Summer in Girona seems endless, as even in late October the temperatures were above 20ªC and delighted those taking part in GiRodeo. There were no doubts that all the controllables, like the logistics of the event or the attention to detail, were under control, but even the uncontrollables were on the organizer’s side.
The second edition of the event, which is already well-known internationally, was another good example of the impeccable work done by the involved brands. The leadership position that The Service Course have over the cycling bubble that surrounds Girona, together with the international prestige of ENVE, put for a couple of days GiRodeo in the imaginary collective of all those passionate about exclusive bikes.
Gathering of framebuilders
The Service Course were the hosts and ENVE headlined the list of brands, but this event would not have reached such relevancy if it weren’t for the additional framebuilders that showcased their latest projects. Bellé Cycles, Rizzo Cycles, Argonaut, Repete and Scarab Cycles presented themselves on Friday in front of the audience, and several of their bikes were used during the different bike rides over the weekend. Additionally, brands that are directly or indirectly related to cycling collaborated with the event to make sure that all participants were taken care of.
Rizzo presented a titanium road bike with 3D printed fittings and with the special feature of incorporating a fully integrated stem and headset by ENVE and Chris King. In addition to this one, Rubén also brought his crown jewel; the full-suspension MTB that he showed in his presence at the ENVE Builder Roundup in the US, which put for the first time his talent on display in an international environment.
Kico from Bellé was also present, and his GRAR model was very special, with an out-of-the-ordinary geometry. That frame in particular features seatstays which are lower than usual, and non-integrated cables with colours that stand out, revindicating that the classics are still functional. The nice paint job allows us to see the dimensions of each tube, and we would also like to highlight the Shimano GRX 12-speed that this version was equipped with.
The new Repete bike, which has taken the handmade bikes industry by storm, and which is featured in one of our latest articles, was also displayed in Girona. The commitment of the brand from Prague to the full integration in steel bikes is putting them at the forefront of the game.
ENVE was very present given that most of their core business team, in addition to ambassadors and athletes who count on the support of the brand, were in Girona for the week. When it comes to product, last year we saw the MOG in exclusive prior to its public launch, and this time we saw several versions of the model with curated paint jobs, and some will be launched soon.
All these bikes were introduced to us on Friday afternoon. Still, earlier in the day there were already some informal chats during the coffee & pastries moment that kickstarted GiRodeo 2023, and also during the VIP ride before lunch.
The “new” location of TSC
That and all the other gravel rides of the weekend had the new location of The Service Course as their starting and ending point. Located on the same street, the store was GiRodeo’s base camp, and each part of the building had a different functionality. In the backyard, you could leave your bike in sight while you had a coffee from Oniria or some pastries from La Puntual. The mechanics continued doing their work in plain sight, and the event’s capsule collection took up much of the ground floor.
All the talks took place upstairs. Alexey Vermeulen, Kasia Niewiadoma and Michael Woods had a relaxed conversation with Simon Gerrans, current CEO of The Service Course, in which they discussed topics such as the present and future situation of the sport, the particularities of gravel, and the competitive mindset needed to stay at the top. Motivated by their testimonies, we headed to bed early since the next day’s route was, to say the least, demanding.
Gravel and not-so-gravel
Although in the first edition, the big Saturday ride led participants north, this time the 144 kilometers and 2,400 meters of elevation gain of the Epic Loop were concentrated mainly in the west of the Catalan city. We all left together at 8:30 and, escorted by all the TSC members who guaranteed not only safety but good vibes among the 170 participants, we talked with each other until we reached the main climb on the day.
The 16-kilometer-long ascent, which despite being unpaved was in perfect condition, marked a natural selection. However, we all gathered again at the first feed station, which also marked the detour between the long and short routes. The variety of delicacies and drinks made us stay there longer than expected but we resisted the temptation of taking the shortcut.
About the following kilometers, we mainly remember the gravel paths through tall trees that filtered the sunlight, giving the environment a mystical touch. After a stretch of constant up and down, we began what was seen on the map as the main descent of the day.
Unlike the previously mentioned ascent, this descent was anything but smooth, and tested both our technical skill and the limits of our bikes. Even so, we do not hold a grudge against the route master since at some point we were able to raise our heads and the views to the nature preserve of Les Guilleries were spectacular.
The second feed station was located at kilometer 93, and from there we rode with a small group through a rocky path along the Susqueda reservoir and then linked up with the Carrilet path that would take us back to The Service Course. What happened during the almost seven hours of moving time is enough to write a book, but we also have to talk about the Pizza Party so let’s focus on that.
After showering, stretching out on the couch, and having the willpower to get up again, we headed once again to TSC. At the time of our arrival, the band Lust N’ Found was living up the atmosphere and the participants were sharing their experiences of the day while waiting in line for a pizza from Squadra accompanied by a good Estrella Damm.
Taylor Phinney later took over and with his DJ set he intended to get everyone dancing, but he soon realized that our preference was to sit down and regain strength ahead of the correfoc.
GiRodeo once again clashed with the most important local festivities in Girona, and those who had already attended the first edition pleasantly remembered their experiences, which is why they all wanted to repeat it. It is difficult to explain what a correfoc is to someone who has not experienced it firsthand, but it can be described in a couple of terms: devils and fireworks. That took place around midnight, so many reconsidered their presence at the “Sunday Salida” planned for the next day.
End of the party
The pleasant surprise was finding so many people the next morning, and despite the challenge of the day before, the group was once again quite big because this time the route was meant not only for GiRodeo participants but anyone wanting to have a good time. Those 45 kilometers at a social pace along beautiful roads under the sun were great for us to stretch our legs and continue creating contacts with people we had not yet had the opportunity to talk to.
Back for the umpteenth time at The Service Course, it was time to say goodbye to those with whom we had shared so many experiences in barely 48 hours. We did not leave without first thanking the TSC members for the offered support and the displayed level of organization.
GiRodeo proved once again that an event can have the cycling component as a cornerstone but still offer much more to its participants. Moreover, if it takes place in an area like Girona and under conditions as favorable as those we found ourselves in, there is nothing that can prevent us from signing up for the next edition as soon as we know the dates.