and over the rocks, transcending my actual ability. With all my green-ness in the gravel world I don’t exactly have the expertise or experience to give an extensive review of a gravel bike, but can definitely say that the Ridley was a great companion.

Mostly, I learned that when things feel wobbly just keep going, and if that isn’t a metaphor for life I don’t know what is.

Inspired by this ride? Rent your own gravel bike for your next cycling holiday to Girona, or bag yourself a bargain and buy yourself a sweet ride in our ex-rental bike sale.

Gravel Cycling Girona Ridley Ignite Bike

5 Reasons Why It’s Time to Try Gravel Cycling

By Gravel No Comments

GRAVEL CYCLING FOR ROADIES

Let’s face it, once a roadie always a roadie. Or not? Read on to see why you should seriously consider gravel cycling as a new discipline to add to your repertoire of excuses to ride and reasons to go to new places.

1. Gravel cycling can be really fast.

If you are a roadie you are probably a speed junkie – hurtling down descents at uncontrollable speeds and trying to do the same up-hill. On the right gravel tracks, and with the right set-up you can pull upwards of 30 Km/ hr. The gravel bike you’ll want in this instance is basically a road bike with disc brakes and wider tyres, so you can still get aero, tuck into the drops for descents and lean into the corners, with the added joy of keeping those tyres the right way up!

2. Zero traffic

This has to be experienced to be appreciated. Imagine a road training ride without a single car, lorry, even pedestrian. Only the tweeting of birds and that lovely mechanical sound from your bike. Not only does it make for a far more enjoyable ride, it’s far safer too. You get points with your better half because you are partaking in a safer style of cycling.

3. Many more routes and combinations.

Have you run out of roads to ride? Come on, we all get tired of the same road leaving town or slog back home. Imagine taking away the need for your route to be tarmacked. Having wheels on your bike to enable you to jump up on the curb and skip through a park or around that dodgy roundabout (put your posh carbon rims to one side for once). You will see where you ride in a completely different light. From our Hub in Girona, we ride the gravel paths around Rocacorba, a famous road climb in the area. On road, there is one way up and one way down. You see the mountain from the same angle every time. On the gravel bike, you can duck and dive around the beautiful landscape taking it in from every angle. It’s unreal!

4. You may not actually need a new bike.

We all love a new bike and we hate to break the n+1 rule but we will. Around Girona, we ride many of the gravel routes on our Ridley road bikes. The trend in road already is wider rims and wider tyres. With a 28mm rim and nice wide tyre, setting the pressure right will have you hurtling down gravel paths like they are a road. For the more technical ascents and descents you may need more clearance for a wider wheel, so why not have a through axle set-up that you can change from road to gravel wheels. BOOM – 2 bikes in one!

5. You can still ride in a group

One of the drawbacks of mountain biking is it takes away the social aspect of riding together, which we love on the road. 2 abreast is not possible on a technical trail if you’re going up or down. But on many gravel trails, it is still possible. In Girona, large groups take to the gravel trails for their Sunday social rides.

We’re sure that if you try you too will get the gravel bug! In Girona, we have gravel bikes for rent and can show you the best trails. Contact us to find out more, or check out our Girona Gravel Adventure. 

Gravel Bike Girona

Riding Gravel in Girona: An Interview with Peter Gaskill

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Want to add some new adventure to your road riding? Perhaps you should get out on some gravel! But, you say, I love the quiet paved roads around Girona — why do I need to venture onto gravel? We asked Eat Sleep Cycle guide and gravel-Godfather of Girona Peter Gaskill for the low down on gravel cycling in Girona. 

Why ride gravel?

Well, gravel rides are on even quieter routes, and you’ll see that stuff in between those paved roads that you never knew existed. You’ll experience amazing views and abandoned farmhouses, you’ll follow small streams, and you’ll just go deeper into the Catalunya that you already love.

What skill level do I need to enjoy riding gravel?

For gravel riding you only need a moderate level of bike handling skills — it’s nowhere near as tricky as mountain biking. The skills are easy to pick up, and the new gravel bikes, with their wide low-pressure tires and disc brakes, make the transition easy and comfortable.

Can I mix road & trail?

A good gravel bike is equally at home on asphalt as it is on gravel, so you can connect your gravel adventure with the paved roads you may already know. And if you thought the number and variety of paved roads in the area are good, you’ll be amazed that there are even more gravel routes. You can choose from flat and easy unpaved roads all the way to high and narrow tracks. Your knowledge of the area will quickly expand as you discover new connections between valleys and the roads you regularly ride. Compared to mountain biking, you’ll find a gravel bike will take you farther into the countryside and cover a greater variety of terrain, owing to the bike’s comfort both on and off asphalt.

How can I find great gravel routes?

Ride with friends who already know the back roads or go out exploring with a good map and a spirit of adventure. Either way, you will be rewarded with that out-there feeling of being a little on the wild side. And the après-ride beer will be that much more satisfying!

You can rent a Gravel road bike from us & hire a Gravel bike guide for your trip to Girona in 2018! Or why not sign up to our Girona Gravel Experience and enjoy the best gravel routes in the region?

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