Recently over dinner with friends I was asked what drives me and why I ride. The person in question was clearly motivated by something different, but as valid, to me that’s what makes cycling so great. Their goal was to improve as a cyclist, driven by data and self-analysis, striving to make themselves faster which in turn makes them a better cyclist. Training, pedal stroke and efficiency, cadence and Strava data, all contribute to making them a better cyclist. Right?
I think I speak for both Ian and I when I say we both just love to ride our bikes, sure we both have Strava accounts and power meters and we’re now both “Wahooligans” but it’s the being outside, exploring, meeting people and going places that motivates us. Cake and coffee are the reward, not the amount of kudos when you upload the ride. Whether riding with guests, friends or solo it’s just about having a good time, every now and then, maybe putting the hurt on or racing up a climb, leaving the house at sunrise…. just to check out the sunrise.
It took me a while and still I’m not sure I even satisfied my interrogator. I don’t think they understood my reasons for riding and you know what it doesn’t matter. I ride on my own a lot and I enjoy it. I ride as slow or fast as my mood takes me. It helps clear my head and focus, I can empty my legs, lungs and head, I get to see places people often race through, heads down and starring at their Garmin data and I love it. A ride is rarely prescribed, I never worry about getting lost or #unlost (GRBCC) I can go out and turn round after 30 km or stay out all day, ride to get an ice cream or break myself on my favourite climbs, talk rubbish with friends or encourage guests and new cyclists, so long as I’m on my bike and the sun’s out I’m happy.
Now more then ever I’ll often park up somewhere, stop, take a deep breath and soak up my surroundings. That’s why I ride.
Images courtesy Nick Frendo & Ian S Walton http://www.themusette.cc/
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.
Chapeau is a UK clothing brand with centred around quality and inclusivity. Where better to show it off then our favourite town Girona.
So we gave them all they needed…locations, models, bikes, accommodation, friendships and lashings of what makes Girona great. Happy to share our Catalan home and knowledge. They brought their kit, themselves and photographer, Jon Baines (IG:@designdefined).
Here are a few shots from the weekend with Conductor and Chapeau in Girona. Have a look at their sites to see more from the shoot. And to see more of Girona, we are back with tours in May and beyond. Drop us a line for more information.
Foot note about Chapeau, from Chapeau.
“Chapeau’s core values are simple.
‘Chapeau’ translates as ‘hat’ but it means far more. Used to indicate respect for a fellow cyclist’s efforts, achievement or endeavour Chapeau! is a spoken doffing of the cap.
Respect and encouragement are qualities we admire in cyclists. We believe in always greeting a fellow cyclist, whether with a nod, a wave or a cheery hello. The spirit of inclusivity and fellowship makes cycling an individual sport that we’re proud to be involved in.
To all fellow cyclists who obsess over their gear, who cajole themselves to head out early, who drink cappuccino after 12, who covet other bikes but remain staunchly protective of their own — Chapeau!
We aim to create cycling apparel with modernity, detail and personality. Made well, fit for purpose and great looking.
We want every cyclist to enjoy every ride. We want to inspire the belief that everyone can have a great time on a bike.
We have a point of view but we’re not judgemental. There’s no codswallop, you’ll never have to decipher the meaning in what we say.”
All image rights Conductor / Jon Baines except where stated.
I used the Festive 500, as many do, as a bit of an incentive to get out a bit more on the bike. I honestly wasn’t bothered if I completed the 500, but using that 500km target as a way to frame a set of rides was handy.
Just a bloody good excuse to go and explore. I fancied aiming for about half to be off road – either mixed terrain ride on both the gravel Frankenbike (Stanley) and the road bike, or full off road on the Stanley – and as many new trails or roads as possible. Turned out that over half were new and almost half was dirt.
The centrepiece of the week’s riding was to be my Dawn 2 Dusk mixed terrain ride, exploring the Penedès wine region of Catalunya, alone on my own schedule, enjoying getting a little lost then unlost. A genuine mix of gravel (70% ish) and tiny paved vineyard roads connecting villages, wine makers and not a few cafes, castles, dams, streams and national parks and reserves.
The night before, charging the lights and pre-cooking a nice lasagne for the next day’s 5am breakfast got the sense of fun going early. I rigged the bike up with some Challenge Strada Bianca tyres, a road light and an offload light (I wasn’t sure how much darkness I might face, with no return time planned, apart from after dark) for what turned out to be a 10+ hour voyage of mini-discovery. In a place I know very well (my partner is from here and I ride with a wine merchant who lives here – and who did 20,000km last year!) I kicked up dust from coffee to local delicacy, via cava next to historic monasteries and further proved to myself that my ethos of, as often as possible, taking a different turn than taken on the usual ride and I will find hidden treasures, no matter how well the area is known. A journeyride from my doorstep.
We haven’t advertised a Penedès trip, we should. It’s a joy, on and off road. It’s like the famous Tuscan riding, less well known, less trodden path. I can’t recommend the Penedés highly enough, if you fancy a secret Strade Bianche drop us a line; I’ve plenty more exploring to do in this paradise.
You missed out. Those of you who didn’t make it onto our collaboration tour, the collaboration with our friends at La Fábrica Girona, you missed out. There will be another chance or two in 2017, but you missed out on the inaugural collab.
We had a great week. As ever in Girona. Just with the added embrace of Amber, Christian and the La Fab team, at close quarters, over dinner, coffee roasting, sending Christian off on his retirement tour to Japan and generally chewing the fat on and off the bike.
The riding and coffee, of course, were was rather fine too.
So, you missed out. There’s plenty happening in Girona in 2017. We are there, front and centre, all year, every year, choose a trip and come explore the centre of European cycling culture.
A while ago I had the idea to ride all day. So I came up with Dawn 2 Dusk.
The reason I figured this ride would work was because of the way I go about riding; that it’s not about getting somewhere faster, or doing efforts, or the most direct route. It’s about the journey.
The other reasons I knew it would work is because I would have a trusty, keen, companion along when I shared the idea to Fred, and also that my girlfriend, Vinyet, would be as excited about the me doing it as I was – and not just to get me out of the house for a day.
The ‘rules‘? Summer d2d, road (with a good chunk of gravel), winter d2d, gravel (no doubt with a little road). Set off before sunrise with lights, and return when lights are once again needed. Have a loose route idea, but the essence was to explore – to get a little lost so we could get unlost – and stop as many times as wanted or needed; for sunrise picnics, to check in on the sleeping families at home, for a nip of bootleg rum from the hip flask, to test cafes, have menus, swim in the mediterranean sea and chat to locals. All of which, and more, we did.
Last year’s were beautiful. Both road and gravel d2d’s shared similar paths, north from Barcelona’s heart, up towards the Pyrenees and back. The road took us into the stunning Montseny mountains – a paradise in which I lived for a year previously – before coffee in Girona and then onto the coast and that swim before lunch on the Med. It also had a fair bit of gravel exploring in it too, as often happens.
Gravel took us up the same general direction, but along the La Serralada de Marina then Montenegro i el Corredor ridges, with views of the Med most of the way out bound. Both finished back in the heart of our beautiful Barcelona. Both returning exhausted, exhilarated, a little wiser about the place we live, all by virtue of exploring on the bike.
The d2d’s have been done on weekdays. It’s become a barometer of life’s balance. Can we take a day in the week to make this happen? If not, why is our balance that way inclined, does it need to be revisited? These experiences and mini-adventures are priceless. Time to look at d2d winter 2017 soon… It’s about the journey.
Catalunya, we ride it all day… Go for an all day ride in your home.