Road cycling and mountain biking are firm favourites here. It’s not just the weekend hobbyists and tourist bikers who ‘don the gear’, it extends to the refined professionals who are attracted here like bees to honey.
Girona’s surrounding topography lends itself to offering a challenging variety of routes. The weather is a mighty good adjunct too, ensuring a pleasant climate most of the year. Add the relaxed lifestyle, fine cuisine and a medieval setting, you quickly see why you’d want to bring your bicycle pump here.
The whole cycling in Girona phenomenon has created a thriving economic boost for those businesses catering to their needs. It’s not just the professional teams who base themselves here for training purposes, but the growing number of cycle tourists. So much so that I’m sure it has been a helpful boost to the property rental sector, as many choose to stay a while.
I’ve been here for almost 15 years and remember meeting an American cyclist by the name of Marti Jemison, way back about 12 years ago. I think it was when we used to frequent a local outdoor pool. Anyway, this is me reminiscing. We got real friendly as we had a mutual American friend who also lived here, but we lost touch soon after. He ran a high-end vacation business offering European road cycle tours. Apparently he was a part of the US Postal Service Pro Team in the late 1990’s, as was Lance Armstrong in 2005. By all accounts Armstrong lived in Girona for a while, somewhere within the old quarter.
Another famous English Olympic cyclist who resided here for a while was (Sir) Bradley Wiggins.
Friends of ours who run a cycling holiday business have had a real run of success and rightly so, as they’re one of the best in town. They also organise a popular annual cycling festival called Gran Fondo, which has further promoted the sport. Numerous copycats have appeared, tapping into that demand which just keeps growing.
A good many seem to plump for basing themselves in the old town. Maybe they prefer running up and down five flights of stairs in their lycra shorts, as many old places have no lifts. It’s the road cyclists who seem to dress like they’re going bobsledding. Bicycles that cost thousands of euros that you can lift with ease, with just one finger.
Back in 2009 Girona even hosted a leg of the famous Tour de France. Race followers were here in their droves. I remember being in France on holiday and seeing it pass through Carcassonne. I waited for ages, watching various sponsors drive by distributing freebies, only to see the racers flash by so fast you would’ve missed them if you’d blinked.
Fast forward, and the wheels have kept turning but there’s been a lull in cycling activity recently during the past Covid waves, as movement restrictions were applied. Once normality has returned I can see a resurgence in all things cycling.