This was the 4th day in a 5-day trip we took with Trek Travel- an award-winning cycling vacation company which has fabulous bike trips on five continents.
Details on the entire 5-day Girona Gravel Bike Tour can be found on their website, and you can find a few more pics and videos from the trip on the saved highlight stories of our Insta account.
For info on ALL of their gravel-specific trips, click here.
If you are interested in booking a trip with them, use our promo code GBAGRAVEL23 for $200 off your first Trek Travel trip.
There is great terrain variety on this route! You start on cobbles in the streets of Girona, then use wide, smooth dirt bike paths getting out of town, and continue on nice farm roads for the first 15 miles. After that, you get slightly more rugged and narrow roads through the nature preserve. The Hincapié climb (miles 16.5-23) is paved. The Els Angles climb alternates between chunky dirt and pavement, and the final big climb and descent (around miles 38-43) is quite technical with loose shale and larger rocks to negotiate. Other than the first and last sections in Girona city, car traffic was extremely light to non-existent.
The first "warm-up" dirt climb of the day is through a beautiful nature preserve. In this section we saw zero cars and had the time to notice the cork trees that are common in this area.
The south side of the (paved) Hincapié climb was a blast to climb and especially fun to descend! It had beautiful smooth pavement and wound in a way that kept you on your toes but was fun to flick the bike though at high speeds. We spotted several pro cyclists climbing up which, we are told, is a pretty common occurrence.
The Els Angles climb (also the south side) alternated dirt and pavement, dirt and pavement, which was really nice since it had some very steep sections and was about 8 miles in length. When you reach the peak (at an altitude of almost 1,650 ft), you are rewarded with a small park, Santuari dels Angels, the famous chapel where Salvador Dalí was married, and (on a clear day) incredible views of Girona, the Pla de Girona plains, the Costa Brava, the Pyrenees and Montseny mountain range. Santuari dels Angels is also a cafe, and you can get a great espresso coffee drink to enjoy on an outdoor patio before continuing your ride. (There are also bathrooms available to use here.)
If you like the challenge of more technical gravel, you'll enjoy the final climb and descent. By the time you complete this, you will feel that your post-ride beer is well deserved!
We particularly liked the way this route brings you back into town by Girona's Gothic cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona). It is iconic and stunning. (HBO filmed outdoor scenes for season 6 of its fantasy television series Game of Thrones at the cathedral and its steps!)
Pig and cattle farming is large in Girona and its surrounding areas. While biking through their farmland was beautiful, it was also quite stinky. 🐷
The final descent that happens around mile 40 was steep and technical making it a bit jarring on the upper body and fatiguing for the hands.
We did this in early October, and even then, temperatures were quite warm (80º).
Do this ride in the Spring or Fall if you are lucky enough to be in the town of Girona and are up for a great challenge of climbing on mixed terrain. (Join Trek Travel if you want a guided and supported version of this plus 4 more days of amazing biking!)
We started this ride from Hotel Nord 1901. (We highly recommend this hotel. Not only is it affordable, but it is comfortable and very bike-friendly!)
Plan this ride for Spring or Fall when temperatures are cooler and milder, or plan to start very early to avoid the mid-day heat. Make sure to take adequate hydration and nutrition with you.
Trek Travel provided us with great gravel-specific bikes- the Checkpoint SLR 7. This bike was perfect for this mixed-terrain route because it is the lightest gravel bike in their lineup and is designed to take on the gnarliest of gravel terrain, plus it's super-fast off-pavement. It’s built with a light carbon frame, generous 45mm tire clearance, has Shimano GRX 2X 11-speed Di2 components, internal frame storage, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes for predictable and safe stopping. The 45mm tires were a dream for rolling right over all the chunky stuff!
Luckily, you can rent gravel bikes from the Trek Store in Girona whether or not you are on one of their trips.
The coffee scene in the town of Girona is incredible, and some of the best coffee we had while there for 6 days was at Oniria Cafe, which is located right at the start/finish and directly beside the hotel.
You also have a plethora of cycling-themed cafes to choose from for a post-ride meal or drinks. We had two favorites:
Hors Catégorie - This is located a very short distance from the route start/finish. The restaurant is named after the French term for a cycle climb so steep it can't be categorized and the whole place exudes all things cycling. You can actually cycle straight into the restaurant and take your bike up to their indoor bike storage loft. Signed jerseys and photos from races are displayed, the TV is almost always showing a bike race and fancy vintage bicycles adorn the walls. They have great food, specialty coffee, craft beer, and cold press juices. The menu includes meat but it is extremely veggie and vegan-friendly, and many items can be modified to be gluten-free. (They had the BEST digital menu that allows you to filter menu items by all sorts of allergens and food sensitivities!)
La Fabrica - This is about a 2-3 min bike ride away from the start/finish but very much worth the trip. La Fabrica was the first specialty coffee shop in Girona. It was created by Christian Meier, a professional cyclist, and his wife Amber. They brought together a love for hospitality and healthy food, mixed with a history of cycling and coffee. Beans are sourced and freshly roasted in-house and paired with a menu inspired by travels around the world. The food is quite possibly some of the most delicious, colorful, and beautiful food you will find in Girona. Check out their Instagram account to ogle what they have to offer!