Your Shopping Cart

So far it’s a solo ride.

Girona: Is it the Upside Down Marin?

Jim Merithew |

We're rolling up the Els Angel climb for the third time during our trip to Girona, and just like every loop of our beloved Seven Sisters back home, we can't imagine this sweet piece of asphalt ever getting old. Els Angel is 11.1km long with an average gradient of 3.9% and is equal parts fun and torture.  

The climb, like most things in Girona gives us the strangest feeling that this place is Marin's Upside Down. Or Superman's Bizzaro World, if you'd prefer a less recent alternate reality. We've somehow made cross-dimensional contact with all these foreign kit-clad riders, and I swear if it weren't for the lack of overpriced pizza and fish tacos, we could be in Marin.

They have the Hincapie Loop, and we have the Seven Sisters. They have the Rocacorba Climb, and we have Mount Tam. They have the Lake of Banyoles, and we have our beloved Dam ride. They have the Costa Bravo, while we have the California Coast. But I'd trade the whole Bay for a plateful of Girona’s saucy little potatoes, hand-cut, fried and spiced to paprika perfection. All hail Patatas Bravas.


Good tubers aside, we continued to ask ourselves whether Marin had influenced Girona or if it was the other way around. Had we both discovered Avocado Toast and gravel bikes at the same time? Was it the chicken or the egg? Or, is the globalization of cycling now complete, with any little regional difference tamped out of existence by social media's cultural monotheism? We'd need a lot more expensive coffee to mull that one over.

One of the Girona locals we met, the owner of a beautiful Sarto Raso, lamented how everyone was prodding him to start riding the gravel. He implied that if you were going to remain part of the "it" crowd in Girona, you had to get dirty. 

We noticed that for all the road routes on the internet leaving the old town, there were an equal number of gravel rides on offer. We stuck to the road on this trip, and it turns out you can ride your road bike for days and never get bored or run out of routes to explore. 

While we already know we live in the world's greatest bicycle destination, many sources are trying to convince everyone that Girona is cycling nirvana. And indeed, the upsides are manifold: great early season weather, a vast network of businesses catering to all your riding and nutritional needs, packs of fellow cyclists rolling around and plenty of places to eat from crappy tourist pasta to piles of tapas and Michelin Star grub - not forgetting the 'taters'.

Marin's alternate dimension in Girona is also obsessed with coffee and pastries. While we have Equator here, they have Expresso Mafia and La Fabrica, both tucked on the tiny streets of Old Town Girona. The owners are former pro cyclist Christian Meier and his wife, Amber. Both spots are huge magnets for cyclists of all shapes and sizes heading out or returning from their rides on the roads of Catalonia. 

And this is why Girona sucks you in. It's the gateway to everything you love about living in Northern California: the amazing riding, the delicious food, the great weather and the excellent coffee. And while we loved our time in Girona, the fact that it made us realize how lucky we are to live in The Bay made the trip that much more special.

We recommend that if you've never been to Girona, go. Que te vaya bien en España!

Start your Build Since 2006, we've been creating the world's finest dream bikes with our signature approach to custom builds and customer service. Our Custom Program
AC Everywhere You can find us just over Golden Gate Bridge in California's Marin County. Can’t come to us? We can bring the bike to you. We craft custom bikes for clients all across the U.S. and the world. Contact us