Many think of Spain and think of arid land, empty landscapes, and blazing sun. Yes, there are parts of Spain like that, yet north east Catalonia is not among them. Girona is the capital of this region, nestled in a valley on the main artery from France to Spain it has profited in times of harmony and been the site of sieges in others, it's geography has been its blessing and curse in equal measures. Its history goes back over 2000 years, and more has been forgotten than many of the biggest and most famous cities in the world will ever know.
Nowadays though it is the cycling capital of the world. The professionals have made it their home and the tourism has followed. There are five principle reasons for that, but we'll come back to them later.
This entry to our 2018 Annual series is about the four seasons we lived and rode through this past year. Girona is the home of CHPT3, and in 2018 we launched the Girona Collection. Therefore, and it goes without saying, we feel duty bound to honour our home in all it's changing glory.
The summer heat finally lessens towards the end of September signalling the beginning of autumn. Traditionally there is a week or so of rain around the festivities for the city's patron saint, St Narcis (October 29th), eradicating what final traces of summer that were left. Autumn is the most wonderful of times in Girona, accentuated by the relief it brings after the torrid heat of summer.
Parc de la Devesa
Sant Hilari Sacalm
Carrer de la Força, Girona
Portico of the Apostles, Girona Cathedral
Oh yes, there is a winter in Girona, and although not baltic it is certainly not all sun and sand. By December the temperature can be hovering around zero first thing in the morning, yet on the clear days, of which there are many (to begin with), it can rise into the high teens. By the end of January things turn for the worse, with February and March being the most volatile. This year saw an amazing snowstorm, something that happens once a decade at most.
Sant Joan de Montbó
This is the highlight of the climatic year in Girona. It begins in April and flourishes in May. In the same way autumn offers a beautiful and welcomed contrast to summer, spring finally alleviates the monotony of winter. Everything happens at once, fields suddenly fill with crops and the flowers bloom and the heat returns - and something new happened in 2018. It was noticeable in the cafes and streets of Girona and out on the surrounding roads in all directions, cycling tourism had properly arrived for the first time.
Perhaps surprisingly, maybe not, summer is a relatively quiet time for cycling in Girona. This is mainly due to the heat, once it kicks in it's oppressive. Being out for hours at its mercy is something for mad dogs and the English, of which there are a few. But if you do get out early it can make for the most sublime of experiences, the roads are your own and the light is like a dream, and then, to top it off, there's the knowledge that you'll have owned the best part of the day before most have even woken.
Pont d'en Gómez, Girona
Pont de las Peixateries Velles, Girona
Romanyà de la Selva
Mare de Déu del Mont