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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.

Nick

Images courtesy Nick Frendo & Ian S Walton http://www.themusette.cc/

 

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.

©️Fred Johnsson

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.

Photos by theMUSETTE.cc, Fred and Vinyet.

Catalunya, we ride it all day…  Go for an all day ride in your home.

Cycling tour in Girona. I’ll keep it brief. It was a fabulous, eventful, challenging, steep roads, long, fast, exhilarating, educational, friendship re-affirming, adventurous, caffeine filled, coffee bean roasting, culture nourished, hugs laden cops and robbers trip.

A Sommet Cycling holiday!

We loved Girona before. We are now infatuated with it, is riding and it’s the people; our friends.

Until next time! Thanks friends…

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.

 

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.

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!