By Emily Collins
As a pretty fresh member of the Bike Breaks Girona Cycle Centre team, I decided to share a bit about the organisation and where Bike Breaks really began, way back in 2008. Yes, almost ten years running! It’s incredible to think how much Girona has evolved into the cycling Mecca it is today, since then and Bike Breaks has seen it all and been a big part of this development.
*(This can’t really be considered bias as I’m the newbie)!
I’ve been a cyclist in Girona myself, since 2014, where I was first introduced to Dave, Saskia and the Bike Breaks team. I came to Girona, full of excitement, however, a bundle of nerves, moving to a foreign country I’d never been to and knowing very few people. My new flat mate, Lucy Martin and good friend of Bike Breaks, welcomed me warmly and the next day we set off to meet the team. Since that first very first visit, they have always gone above and beyond to help me out with any bike, language barriers, or just general problem solving and there are rare days where the mood in the shop is down. It is constantly buzzing with excited cyclists; the perfect mix of riders from across the globe and the regular local Bike Breaks crew. The shop itself has great character – walk in the door and the first thing you notice is the walls lined with dozens of pro jerseys; from back in the day ‘old school’, to fresh 2017 designs and each signed by Girona professional riders, whom over the years have also befriended Bike Breaks.
Then, there is the impressive fleet of Cannondale bikes – each machine sparkling with cleanliness and raring to go for the next ride. You will almost always find head mechanic Joan busy as ever preparing bikes for the next clients. He works hard, but always seems to be happily and calmly doing his thing. That goes for Anna too. Usually, at the front desk, Anna never fails to greet you with a beaming, infectious smile. Her personality and friendliness is a big part of Bike Breaks and what they represent.
Then, there are the ride leaders. Head guides Josep and Des are difficult to find and over the years, they have been carefully scouted and reeled in by Bike Breaks. Josep was born in Girona and his knowledge of the Girona roads and every alley in between, cannot be bettered. To top that, he is a true gentleman, with a very warm personality and never fails to tell an incredible story about each town you pass and its history. The other head guide, is Des. Des is Welsh and has travelled extensively, but like many travellers, he came to Girona and was drawn in by its charm and cycling grounds and has now been settled here for many years. Des is a former Royal Marine and has also dabbled in countless outdoor sports, including sky diving and scuba diving. He is now a firm lover of cycling and is passionate about sharing this with others and guiding Girona visitors around the best roads there is.
Lastly, there’s Dave and Saskia…the owners!
They started Bike Breaks together in 2008, after spending the 8 years prior to that gaining experience in the industry at another business, Cicloturisme. Cicloturisme was the very first cycle tour company to exist in Girona. After spending many years there developing the company and expanding their clientele, they decided to move on and start their own business with a strong focus on road tours. At the time, Cicloturisme were very focused on hybrid tours and were not yet ready to expand to add road.
Saskia, from Holland and Dave, the UK, met throughout that period. They fell in love, married and started Bike Breaks as a team. They have a gorgeous six year old daughter, Holly and since establishing the business, they have always had a very friendly, family feel to their shop. Their helpful, go-to attitudes and constant willingness to go the extra mile to help customers has gone a long way and really helped kick start their business back in 2008.
They´ve seen Girona grow from the days when it was just locals, a few tourists and Lance Armstrong cruising around the streets, to the pro cycling hub it is today. Riders from all over the world seem to be drawn to Girona and have chosen here over other suitable bases for a number of reasons. Dave and Sas have firsthand knowledge into how it´s changed and developed into the cycling mad place it is today. They have played a big part in Girona cycling´s growth and continue to be heavily involved in the cycling and general Girona community, having fully embraced the Catalan culture. They both speak fluent Catalan and really strive to represent Catalonia at Bike Breaks.
They have befriended many of the pro and local cycling community since their establishment and will never deny a rider of bike service or a favour. They really go out of their way and the athletes based here from afar have been and are very grateful for this.
In 2014, they stepped it up a notch and took on the exciting, yet risky challenge of creating and running the Girona Cycling Festival; a cycling mad week, featuring three key events, including the Girona Gran Fondo and a whole lot of fun in between. In June, the fourth consecutive edition was held and what a success. It’s incredible to see how much the Festival has grown and the amount of positive feedback concluding the event has been overwhelming. Since 2014, the number of participants and the hype surrounding the event has grown significantly and it has become a big part of the Girona Cycling Community and cycling calendar. This Festival is like no other cycling event and the effort and energy Dave, Saskia and team put into it, with limited resources is impressive.
They continue to run the Festival, as they run Bike Breaks, and it still has that very friendly, natural feel. It delivers the kind of atmosphere you wouldn’t expect to get at a cycling event, and this makes it all the more appealing. Their main aim is that riders have a good time, so the real focus is on the social side of the week and giving participants an experience to remember in Girona. Over the years, riders from all sides of the globe have taken part and they continue to keep coming back. This alone is incredible to see and shows how much they have achieved over the years in developing the Festival.
I have a feeling it is still the beginning for the Girona Cycling Festival. There is so much potential for it to become something very special and with the team behind it, there is no doubt it will.
So, there you have it. Dave, Saskia and the Bike Breaks family – 9 years running Bike Breaks and 17 years in the industry. They clearly have an extensive wealth of experience and what impresses me most is their willingness to keep pushing forward and their constant drive to make people fall in love with Girona, as they have, through the sport we are all so passionate about, cycling. This is the go-to place to come in Girona for all your cycling needs and it always has been!
Until next time,