Head to Girona, Spain, and things feel oddly like, well, Colorado. Blame it on all the butts in tight lycra. Much like Boulder or Colorado Springs, Girona, Spain is a gathering point for cyclists from around the planet. It’s such a hot spot that Lance Armstrong even once owned an apartment here and many American riders base themselves in Girona during the off season, so that they can train on the surrounding pavement (where drivers, even if they are crazy Euros behind the wheel, actually respect bikes) and head up into the big climbs of the Pyrenees. It’s close to the big European stage races, too, so that they don’t have to break their meager budgets flying back and forth across the pond. Of course, it’s also a spot where cycling is king—and most unlike Colorado, there are warrens of medieval streets here that look the part so much that season six of Game of Thrones was filmed in Girona.
So I should not have been surprised to stumble upon La Fabrica. The coffee shop and eatery looks exactly like my home town of Boulder, complete with dudes in tight kits and bikes more expensive than cars parked out front. I was also greeted by a blackboard that advertised “avacado toast” and quinoa in plain English and inside there were stacks of energy bars and chai on the menu. I learn that the place is not exactly American, or Spanish. It’s actually the brainchild of former pro racer Christian Meier and his wife Amber, who are Canadian. But it feels like home, and it makes me think about the best aspects of the global village we now live in. After all, the cycle culture that feels so normal to me came from Europe to begin with—and what’s more American than avocado toast?
Earlier in the day, we headed out with the folks from Cicoloturisme for a road tour of the medieval villages in the surrounding countryside. Really, there’s no better place to ride a road bike than Europe, where the narrow roads feel almost like singletrack and there’s always some small, ancient town or spring around a corner or you can stop for an espresso or glass of wine pretty much anytime you want. After spinning through fields filled with the smell of sweet, fresh manure with the October air in our lungs, we ramble onto the cobblestones of charming Palau-Sator, where we are greeted by a gaggle of cyclists wearing Colorado jerseys. Typical. They chat with our guide for a bit in Spanish before one of them asks where I am from.
She laughs. “Of course. We’re from Aspen.”
Of course. Colorado is everywhere. And to be honest, I am quite proud of that. Because, to me, being from Colorado means that you have enough of a sense of adventure to get out and see the world. That you play hard. That you are game for anything. When I look at the way towns like Fruita, Buena Vista and Lyons, the winners of our Top Adventure Towns readers’ poll featured in this issue have grown, I see a lot of what I like so much about Europe in them. There are small independent businesses, food that was made with love, an attitude that getting outdoors and taking care of the environment are simply things you do because you feel so passionate about the place where you live. You feel connected.
Those are Colorado values and Spanish values, but more and more I feel like they are where we all meet. Colorado is everywhere and that is a good thing if we want to keep building a peaceful sustainable world. The global village keeps getting smaller. Let’s embrace it.