Night rides explore areas outside and within the city, and can draw as many as 200 bike riders. (Photo: Albert Mir)
In April 2011, Tony Valcárcel Rodriguez poured his love for bikes into founding Barceloneta Bikes, named after the Barcelona neighborhood it calls home. Overlooking a large square, where people fill café tables and wait in line for fresh bread at a popular bakery, Barceloneta Bikes is more than a shop; it’s a gathering place for the biking community.
That sense of community is what inspired Valcárcel Rodriguez, 42, to organize group night rides. Celebrating their fifth anniversary in July 2016, the rides “started as a gathering of a few customers and friends” and now attract between 100 and 200 people depending on the season.
The night ride routes, posted on the shop’s Facebook page along with event details, are usually out of the city center but also explore lesser-known areas of Barcelona. The evening also includes “a good dinner and a beer at a good price.” There’s no sign-up and everyone is welcome—just show up with your bike (the shop also rents them). “The only requirement is that you want to have a good time cycling,” he says.
Marriott Traveler caught up with Valcárcel Rodriguez, who shared his favorite BCN bike routes and the rules (spoken and unspoken) of navigating the city on two wheels.
What makes Barcelona such a bike-friendly city?
You could say that Barcelona is the most modern city of our country. It’s also fairly flat, and we have good weather almost all year. This combination of elements is what makes Barcelona [bike-friendly]. In addition, the council has been creating more and more space in the city, and cyclists have [gotten organized]. There are still many things to improve, but we are moving in the right direction.
Why do you think biking is a good way for visitors to explore the city?
For me, biking is the best way to get around not only in Barcelona but anywhere. Barcelona is a city with a large surface (about 12km cross-town), and biking brings it all closer.
What are the dos and don’ts of biking in BCN?
The basic rules of the city are to use the cycle lane, your bike’s timbre [a bell] and lights, and respect the traffic lights. The unwritten rules are that you need a good lock and to park your bike in crowded places to keep it safe. To me, the only way for biking to be valued by all is if cyclists are more respectful of each other and pedestrians.
What are your favorite bike routes in the city?
Any way that gets me out of the city is great. I especially like the route to the airport; when the weather is good, we end up at a beach bar enjoying a good hamburger. Recently, we’ve been taking a new route that goes north to a viewpoint in Montgat. There, the Panoramic bar offers an impressive view of the city and sea plus very good food.