Photography Freedom & The Death of Road Cycling Shoes

Words by @jbraynardPhotos by @jbraynard

I quit wearing road cycling shoes about a year ago. I destroyed every single pair I ever owned within a few months. In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t wrecking them on purpose. And the spontaneous gravel stretches that I often toss into my rides didn’t do the damage, either.

The blame lays with the lens.

Photography is a huge part of my riding. To get the right shot, I frequently jump off the bike and scan for the perfect angle. I climb on rocks, hike up grassy hills, crawl through snow and explore every corner of my surroundings to see where the framing sits just right. And that’s how I destroyed my shoes.

Recently, I received a pair of Quoc Gran Tourer Gravel Bike Shoes, and my quest for the perfect shot got a whole lot easier.

Cycling over a bridge in the medieval city of Girona Road Cycling by the coast in Catalonia

I always try to turn my kit game up a couple of notches to stand out from the crowd, and the GT checks all the stylistic boxes for me. The pink stripe pops, and the cork brown colour is a pretty rare find in cycling shoes. So, yeah - people ask “what shoes are those?!” all the time. As you can imagine, that pleases me greatly.

And the fit has been perfect. I had issues in the past with lace-ups not pushing my heel into the shoe well enough, but the Gran Tourers have a wide double hole lace at the top that really places my heel nice and snug into the shoe. The grip on the bottom also stands out from other MTB shoes I have had. If I find myself hike-a-biking steep hills or across large patches of ice (as I often do in my hometown of Salzburg, Austria), the Gran Tourer grasps and holds the earth well.

This shoe cranks out the watts, too (just guessing here - I hate power meters). The stiffness in the sole is perfect for helping me smash out some strokes when climbing or sprinting with friends.

Girona with the Pyrenees mountains in the background Descending a road on a bike outside of Girona

Recently, I took a trip to Girona with my girlfriend to explore its surroundings and break in my Gran Tourers. We weren’t necessarily riding gravel every day, but we were in and out of the city’s cycling cafes, so the shoes paired well with the relaxed vibe we were looking for. On the hills and in the small countryside towns outside of Girona, I kept myself busy hopping off the bike and hiking around looking for the perfect photo spots.

Girona is a remarkable place. I’ve ridden a lot in Spain, and this medieval city in northeastern Catalonia stands out as something special. It’s a simple town with a sharp focus on cycling. The riding is accessible and diverse. The climbs are abundant, and the gravel trails are bountiful. From riding along the coast to diving into the Pyrenees, there is something for all riding styles. I personally really enjoyed the small roads, floating along the spring fields of rapeseeds.

Cycling through the arches in Girona Preparing to ride in the Quoc Gravel Shoes

The town itself is a delight. There are so many great photos spots in the city limits and even more good cafes for pre or post ride stops. I also discovered routes where we would come back into the city for a lunch stop halfway before heading out to the countryside again. Where else can you get to do that?

I hope you enjoy these photos from my trip. You can easily see where I caught the perspectives and angles. When you have to crash through fields, brush and scrub to nab just the right shot, the Gran Tourer Shoes make it easier. And of course, stylish.