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Sep 21, 2021

This week we sit down with Ewan Shepherd from Trek Travel to discuss their upcoming Girona Gravel Tour trips. We learn about the city, the cycling community and the abundance of gravel that surrounds the city.

Trek Travel Gravel Tour Girona 

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Trek Travel


[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. 

[00:00:06] This week on the podcast, we're joined by UN shepherd European logistics manager for track travel. Based out of Girona Spain. 

[00:00:14] As the longtime listener knows I've been super keen on the idea of gravel travel and super excited to see this industry grow up. 

[00:00:22] We had an earlier discussion with Juan De La Roca about Southern Colorado and building that up as a gravel destination. And now we're seeing events like LIfeTime’s Rad Dirt Fest crop up over there. We've also talked to event organizers over in Europe, around the gravel epic series that was conceived. During the COVID time and didn't actually get to get its races off the ground. 

[00:00:46] But one of the locations we talked about in Europe was Girona. Now for road cyclist, Girona has long been part of the discussion about where professional athletes live. And there's a reason why they live there. Amazing road, riding all over the place. So I was really excited to learn originally from the gravel epic team about Girona as a travel destination for gravel cyclists. 

[00:01:11] But even more excited to learn about this trip that Trek travel is putting together their Girona, gravel bike tour. 

[00:01:18] They've got a couple more departures this year in November that you can still sign up for as well as a whole host of dates for 2022, starting in the spring. 

[00:01:28] After talking to you. And all I can say is sign me up. It sounds amazing. I'll let him explain it in his own words, but it sounds like Jerome has a very special place for cyclists of all kinds. 

[00:01:39] And the opportunities for gravel cycling are abundant outside the city center. 

[00:01:44] I'm excited for you to learn more about Girona and gravel. With that said let's dive right in to my conversation with you and shepherd 

[00:01:52] Ewan welcome to the show. 

[00:01:53] Ewan Shepherd: Hey Craig, thank you very much for having me and thank you everybody for listening. 

[00:01:58] Craig Dalton: I appreciate you joining us on a Friday evening over there in Spain, I'm super excited about the topic we're going to discuss today as the listener or the longterm listener has known.

[00:02:08] I've talked about gravel travel as something I'm super excited about because as we all know, it's such a great way to explore the world and the idea of packing my bike and going somewhere exotic, like Girona Spain is super exciting to me. So when I got the opportunity to connect with Trek travel, Dig into this trip and dig into Jarana grab gravel jumped at it.

[00:02:31] So you, and thank you for joining me. And let's just get started by a little bit about your background. 

[00:02:37] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, no worries. Thank you again for having me. And I guess we share something in common that we both enjoy eating well by bike. So gravel travel is definitely evident between us all. Huh. So Bob, my background it's been varied.

[00:02:50] I started off as a kid, not really enjoying the power of two wheels on my own preferring Moda, power of motocross, bikes, and motor sport, and pursue the a career in motor sport. I am, I'm only 29, so it's not, it wasn't a long career. And then I decided to jump into the cycle career really because my brother threw me on an old racing bike of hairs and said, we're going trick racing of what is this.

[00:03:14] And yeah. That's how I got into cycling and kind of started to learn about it. Then love cycling, all things cycling really threw me on the amount of bikes for the first time. He threw me on a cyclocross bike for the first time, took me to attract for the first time. And just more and more, I ate it up and started falling in love with with cycling and And then I thought, why not help out in my local bike shop?

[00:03:37] Because I was in between jobs and bugging the owner and the mechanic calling in on the bike and asking for them to help me with this, or could they get pots or for that? And then they were like, Hey, we need an extra hand here. And you're pretty mechanically minded. Can you want to come and help us out?

[00:03:53] And that's how I, it. Wrenching in a bike shop. And from there, it took me to I was actually living in Australia at the time and working in a shop debt. And then I started working for the initial prompt and dealer in Australia, which was pretty fun and interesting. Little folding bikes, which were going all over kind of the Australasia and New Zealand even send a bite that prompted the Fiji.

[00:04:17] And then I moved back to the UK and was starting working for old mountain bike brands that maybe some of your listeners have heard of head of pay cycles. They're one of the first UK monocyte grants set up by, by a young family at the time who did same as me. They love motocross and enjoy bike riding.

[00:04:38] And they wanted a bike to, to train on during the time that they weren't racing on the road. And so they imported mountain bikes yet to important Gary fishers at the time, because there was nothing else in Europe and or in the UK. So he, Adrian is the main designer of the car. And he designed his own on mountain bikes.

[00:04:57] Did y'all say 100, was that famous plus bikes, square tube. aluminum that they rooted out pots of the frame to make it lighter. So I started working for them after they did the whole amount of bike brand and we They had two shops at the time that they just started and started in rental centers.

[00:05:14] So I joined them a running one at that shops. And then they got back into the frames. And that's when started to learn more about frame design, different bikes, and the whole Enduro scene was mounted bike and jurors scene was growing. And that was something that we were really interested in the time.

[00:05:34] And. I was starting to cyclocross race at a time. I would go off a weekend, so cyclocross race and come back to work. And we were designing 29 S slack long, low amount of bikes. And we also had a total. Version cause Adrian and his wife happy love to go off to all sorts of places.

[00:05:53] The, they did Chile, they went and wrote the Santiago combo skeleton and Northern Spain, all of these cycle touring. And he adapted one of the hardtail Enduro steel mountain bikes and put lugs on it. So he could take. And I was like, I liked the look of that bite, but I don't really I don't want to put drop bars on it.

[00:06:14] Can I put drop bars on it? Let's try it. And so here I had a 29 mountain bike slack long, whoa, with with a draw bar on it. And I was like this pretty cool. And they were looking to, they already had an exi carbon bikes. I was like, can we do this a bit lighter? Because. Yorkshire is, I know you're you have family that Craig and it's up down.

[00:06:35] Dale is Dale is a small valley and it's really steep at each side. And I live in between the two national products of the north York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. And they have so many of these little Dales. So riding across that, you'd go down and it's like down 25% down to a flat valley, then literally back up the other side, 25 to 30%.

[00:06:57] So I wanted something nice and light, but to go all day across the Dales and the malls And so we were making this and thinking, oh, this could be a cool and gravel was coming on the scene at the time. And I was interested in bike packing with it and just testing out something that was a good touring bike.

[00:07:18] But at the same time, I just saw touring at the time as being something that my parents did or all the people did when they retired. So I wanted something fun cause I still enjoyed enjoy mountain biking. So I wanted to take it down some trails at the same time as doing a hundred K on it, which I certainly wouldn't do on my one 60 mil.

[00:07:36] Enjoy a bike, do a hundred K, but so that's where I discovered this cyclocross gravel mix. That we all call gravel today. Which Adrian at the time was like, we used to race on my, on a bikes would drop handlebars XC and downhill back in the 1980s. Cause inventing anything new it's all coming round in circles, the wheels going round, as they say.

[00:08:00] So that was really my early years in the cycling industry playing with that. And then. Being honest, Googled cool bike mechanic jobs in one places which took me back to Australia. And then I wanted to go back to Europe and it took me to the warmest place at the time, which was the Canary islands which was great for gaining some exposure of just massive cyclists all at once.

[00:08:24] Thousands of people on the road, just riding the bikes, having fun on holiday guided, worked in rental shops. Love the Canary island lifestyle. And then I just stumbled across Trek travel. I told the global logistics manager at one day, I was like, I want to come work for you because I want to help out on some of your big trips.

[00:08:41] They were doing tour de France and big Pyrenees trips and out trips. And I just really liked the idea of offering support to. To other people, not the I'd been guy, a guy that I wanted to support the guides. I knew all the tricks of all the problems of being a guide. So I wanted to help them most of all, help back help their guests.

[00:09:04] And that kind of leads me to here where I'm the European logistics coordinator for Trek travel and in our home base of drones. 

[00:09:11] Craig Dalton: Amazing. It's such a, it's so interesting. As people who have been around the sport of cycling for a long time to trace back when you first started doing the thing that later became gravel cycling.

[00:09:25] Because obviously as you've indicated, as we've discussed before, People have been riding drop bar bikes off-road for a long time, but it was this kind of gradual progression of componentry, frame, design, methodology, tires, brakes, all these things combined to making what was once somewhat a hacky type experience where you were maybe bringing a bike that wasn't exactly suited for the job to where we are now.

[00:09:53] That depending on where you are and how you want to set up your bike. There's such a wide variety of ways in which you can configure these bikes to ride on the roads and trails wherever you live in the world. 

[00:10:05] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. It's always fascinated me coming from like a motor sport design element.

[00:10:10] Always into aerodynamics working with formula two, formula three. And then I had to, I always had a love for kind of classic cause I raised something in the UK or Europe rally cross, which I don't think you have in us, but it's it's exactly that it's a cross between this second is gravel road and dirt, and you drive a little bit of each and we always used to race the classic mini Coupa's.

[00:10:35] That was my classic love of cause. But yeah, that was a tangent. Sorry. 

[00:10:40] Craig Dalton: No, it's an interesting perspective. I hadn't, no, one's brought that up before, but it's totally true. There's parallels in that experience because you had to have a car that drove well on the road. Capable off-road and presumably every driver, just like every rider had to make those difficult choices of, okay.

[00:10:57] Do I want it to be higher performing on-road or off-road and what's that happy medium for me as a, as an athlete. 

[00:11:04] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. And I think that changes with your with you personally, you may be a road cyclist, but you have that instinct to what's down there and it's a gravel road to go off road and explore it.

[00:11:18] And you want to feel safe and comfortable. You don't want to necessarily take your 23 mil tires, cotton road bike down a. The track you want a bike that's comfortable and safe to do it all. 

[00:11:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah, exactly. Talking about Trek travel specifically, obviously with the track name associated with it, people associated directly with the brand, but the company itself as Trek travel.

[00:11:43] Can you tell us a little bit about its origins and how long it's been operating? 

[00:11:47] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah it's actually a 20th year of fun. 2020 years since charter travel was thought up in the, in Trek itself where it started with just three people brought into to en enhance the experience that people were getting when they were not just buying a bite or buying into the Trek brand, which.

[00:12:09] Is ride bikes, have fun, feel good. And Chuck just wants to get more people on bikes to have fun. And one of the ways was to offer them a trip of a lifetime of vacation, of a lifetime to somewhat. And that idea grew over the last 20 years studying in the U S and then Trek bought into the protein of yeah.

[00:12:30] Trek. And they started running a VIP trips to the total France and bringing clients across. But that specifically to see the tour and see the classics that the ring in Europe have the outs to, to climb out west, to do Mon Von to go to the pyramids and do the tour of my life. The real bread and butter of your.

[00:12:51] And that's grown just more destinations, more places to ride more great experiences by bike. And yeah, that's brought us to now at 20 years 

[00:13:01] Craig Dalton: old. Yeah. And for those of you who have not done a bike tourism trip, it really is amazing. And a luxury. It's obviously a luxury to be able to afford it, but to be able to go over and do this and to have someone plan out the best of the best to plan out the best roads, the best routes when you're coming off the Tourmalet or a mom volunteer to knowing the right cafe to stop in having extra gear for you, having a guide that, speaks the language, but more importantly can help you get integrated into the culture in my personal experience, having done several trips over and yeah.

[00:13:37] It was just such a great time. If you can afford to spend that time on your bikes, spend a week on one of these trips. It's just so amazing, which is why I remained super jazzed and excited to talk about the gravel tours that track is introducing. When did you first start to see gravel cycling as something that you could package a trip around?

[00:14:01] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. I don't know who or when the first kind of the idea here's what talks about it. Cause I'm sure it's been something we're always looking at new trends, new you, new ways to travel that that people want to do. And new experiences and to we're primarily on the road, we started with mountain bike trips.

[00:14:20] Think I wouldn't say five, six years ago. And dos were in small pockets in Iceland, Norway, and that's a great way to get completely off the road. But then we found a a lot of people. They still want it to, they still want it to do a bit of everything. They want it to go on the road still.

[00:14:38] They wanted to do the classic climbs as well as being off the road. So it was like that mix of, we took you to this beautiful forest, but actually you want it to be on the road as well in the same week. And, but you didn't want to do it on the amount of bike. And at the time there was no real bike that we had.

[00:14:56] Do it and then as the Demani that tried to money evolve, it's got this name as being the, do it all bike. Whether it's ISO speed and its ability to take why the tires it's really comfortable Fabienne Cancellara famously designed the bike to to win Piru bay and and Flanders of all the couple and mixed terrain.

[00:15:14] Yeah, this this is a bite that we can use for multipurpose. And three years ago we started using it as just guides and company. People would come to drone and all they say is, Hey, can we go right gravel with, we don't want to ride the road round here. We heard the gravel is amazing. So we'd stick some hybrid tires on the demand and off we'd go, just exploring off the beaten track.

[00:15:36] And that's. Where it came from and grew from that with into a week long trip here in Barona. And yeah that's why I came. That's 

[00:15:46] Craig Dalton: great to hear it. It's interesting to hear that it came from the riders up and great to hear that you, as a company, listened and started to build more experiences around that, as we've talked about a little bit offline, Girona for anybody who's follows.

[00:16:01] Professional road. Cycling has always had this huge allure as a destination for a lot of pros live there. So we presume there's a lot of great road riding out there. Do you feel that in the city, is, are there a ton of road cyclists around every week? 

[00:16:20] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, I would say there's, I wouldn't say there's a ton of road cyclist.

[00:16:23] I'd say there's thousands of cyclists in general. On any given weekend, you can see mountain bikers road bike as gravel bike is like trick bikers nowadays. But. All the time. You can see people on bikes. It's a city which has a big network of city bikes and like docs every way. When you can pick up the city bikes for three years, you can rent the bike for the day to ride around town.

[00:16:47] It's not a no that we call it a town. Although it's a city, it's very, it's a small, condensed old town. So it's great to explore by bike with all this small streets and things. And yeah, as you said it's known it's gotten more well-known because of all the professionals that live here modern, the bike roads you name it, there's many triathletes Yan for Dino to name one of the big biggest triathletes pulls this, his house.

[00:17:11] And it's yeah, in Europe, it's known as one of the places where particularly I'm going to say foreign writers come from Australia and New Zealand, Canada, us they use this, is that is that personal? And I'd probably say right now in Jarana you have upwards of 8,200 pro cyclists living here which is really high for any city in the world.

[00:17:34] Given the amount of pros in general, living in Jonah, and you have three of the biggest teams here locally, you have EDS Israel cycling academy have a small base here. You have a couple of continental teams, a couple of the U S continental teams have their European basis here. So you not only have teams, you have sorry.

[00:17:56] You not only have writers, you have the support here as well. And they say, if you just want a massage, it's the best place in the, in Europe. Go from mass massage because of the level is so high, they used the pros. You never get a bad massage here at all because the misuse could have been rubbing right.

[00:18:14] Chris from the day before he attends to you, so you get pro service, whatever you're doing, and that's not just in cycling related. I'm sure we're going to talk about this, but the coffee scene, the food scene everything has that little twist towards catering. Which is amazing. Yeah. I think that's 

[00:18:32] Craig Dalton: super interesting, obviously the writing I want to be doing is off-road, but as someone who's a fan of professional cycling in general, just having that be infused as part of the city, in addition to the culture, which maybe we'll talk about a little bit more.

[00:18:46] It's just going to be a fun addition to that trip for us geographic challenged Americans, where Israel. 

[00:18:53] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, so Girona is it's in Spain. It's in the region of Catalonia which is to the Northeast. We border on Spain. We bought it with Spain and Dora and France. And. Yeah.

[00:19:09] And the Northeast, and 

[00:19:10] Craig Dalton: It's not specifically on the coast, but how far of a ride is it to the coast from Jarana city center? 

[00:19:16] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, so Girona is it's probably for any cycling destination is really well situated. It's just a 40 minutes drive to them. And 40 minutes drive from the Pyrenees.

[00:19:28] So yeah, slap bang in the middle of mountains and see and give you perspective in writing terms. I'm sorry, I'm going to talk in kilometers. But we're looking at about a nice 50 mile loop to the coast and back. 

[00:19:43] Craig Dalton: Okay. And look at just having Google maps open as we speak, it looks like there is a lot of, kind of national parks base in green space, just outside the city.

[00:19:53] Ewan Shepherd: literally the back of the town has a very famous climate song of UVS might be of huddle of L's angels. It's just over seven, 10 K climate just over 6% is always say to the first and last day, you're hearing Jerone. You're going to write this. If you don't write it every day.

[00:20:10] And that leads into a beautiful national pocket, the bat at the back, which has miles of more, more challenging gravel all the way to the coast. And then on the inland side of Jerome, just straight into two massive valleys, which just keep going up and up and before, it you're in the parodies.

[00:20:29] Craig Dalton: For those clients immediate, 

[00:20:31] Ewan Shepherd: very little flat writing. 

[00:20:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah. It's going to ask for those climbs immediately outside of Dharana. How much elevation do you gain to get to a local peak? Is that a thousand feet or 200 meters? 

[00:20:43] Ewan Shepherd: L's angels is about 600. Elevation was very, to the very peak the closest high point around here, you're looking at about a thousand meters up to the highest peak in Catalonia itself is just shy of 2000 meters.

[00:21:00] So the elevation is not super high but you are going from sea level. Most of the time But it's all the little undulations. It's a rolling terrain. I would say, yeah. 

[00:21:09] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. Yeah, it certainly sounds like those, they jet up pretty quickly as a lot of coastal ranges do so for the writing, when we talk about the gravel riding in Jarana, we've talked about how great the road riding is.

[00:21:21] But what does it look like to get on these gravel roads and what are they like? Are they super chopped up or are they smooth or did you get a little bit of both? I'd love to just get a sense for what you're out there. Riding. 

[00:21:33] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. I think you have a bit of everything we say, Girona is the Disneyland of cycling.

[00:21:40] And I first experienced kind of the gravel, as I said, we just. Through some hybrid Taya, some 32 mil hybrid tires on a demise and went straight on lucky living out slightly outside of Toronto. So just 10 K from drone essentially itself. And it's mainly farm lands and going back to my kind of love for cycling in in the UK.

[00:22:02] With the Dales and we have things called bridleways and I was in search of these things to start with because it's not well publicized gravel anyway. So you just go out the door and go, okay, take the first, left off the road. That doesn't seem like a road and see where it heads.

[00:22:17] And sometimes you end up with a beautiful, smooth gravel track with that. Evidently to S at a, an extra road to people's houses all you get unlucky and you end up and it tends into single track and actually becomes quite flowing. This is actually it's maybe a mountain bike route, and you guys through a single track, really nice employee through the woods can be quiet Rocky in places.

[00:22:40] This part of Spain is very Rocky with granite. I'm limestone. Costa brother, the literal translation is like a rugged coastline. So that is evident all the way through. But you have also what they call via Verde green routes, which are smooth, hard-packed almost manmade smooth gravel, Sandy tracks which becoming more and more common.

[00:23:05] From Girona itself to the little towns, to get people off the roads from all levels of cyclists, from kids to families, you can see them just packed on these green ones. Which a fantastic to start a new route on, and then you head either to the mountains, or maybe you want to go to the coast and you can just hop off on to onto something.

[00:23:24] As long as it doesn't say, don't go this way. Is such a friendly kind of feeling towards cyclists. The even if you I've ended up some days, just going along a little, same little track down a shoot and I'm in the back of someone's garden and raking up leaves. Oh, sorry. That's the end. To direct you back onto the track and you were meant to be down that I take you're meant to go that way, but yeah.

[00:23:48] So it's a bit of everything. That's amazing. 

[00:23:52] Craig Dalton: It's so cool that, to be able to leave the city and choose your own adventure and just have that ability to explore and find all kinds of different terrain that, that sounds like such a special area and not surprising why you guys decided to introduce the Girona gravel bike tour trip, which looks amazing.

[00:24:13] Can we talk about that trip and what it entails? 

[00:24:16] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. So to give you an an idea of the overall of the trip, it's it's a one hotel trip based here in Jarana. Chose to base it right out of the center. We work with a really great hotel, Nord in the center. It's really cycling focused. And we do that.

[00:24:33] It's based kind of off our right camp, which not to diversify what I'm talking about. It's all about eat, sleep, ride, repeat. So we make it nice and simple to focus on the writing and it's for four days of writing and it's designed to. The slightly taken on the more intermediate to advanced side of kind of people's levels.

[00:24:55] So we say the most people should be have some experience. It shouldn't be their first time writing a gravel bike to get the most out of it. And we have easy days which are, like I say, just using these Greenways, getting out of the city, heading to see some of the beautiful, rugged coastline.

[00:25:13] And then we have some more avid days which heads. What's the mountains. And we actually found some of our routes through used to calm. Are you still does? Comes here every year in the spring to do some training before he started his road season. And we'd always wait till he hummed, we see him here.

[00:25:30] And then when we're looking on struggling, why did he go? Where did he go? Because he always seems to find some stupidly hard climbs, some great gravel climates. We didn't know that. And we actually introduced some of these to the trip and it's like a, like an outdoor as of gravel, just snaking switchbacks one after the other, up to this beautiful peak point with a big cross on the top.

[00:25:53] Yeah. And then you're trying to work out where he went and then you look down the other side and oh, he went down there and you you try it. But then for. For many people, it's probably too much of a Rocky rock garden. So you end up heading back down like a beautiful the switching snaking all the way back down is the safest way sometimes.

[00:26:14] But yeah, that's a, an overview of a gravel trip. 

[00:26:18] Craig Dalton: Nice. I've done trips of my two trips. One. We were moving basically every year. And the second we had a home base and I have to say my preference is for that home base, because I think it allows you to just absorb the culture a little bit more and be a tourist in the city that you're staying in.

[00:26:35] You don't have to pack your gear up every night. So there's something nice about having that hub and ride mom. 

[00:26:41] Ewan Shepherd: Yup. Yup. It definitely just opening your suitcase, getting it, your kid out, put it in the wardrobes and you don't have to pack it again. The following day to move on. I like that it's focused on eat, sleep, right?

[00:26:53] Repeat, enjoy your writing. The guy. Take care of everything else. And you're in the center of the city and you're a Stone's throw from the old town. You can go for a walk on the evenings, your afternoons and evenings. yours your own to either relax, take a massage or wander the town, go sit and sip coffee.

[00:27:12] Do all the locals. Do any afternoon, go have a beer and get ready for your evening meal. And and that's what people want. 

[00:27:18] Craig Dalton: Now our writers on these trips typically bring in their own bikes or are you providing a bike for them? 

[00:27:23] Ewan Shepherd: Just really most people take a bike from us, the Trek demonic.

[00:27:28] You can bring your own bike. It doesn't does it affect price? It doesn't affect the price, but we do it because it saves you having to pack your by like in a box and all the hassle of bringing it to the building it. Yeah. All of that. You just turn up and on the first day, your bikes there, it's already set up with your measurements, to your bike from home and ready to go.

[00:27:46] You don't need to worry about it. And our guides full train mechanics and take care of your bike throughout the whole week. And particularly as gravel can be hot on your bikes. And you don't want any problems with your own bikes, cause it's only going to compromise your riding, 

[00:27:58] Craig Dalton: as someone who can be hard on the bike. I appreciate that. So at the end of the day, I can hand my bike off to someone and it's going to come back to me better than I left it. 

[00:28:05] Ewan Shepherd: Yep. Every day, I'm sure the guides gonna look after that bike and and give you it in the morning. Like it's brand new, no issues, 

[00:28:14] Craig Dalton: particular trip.

[00:28:15] Are you providing the routes like GPX files? How does it work from a kind of a day-to-day practice perspective? 

[00:28:22] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. So normally day to day, you'd wake up do your morning routine get dressed, go for breakfast. Get a hot tea, Catalan breakfast. Then head down to, to pick up your bikes from the bike room.

[00:28:35] Your guides would meet you dad. Give you a kind of a morning briefing. The route has to go. We provide every guest with a Garmin, with preloaded GPS routes. And your guide is going to typically you have one guide on the bike, possibly two, and then a guide in a support vehicle following behind not only any issues that you have, but also by signature snack tables along the route.

[00:28:59] So you could be riding through a wood and then suddenly. The van is just there and your guide has gone out a table and put some beautiful snacks out. So right in the moment when you're like, I wish I had put more water in my bottle, I wish that I brought an extra bar. That's when you're going to get to find your guides.

[00:29:18] We know those spots well, 

[00:29:20] Craig Dalton: nice. And, as athletes are going to be coming over with different ability, levels and fitness levels and sort of interest in flogging themselves levels. Is there an ability for, if we look at it a daily route and say I'd fancy doing a little bit more.

[00:29:35] I want to come home with my legs broken every day. Are there those types of options and flexibility built into these things? 

[00:29:41] Ewan Shepherd: Yup. Yup. It sounds like most of our guides they always want to go do more. So yeah, we yeah. Have a standard route for the day and then w what we call that the avid group for the day.

[00:29:51] So I guess, Craig, this is for you the extra little add on which could be anything from an extra climb or an extra loop that you just hit the route on your GPS and adult. It'll take you. And we have a, an ethos of ride at your own pace. Yeah. I don't really ride. It's nice, right.

[00:30:11] As a group, but also it's nice experience at your own pace. So we definitely encourage that. Guides will move around you rather than you having to stick to your guide. And they'll accommodate if if you've got slow riders or if you want to go up and do the route quite often you're going to have the guide wanting to go with you and show you that extra little climb or.

[00:30:30] Take you on a, an extra level route or redo a route from two days ago because you, it was such an amazing experience. Definitely it does something for me. 

[00:30:40] Craig Dalton: That's good to know. Yeah. For me, when I'm able to carve out this time in my life and I may be unique, but maybe not, when I go on one of these trips, since I don't have the responsibilities that I have at home, I don't have to care for my son.

[00:30:54] I don't have to do, I need the things I need to do around the house. All I want to do is ride my bike and really, as long as I can prop myself up at the dinner table that night, that's about all I need to achieve in the rest of the. 

[00:31:06] Ewan Shepherd: Yup. Yup. Did that have. A full vacation of a lifetime that's that's catered for you.

[00:31:13] And that's definitely why I think people do a group trip or an organized talk because you mentioned that if you can afford to do it, but can you afford not to do it? If you've only got 20 days holiday a year, To spend spend your time planning for your holiday, and then once you get that to spend time working out, okay, what should I ride today?

[00:31:34] Or where should we stop for lunch? Or where's the best place to have dinner tonight? It's all done for you. You can just make the most of what you want to do, which if you want to go on a cycling holiday and you want to ride your bike as much as. 

[00:31:47] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And I think it's, it's further complicated when you're trying to ride gravel.

[00:31:50] So I did a self guided tour in the Alps and there were it was pretty easy to understand the road routes that were famous to the famous climbs and figure that out on my own. But when it comes to gravel and this is something I've spoken about a lot on the podcast, there's just so much to be gained from having a little bit of local knowledge.

[00:32:09] Because you cannot look at a path necessarily. And know, is that a super Rocky path that I'm going to be going four miles an hour on? Or is it actually, a smooth, single track that I'm going 16 miles an hour. And we can't know that from the outside, without talking to cyclists in that local area, while we still want to have that sense of adventure and allowing the ride to unfold.

[00:32:34] It's just really nice in my opinion, particularly if you're going to spend the money to go travel to a destination, to just have a little bit of this served up to you and be able to get out there, worry for you. 

[00:32:44] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. Yeah, no, I definitely agree in something that you spend all the time working out, attract to go down and then suddenly it leads to nothing and you've wasted an hour of your ride to, and then you have to backtrack.

[00:32:59] And that's yeah. With a small amount of time in Europe or wherever you're traveling, you want to make money. My 

[00:33:06] Craig Dalton: Spanish is bad enough that if I end up in your garden, there's probably going to be an international incident.

[00:33:11] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. Yeah. But everybody's friendly hand signals are just, yes. It's I like, I think I've written in a lot of places in the world and definitely definitely Spain is a really good for. 

[00:33:26] Craig Dalton: Yeah. When you have that many cyclists moving through a community, obviously the locals are experienced seeing these people and they realize, they're good for the community.

[00:33:36] Hopefully we're good. Environmental stewards and polite cyclists. So it's just a symbiotic relationship for the committee. 

[00:33:43] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah. Yeah. And as we are in a. Company we're based in Madison, Wisconsin. And we've also been in Jerone now for nearly six, seven years. So we have a good hold in the community. We employ, we have lots of people that work for attract travel, who live here locally.

[00:34:00] Who are deep rooted in the community. So we often we work a lot with our subcontractors. We work really hard to find the best people who not only have the best winery or the best restaurant, but they have the best ethos to, to work with us and help our guests have the best experience.

[00:34:19] It's not just about the product that serving, but how they're making our guests and us as a company feel. So it's really important that local aspect, but everything that's involved, 

[00:34:29] Craig Dalton: such an amazing opportunity that travel affords the traveler, just the ability to see how things that are important in the culture.

[00:34:37] Are manufactured and meet people who are doing them and, meet you, meet the restaurant tours. Like all of that is just what has kept me traveling my entire life and hopefully will have me continue traveling. So a couple of final questions for you. UN what is your favorite local cuisine? What can't we miss when we go there?

[00:34:57] And what is your favorite part of Sharona from a tourist perspective? 

[00:35:01] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, that's a definitely a hard question. I don't even have a closer prepared, good answer. Where do I want to start? Definitely Girona has a lot of local cuisine Catalan cutline cuisine. It's a very simple way of cooking in one aspect.

[00:35:18] And why. One thing that people often. Think of it all. I'll Paya, no, throw that away. It's it's not Paya that you'd come to get here. They have something called pinch Hills, which is very similar to tapas and it's one of my favorite local it's not a particular dish.

[00:35:37] It's a way of eating and. In the restaurant, you have lots of little plates on the counter with little chunks of bread with on top of them, either fresh fish with with all sorts of toppings or. Saw or booty FADA, there's the sausage which they do in many different kinds of blood sausages.

[00:35:56] And lots of little dishes. And often you don't sit down at a table. This is going to freak people out in COVID at times, but it's a great social way of eating because you're taking small plate and you're taking it and you're just standing in a bar basically. With everybody else who's enjoying it, but it's that great atmosphere of eating together in the center of town, which often spills out into the streets on a Friday and Saturday of just people standing out on the streets with small plates and a little what they called Canada, a little glass of the local beer, which they have a lot of really good local breweries here.

[00:36:30] Which I know a lot of people love to test out all the local. And Catalonia to the complete other scale of things has some of Europe's best Michelin star restaurants like per area, just in, in Rona, this small area, up to 45 Ks from the center, you have 35 Michelin star restaurants.

[00:36:50] For gastronomy it's an amazing place because of all the local ingredients of the winery. You have a lot of cider production with apple and pear farms, which you ride through. One of my favorite rides to the coast air takes you through just miles and miles of apple orchards and tail orchards which is just going to be picked in about a half a month's time.

[00:37:13] It's main picking season here. Delicious. Yeah, it's a, and I haven't even talked about coffee coffee, the culture of coffee, drinking. Was brought to your owner with cyclist, cyclists, need coffee, and they need good coffee. And the Canadian Chrystia and Maya was one of the more well-known people who brought the coffee culture and his own roastery of the service costs.

[00:37:34] And Lamatsia his his coffee shop. And from dad nearly 10 years ago, it sprung into. That each corner was developing its own taste for coffee. And as the locals really have a passion for it now at brewing really good speciality coffee, which, like I said, we can't live without it.

[00:37:51] They definitely have a captured audience. Indeed. 

[00:37:54] Craig Dalton: This is amazing. Girona has always been tops on my list of places to go and it certainly remains. In that post COVID top slot for me, I can't wait to join you on one of these trips. At some point, I know there's a couple trips left this year.

[00:38:09] It looks like November 7th and November 14th are available for departure dates. And obviously once again, in the spring in 2022. So for all the listeners out there, you can just visit Trek, and just write search for Jeronica dry gravel. And you'll see the trip we've been talking about. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun and you can almost guarantee you that I'll be there one of these days.

[00:38:32] Ewan Shepherd: Yeah, I will look forward to it. Look forward to meeting in person and hopefully you'll get to experience your own home and it won't be your last visit to drone, or I can assure you for that much. 

[00:38:44] Craig Dalton: Thanks for all the great information you and I appreciate you joining us. 

[00:38:48] That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Big thanks to you and for joining us and telling us all about that great trip that Trek travel has organized. Again, those dates are November this year. As well as throughout the Springs to go, please visit truck To figure out what itinerary might work for you. I hope you're stoked. Like I am. 

[00:39:10] I'm desperate to get my tires overseas. And sample some of that great gravel in Spain and elsewhere in the world. We'll leave it at that for this week. If you have any questions, feel free to join us over at the ridership. Just visit to join that free community.

[00:39:29] If you're interested in supporting the podcast, ratings and reviews are hugely helpful. It's something easy you can do to support what I'm doing. And if you have a little bit more energy or means feel free to visit, 

[00:39:44] To help underwrite some of the financial costs associated with this broadcast. Until next time. Here's to finding. some dirt onto your wheels