Guest Perspective: Ashleigh Girona Bike Tour
Ashleigh's Girona Tour exceeded all my great expectations. The riding routes, all expertly led by Ashleigh Moolman Pasio herself, were spectacular and challenging. On the first day, we did an epic climb past medieval castle ruins to the monastery atop the Mare de Deu d’El Mont with breathtaking 360 degree views of the entire region. Next we took a long scenic ride past volcanic ranges to the cobbled streets of Beget nestled in a remote, fairytale valley with a ranging mountain torrent roaring below stone bridges. The next day we crossed flat plains all the way to the incredible cliffside vistas of the Costa Brava and back. Finally, I had the good fortune to be paced to an excellent time all the way up the fabled "benchmark" Rocacorba climb by Ashleigh herself!
What made the tour overall such a rewarding and enriching experience was not only the challenging daily riding, but all of the amazing secondary support and activities the tour provided. Staying in a fully modernized but historical stone villa provided the perfect setting for rest, quiet, and relaxation. A lavish continental breakfast was laid out for us every morning before we awoke. Our laundry was done for us each day and returned neatly folded. Our rooms serviced and cleaned while we rode. Delicious, home cooked meals were provided, filled with great conversation, conviviality, and lots of good humour. Restaurant meals were equally exceptional and each one highlighted different regional specialties. Everything was included in the very reasonable price of the tour.
Each day's ride was fully supported as well providing extra supplies at strategic points. We had a professional photographer one day and many other great photos and videos shot by others driving sag or tagging along. Each ride included two or more guides to accommodate everyone's optimal pace and no one was pushed too hard or slowed down. My Cervelo R3 disc rental bike was a revelation. Truly a masterpiece to handle which gave me great confidence over a variety of terrain and conditions which included some gravel, some alpine style epic descents, damp and wet roads. I didn't expect to like my rental bike more than my own bike! After each ride, it was cleaned and tuned up optimally for the next day. I would definitely rent rather than bring my bike all the way from the USA.
What I found most enthralling was the opportunity to ride in close proximity day by day with a champion cyclist like Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and other ex-pro athlete guides. We were also greatly enriched on every ride and evening by a variety of luminaries from the professional cycling world who added great stories and legends from the pro women's peloton. A leading agent in women's cycling. A top Instagram cycling photographer. A prominent soigneur in the Girona cycling scene. A leading cycling journalist. The foremost commentator of English language broadcast cycling. The local manufacturers behind the Tactic clothing line we received as complimentary jerseys. Finally, we even got to meet many other professional cycling luminaries in person at the very memorable Girona Gala for Qhubeka on the final evening!
Truly an epic and memorable tour I would most highly recommend to any strong and adventurous cyclist. This region of Catalonia is a Mecca for professional cyclists for a good reason. I myself cannot wait to return for another Ashleigh Tour!