La Fabrica Girona – Coffee and Cycling
It was a sunnier Catalan March day this time. Two weeks before I had traveled the hour or so up the motorway from my home and it was the week that the whole of Europe was being tagged by Flandrian style cross winds. The sunnier day was much appreciated.
Girona is a paradise for cycling. It has everything anywhere else has and more. The riding has every variety you could wish for – from big hills to mountains and rolling country, to coastal beauty a super climate, a historic walled city, the most patient and considerate drivers around some of the most renowned restaurants and cuisine a relaxed culture. Italy might claim to be the home of cycling, but Catalunya is like the kid that has moved out of home and made it’s parents quietly envious.
Or as Ted King says, in his Manual for Speed feature “…It has the Quadfecta of Goodness: good roads, good weather, good people, good terrain….”
Throw in the Dali Triangle and the influence that has on the artistic culture of the region. Visit Girona and you won’t want to leave. That is the only danger of the place. You might want to move there.
And now it has La Fabrica Girona. A new cafe. Opened and run by Christian Meier of Orica Greenedge and his wife Amber Meier. A team that just get ‘it’. ‘It’ being the important things in life, living. They have put together a place that has got all the details just right. Of course it’s bike friendly, bikes to be parked inside – regular punter’s alongside those of the local Pro’s. The coffee is outstanding. Different roasts appear regularly, and ask Christian about them and he becomes even more friendly than he already is and he has the perfect foil, Amber – all smiling and happy and keeping a tight ship.
The space is in the old historic walled part of Girona, the character of the building not lost, but the feel is modern. Beautiful furniture under solid beams and exposed walls, with a shiny Rocket Espresso machine for making those coffees. And can they make coffee? Yep! And a little water fountain for filling your bidons is up – nestled in with plants. No running off to the toilet to fill up here. There is a little story behind the fountain, but go and ask them yourself. There are stories behind most of the little things in La Fabrica. Details. Visit, grab a coffee and ask them.
That first time I went up (after it was open) Christian showed a superb 100km loop including a long steep gravel section up above a beautiful dam. Nice. I had all the excuses under the sun (and wind) for my struggles – you know, a heavy week the week before, the previous day a big intense cyclocross/gravel ride and Christian was perhaps perfectly timed off a week at altitude in South Africa with Greenedge. I did mutter them to myself a few times on the tough bits. Not that it was race, far from it. Just a ride and a chat. And awaiting, legendary (CUP)Cakes back at La Fabrica.
This second time, though, was a more sedate affair. Shame, I had tapered perfectly, I was ready.
An hour or so drive, relax in La Fabrica for a coffee and a chat before getting ready for a ride with Christian and a couple of nice guys form Norway who were in town. Post Script – one of them, a coffee expert himself, Thomas (PosteKaffe.no), now works there as a barista.
We had to wait a little while for Manual For Speed to bring Amber back from doing an interview piece so she could take over the reigns and let Christian come out to play. Waiting in such a friendly space chatting with locals and pro’s alike who were in there new local cafe, not a chore, no rush, take your time. A friendly hubbub of accented English, Catalan and Spanish floating above the coffee cups.
OK, just one more coffee. Then we were off. A steady roll out of Girona, on cobbled streets, through archways and then in less than 10 minutes onto small country roads with little or no cars, spring blooms and colours and constantly rolling with the Pyrenees looking down from a close distance around each corner. Those would be for another day though – even though I was tapered and ready… – Christian was on his first ride, just off Paris-Nice – so we were gentle with him. This route was perfect. And secret in feel. I had lived only 20-25km from Girona for a year, doing little but cycling, but I never came across these roads. I could see landmarks I recognised, but I hadn’t ridden the majority of these roads. I’ve already been back 3 times and re ridden these in each direction with a few mates and a few more gravel sections thrown in too. So many roads to explore.
Christian and Amber are proper locals now. They have made a home in Girona. They have chosen the path to not do the season in Europe and then head back to Canada, they have chosen Girona, or Girona chose them, to make a life here. La Fabrica is a new part of the Girona map, with free language lessons each week in each direction – Catalan to English and vice versa. It is a perfect compliment to everything Girona has to offer, especially for us cyclists. Like a good story with a good beginning, middle and end. La Fabrica is the beginning and end and Girona and the surrounds an outstanding – the best? – middle to a ride.
La Fabrica and Girona. If they aren’t on your radar, as a cyclist, a coffee fan or even a (CUP)Cake fan, they should be. Just be careful, you might move there after a visit.
I will be regularly up at La Fabrica and in Girona riding and for coffees. Sometimes on a personal joy mission, sometimes shooting for La Fabrica. I also guide rides, just drop me a line and I can arrange to show you round.