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CATALONIA | TAKING IT ALL IN

BY ADAM KACHMAN

Catalonia is a beautiful region with a beautiful language. And yes, when you visit, the abundant cycling options throughout the region make you want to become an expatriate with the quickness of a World Tour sprint. From a cyclist's perspective, the city of Girona is almost comical in its “Girona-ness” at times. Around every corner there's a continuous who’s who procession of the UCI elite. You’ll find Tayler Wiles at one cafe, Nathan Haas at another, and end up shoulder to shoulder with Simon Gerrans as you each roll back into town from your shake out rides. It’s a funny place in that way; the dividing line between World Tour riders and everybody else seems to be suspended, until you try to hold their wheel.
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For those of us who don’t have a 400+w FTP, but still want to jostle amongst the pros, simply roll into one of the cafes owned by former World Tour riders who have traded their Colnagos for La Marzoccos. When at a cafe like La Fábrica, there are pretty good odds that you’ll find yourself fighting for position with someone like Marc Soler, just as I did as we both surveyed the pastry selection, eyeing the last Xuixo.

But to solely frequent these modern cathedrals of caffeine would only provide you with a narrow expression of a Catalan morning. The quintessential morning in the streets of old Girona starts with an early ride across town and over the Pont De Pedra, where on the corner awaits Fleca Oriell and their luminary croissants. For three euros you’ll be treated to pastry perfection and the warmth of a croissant in one hand and your first cafe americán of the day in the other.
On this Easton Overland team trip we were fortunate to have Rob Britton on route planning. Rob is no stranger to Girona and its plethora of un-roads. Having spent 2021 living in the city as well as racing Volta a Catalunya, he knows the back roads of the region in the way that only a seasoned pro can.

What Rob wasn’t so good at was the language. And this came into play when we sat down for a mid ride snack at a cafe on the shores of Lake Banyoles. We sat, looked over menus, and ordered in a varying degree of broken Catalan. I decided on an espresso, agua con gas, and a delightfully crisp xurro. The rest of the team went a similar route. Xurros, macarons, croissants, cafes con leche. We were, quite frankly, feeling rather on top of things at this very moment. The coffee was dispatched as quickly as it arrived, the same went for the xurros and croissants. The macrons/macaroons however, were nowhere to be seen. Like any good cyclist we saw this as an opportunity to order another round of espresso and pastries. The macaroons would simply arrive with our second round.
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And arrive they did. Amongst the croissants, xurros, and cafe con leches were two plates of penne bolognese, covered in cheese and destined for two very confused Canadians: one lactose intolerant and one a vegetarian. You don’t always get what you expect in life. A platitude, I must admit. But how we choose to respond, and how that response evolves is one of the greatest ways in which we learn and grow... Whether it be sport, love, travel, or family, everyone gets a Catalan macaroon every once in a while. The question is, how do you respond?
Photos | Adam Kachman & Castelli Cycling
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