Badlands: My First Bikepacking Adventure

By Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Girona, South Spain, Spain, Women's Cycling No Comments

This year local Girona trio Rocket, Cristina, and Laura from Over & Out took on Badlands, by Transiberica. A 750km gravel race, crossing two deserts in Andalusia, with 16,000m of climbing. This was the first ultra-cycling race for all three, and for Rocket, her first ever bikepacking adventure…What a way to start. Read on to find out about how they prepared for this event, and how it went.

Where It Began

Laura and Cristina (Cris) had been preparing for Badlands for a year, whereas I had heard about it through them and decided it would be cool to challenge myself in a new way. Coming from road racing, I’ve been keen to get myself on a gravel, and what a way to kick things off with gravel racing, 750km in Andalusia? Yes please.

I’ll be honest, Badlands was not intended to be my first ever bikepacking adventure, but a series of unfortunate events, and a busy work schedule, meant that it happened that way. 10/10 would not recommend turning up never having backpacked before, but go big or go home, right?

As Laura and Cris were already riding as a pair, I entered solo with all of us repping our Over & Out squad.


Badlands Preparation

Laura applied her knowledge as a cycling coach and director sportif to look at the route and split it into days. Listing out the climbs, technical sections, villages where we could find water, and hotels along the way. Naively, we split the route into four days, thinking five would be the maximum number of days it would take. I say naively because there’s a huge difference between what’s on paper, and the reality of the route which we quickly discovered during the event…

Training wise I had an event earlier in the Summer, a multi-day stage race in Andorra on the road, and so this was my first focus. I had a large base block prior to this event, some rest after the event, and then began to work back up. Unfortunately, due to work my training began to take a dip a few weeks prior to the event which wasn’t optimal, it meant I began tapering early. With guidance from Laura and Ciaran O’Grady, they helped make sure I was in the best position I could be in the circumstances.

With our route split completed, and training underway, we then needed to think about what we’re packing, which bike bags, and the equipment we’ll need along the way. As both Laura and Cris had some experience with this, they were able to help me with items I would need, and those I wouldn’t. I also reached out to other adventure seeking fanatics who had experience with ultra-riding or multi-day bikepacking adventures for advice.

Kit Choice

I decided to use Restrap bike bags, I’d used them before and was really impressed, they’d also been recommended to me multiple times as the best to use for this type of event. Having reached out to them, Restrap sponsored my bike bags for the event. I settled on the race collection saddle bag, frame bag, top tube bag, and then a canister bag. This was the perfect set up, I was able to fit everything I wanted to pack including having some extra room for food along the way. I also took a camelbak to ensure I could carry even more water, this was vital.

Kit wise, Universal Colours, a British sustainable and ethical focused clothing brand sponsored Over & Out. The kit was perfect, particularly the Chroma cycling jersey which was lightweight and comfortable. I wore the Mono bibshorts in a size up which were perfect for the heat.

For my shoes I opted to wear the Quoc Gran Tourer (which were gifted) over my S-Works MTB shoes, as they are much more supple and wider which meant when my feet were swelling in the heat, I still had room and felt no pressure points.

I refined my kit list with the help Laura, Cris, and Sami Sauri, and have to say I was happy with everything I brought.


Bike Set Up

With the help of Willem from Eat Sleep Cycle, and input from Daan who did Badlands last year, we built up my brand-new RS Cycles Brusca gravel frame with Shimano GRX from my old cross bike.

We went with a 38t front chainring, and 46t cassette. While this worked well, there were times I wished for the 50t…

My tyres were Rene Herse Oracle Ridge 700C x 48 tubeless. I suffered with not one puncture, at all, and felt secure on the entire route. Never having ridden Rene Herse before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I am beyond impressed with these tyres!

Race Countdown

We flew to Granada a few days prior to the event, giving us time to sort out last minute situations, as well as having time to recce the first few km of the start of the race, particularly the first climb and technical descent.

The Race

At the start line the nerves were real. I still had no idea what to expect, but we hung at the back knowing we wanted to take things slow.

Day one was epic. It is possibly one of my favourite days I’ve ever had on the bike, it was long, hard, with more climbing in one ride than I’ve ever done. There were some long climbs, one in particular which was all on the road and I was able to keep a strong cadence and spin up to the top. The first 40km were brutal, as we were told to expect, with some technical gravel and sharp gravel climbs. We made our way through, yoyoing with a few other riders with whom we got to know a little along the way.


We stopped once for an early supper, and then carried on, our eyes set on Gorafe being the town just outside the first desert. Our initial plan was to ride through the desert at night, but arriving late to Gorafe and struggling to find some food without meat, we decided to hit the sack for a few hours.

This was the first time I’d ever slept out with no tent, in a random location, not including those as a child sleeping under the trampoline in my backgarden. We found a number of other rides sleeping outside in front of the only BnB in the town (which was fully booked) and decided the safest thing to do was to crash there also. I use the term sleep loosely, it was mostly drift in an out of consciousness over the course of a few hours. We slept on roll mats, in only bivvy bags, wearing leggings and a puffer jacket for warmth.

At 4:15am we started to pack up and find water getting ready to start the day in the desert. By 5am we were on the “road” hitting the first climb out of Gorafe. We rode for a few hours in the dark, and as the sun began to rise we hit the first village, finding a few of our friends at a café drinking coffee. We sat down to join them and caught up on the previous day. They’d ridden the 30km late last night and had crashed in the village square, having dealt with puncture after puncture for hours on end into the early hours of the day.

After a few cups of coffee, we carried on, enjoying a beautifully paved road to the next town, and last water stop (little did we know). As the day went on we took on some more technical sections of sand, long climbs, rocky sections, steep climbs, and as the day got hotter and hotter, the lack of water, food, and sleep started to become an issue.


Laura’s ongoing tooth infection was becoming more and more unbearable, taking its toll on her body. We’d booked our hotel earlier in the day, knowing we’d need a bed for the night and this became out motivation to keep moving. With 30km to go before leaving the desert, we decided I would ride on, get to the hotel, and find food for us. During this 30km I had some of my darkest moments, I received word that Cris had crashed and hit her head and was struggling with dizziness. I’d nearly fainted in 49 degrees climbing up the final climb, forcing myself to get off and sit under the shade for a moment. With only 500ml of water left, and still the distance from the edge of the desert to Gor to go, not knowing where the water was, alone, a little scared, unable to keep food in my stomach having been sick, I wondered what the hell I was doing here. Seeing some other riders towards the top of climb lifted my spirits and I kept going.

Those final few kms to the hotel were the hardest of my life, alone, with no water, dehydrated, suffering with head stoke, it took everything to keep the pedals turning. I remember feeling so defeated, shaking feeling cold but hot, and delirious, having exited the desert there was still a way to go to Gor to our hotel and it felt insurmountable.


That first glass of water at the hotel I will remember for the rest life. Badlands is like this; it pushes you beyond the limits of what you thought you were capable of. Having showered, taken a brief rest, and chugged my weight in water, I changed into the only non-cycling clothes I had and made my way back to the village to find a supermarket to find some food to cook for when Laura and Cris made it back. Another 6km I thought would be impossible, and yet I rode on.

When they arrived later that night, we were broken, hurting, exhausted, dehydrated, suffering with heat stroke but happy to have somewhere to sleep. With Laura in pain, Cris in no state to get on a bike, and with my struggling to get food in my stomach we went to bed planning to have a team meeting the following morning to check in before we decided on the day. The next section of the race was going to be a brutal section over 100km with no food stops, an 18km climb to start (which a friend of ours took 5hrs to get up as it was mostly hike-a-bike), and little water security.


That following morning, after a long chat, we made the decision to pull the plug on this adventure. I was heartbroken for Laura and Cris who had been prepping and planning for this adventure for so long, but in our current states, we didn’t want to take the potential risks.

Badlands Reflection

Badlands was one of the best and worst rides of my life. Riding on the gravel with two of my best friends for so long, on a completely new adventure, was epic. Seeing them both accomplish things they’d never done before and seeing how strong they had come into this race was beyond awesome. Challenging myself and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to my growth zone was equally as awesome.

However, the lack of water, and water security, the heat, and the issues along the way made this one of the worst experiences I’d ever had on the bike. I suppose that’s the type 2 fun, it was horrible, but I look back and think how epic it was to make it through that.

Badlands challenges every essence of your being, and for those finishers, all of you, whether you completed it in two days or six, my hat is off to you! What a feat! For those who started and pulled the plug whether it was km 60 or 650, kudos to you, starting Badlands is not for fainthearted, and those who take to start do so with courage. You’re epic. And Badlands, perhaps I’ll be back for a re-match…

A huge thank you to Eat Sleep Cycle, Restrap, Universal Colours, and Quoc for your support.


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Cycling in Girona in Autumn 2021: Everything You Need To Know

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If you are planning a cycling trip to Girona this Autumn and worried if it will go ahead or not this blog is just what you need! Eat Sleep Cycle founder Lee shares his thoughts & advice for travelling to Catalunya this year as a cycling business owner in Girona.

Recently I have personally had many phone calls with concerned cyclists from all over the world planning a trip to Girona and wanted to write my answer down, who knows, maybe it helps some more cyclists out there!

Of course there are rules on entry and exit from your relative countries and from Spain, you will have to check those out yourself. But once you are in Girona you will be surprised just how normal things are and wonder why you left it so long!


The simple answer is that eating, sleeping and cycling in Girona is now largely unaffected by COVID and has been for some time. There are no restrictions on where you can ride your bike and who with. All the cafes, restaurants and bars are open (in some areas closing at 1:30 am – if that affects you this blog is not for you!) and the hotels are in full swing inviting guests from all over the world. There is not a single aspect of your cycling trip that will be affected.


Masks are still worn indoors but not outdoors. Some people still wear them outdoors but most don’t. Most people have had the double vaccine and this Summer really has felt normal with friends getting together, summer terraces full of happy people and enjoying their holidays.


In fact we have seen a big surge in cyclists in Girona looking for group rides and cycling buddies to grab some food and drinks with. So if you are traveling solo Autumn is a perfect time to come.

Get In Touch!

Read more about staying in Girona on our Cyclist’s Guide to Girona here, or get in touch if you have any questions via email: [email protected]

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Eat Sleep Cycle: Introducing Vielo Bike Brand

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British brand Vielo are coming on board at Eat Sleep Cycle. Vielo build unique road and gravel bikes, standing out with bold colours and custom 1x chainrings. We interview father & son founders Trevor and Ian to find out more about this bike brand, how it came to be, and about the stunning bikes that they offer. 

Tell us about Vielo, how and when were you founded?

“Vielo was founded in 2018. With over 36 years experience in sales, marketing, brand building and distribution for high end global bicycle brands (Marin, Scott, Storck, Sarto and Lightweight wheels) we decided to use all our knowledge, passion and energy to build our own brand Vielo.

We brought together a small team of like minded people who shared our values of honesty, integrity and reliability to launch our first model, the Vielo V+1 gravel bike’.”


What sets you apart from other bike brands?

“Vielo is positioned as indie boutique British brand that offers cycling fans around the world with an exclusive range of exceptional high-end, cutting edge bicycles and products focused on innovation, fusing the latest carbon fibre technology and know-how with beautiful design and craftsmanship.  Underpinned with a passion and belief to make it better.”

You’re big fans of 1x, what is it that you prefer about 1x over 2x?

“We are forward thinking and knew (back in 2017) that groupset manufactures were going to bring 12 and 13 speed groupsets to the market in the very near future.  This meant that the number of gears normally used on a 2x system would be covered in a 1x  12 or 13 speed range.  From here, we would have a lot more freedom to design and engineer our gravel and road bike frame with just a single chain ring and no front mech. Both the Vielo R+1 road bike and V+1 gravel bike are designed around a fully 1x drive line.


We offer a range of our own CNC machined chainrings that are engineered to accommodate a perfect chain line across Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo to suit every riders needs in both road and gravel.

The benefit of our 1x frames is to increase the BB stiffness by 32% (over a 2x frame), offer increased tyre width and fully symmetrical frame design.”

What frames do you currently offer, and could you tell us a little about them?

“The R+1 road bike is available in 2 frame levels. The Alto frame (880g) is fully integrated for (SRAM) wireless shifting. Plus the Strato frame (1100g) for regular cable routing to accommodate mechanical and e-wire shifting.   Both frames accommodate 32mm tyres on modern wider rims to reduce high frequency road vibration, plus additional mechanical comfort from the rear seat stay design.



The 2nd Generation V+1 gravel bike follows the form of the R+1 symmetrical  down tube to BB junction, accommodates 50mm tyres in 700c and 650b with (non dropped) symmetrical chain stays and further comfort via the curved tube shapes of the rear seat stays.   The V+1 Alto is 880g and the Strato is 1100g. Both frames can take regular mechanical and e-wire systems.”


I have to admit, I love your colour schemes. In a world of black and stealth looking bikes, having some colour is becoming more and more appealing. Why were you drawn to making sure your frames were colourful?

“We like to be forward thinking with our colour pallets and simple graphic design. We don’t do Black.”


We’re looking forward to having Vielo at Eat Sleep Cycle, what are you most looking forward to about joining the ESC family?

“We love working with like-minded dealers and staff that have similar values to ourselves, plus we are a family business. We look forward to building our trading relationship long into the future.”

We can’t wait to have Vielo in store, so keep your eye our for when we’ll have stock!

Get In Touch!

Update – our first Vielo framesets have arrived & are on display at the Eat Sleep Cycle shop. You can also see Vielo bikes on our online shop. If you’re interested in Vielo and would like to discuss dream builds, please get in touch! Email: [email protected]

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Eat Sleep Cycle: Introducing Sarto Frames

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As a local bike shop, we’re constantly on the search for unique bikes & brands to offer to our customers. Sarto are custom carbon frame builders, who make and build their frames in Italy. We already work with makers of steel bikes (2-11 Cycles, RS Cycles, Sour) & titatium bikes (Reilly Cycles, Moots, No. 22) and so it is with great pleasure that we add Sarto, custom carbon frame makers, to our brand partners. This week saw the arrival of our first Sarto frame – a  stunning Seta frame in a steel blue which is turning all our heads. Read on to find out more.

About Sarto

Sarto offer a top of the line, fully customisable carbon frame, handmade in Italy since 1960. Sarto offer a fully customisable experience, from geometry, graphics, and even reinforcements on the frame from kevlar, titanium, or carbon.


Sarto: Custom Carbon Road Bike Frames

Sarto offer a choice of five different frames: Seta (for long, comfortable rides), Lampo (the aero bike), Asola (the climbing bike), Dinamica (the crit racing bike) & Veneto (a sport bike) – designed to offer something for every type of cyclist.


Elegant, and complete. Made with the stiffest carbon on the market, clean lines with a flat top tube and thin chain stay, as well as a new integrated seat clamp, the Seta is a stunning choice of frame.

Seta Plus

Advanced, and modern. Offering fully integrated routing with hidden cables, this frame, stem, and adaptability offer maximum adaptability. The new design ensures maximum comfort with the seat stays directly connected to the horizontal tube, as well as the fork and rear stays being able to accommodate tyres up to 35mm wide.

Seta Plus Tri-Composite

A nimble and dynamic bike frame. The Seta plus Tri-Composite is built for comfort, both on the flat and on the climbs. Resin, carbon fiber and metal filaments: Tri-Composite opens the new era of carbon frames by increasing the technical performance of the bicycle as well as giving it a sleek and powerful look.


Dynamic, and spirited. With speed in mind first and foremost, built with a special surface on the frame tube to increase airflow.

Lampo Plus

Pure, and extremely fast. A machine built for speed, each and every tube has been made to be aerodynamic. The fundamental components of this design is the new handlebar stem, entirely in carbon, specifically designed and optimised to route the handlebar cables directly into the frame, and the new steering tube designed to guarantee top driving quality and perfect integration of all internal cables.


“The best climbing frame we ever made” – Sarto.

Asola Plus

Asola, the longest selling frame in our range, evolves with the PLUS version, offering total cable integration in the disc brake version.


Sporty, and powerful. Whether you’re racing in criteriums, on the road, or in gran fondos, this is a top choice frame.

Veneto SL

For optimum comfort. “Suitable for cyclists who respect tradition yet love innovation.” – Sarto.


Sarto: Custom Carbon TT Bike Frame


Speed, and high performance. Sarto are offering some of the most advanced technology on the market with meticulous attention to detail. Ideal for for tri-athletes and chrono riders, this model guarantees high speeds.

Sarto: Custom Carbon Gravel Bike Frame

Gravel TA

No limits. Built for those wanting to explore more than just the road. Catering for wheels of either 700C or 650B to allow for a wider range of use, you’re getting one bike frame with the capability of gravel, road, cyclocross and some mountain biking.


Sarto: Custom Carbon Bike Frames

With Sarto’s offering on custom carbon bike frames, from road, TT, to gravel, they are a top choice to acquire an incredibly special frame. Make a bike fully custom and put your own spin on it for a bike that is truly unique to you.

(Information from the Sarto website)

Get in touch to find out how you can get yourself a Sarto frame, email: [email protected]

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Eat Sleep Cycle Café: Food Philosophy

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With less than a week to go until the Eat Sleep Cycle Café opens we speak to Bram, the Eat Sleep Cycle Café chef, as he talks about the inspiration behind the menu of our new Girona cycling café. One of the most important factors for Lee and Louise when deciding to expand Eat Sleep Cycle, was to ensure they were able to give back to the community & support local producers. Read on to find out more from the chef  behind the newest Girona cycling café menu!

Hello Bram, welcome to Eat Sleep Cycle! Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a chef?

Hi, I’m Bram from the Netherlands, I grew up in a small fishing town Breskens. I started at the age of 14 working as a dishwasher for two hours at the weekend, that’s where Bart started to teach me kitchen life. My most valuable lesson I learnt in the kitchen is to first create a perfect dish, then once you have it, make it as easy as possible to make without losing the quality.

I worked my way up in the kitchen scene & as young guy I would change job each year to gain as much experience as possible. Later, I started traveling in the winters and that’s where the biggest experience was, learning how other cultures cook and eat. It was and still is amazing.


What is it like to create a menu from scratch for a new restaurant?

Creating a menu is always a challenge, especially in a foreign country away from what you know. You have to do your homework to understand the food culture, and then the menu needs to be diverse enough. I’m not afraid to say I’m stubborn, I don’t like to copy, I always want to end up with my own twist on a dish.

Finding new ingredients is the other nice part of it, it’s a journey that never ends. Finding ingredients with a story is specially awesome. A cheese that is coming from a small local farm, made from 12 cows who all have a name, creating a dish with that, is gold.


What has inspired the Eat Sleep Cycle Café menu?

Trying to work as much as possible with local and seasonal ingredients is the inspiration for the menu.

What style of food can we expect to see for the newest Girona cycling cafe?

The food of the café will change with the seasons. But you can also expect local ingredients with a international twist. I worked in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Philippines, and from every place your learn something. It would be nice to infuse some of those flavours in a gentle way with local products from Cataluya.


Do you have any favourite suppliers or ingredients that you are working with?

My favourite ingredients are always changing. I do like to work with seafood as well meat, but now a days vegan, healthy and sustainable is the hype, so I’m more focused on developing myself in those areas. I’m a massive fan of the “Yakiniku” Kamado BBQ, it’s extremely diverse. Smoking, roasting, slow cooking, pizza, cakes, it is endless! Using this in combination with veggies, creating something out of the box, that’s what I mostly like.

What’s your biggest motivation as a chef?

My biggest motivation is creating dishes and giving costumers the ‘wow’ effect. There is always something to improve, and that never stops.

Stay up to date on the café!

All of us at Eat Sleep Cycle are excited for the newest venture into a Girona cycling café, and we’re all so grateful for your support! Follow us on instagram, and check out our café web page to stay up to date.

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Tour de France Bike Round Up

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What a Tour de France it was this year! We have loved watching the yellow jersey win on a Colnago once again, and loved seeing so many of our favourite bikes out on the road. We take a look at the star bikes of the Tour de France from Colnago, Cervélo, Ridley & Factor.

UAE Emirates: Colnago Bikes

This year UAE Emiriates rode a combination of the Colnago V3Rs, Colnago Concepts, and the Colnago C64’s, built with Campagnolo Super Record EPS. Yellow jersey Tadej Pojacar rode a Colnago V3Rs, built with Campagnolo, Deda, and Prologo.

One of the great things about the Tour de France is that we often see new tech, and designs. Colnago released 108 limited editions of their V3Rs road bikes, we were fortunate to one which flew off the shop floor!

We are a Colnago dealer and stock a range of bikes and frameset’s. Girona local Bre Vine recently bought a Colnago C64 and wrote a blog on why this was her bike of choice, read it here.


Jumbo-Visma: Cervélo Bikes

From 2021 Jumbo-Visma are sponsored by Cervelo bikes and rode a range of the Cervelo road bikes during the Tour de France, including the Cervelo R5, Cervelo S5, and Cervelo Caledonia, all built with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.

Be it for sprinting, climbing, or a all-round classics bred build, Cervelo has a bike fit for any need. Wout Van Aert stunned fans with 3 epic wins with a mountain stage win on Mont Ventoux, a individual time-trial win, and the most coveted sprint of all in the Tour de France on the Champs Elyesee. Van Aert rides a Cervelo S5 for the sprint stages, and an R5 for the mountain stages, built with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.

Not only are we a Cervelo dealer, we are also currently running an offer on a selected range of our Cervelo bikes! Check it out here.


Israel Start-Up Nation: Factor Bikes

We were thrilled to see that Factor are continuing their sponsorship of Israel Start-Up Nation for 2022! This year the team rode a combination of the Factor Ostro’s, and Factor VAM 02 rim brake edition, all built with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2.

We even saw Chris Froome riding a new time-trial bike named the Hanzo, we look forward to finding out more about! ISN star rider Micheal Woods rode into the Polka Dot jersey on stage 14 of the Tour de France on the Factor Ostro VAM, showing the versatility of the Ostro VAM as an aero climbing bike!

Israel Start-Up Nation coach, Ciarán O’Grady, recently bought a Factor Ostro from Eat Sleep Cycle, read his blog here. His partner, Rocket Rawrrs, also recently bought a Factor VAM 02, read her blog here.

We are an official Factor dealer & our mechanics are specialists in Factor builds. Browse our range of in-stock Factor bikes.


Lotto Soudal: Ridley Bikes

Lotto Soudal is a Belgian professional cycling team riding Ridley bikes which are made in Belgium. Lotto Soudal rode both the Ridley Helium, being the light weight climbing bike, and the Ridley Noah Fast which is a speed machine, built with Campagnolo Super Record EPS.

We sadly didn’t get to see much of Caleb Ewan on his Noah Fast after he crashed out on Stage 3 having fractured his right collarbone in four spots during a high-speed crash towards the finish line. However, we did see a number of strong rides from the team, including from 23 year old Brent Van Moer on Stage 4 where he was caught close to line by the sprint teams fighting for the win.

Not only do we stock a range of Ridley road bikes, including the Helium, Fenix SliC, and Noah Fast, we also stock Ridley gravel bikes such as the Kanzo Adventure and Kanzo Fast! See our Ridley bikes here.


Want to learn more about the bikes we stock and custom builds at Eat Sleep Cycle?

Browse our range of in-stock bikes or contact us directly to start the conversation.

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Factor VAM 02 – Rocket Rawrrs Custom Build

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I recently bought a Factor VAM 02 as an upgrade to my S Works SL5. I’ve been on the hunt for a new bike for awhile, patiently waiting until the right bike came at the right time. The Factor VAM 02 was that bike, and I’m happy to say that I fell in love with this bike on my first test ride, she’s light, responsive, climbs like a beast and super comfortable to descend on.

Choosing the Factor O2 VAM


I’d been looking for a new bike for awhile, knowing I couldn’t upgrade to another S Works, I was looking for a bike that was in budget, preferably a second hand or an ex-rental to be more eco-conscious and cost effective, and also wanted a pure climbing bike. The Factor VAM 02 fit my criteria, she’s an ex-rental frame from Eat Sleep Cycle in perfect condition, a pure climbing bike, and was in budget!
I took her for a test ride and by the end of the ride had completely fallen in love with how she felt on the road, so I decided there and then this was the one for me.
It’s not often we really take into consideration the environmental impact of new bikes and bike parts, and so for me, buying what I could for my new bike second hand, and utilising what I already had was really important. Eat Sleep Cycle were so supportive with this and do offer their ex-rental fleets at a superb price after the rental season, they also have a bike exchange programme and sell on the second hand bikes! All of which are professionally checked before hand. I really rate this initiative.


Factor o2 VAM Ride Style


The biggest noticeable difference for me is actually my confidence when descending. My previous bike had very narrow handlebars which was suitable for the races I had been doing, but I now I have 38cm wide handlebars and feel like I have a lot more control when descending. I have been able to push my skills so much further so going for the Factor VAM 02 has definitely changed my riding style.

It’s also helped my climbing ability and over the past few months of riding this bike my climbing style has changed and become so much more efficient.


Factor O2 VAM vs Factor Ostro


There are so many things I love about my new bike, and that I changed from my old S Works. I am also now on disc brakes, mainly because this was the option that was available rather than a conscious choice to opt for disc brakes, but I really am getting on well with them and have to say I’m definitely a convert.

The Factor VAM 02 is comfortable, light, and responsive. She’s at home in the mountains and hilly terrain and is so perfect for a place like Girona. My partner recently bought a Factor Ostro which is stiffer and more race ready, having given that a little spin I’m glad I went for the VAM 02!

You can read Ciarán’s blog on his Factor Ostro VAM here.


Living in Girona: Making the Move from the UK


My partner started working for Israel Start-Up Nation as a coach and they have a heavy presence in Girona, he was keen to make the move and live closer to the team having spent the last few years away from his teams due to my work. We decided to take the leap to starting a new life in a new country, its been a dream of ours to do this for a long time!


Best Road Cycling Route in Girona


Its a route I created, an amalgamation of two routes I love. Its a mix between the “Coast Loop” and “Romanyà de la Selva Loop”. You head out from Girona to Tossa de Mar and follow the coast road until you hit the beginning of the Sant Grau climb. This is one of my favourite climbs in Girona as the views are amazing! You then head back down into Llagostera, but take a right at the roundabout rather than following the road you came in on. Follow this up to Romanyà de la Selva, where you then head back down passing Calonge, up another climb and onwards to Madremanya. There is another road you could take which is a little nicer, but far more busy, so I stick to my quiet roads. You end this route by heading up the backside of Els Angels, back down the longer side, and finally rolling home into Girona and to a café for some sustenance. The route is 132km and over 2,000m of climbing.


Rocket’s Custom Factor VAM 02 Build:

Frame: 49cm Factor VAM 02 Black and Red (Ex-Rental)

Handlebars: Black Inc integrated handlebar and stem, 38cm by 120mm

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2 (Ex-Rental)

Cranks & Power Meter: Quarq (Second Hand)

Wheelset: Black Inc Twenties

Tyres: Vittoria Corsa Controls

You can watch my full review here.

Want to learn more about Factor Bikes custom builds at Eat Sleep Cycle?

We are an official Factor dealer & our mechanics are specialists in Factor builds. Browse our range of in-stock Factor bikes or contact us directly to start the conversation.

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Factor Ostro VAM – Ciarán O’Grady’s Custom Build

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Israel Start-Up Nation’s coach, Ciarán O’Grady, fell in love with the Factor Ostro’s the team were using, so he bought one from Eat Sleep Cycle! He’s customised this stunning bike to fit his personal specifications, see what he has to say about his custom build.

Why did you choose the Factor Ostro VAM?

I chose the Factor OSTRO because I wanted a bike that was aerodynamically optimised whilst still remaining light weight. I also wanted something that was super stiff, and designed with racing and aggressive riding in mind. The added bonus of the Ceramic Speed additions to the bike made it very appealing!
As I work for the professional cycling team Israel Start-Up Nation, I have seen these bikes being raced throughout the year with the riders giving so much good feedback from how the OSTRO performs. I have also heard from the team mechanics how well built they are and how they stand up to the rigours of professional racing. Knowing this, I was confident that the Factor OSTRO would be exactly what I was looking for.


How has the Factor Ostro changed your riding style?

The Factor OSTRO has allowed me to ride in the natural way that I’d want to be riding my bike. The bike becomes an extension of who I am, responding really well to my requests!


Anything else you want to add about your Factor Ostro?

I really love the integrated front end of the Factor OSTRO, it just looks super sleek. The wide-set forks are very stiff and have great aerodynamic properties (I have actually tested it in the wind tunnel!). With the Black Inc 60’s set up, it just flies wherever you take it!


How did you end up in Girona?

I travelled to Girona late last year with my fiancée, “Rocket”, after I started working for the professional cycling team Israel Start-Up Nation, who have a base here in Girona. I’ve been coaching riders who have been based in Girona for several years so I knew a lot about the city and how great the training is around Catalunya!


What is your favourite road cycling ride from Girona?

I have two favourite rides here in Girona at the moment. The first is a loop I call the “Maple Leaf”, as it looks… kinda like a maple leaf. It’s 61km and has three climbing sections, nothing crazy but just three good pushes. It heads west from Girona up around Canet d’Adri, then over Les Serres, and back to Girona over Mas Llunes. The second ride is a longer 108km ride with one short climb and one longer climb. It also heads west from Girona out through Sant Gregori, up and over Les Serres towards Angels, then heading up the long climb to Sant Hilari Sacalm. From there, you take a long and twisty descent down Santa Coloma de Farners, and back to Girona through Aiguaviva.

Ciarán’s Custom Factor Ostro VAM Build:

Frame: 49cm Factor Ostro VAM Flicker

Handlebars: Black Inc integrated handlebar and stem, 38cm by 120mm

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2

Cranks & Power Meter: Quarq

Wheelset: Black Inc Team Edition 60mm

Tyres: Maxis Highroad 25mm

Want to learn more about Factor Bikes custom builds at Eat Sleep Cycle?

We are an official Factor dealer & our mechanics are specialists in Factor builds. Browse our range of in-stock Factor bikes or contact us directly to start the conversation.

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!


Dirt Jumping in Girona

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Our very own Joan and Daan head out after work to go dirt jumping in Banyoles. I caught up with Joan to find out what it is about dirt jumping that he loves so much, and check out these awesome shots of the guys in action! Photos by Daan van Meeuwen.


How long have you been dirt jumping?

I’ve been dirt jumping for a long while, ever since I was around 13.


What is it about dirt jumping that drew you to the sport?

For me it’s easy to push myself while dirt jumping. I’m always trying to be better and better. Every time I jump I’m aiming to push myself to go bigger and do more and more tricks, until one day I am doing the things I’ve been dreaming about doing for years, like backflips, supermans, tail whips and more!


Do you have a favourite place to go dirt jumping?

Yes, I built some jumps with my friends in the middle of the forest. Going there and spending hours jumping with friends in our little dreamland is my favourite place.


Is there anything else you’d like to add about dirt jumping?

If you’re curious to try jumping for the first time, just do it, the best thing is to start. I can’t think of a better feeling than jumping, being in the air, just you and your bike.


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Zipp Carbon Wheelset New Product Launch

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Zipp have announed 3 new wheelsets at today’s product launch – the road Zipp 454 NSW, the road Zipp 404 Firecrest, and the time-trial Zipp 858 NSW. Zipp are coming to the market with wheels promising more speed & at a seriously reduced price – here we take a look at the tech & how they’ve done it. Not convinced by the science? We are an official Sram – Zipp test centre & we have Demo Zipp wheels available for test rides from our Girona shop.

Zipp Wheel Philosophy: Total System Efficiency

Zipp have a simple philosophy for their wheels: “Total System Efficiency”. The barriers to speed are wind resistance; gravity; and rolling resistance. It’s well known that as speed increases the need for better aerodynamics increases. Historically brands have been focusing entirelly on aerodynamics & relying on wind-tunnel testing to prove new imporvements in performance. In their new line Zipp have also given thought to reducing weight & rolling resistance & headed out for some real-life, on-road testing. The results are dramatic at lower speeds which, let’s face it, are more the norm for most of us, especially when heading out on rough gravel trails.

Zipp Tech: Hookless Rims – What Are They & Why Are They Catching on?

A key part of the Zipp philosophy is hookless rims; these rims are just as safe as traditional hook interface regarding tyre retention & come with a whole host of benefits. With hookless rims you can use a hard tool to shape the rim instead of silicon in the manfacturing process. Silicon is thrown away creating waste, whereas the hard tool can be reused many times. Not only does this give a more consistent rim, the production uses less resources & is also cheaper to produce.

Zipp have kindly decided to pass these cost savings on to the cyclist, meaning we can purchase lighter wheels at a better price. A note of warning –  not every tyre is compatible with hookless rims, so you’ll need to ensure the tyres you choose to ride are compatible (head over to our you tube channel to see Head Mechanic WillemJan chat all about tubeless set up)

There are three new wheelsets, two road racing sets, and one time-trial set!

Road Racing Wheelsets

The two new wheelsets are the 454 NSE, and 404 Firecrest. These have evolved from the Zipp 400 (1990), and the 404 Firecrest (2010).

Zipp 454 NSW Tubeless

These wheels have a sawtooth rim design and are stable in crosswinds. The hookless design means they’re 420g lighter (that’s a whole jar of Nutella lighter!) They also have a new hub which means there is less drag, and it’s lighter too.

These wheels are meant for the road & not for high speed time trials. Adopting their total system efficiency philosophy, Zipp have come up with a design which is slightly less aero that their predecessors but achieves a lot less rolling resistance – meaning a rider of average weight can travel at the same speed, but save 12 watts of power. Zipp have sacrificing a little bit of aerodynmaics, but made huge gains in other areas.

The price has also come down to €3600 for the set from €4000, a nice saving of €400.


Zipp 404 Firecrest Tubeless

Zipp have gone for another hookless design which are 350g lighter for the set! These are built with wide, 23 mm internal rims, and are tubeless only. The wheels are optimised for 25c but depending on the rider weight 28c could perform better.

The price is down to €1800 from €2600 – a huge saving of €800.


Time Trialling Wheelset: Zipp 858 NSW

Zipp have made some small updates to their time-trial wheelset. These are more aero, although not as light. There is no change to the rims, but they do have a new hub! The Cognition DB v2 with a new spring system ‘cylamer’ foam. The hub is light and retains shape, and replaces the 12 parts in the old hub, it also reduces friction when freewheeling.

The wheelset retails at €4400 – no change in pricing.


Lets Talk Tyre Pressure

Tyre pressure choice is different for every individual, circumstance, tyre, and weather, its about education on what will work best for you on the day!

Use the Tubeless Tire Pressure Calculator in AXS app to help and Tire Pressure Whizz to measure tyre pressure in real time. Also, check out our Cyclist’s Guide to Tyre Pressure for more information.

Zipp Wheels In Stock

We stock a number of Zipp wheels, and are also currently running a  Zipp Wheel Test Programme!⁠⁠ You can book yourself a test ride on the Zipp 303s, or 303 Firecrests – with the new 404 Firecrests on the way.
Come to the shop with your current wheels, we’ll swap your cassette and discs, and fit the wheels to your bike. ⁠⁠⁠They’re free to test, but a deposit is required. Please bring your ID.⁠⁠

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