November 11th, 2022

Photos: The Service Course

You don’t have to go any further than Girona to find one of the main hubs of European road cycling culture. As it turns out, the northeastern Catalan city has more than just road riding. The inaugural GiRodeo, held from October 28th through 30th, presented a world of gravel riding possibilities that few of us knew existed. Four days of exploration on and off the bike, delivered an experience beyond expectations thanks to The Service Course’s local knowledge of the area’s gravel and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

In the same vein as ENVE’s own annual Grodeo event in Ogden, Utah, which includes the Builder Round-Up handmade bike show and gravel event, The Service Course took a similar approach to the GiRodeo with a custom builder element and multiple days of incredible riding that was headlined by Saturday’s 150-kilometer GiRodeo Epic route. Add in a strong community tie-in, unique Girona flavor, and short-sleeve weather, and you have an event that was one of the highlights of the year.

GiRodeo is going to set a precedent for what gravel riding looks like in Europe. The course included all of the reasons that gravel bikes were created and being able to traverse between climbs that had long been out and back, opens up the mind, heart, and desire for adventure.”

Alexey Vermeulen

Day 1: Where There’s A Will, There’s…Tapas,
Drinks, and Builder Bikes Awaiting

While the spotlight was around Saturday’s GiRodeo Epic route, the event’s first two days were limited to just 50 people for an intimate setting. Beginning Thursday evening with an off-bike experience, we took an hour-long walk from The Service Course through the woods to Mirador de Can Pi – a hidden gem just outside of Girona where drinks, tapas, and the handmade bike showcase were served up.

Bikes from Belle, Mosaic Cycles, Isen Workshop, Scarab Cycles, Rizzo Cycles, Repete, Argonaut, Open Cycle, and ENVE were all on display. In addition to the bikes, the builders themselves were also present, adding an extra touch to the social gathering and an ideal way to kick off the week.

Day 2: Where Gravel and the Sea Collide

Friday was about riding – and beer. But before the beer, we had nearly 100 kilometers of gravel to work up an appetite before finishing at Doskiwis Brewery. From Girona, we headed east to the Mediterranean coastline called Costa Brava, where ocean views and quiet gravel roads collide. A casual pace kept things conversational and had us to Doskiwis by the late afternoon for drinks, burgers, and entertainment by George Bennett (UAE) and Sam Bewley (Bike Exchange). The two World Tour pros treated everyone to a live edition of their Social Distance podcast that provided a fun insight into racing and everyday life. 

Day 3: A Huge Helping of Girona Gravel

After our Thursday night social and Friday’s relatively flat casual ride, everyone was ready to test themselves on a route that promised to be the best of the best. Two route options delivered something for everyone, with the Epic route option being one of the harder sub-160-kilometer events you’ll find anywhere. Much like our own Grodeo in Ogden, there’s every type of surface and conditions out there, so you always had to be heads up and ready for a rock garden or rut that was looking to ruin your day. The day’s biggest challenge came from an 800-meter stair step climb, rising and twisting its way under a forested canopy. By the time we reached the summit, we had been climbing for nearly an hour, and aside from the other GiRodeo riders, there wasn’t a single soul we came in contact with. Straight over the top, we screamed down the

other side for a 20 minute descent where the concrete turns provided the traction and confidence to push hard through the corners and sprint back up to speed for the dirt straightaways.

As cool as that portion of the course was, that kind of experience isn’t entirely unique to the GiRodeo. What was unique is the feedzone stop that was on the property of an abandoned castle. Not only did we have an impressive backdrop for the stop, but there was a Rocket Espresso pulling shots and freshly made food that kept everyone hanging around much longer than a typical rest stop. Even with the big climb behind, the course kept riders challenged all the way until the final plunge into Girona where pizza and Doskiwis beers greeted riders back at The Service Course. A good ending to a memorable day.