As a cycling business owner in Girona I sometimes look across the pond to Mallorca and wonder about the mass cycling market it has attracted. I have been there myself as both a cyclist and non-cyclist so I know the benefits the island offers. Smooth roads, steady climbs, favourable weather and cheap hotels with huge buffets to fill your face after a long ride are just some of them.
Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky really put the island on the radar of cyclists internationally a few years back and now hundreds of thousands flock there to train like a professional.
Eat Sleep Cycle has been going for less than a year and when you start a business you obviously want to grow, find new customers and establish where you sit in the cycling holiday market. Friends and family have said to me “what you need is an all-inclusive hotel deal like in Mallorca”. I’ve heard this quite a few times over the past 12 months so have been forced to think about this concept in some detail.
The truth is that Girona does not have the mass hotels that Mallorca has. The hotels here are smaller, with character (some really are museums) which means they are more expensive. All-inclusive is rare in these hotels because Girona old town has a plethora of incredible restaurants where, for 20 Euro a night you can enjoy a different food experience in a different environment, seated outside under medieval arches if you wish.
Port de Pollença is a popular spot in Mallorca for cyclists. There, families can sunbath while others break themselves on Sa Calabra. Girona is 40Km from the beach. Its a 1 hour drive or 1.5 hr bus journey. While this is too far for some people, others realise this means 360 degrees of cycling routes rather than 180 degrees (actually much less on the tip of the island that is Port de Pollença). While you are riding a different route every day (we are still finding new routes and have been here for 2 years) your family can enjoy the cultural heritage of the old town and surrounding jewels, like Dali’s castles, museums and art work, beautiful natural rivers and lakes such as Banyoles (the site of the 1992 Olympic rowing), or make the journey to the Costa Brava where some beaches need to be hiked down and your only company will be a bird and a fish or two.
So when I go through this thought process in my head, it goes something like this;
Why does Mallorca get so many cyclists…?
How can we be more like Mallorca…?
Girona is cycling paradise…
I don’t want it to be like Mallorca…
We’ll take the cyclists that want a unique experience.
I know other cycling business owners in Girona feel the same. We really do not want Girona to become Mallorca; over-crowded with buses on the climbs at the weekend and battles between locals and cyclists. We work very hard to maintain a good relationship with local people, inviting them along to our club rides and always looking for ways to give back, like recruiting staff and buying all our equipment (bikes, clothing) and consumables (nutrition, spare parts) locally.
So here is to keeping Girona the jewel of Catalunya. If you want “all you can eat buffet food” please go to Mallorca!