Exploring around Girona

Sabina and Robin cycled all over the world for a year and are now settled in Sweden. Here, they are preparing for the Atlas Mountain Race, an unsupported bikepacking race in Morocco's Atlas Mountains.

After months of preparation, we received the dreaded email that so many athletes have received this year: the race had been postponed (again). We had everything planned, including time off from work, bikes, and camping gear, and we were in better shape than ever. We had been training for months for one of the most difficult gravel races out there. But we made the decision right then and there that we were not going to let it get to us.

Instead, we decided to make the most of our free time by taking our gravel bikes on a trip we’d never taken before: a luxurious cycling vacation. This time, no tiny tent with flimsy air mattresses, but a king-size bed with soft and immaculately white sheets. There will be no oatmeal from a wobbly camping stove, but rather a breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, delicious bread, cheese, and other delicacies. The ideal location where they know exactly how to treat a cyclist right? Of course, Girona!

Instead of renting a bike, we decided to bring our own 3T Exploro’s. Your own bike is already a perfect fit, which is ideal if you plan on spending long days in the saddle. Just remember to note the measurements before disassembling it to pack it. We were able to borrow two bike cases from friends and check them on our flights. This was also more cost effective than renting bikes!

We have the luxury of having two wheel sets for our Exploros back home. One set of 650b carbon wheels with wider tires for rough terrain and bikepacking, and one set of 700c carbon wheels with slick gravel tires. We decided to bring the fast wheels for this trip, but Robin swapped the slicks for a tire with a little more grip on the edges. We expected to ride on tarmac about half of the time, and 650b wheels can feel a little sluggish on tarmac.

Usually we unpack our bikes from cardboard boxes at the airport before cycling to our first campsite, but this time an actual taxi was waiting for us. The luxury! The amazing staff of Rocacorba Cycling greeted us in Banyoles, 20 kilometers outside of Girona. Edward (from Rocacorba) offered to assemble our bikes for us while we rested from the flight.

Every day, we were given excellent routes, and the area around Banyoles is breathtaking. You have fast hard packed gravel for speed enthusiasts, rough farm roads that roll over hills, and perfect smooth tarmac that you share with the most patient car drivers we’ve ever seen. Of course, we had to tackle the Rocacorba climb, but we spiced it up a little. After climbing Rocacorba, we descended via a technical trail and added a second difficult gravel climb. Wider tires (or even a mountain bike) would be more suited, and you should also check your brake pads before embarking on this adventure. We completely burnt through ours.

If you want to try out a 3T Exploro, Rocacorba has a pretty impressive bike park with 3T Exploros available for rent in a variety of sizes. Another compelling reason to book a holiday in Spain!

We also wanted to spend some time in Girona, so we stayed at the Equipe guest house the second week. A Dutch couple who are as obsessed with cycling as we are run this beautiful modern guest house. They know exactly how to cater for cyclists needs. The guest house is located a little outside the city centre and offers a breathtaking view of the city and its green surroundings. You have to get up to get a view, and the same is true for this particular view. When you stay at Equipe, you know that every ride ends with a 300-meter climb over xx kilometres. Which we saw as a challenge to always beat our own record.

In Girona, we drank far too many cappuccinos at La Fabrica and gawked at The Service Course’s custom steel builds. We had to sprint twice to get to Rustik before they stopped taking orders at half past noon. We weren’t tired of it even after a hundred croquetas and pinxos. Alas, it was time to return home.

It’s still unfortunate that the race was postponed, but at least we got a nice bonus out of it. We spoiled ourselves instead of pushing our limits beyond what seems possible. The training must now continue, which means countless hours on Zwift and cold long rides in Sweden’s winter darkness. But in just a few months, we’ll be able to pack our bikes once more. Then for an adventure like none we’ve ever had before.