Velodrom: Building a Local Hub of Cycling Culture Around The Globe

September 26th, 2022

Photos: Velodrom

From the moment you step into one of their locations, it’s apparent that you’ve entered a Velodrom. This boutique retail brand has been rolling into some of the world’s greatest riding destinations with the goal of creating the best bike shops in the world. Their Marta Alonso inspired store design carries a continuity throughout each location, whether it’s in Spain, Poland, or Ecuador, that allows each customer to feel at home regardless of which corner of the globe they’re visiting.  What started in 2013 as a single retail store and cultural hub for the cycling community in downtown Barcelona has turned into a series of hubs that now offer tours, rides, custom builds, rentals, fittings, and of course, coffee. Just as Velodrom offers customers a portal to build the bike of their dreams, it’s as if each shop has been uniquely assembled to match the performance level of their products; from stunning and well-stocked showrooms to an exceedingly friendly staff, expert levels of service, guided rides and community events. Each location functions individually to enhance the local cycling scene while at the same time serving as an ambassador to the global Velodrom brand.

“I think a lot of people who are now coming to Girona are really coming for cycling tours and trips, because they’ve heard in the media, about Girona being cycling capital and they want to go there to ride.”

Rolling into Girona 

The aesthetic is entirely intentional and highly curated, as is every detail in Velodrom, right down to their list of bike friendly coffee stops adjacent to their Girona location, which has become their preeminent touring destination and base of Velodrom Travel since it opened in 2021. Situated in the saddle between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea, the city has long been a cycling paradise and home base for both Grand Tour riders and retired pros like Samuel Munday, a former Professional Cyclist for Team Novo Nordisk who now heads up retail operations at Velodrom Girona, and with whom we had the pleasure of interviewing for this article. Nine hour time change aside, the shop was bustling late on a Thursday evening. “It’s been pretty busy with peak tourist season,” Sam admits. And, for a good reason; with a large rental fleet of Aurum bikes specd with full ENVE builds and a growing international base of customers flocking to the region for single and multi-day cycling tours, Velodrom Girona is perfectly situated to fulfill the needs of the world’s most passionate cyclists. “The primary focus of the Girona store is to show why cycling is more of a lifestyle” rather than to sell bikes “the main focus in Girona is on apparel, basically ninety-five percent of what we offer is apparel and accessories and connecting the cycling community by running rides and events,” explains Sam. And what do locals like Sam ride? “I personally ride in the 3.4 AR wheels and I swear by them” he admits, paired with his Aurum it’s a setup that’s uniquely equipped to tackle a wide range of Girona’s terrain. While this region is on most cyclists’ lists of top road destinations, Sam has witnessed a recent shift, “we’ve noticed an interest here in Girona in gravel bikes and gravel equipment,” he adds. Velodrom has met this demand by expanding their rental fleet to include 3T gravel bikes and now offers several different gravel experiences from a single day ride to seven day, six night “Gravel Supreme Tour” complete with five star accommodations, personal mechanics, and meals. 

“The goal in the end is to create the best cycling store in the world. I think that’s always been the number one mission… to bring that passion for cycling and cycling culture from the two founders.”

Planning the Ride, and Building The Bike, of Your Dreams

If Girona is Velodrom’s playground, Barcelona is the toy store, filled with shiny new bikes, SES wheelsets, Melees, and build kits just waiting to be taken home. For global customers looking to assemble their next dream bike, Velodrom offers a Bike Builder online, or should one find themselves in Barcelona they can step into HQ for a hands-on custom build experience with frames from brands like Festka, 3T, Arum, Open, Factor, Colnago, Willier, Allied, and ENVE. “The Barcelona store is big with custom bike sales and more of what a pure bike shop would offer,” explains Sam. Customers can make a pilgrimage to Barcelona for the shop culture and assemble their perfect bike, and then make the 100km trip north and spend the weekend riding, sipping coffee and kitting up on the doorstep of Velodrom Girona. While it seems like a regional cycling dream, it’s not just the locals who are flocking to this Spanish enclave. Sam credits the region’s recent press coverage over the past few years, as well a desire to get out and explore the world once travel restrictions were lifted. “Since the start of the year, there’s been a big pickup of international customers, people coming for the high end bikes and cycling trips and particularly a lot of people from the US and Canada, as well as Northern Europe,” Sam shares. It’s easy to understand why. 

The World Tour

Although the Girona location has quickly established itself as a Velodrom destination unto itself, it’s the most recent in a constellation of satellites the brand has been launching.  Shortly after the Barcelona location was opened in 2013, Velodrom Poland popped up in Katowice to serve cyclists in the Alta Silesia region, and last year Velodrom’s full expansion to Ecuador was fully realized with the launch of their shop and clubhouse in Tumbaco. Located just twenty minutes outside of the capital Quito, this venture was born in 2015 through a friendship that was seeded during Velodrom Pyrenees trip in 2015 and has since offered over a dozen guided trips to hundreds of cyclists in South America since 2018. Where is Velodrom headed next? “We’ve got a location in the works in Bilbao,” shares Sam. Situated in northern Spain, this cycling obsessed de facto capital of Basque country is surrounded by endless green rolling hills, endless remote roads, and a contemporary downtown anchored by Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and seems like the exact right spot for Velodrom to set up their next shop. With no current plans to expand to the United States, American devotees will either need to keep waiting patiently or start planning a pilgrimage. 

“The route will take us through the mountains, through the lakes region, and the other side of Catalonia and north into the coast of Cadaqués… It’s something we want everyone to be able to enjoy… and we’ll complete it with food stops along the way.. really the goal is just to have fun and show everyone what cycling in Catalonia is like.” 

Experience Catalonian Cycling at Its Best

Currently, Sam and the Velodrom crew are finalizing preparations for their annual Velodrom Destination Cadaqués, the fifth edition of their signature ride and event that takes place on October 1st. With options to start at either Velodrom Barcelona or Velodrom Girona, the routes change annually and are designed to showcase the best of Catalonian cycling and traverse winding mountain roads, national parks, forests, and lakes, all while ascending over 3500 meters over the course of the 257-kilometer route from Barcelona to Cadaqués, or 125 kilometers and 1500 meters from Girona. “It’s something we want everyone to be able to enjoy,” explains Sam, “we’ll have three groups,” based on average speed, “and we’ll complete it with food stops along the way.. really the goal is just to have fun and show everyone what cycling in Catalonia is like.” This year they’re expecting about two hundred riders to make the point-to-point journey and registration options include bus transportation back to Barcelona or Girona and the near certainty of fostering a new international cycling friendship. Interest piqued? If you’re looking for an excuse for your right hand to tap “purchase” on round-trip airfare to Barcelona, a recap of the 2021 edition can be found here. But, before you start packing, which wheels does Sam recommend? “I think the SES 3.4 wheels would be ideal for the event. The 2.3s could be useful but toward the second half on the rolling roads I think you could really benefit from having that extra rim depth.”