I am consistently on the hunt for the very best trails across the world to experience and to share with my Youtube subscribers. Recently, I came across the Service Course that piqued my interest in the Girona area – it’s a cyclist-owned boutique, coffee shop, and a place that leads out community group rides in the area. As a strong believer in supporting local bike shops where cyclists can meet, chat and ride – I knew I wanted to ride out from there one day and happy to say that I did!
The Catalonia region in Northern Spain is well-known for amazing gravel trails and when looking for the best short bikepacking route, I found the Pirinexus bike route. It was the perfect 2-night/3-day loop from Girona, Spain that could be done either clockwise or counterclockwise. Initially, I had wanted to camp along the way but I also wanted to experience more of the culture, so stayed in small towns at local hotels/inns. The route is included below and you will see I chose to go counterclockwise so I could ride along the Mediterranean Ocean first and then the final two days riding in the mountains.
Girona is a small city with lots of history and an amazing bike & coffee culture. Spain cares about their land preservation and has created trails that give people the opportunity to get outdoors. The Pirinexus trail was very well maintained and well marked with signage which makes getting lost nearly impossible. It was rugged and packed a little bit of everything including mountain bike territory in some areas, which means you have to hold the handlebars a little tighter. There are great opportunities for photography in and out of small towns with many options for food and a thriving culture. You also get to dip your toe into France as well along the route that brings a new nuance to the trip.
Planning for the trip was the best part because with no camping involved I had a lighter setup on the bike. On the handlebar, I packed my puff jacket in my 15L Sweetroll for the chilly mountain mornings and my sandals for when I was off the bike. I love that size bag that can sinch down smaller if needed and with access on both sides and it being waterproof — it was a must-have for my short trip in Girona.
My Medium Tangle frame bag is the workhorse of my set-up that I have had for over 6 years. It came in handy for my chain lube, tire sealant, first aid kit, air pump and importantly, my 3-liter water bladder.
My 16L Spinelock saddle bag housed all my casual clothing for off-the-bike festivities in the evenings after rolling into town. This is one of the newer bags to my arsenal and love that even when full – it doesn’t rock back and forth when riding. Weight distribution is a priority to a successful bikepacking trip and that makes this bag a win for me.
The old faithful waterproof bag that I’ve had for many many years is the Egress pocket that mounts to the Sweetroll in front of the handlebar. This protects my fuji camera, battery pack, and other small items that I can easily gain access to. The roll top allows me to keep things tight inside and provides easy access with a large top opening. Being waterproof ensures my electronics stay dry and safe and the padding adds a nice layer of protection around more sensitive gear.
Another newer bag to my collection is the Gas tank that I personally have come to love as it sits on the top tube just behind my stem. The immediate easy access to my gummy bears, cliff bars and hydration packs is amazing and something I now can’t leave on a trip without. While it has a small appearance, the volume allows for a full day’s worth of food. Its easy access with the flip top is much easier and safer than reaching for my jersey pocket or opening up my Tangle or Egress while continuing to ride.
On Day 1, I was excited to be on the road bikepacking again and planned it as an easy flat 70-mile day. The gravel was so smooth – world-class gravel and fast. The diverse environments I pedaled through had greenery, ocean views, and desert-like terrain that brought new scenery every mile. It brought back a reminder of why I love bike touring and being outside on my bike.
Day 2 was the most challenging day – all climbing with 18% grades in some areas. The goal was to get to a beautiful mountain-top hotel by sundown. To add to the fun, my pedal seized towards the end of the day — which unfortunately led me to hike a bike on foot for the last 10 miles in Reef Flip flops. The challenges of bikepacking in remote areas are alive and well, but was happy to make it to the hotel so that I could fix it in time for Day 3.
While my pedal was not 100%, I was able to blast back into Girona on a mostly downhill descent into the city on Day 3. The fastest I’ve covered so much ground in my many years of riding.
Riding the Pirinexus clockwise is probably the preferred way to tackle this route I’d imagine with slowly gradual climbing vs a more aggressive climbing day. It isn’t a walk in the park and it is challenging either way you go. I’m glad I got to see the Service Course, do a group ride, and also complete a bikepacking trip all in just one week out of the office. Tapas, history, cafes & bike life – all in a dream trip for me.
Pirinexus Bike Route:
Plus, here are a few more related video’s from Dwayne’s trip!