This weekend sadly a young rider was lost in Flanders. I thought of this post idea a while ago, but obviously I can’t go without a thought for Antoine Demoltié and his family… Regardless of this little post, make every ride a #RideForAntoine

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We are in the heart of perhaps my favourite part of the cycling road race season. Flanders fever.

I time for hard men and women, muurs, bergs and pave. I don’t claim to be a hard man by any stretch, but I love riding a bit of pave, especially if it is up a berg or a muur.

 

I am hoping to encourage all and sundry to post pictures of any of your local muurs, bergs or stretches of pave. Be as lenient as you want in your definition of them all, just harness your inner Flandrien to decide.

And don’t limit it to Spring. Seek, ride and shoot em all year round.

#mymuur, #myberg or #mypave (or all three??) and pop a #mysommets as they are all a Sommet to our mind.

It was purely a selfish idea initially, as I want to see your muurs, bergs and paves and maybe come and ride them with some nice folk in the future.

A couple for starters, from here in Barcelona.

It’s a long weekend so two Sommets for the weekend. Both deserve their own stand alone piece but, just like the cycling calendar at this time of year, good things overlap. We are in the midst of La Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Flandrian Classics season.

So, in La Volta Ciclista corner; Volata. A Barcelona based Spanish language, global looking cycling culture magazine. I am biased as I am friends with the people behind it and many of the contributors, but it is superb. To simplify it, think Rouleur Magazine in Spanish. Not quite true, but it gives a reference point of sorts. Road, cross..cycling; each Volata has a very strong narrative, from Dan Martin to Francesco Moser, from Wiggo and London to the cycling and the Spanish Civil War. Fabulous images, illustrations and poetic, creative, incisive – always fabulous – writing.

If you aren’t blessed with the Spanish tongue, the images and illustrations are worthy on their own. For Spanish speakers, it’s superb. If you are learning Spanish, it’s great. Learning while reading about fascinating cycling related stories. All on high quality paper, coffee table stuff. If you are Stelvio (the cat) it’s apparently nice quality paper to chew…

And the Flandrian Classics corner is represented by; Flandrien by Stephan Vanfleteren. A beautiful little hard back book all about the Flandrien cycling culture and landscape. From the old ladies to the muddied Pro’s, the urban streets to the local clubs. The cobbles to Muurs and Bergs. The images are truly stunning. Peacefully powerful, no words are needed to explain the stories they tell and none are given. Every image could be worthy of a large print on any wall, I find myself lingering for longer than I expected each time I pick it up, dreaming of Flanders and wishing I could shoot so well. And it is put together as beautifully as the images and subject deserve. A timeless book which I was very lucky to receive as a 40th birthday gift.

Coffee, chocolate Easter eggs, La Volta, E3, Gent Wevelgem and these two bits of paper goodness. Hardly time to go for a ride in the Spring sunshine. Happy Easter all.

Now, we are not a cycle race review or report site, but as this is one of our local cycle races…

I didn’t get to the stage yesterday sadly, as it headed up into the mountains of La Molina and I would have loved to. However, as you know we have good friends around here and one of the La Fabrica Race Team that we sponsor and I shoot for, is a fine photographer and he went to the stage.

Meet Jordi Carruana. The bearded one of La Fab Race Team. (Perhaps to them as Geoffrey Soupe? is to Cofidis this year – third shot in the sequence…).

He was at the start in G-Town and then up at La Molina for the finishing throws and has been gracious enough to share some images with us. Muchisimas gracias amigo, nos vemos pronto. Find him on his Instagram and maybe cross paths with him on a G-Town trip…! (Warning, he is strong on the pedals as well as on the shutter release!).

Just a very small set of shots from a single spot on a lovely climb out of Girona as La Volta passed through on Stage 2.

I was a little selfish and a little pre-occupied. Riding around beforehand, grabbing a coffee and breakfast in La Fabrica, then doing some work on the bike with our La Fabrica Race Team and doing some shots with a few of them after. Which left just a little time to choose one spot and get these.

A rather nicely balanced day.

 

Just a few quick snaps form the sign on of La Volta a Catalunya in Calella. The habitual start town of recent years is a bit of a classic down beat Spanish seaside town, but once the cycle race leaves the town it is into some of the most beautiful scenery you could wish to ride through. I squeezed in a few heavenly hours from early doors today covering a good chunk of today’s stage, before heading to the sign on to see a few old mates and spot a few of the big hitters.

The array of talent on show at this year’s La Volta is better than ever, and each year it has been more and more star studded – GC wise. It’s a cracking week of racing. No TT to ruin real racing and a parcours to really test early season legs. It’s a bit of a combination of a few days of Classics style stages, maybe a (power) sprint or two, with a couple of snow bound genuine mountain top finishes and a final day of almost criterium chaos around Barcelona’s Olympic Montjuïc park. It makes it a brilliant entertaining week for spectators and tough for the riders. Recommended!

Even better, come and ride here…just saying.

I will try and bring some more imagery and waffle during the week if I can.

A little late, but I have a good reason in that I could barely function yesterday after hanging on to Christian Meier’s wheel as he motor paced me around 100+km of stunning Girona countryside. It didn’t help that I tried to stick with him on his hill reps. I managed the shorter ones, but as soon as it got serious…gone. Even the Haribo didn’t save me. Anyway, that’s my excuse for putting this up today.

So, on from last week’s Telegraph Cycling Podcast suggestion, if you are like me a good coffee would go nicely with that listening pleasure. I thought I would pop into this little slot, Rocket Espresso machines, of Milan. They are simply the business. Sadly we don’t have one, yet (hint hint, Andrew!), but I have seen plenty of them and read plenty about them and tasted plenty of coffee from them. And, in case you didn’t know, “with a Rocket Espresso machine in your kitchen you will be faster #fact”. Confirmation I need one.

They are the coffee machine of the Pro cyclists.

Pre and post that wonderful suffering on the bike I was lucky enough to have spectacular coffees from two different Rockets. An Ethiopian from Espresso Mafia’s brand new sparkling white Rocket (I was in Girona for the launch of Espresso Mafia, a whose who of ex-pat Pro Cyclists; Christian and Amber’s latest coffee haven) – then a Nicaraguan from the Rocket in good old La Fabrica. Both made by Christian.

If you can’t get a Rocket for your kitchen, give us a shout and we will get you on the road in Girona via a Rocket coffee from Mafia or La Fabrica. It’s not your kitchen so we can’t guarantee you will be faster…

Sommet for the Weekend. Enjoy Milan Sanremo.

Now the cycling season is really underway it’s nice for me to reflect on a very nice pre-season. In January I was shooting Orica Greenedge at their training camp down here in Spain. I was there for Craft Sportswear initially and then with Etixx Nutrition, thanks to an introduction by my mate Christian Meier.

It was great to see the pro’s in their environment from a photographic and also a cycling point of view, but also from an organisational point of view for Sommet. With my creative eye on the shots, I had a little project mind on the organisation; what they do, how they do and how we can develop and bring anything to what we do at Sommet.

In many respects we do much of what they do. The riders need to think about little but ride, supported by the DS and mechanic in the car and recover – and put up with a photographer loitering. That’s exactly what we do at Sommet (I might even loiter and shoot some shots too!). You turn up and we deal with everything else. Arguably we do it that bit more as you turn off at the airport and we arrange it from there; the Pro’s have to make it to the hotel.

Pre-season is a bit like Christmas too; they get their new kit. So do you on a Sommet trip. So we provide Christmas all year round, whenever you choose to join us.

Evening meals are a chance to debrief and prep for the next day, mechanics prepping, tweaking the bikes again for a fresh start, laundry done when needed and even separate groups for separate needs. That’s the Pro’s and Sommet. While we ride the same routes in a whole group generally, where there is a need we always have it up our sleeve to accommodate a different route if needed for parts of a group. As the Pro’s do, we make the rider – you – the priority.

Where we differ is that our trips aren’t a training camp in the strictest sense. We can tailor trips to be as hard and beneficial as needed, or as relaxing and recharging as needed. We can throw in the 5 sets of 20 minutes climbs at less than 60 rpm over a 250km 5,000m ride like they did if you want. Or we can just ride and have some nice food and coffees en route. Our focus is usually on the balance of that tough rewarding riding, with immersion in a beautiful area. The Pro’s turn up, ride, relax, eat (healthy and nutritious fuel, but not restaurants we want so share with you), have fun with each other and ride again. We do all that, but we make sure the cuisine element and the accommodation element has a certain local high quality and charm. And we seek out good coffee sadly lacking at their hotel – I was lucky to be able to pop to Christian (and roomie, Bling)’s room for a decent Aeropress while I was down there. Experimental bean blends tested over a lazy afternoon…otherwise…capsules…oh dear. The hot chocolate machine was good though.

And Bling brings me to MSR. Milan San Remo is this weekend. The real racing has just about started with Strade Bianche and now the first Monument of the season. I am not really into predictions, especially when it is wide open. But while having those Aeropress’ with my mate, there was a potential winner in the background on his X-Box. Someone who has had a yellow jersey on his back already this year, is in rich form and perhaps it is just his year. Someone who is just a nice bloke too. I don’t do flag waving of nations, I like riders (people in general) for who they are in person. There are plenty of possibles, but for obvious reasons, I wouldn’t mind seeing this Aussie pinch MSR this year. Good luck Bling!

Thanks Orica, Craft and Etixx for the time back in January. It was a joy.

I was in Girona for a cycling long weekend, this weekend just gone. Invited along for a friends landmark birthday with a group of friends – the majority who knew each other, though there were a few new connections across the group. I was happy to be riding with mates and happy to show off Girona’s cycling.

For a change, it was beautiful country house (a great find!) – rather than a hotel in the city – and we all had turns on the stove as we were all keen cooks/chefs and it was part of the fun of the weekend.

My pancakes and coffee making went down ok I think, but I certainly learnt a hell of a lot more in the kitchen area than I provided – I am not rubbish, but my friends are geniuses in cuisine (there were many – fresh fish dishes, lamb, barbecued pineapple – but the onion jam recipe is one I will be chasing up with gusty and using on all sorts. Devine!).

The riding was typical of Girona. Amazing. We have written all about what Girona can offer on our Girona Trip page, and the routes we put together for this weekend were just as we suggest. Outstanding. We took a few new routes in which we scoped out to explore different areas and they went down a treat. Just further confirmation that Girona is simply a cycling paradise.

Thanks to my friends for asking me along in the first place and for making the weekend such fun. Also thanks for the gifts of thanks you gave us; the Musette will be used endlessly and the book I have already made a big dent into. Girona, cycling and mates, a great way to spend a long weekend.

Can’t wait for the next rides in Girona. That’ll be tomorrow and Friday then… Coffee trip!

The start of a frequent, semi-regular little piece I want to do to share some stuff we like. They might not be new to many, but they may to some. I don’t intend it to be reviews or anything high brow like that, just a word about what they are, then it’s over to you to follow up or just ignore it.

Kicking off with something that I find helps me work in a solitary home studio, when I don’t have some tunes pumping. Just to have voices in the background helps, but I do actually listen to what they are saying as well. The Cycling Podcast. Hosted by three chaps who have written a fine book or two between them – some of which will doubtless appear here down the track – Richard, Lionel and Daniel talk about the world of cycling with an underlying Italian romance with a certain Italian journal called Ciro. Plenty of info, ample amounts of humour, a bit of serious stuff, mainly road with a bit of track (and I’m with Daniel on this area…) the only bit I miss is a bit more cross; but, regardless, it’s compulsive listening for me.

There’s free listening which is great and there is a subscription which is hardly anything (coming from a part Yorkshire lad living in Catalonia that’s saying something!) which opens up some extra joys. My Manx side, Cav-Crush side, likes this as there have been a few Cav bits and pieces.

It’s an English (sorry Richard, British) Podcast so there is a UK bent ever so slightly, but it’s not a flag waving one nation under a groove thing. It’s about cycling.

It’s fun. I like it. As does Stelvio, my cat. Something for you for the weekend perhaps. Have a great weekend everyone!

This weekend we are off to Paris by bike, from our London home. Nick will be on the bike with The Velo House team and we will be supporting along the way.

The idea is to get to Paris in 16 hours and to raise as much coin as possible for Sport Relief.

If you want to read a little bit more about why, go check out The Velo House page

If you want to donate you can directly here.

Good luck guys, hope you get some sunshine – it’s almost Paris in Springtime! Looking forward to the tales of adventure on your return.