Catalonia has always been a place that welcomed strangers, especially those on a bicycle. As the host of one of Europe's oldest stage races, the Volta a Catalunya, Catalonia has a long history with cycling. In the early editions of that race, Marian Canyardo emerged as a dominant rider. Canyardo himself was, as most of the Catalan working class were at the time, an economic migrant who the newspapers described as "From Navarre by birth but Catalan by adoption". Although it has been 90 years since Canyardo's first victory, Catalonia remains a place that welcomes the world.
Catalan identity has always been about community, not citizenship. As a nation without a state, the Catalan community relied on a feeling of belonging to sustain identity. In the springtime, Catalans gather for calçotadas or "onion roasts". In the summer they build human castles so tall that UNESCO has classified them as part of the cultural patrimony of humanity. In the fall and winter, they eat chestnuts and follow FC Barcelona with a religious zeal. All these traditions serve to tie people together as a community, which is all that a nation really is. A nation built on sport, food and friendliness is something we can get behind.
- James Stout, PhD Sport and National Identity in Second Republic Catalonia
This gathering of friends to ride through Girona was symbolic of the idea that Catalan identity is about community, not citizenship. For Christian Meier, Therese Sundström, Tayler Wiles, and Till Schenk, each has found a sense of home in Catalonia apart from their native lands of Canada, Sweden, United States and Germany.
The riding is simply spectacular and when you then mix in the warm hearted international community, every day consists of riding, smiles and social dinners. Since moving here, I have spent few evenings at home and can hardly keep current with my favorite tv series. There is always something today, always life to be enjoyed, here in Girona.
- Till Schenk, Sports & Event Announcer
The community is incredible. I used to get so lonely spending so much time away from my friends and family in America but when I moved to Girona I found a whole new community of incredible people from all over the world. Everyone has a different story and reason for being there whether it’s a home base for training or starting a new business.
- Tayler Wiles, Professional Cyclist, Trek Drops
The first time I went here was because of a training camp. What brought me back was the feeling and friendliness of people I met and the city itself. It's a really friendly city that makes me feel safe. The nature boats great trails for all types of sports and cycling starts right in the town’s backyard.
- Therese Sundström, Cyclist and Sports Therapist
Christian Meier and his wife Amber built on the idea of community when they decided to open a coffee shop—because what kind of place is better for bringing people together? La Fabrica, though cycling themed, aims to be a familiar and neighborhood gathering place for all within the local community. You can also visit The Service Course, which is curation of everything Christian experienced while on the world’s best cycling teams. Along with their passion for the small details and emphasis on luxury, Christian and Amber want to build on the traditions that tie people together: sport, food and friendliness.