Training Camp in Girona, Spain by Kaitlyn Shikaze

Training Camp in Girona, Spain by Kaitlyn Shikaze

May 31, 2020

Girona, Spain is a small town north of Barcelona. It’s like the Hollywood of cycling, one of the most popular training grounds for professional cyclists (and wannabe amateurs like me 🙂 ). I was fortunate to travel there this past February with Team Ontario for a two week road training camp to gain base miles for the “upcoming” season and an experience of a lifetime. I even met up with Highgate Teammate and friend Ainsley Black who was also in Girona raining at the time! Here are some of the highlights of my trip:

The climbs:
By far one of my favourite parts about riding the Girona is the amount of elevation. It’s something that’s hard to get here in flat SW Ontario. It’s not that I enjoy the painfulness of never ending climbs, but rather, the satisfaction of pushing your limits, the sense of accomplishment and rewarding views at the top. With the company of good friends, the amazing scenery on the way up and the beautiful reward at the end, the climbs didn’t seem as bad. The climbs of Rocacorba and Mother of God were definitely my favourite.

Learning from the pros:
Another one of the really cool things about training in Girona is the opportunity to ‘bump’ into pro cyclists as it’s a popular training destination. It was neat to learn from and meet the best in the sport; including chatting with Leah Kirchmann at the coffee shop, lunch with Emily Batty and an interview with Mike Woods. We also went down to Banyoles to watch a UCI race which got us pumped for the race season, which at the time was just around the corner.

Food and Coffee:
The food in Europe is just something different and Girona was no exception. Gourmet meals with the best presentation were a dream to come back to after a long day on the bike. Coffee in Girona was also a hot topic, a picking a favourite coffee shop was just as important as a favorite hill climb. The sparkling gold lattes at Espresso Mafia and Fabrica have my vote!

Hitting PB’s:
Something I brought back from my time in Girona which has been keeping me motivated these days with no races, is the feeling of accomplishment when you hit a new PB (Personal Best). Whether it be a new distance, higher elevation or quicker time it gives you that sense of race season thrills that I love. In Girona our “queens stage” day was a huge day, which, at
the beginning, sounded extremely tough, but as the kilometers went by and as the group encouraged each other, we completed 167km and 3200m of elevation. I’ve been using this same motivation recently by setting a new PB last weekend with a 320km ride from Oakville to Niagara Falls and back with my dad. I encourage you to give a new PB a try if you haven’t already, you may be surprised what you are capable of!

 

The coast:
It’s hard to pick a favourite route in Girona as they all have different things that I liked about them such as new views, interesting climbs, uncharted small roads and unique towns we rode though. One route along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was very memorable and may be the winner as we climbed and descended along the coast with an amazing view the whole time and we went down to the beach for a mid ride dip!

Over the 15 days in Girona, I rode 1387km and climbed 22 171m, I had a blast, riding with old friends as well as meeting new cyclists whom I now call friends. Overall, this trip strengthened my love for road cycling which has been my outlet these past few months. I can’t wait to race and ride with my Highgate teammates soon!