I started working on trips a few years ago. At first I was attracted to life on the road thinking I would be spending all day, every day riding my bike in some of Europe’s most iconic locations. My first trip was the Maratona dles Dolomites, it doesn’t get more iconic then that. The Dolomites are special, jaw dropping beauty, some of the Giro’s most epic battlefields, the people are incredible and so warm, what more could you want. What I didn’t realise was that I wouldn’t be riding at all, my role was driver, mechanic and general dogs body. Maybe I was naive, maybe mis-sold. Turns out it didn’t matter. I was in one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been and more importantly I met some incredible people, who at the time were guests and soon to become firm friends.
I realised pretty quickly that guiding is about people as much as the places. The journey not the destination, how I deliver an experience or show them somewhere or something they would never have found on Strava or Google. It isn’t about the five star hotel or Michelin starred restaurants or how fast I can get them up and over a mountain, it’s local culture, food, knowledge and even that unexpected view around a corner. One of my favourite rides is Sant Hilari – Sasqueda reservoir in Girona. As you turn off the main road and head up a short sharp climb then drop down and the reservoir reveals itself, all of a sudden it stops people dead in their tracks, break out their phones and start taking loads of photos, always makes me smile.
I love to take people to Christian and Amber Meier’s Espresso Mafia and watch Christian talk to people about his passion for coffee, explain the process of roasting and watch their faces light up. Even the non coffee drinkers start enthusing and begin to understand the difference between high street and speciality or “Organized coffee”.
People often send me a few emails before the arrive asking how hard the riding is, how should their bikes be set up and what gearing, sometimes a little intimidated if it’s their first big mountain trip, or first time they’ve ridden back to back hard days. Ensuring they go home with a sense of achievement, hopefully having learnt something new about a place or culture or even learnt that they can ride harder for longer and push themselves further than they first thought is all part of the job. Creating these memories that last for people to share with their friends and family is the key to a great trip.
I’m passionate about bike stuff. I love talking about it, products, kit, brands, sharing my knowledge and beliefs, no doubt some misguided based on “The Rules”. The places I’ve been and the people I’ve been lucky enough to ride with. I can bore you to death while we’re riding or as I like to think, distract you from the challenge ahead.
All the above means many start off as guests but leave as friends. That’s WHY I GUIDE.
See you on the road.
Images courtesy of TheMusette photography.
The big move Girona.
The draw was too strong. After three years of being a visitor and creating trips for guests and friends here in Girona I decided the time was right to make Girona home.
Co- Founder, Sommetier, friend and chief snapper Ian Walton along with Amber and Christian Meier have been an incredible help and motivation in me making the leap.
I have always felt like Girona is a very special place, not just the cycling and all the cliché culture, food etc but more importantly the atmosphere and friendships I’ve made here, it feels like I have roots already.
There is the group of locals, like Ramon, Jordi, Miqui and Nancy and Anna from The Service Course. Luke, Federico, Sara from Espresso Mafia. Levi, Patty, Jordi, Lisa and Nicky from La Fabrica. All have been a part in helping make the move, so easy, even though they probably aren’t aware. And of course Mike, Michelle and Francis at La Bruguera who’ve hosted me as I have packed my life into a car and driven to my new home.
Then there’s the group of friends who I can always rely on for coffee and rides, Tristan and Peter for when I need a good kicking and many more.
Thank you all.
Obviously the cycling is special. Every day I’m out looking for and exploring new roads, new experiences and journeys. Back in the UK I found it hard to work and ride for a decent amount time on the bike. Here I’ve found myself out riding at 19:00 onwards and putting in 70 to 100 km’s, going from struggling to fit in 10 hours to consistently riding 20 – 30 a week. My love of cycling, my fitness are at what feels like an all time high.
Now I’m guiding most days in this paradise. It appears that I’ve made the right move. Join me on the road as your local Girona cycling guide to find out why we love this place I now call home.
Our Sommet Cycling 2017 kit is now available to pre-order.
We took the plunge on Nick’s design for the 2017 kit recently. We popped aside the numbers needed for the trips and then went about shooting a few to try and flog some to the eager punters out there…yourselves (email Nick to get on the pre-order for the next lot…).
Best laid plans, the kit just about sold out before we even shot the damn stuff. Word of mouth got it flying out but we still got out and shot some stuff, although it was more an abridged shoot before a ride or hijacking a ride.
We had dreamy Ramon fondling Christian’s Speedvagen (while he awaits his own hand built, but titanium, dream bike to arrive – this month!!) and playing air wheel on his very own Enve’s for said build. And we had the Swedish masseuse, Therese, riding up and down Rocacorba in preparation for some daft Everesting challenge. I was happy to be in the car shooting on that one, and hanging off the gliding platform and giving the ‘models’ heart attacks. All part of the job.