As we stood and waited at the top of Els Angels for the results to be read out, I was excited because I knew I had got up the hill climb in a reasonable time, but I was more consumed by the beautiful view behind the podium. The mountain peaks and sunny haze was deserving of a postcard. It was the second day of the Girona Granfondo, a cycling festival organized by Bike Breaks, a cycling one stop shop in Girona, with a special focus on bike hire and cycle touring. The hill climb is the most competitive event and tackles the famous Els Angels climb, 10.5Km at an average of around 4% gradient.
When Ted King (Cannondale professional rider) read out my name as the overall winner I was gob smacked! I took the spot on the podium and was handed a bottle of cava and the prize, a Tag Heuer watch. Afterwards we took over the Els Angels sanctuary for pasta and red wine. Immediately we felt at home with the other competitors who were friendly and from all over the world. There was smiling, laughter and of course lots of cycling stories. Afterwards, we zipped down the ascent we had so recently suffered up, feeling content with our efforts.
The week unfolded in similar fashion, with as much focus on social as cycling events. We made great friends through the week who have become even better friends in the proceeding months. The event attracts people who love cycling at any level. There is an opportunity to test yourself, with the comfort of a varied ability and great support crew. Massages are practically on tap.
The many cycling events include a city center criterium through the Girona old town – quite possibly the most beautiful setting for a race I have ever seen. The Granfondo itself is 120Km through beautiful Girona countryside. I have ridden the roads in the route many times and they are spectacular. The course is challenging, however with the refreshments stops anybody with a bit of fitness can make it around. There is even a downhill mountain biking show down the cathedral steps. God only knows how they pull that one off. Living in Girona I know how difficult it is to even cycle through the town without getting stopped by a policeman! Each morning social rides pull out from the Bike Breaks shop. Groups of varying levels visit the key points of interest like Banyoles and do the famous climbs including Rocacorba.
I had an amazing time last year which is why this year I (or rather my best men) decided to make the Girona Granfondo 2016 my stag. I can´t think of a better stag than a week full of cycling and pasta parties! This year´s event will take place Jun 6th -12th.