GIRONA TAPES

GIRONA TAPES

Hi, meet Erika van Tielen. She is an actress & hostess from Belgium and passionate about cycling and running. As a former presenter of the Belgian television show “Vlaanderen Vakantieland’, we know she is all about traveling. Whenever she gets the opportunity to pack her bags to go off and enjoy her bike, she’ll take it. This was also the case early October, when the regional tourist office of Costa Brava Spain offered her a trip to discover the (gravel!) cycling highlights of the northeastern coast of Spain.

Four days of cycling fun, with two road stages and two gravel stages. She got off the plane in Barcelona and spent three nights at different hotels, starting at a hotel near Tossa de Mar. The first road stage followed the coast with amazing views around every corner. It is really what this region is famous for. Clifs, beaches and the big blue sea guiding you. The second, longer road stage added some uphill climbing from the coastal highlights to the Banyoles lake, north of Girona. Beautiful, smooth roads, easy traffic and as a cyclist, she felt perfectly safe. With the second hotel being in the city of Girona, they finished in the epicenter of cycling. Time to enjoy a nice apéro and tapas!

After the tarmac stages, it was time for her first gravel experience. She rode the Via Verde, a 100 kilometer easy gravel road from Olot in the Vulcanic area of Garrotxa traveling to the coastal town of Sant Feliu de Guixols. An amazing route passing old small towns, green forests and vast cornfields.

The next day, after having spent the night in Sant Feliu, it was time for the final stage, that really took her out of her comfort zone. It was a heavy route, pushing her to her limits on both the up and downhill sections. Near the medieval city of Pals, a village constructed around a fort on top of a hill, the route turned back towards Palafrugell.

It was a great experience - she conquered some of her descent fears and regained confidence during the stage. What a way to perfection your riding skills and to discover that loose rocks, single-tracks and sand don’t mean the end of your ride. Honestly, she did have to get used to this heavy gravel bike with large tires and was sometimes frustrated that it never felt ‘easy’, having to push all the time. Welcome to the gravel world, Erika ;)

The cycling community in this part of Spain is amazing. No wonder there are so many professional cyclists and formers pros living in this area. The whole region breaths cycling. Nice bars and coffeeshops are everywhere and you can find great bike shops in, for instance, Girona and Pallafrugell.  The locals here speak English surprisingly well, so even if your Spanish is somewhat rusty, you can find help. Erika had the privilege of having two lovely guides, 61-year-old Joseph and Toni, a former pistier, both passionate about cycling. Although the whole modern gravel hype had not affected these old roadies, they were keen on waving them off and joining the couple on the last kilometers of their gravel ride.

Erika can’t wait to return to Girona and the Costa Brava, because there are still so many roads to discover. Wether you are up for an easy and smooth road ride of for a gravel extravaganza, you can find hundreds of roads to choose from. Hilly of basically flat, steep or steady climbing, on or off-road. And…did we mention the year-round pretty weather?


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