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Cycling

Focus-Izalco-Max-9-7-Bike-Review-Eat-Sleep-Cycle

Focus Izalco Max Disc 9.7 AXS Review

By Cycling No Comments

Focus Bikes was founded in 1993 by cyclocross World Champion Mike Kluge & is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Focus has it’s roots in mountain bikes & now leads the way in producing high performance road bikes & e-bikes.

The Izalco Max – A Perfect Aero All-Rounder?

The Izalco Max is fast, aerodynamic, elegant & light – the perfect all-round machine? Check out Chris’ video review of the top of the line Focus Izalco Max Disc 9.7 – the bike currently proudly on display in our Hub window!

Focus Izalco Max Specification

Product

  • Price €6199
  • Weight 7.9 kg (Size L)

Features

  • Available Sizes – XXS – XXL
  • Groupset – Sram Force AXS
  • Fork & Frame – MAX technolofy carbon
  • Handlebar – Easton EC90 Aerobar
  • Saddle – Prologo Dimension
  • Seatpost – Izalco Carbon
  • Stem – Focus Izalco
  • Tyres – Conti GP 4000 SII 25 mm
  • Wheels DT Swiss Dicut ARC1450

Industry Reviews

Warren Rossiter summaries his experience in his review for Bike Radar:

The ride is brilliant – firm yet forgiving. It’s comfortable enough for long, hard rides, light enough to climb with the best. The handling is sublime – nimble without nerves and with an agility that puts it up with the best of breed. Very impressive.

Cyclist Magazine takes a slightly more ciritical view of the 9.9 models & scores the bike 3/5 as they find the handling too lively:

Does well to blend aero design with classic road bike attributes, albeit this means it much more Jack of all trades than true master

Gran Fondo Magazine conclude that the bike is a great option for bike racers but note the light handling make it less suitable for more leisure-oriented riders:

With its sprinting abilities and playful handling, the FOCUS IZALCO MAX DISC 9.9 is a great choice for all the racers and crit riders out there. For tours and more leisure-oriented riders, it’s less appropriate due to the agile front and the comparatively low amount of comfort. While it’s a solid all-rounder, it’s just a bit too sporty to take the win in our test.

The Focus Izalco Max Range

The 9.7  comes in at €6,999 with the Sram Force AXS groupset. This bike can be upgraded to the 9.9, €8,999 9.9 Dura Ace Di2 or the 9.8 €8,499 Sram Red AXS version. For those looking for a similar ride feel without the super bike price tag, the 8 series starts at €3,099 for a Shimano 105 build & a light (but not superlight) carbon frame & non-integrated cables.

Interested in a Focus Bike?

Head over to our online shop to browse the models we have in stock or contact us about your dream build!

Cyclist-Guide-to-Bikepacking

Cyclist’s Guide To Bikepacking

By Cycling No Comments

How To Plan A Bikepacking Trip

The bikepacking season is well & truly here in Europe. Hot summer weather means packing light & an opportunity to expand your horizons and keep costs to a minimum (or splurge on some luxury hotels of course!). Planning a bike tour is great fun but also requires a bit of thought & planning – skip this phase and you could end up having a miserable time. Here’s our top tips on what to consider when planning your trip – these are the same steps we work through when planning a custom cycling tour for our guests.

Top-Tips-For-Planning-A-Bikepacking-TripChoosing Your Route

Why Bikepacking?

Have a quick think about what your motivations are for the trip – do you want to get away from it all & head out on a spontaneous adventure? Maybe you want to log quality miles, or opt for a more relaxed break with a focus on great food & beautiful places to stay. The answers to these questions will start to give you an idea about some potential destinations for your bikepacking trip.

What Terrain & What Bike?

Next up is to decide what type of terrain you’d like to ride – do you want to enjoy smooth tarmac, gravel trails, bike paths or single track? Do you fancy some climbing or do you prefer to keep things flat? Do you want to stick to terrain you’re comfortable with or are you looking to push your comfort zone?

With this info you can then select the perfect bike – a high performance road machine, gravel bike, touring bike or mountain bike! Check out our 2020 Bike Rental Fleet Review for an overview of different bike options for different styles of riding.

How far do you want to ride?

The most important thing here is to be realistic. There’s nothing worse than committing to huge daily distances & realising halfway through day 1 that you’re not quite as fit as you thought you were! Remember the miles will be slower as you’ll be carrying all your gear & don’t forget to consider the fatigue building up over the duration of the trip. When choosing your stopover points keep things comfortable – it’s never a problem to extend a ride with an extra loop or extra climb but it’s difficult to shorten. The worst case is you end up hopping on to main roads to cover distance more easily – fine if the aim or your trip is to cover as many kms as possible, but pretty miserable if you were hoping to explore backroads & villages.

How long do you have?

Are you looking for a quick weekend break, a week long cruise or an epic multi-stage adventure? Having a rough idea of dates should be a factor in deciding where you’re going to ride – in the peak of summer it’s great to head north to a cooler climates, in Spring & Autumn everywhere is ace & in winter southern destinations are king. If you’re bikepacking on the road make sure you find out about traffic conditions in your chosen region – shifting a trip to the coast in summer to mid-week dates can make a huge difference to traffic levels.

Where to Sleep?

Bikepackers generally fall into 3 categories depending on their budget for the trip & motivation for riding:

Bivvy Bag/Tent

Hands down the bivvy-bag is most economical way to travel. It’s also the most adventurous and gives you the most flexiblity whilst on the tour. It’s pretty great to make it to the top of a climb & decide to call it a day, make camp & watch the sun go down. Be aware you’ll have to invest in a bit more gear to be able to sleep outdoors in comfort so this option only makes sense if you’re planning on a longer trip or multiple trips in this style!

Guesthouse

Staying in local guesthouses along the route is a great way to meet people who live in the area & get some insights into the local way of life. Things to consider when choosing a guesthouse are whether or not they offer evening meals as well as breakfast. If not, is there a place you can get some food within walking distance – when you arrive after a long day on the bike the worst thing is to have to get back on the bike in search of sustenance.

It’s nice to mix up different types of guesthouses to give your trip some variety. Spend a night or two somewhere rural, then head to enjoy an evening in a buzzing town centre. It’s generally best to avoid big cities when bike packing – getting in & out can be super stressful in traffic, especially if you’re not sure of the route. However, if you have time for detailled route research & want to get a hit of city culture most cities have one or two more bike-friendly routes in & out – check train route & rivers on the map, often there’s a bike path alongside them.

Luxury Hotels

If you’re looking to treat yourself then go for the best hotels in the region. Benefits include post-ride recovery in the hotel spa, massages on demand, a very comfortable, clean bed, unlimited toiletries, laundry service & great food & wine! Make sure you have the mental strength to check-out in time to make your next planned ride & make sure the food choices cater for cyclists – gourmet food is delicious but often lacks carbs – a bikepackers best friend on a multi-day trip. A nice way to plan a trip is to build towards a spectacular hotel for your final night or two. As the miles rack up, often the need for quality recovery increases too!

Back to Choosing Your Route!

Once you’ve established all of the above it’s time to decide where to ride & put some hours into planning your route. Different regions lend themselves to different styles of trip:

Bikepacking-Destinations-Mallorca-Morocco-AndaluciaMallorca Beach Hop

  • Motivation: a nice mix of exploring by bike & relaxation on the beach, with options for great food & sightseeing for those who are keen
  • Terrain: best for road cycling, gravel also an option
  • Sleep: Best for guesthouses or luxury hotels – there are loads to choose from & distances between places are small.
  • Distances: Mallorca is an island so this is not a location to rack up huge point to point miles. Perfect for 50km – 100km days!
  • Duration: Anything from a weekend to a week. If you go over 2 weeks you’ll run out of road or go around in circles
  • Time of year: All year around, at it’s very best for cycling in Spring & Autumn.

Trans Andalucia

  • Motivation: best for a get-away-from it all epic ride!
  • Terrain: road, mtb or gravel, it’s all awesome. Andalucia is home to the Sierra Nevada mountains
  • Sleep: Luxury hotels are few & far between, there are great guesthouses & camping wild is also doable
  • Distances: Andalucia is the land that keeps on giving. Best for long days on the bike, but there are plently of villages dotted around
  • Duration: At least a week to get a taste of the region.
  • Time of year: All year around but avoid July & August unless you don’t mind the heat

Sahara Desert & Atlas Mountains

  • Motivation: total escape & new horizons
  • Terrain: road, mtb & gravel – Morocco has it all. Avoid main roads & big cities – the traffic is chaotic.
  • Sleep: local guesthouses – rustic & welcoming, good to have the option ot bivvy if you don’t make the distance. There are some luxury hotels dotted around, they are few & far between & very disconnected from local life.
  • Distances: Huge & at altitude. This is tough, beautiful, remote riding!
  • Duration: The more time you have the better to experience the full variety of riding
  • Time of year: Avoid June, July & August, the heat is extreme. If you’re heading into the high mountians avoid January & Feburary as you’ll be climbing into ice & snow.

Once you’ve selected your region it’s time to start hunting down the best roads, places to stay & unmissable food stops. Are there climbs you want to aim for? Are there mountain ranges you’d prefer to avoid? Where are the two or three locations you really want to stay the night? With these bits of information you can start to piece toegether the outline of a trip.

Make sure you consider how you’ll get to the start of the trip & how you’ll get home. A few adjustments at the planning stage can save you hours of pre & post trip travel hell.

How to Carry Your Gear

There’s a huge amount of bike-packing gear on the market & it’s wise to do some homework & work out what works best for both your bike & the amount of gear you want to carry.

Weight distribution is key for a smooth, stable & enjoyable ride. Load too much on the back of the bike and your front end will feel like it’s lifting off the ground, climbing out the saddle will be super wobbly and corners will have to be low-speed to stay upright.

Opt for smaller packs, but more of them. If you’re travelling super light go for a saddle pack & a bar bag to get some weight off the back, if you need more gear, add a frame bag & then a fork bag. If you’re going heavy-weight and heading off on an epic ride a traditional touring set up with a rack and panniers might be the best way to go.

If you’re in the market for new bike luggage we highly recommend Restrap & Ortileb. Both companies make fantastic, reliable products & are well worth the investment.

How-to-pack-bikepacking-gear-kit-choice

Packing For Your Bikepacking Trip

Your packing list is up to you and will be shaped by both how long you plan to be on the road, the time of year you’ll be riding & your hygiene standards! Remember, everything you pack is something you’ll have to carry & unpack & repack throughout the trip – simplicity & lightweight, multi-purpose items are key.

Check out our Bare Essentails packing list on our Bikepacking the Pirinexus blog. If you can’t cope with travelling this light, consider getting your luggage transfered to each new location – you’ll have less freedom in terms of altering your route & more to plan but hey, it’s your dream bike trip after all!

Thinking about a Bikepacking Trip & Need Some Help?

We’d love to hear from you! We’re experts in planning bike adventures & would love to hear about your dream trip. We offer flexible services from route planning, accommodation reservations, bike hire, bike luggage hire, luggage transfers & more. Get in touch for a no-comittment chat!

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

Cycling-Shorts-Guide-To-Finding-Your-Perfect-Fit

Cycling Shorts – How to Choose Your Perfect Fit

By Cycling One Comment

Cycling shorts are an essential piece of kit for anyone wishing to enjoy a comfortable ride. The all-important chamois is one of just 3 contact points with the bike, meaning it’s extremely important to get the right fit. A great pair of bib shorts coupled with a well fitting saddle can lead to many hours of comfortable riding. Get it wrong & you might experience all kinds of chaffing, discomfort & saddle sores.

Cycling Shorts: Finding A Good Fit

So, how to find the right fit? There are a huge number of shorts & price points to choose from – whilst it would be impossible to cover & test every single short on the market, we’ve selected our favourites to review here.

Guide-to-choosing-your-cycling-shorts-casual-race-endurance-maap-assos-chpt3Cycling Bib Shorts vs Waist Shorts vs Casual Shorts

The first decision to make is what style of shorts you want to ride – bibs, waist shorts or casual? Your perfect cycling shorts starts with the type of riding you want to do.

Casual Cycling Shorts

Chrome Industries – Madrona 5 Pocket Short

Touring cyclists, commuters & some gravel riders might opt for something casual but tailored for the bike. The Chrome Industries Madrona short is nothing short of awesome. They look like a classic pair of everyday shorts, but are constructed with a quick-dry 4-way cotton/nylon/spandex stretch fabric which makes exploring on the bike super comfortable. Plus, they’re a great option for hitting a coffee shop or taking a stroll around somewhere new mid-ride.

Madrona 5 Pocket Short, €90

Gender: Men & Women’s available

Best For: City riding, commuting, touring

Cycling-Shorts-Guide-Chamois-Best-FitThe Chamois

If you’re planning on spending continuos hours on the bike, shorts with a chamois is a must.  Back in the day a chamois was made out of leather and used by endurance cyclists to try to reduce the chafing of wollen shorts on long distance rides. The first synthetic chamois was produced in the 1980’s by Mauritzio Cinelli. The new materials achieved a big improvement on chafing & also dampened vibrations on the road. The battle for the most comfortable chamois had begun.

The key to a good chamois is density. Many cheap shorts have a chamois that is thick & spongy – great for a week but over time the pad compresses & reduces to nothing. A dense pad, between 8 – 13 mm is ideal & after 40 years of chamois development, pads are now also designed to suit different ride positions. For example, a chamois optimized for a time trial will have less padding at the back & more the front, as this is where the rider comes into more contact with the saddle in an aero position. A chamois designed for a long Gran Fondo or sportive will have more thickness around the sit bones and add extra comfort to a more upright, leisurely riding position.

A good chamois will also be made out of breathable, anti-microbial materials which eliminate moisture & friction – the two biggest causes of chafing.

Once you’ve got an idea about your ride style & ideal chamois thickness, it’s time to decide – to bib, or not to bib?

Waist Cycling Shorts

Assos-Cycling-Bib-Shorts-Guide-To-Choosing-Cycling-ShortsAssos of Switzerland – GT Half Short

Assos have built their reputation around the cycling short. They are known for their best-in-class award winning chamois & their shorts are tough to beat for comfort & performance. Unlike most high end cycling clothing brands Assos have inlcuded the half short in their range, and with good reason. The half-short is a great option for riders getting starting in cycling who are not ready to make the jump to bibs. For women in particular, taking a comfort break becomes much easier. The Assos half short is contructed around a great chamois, has soft grippers & a wide waist band to hold the shorts in place.

RRP €120

For Women: Assos UMA GT Half Short

For Men: Assos Mille GT Half Short

Best For: Getting started in road cycling

Cycling Bib Shorts

Bib shorts are by far the most widely used by cycling aficionados. The straps remove the need for a waist band (which can cut in & be uncomfortable), and the chamois provides a comfortable contact point with the saddle & the fabrics should wick away sweat & provide temperature control. But how to choose your perfect bib? Finding the absolutley perfect fit is personal – riders are different shapes & sizes & enjoy different styles of riding. Here’s our top pick of cycling bib shorts.

CHPT3-Assos-MAAP-Cycling-Bibs-How-To-ChooseMAAP Pro Bib Short

MAAP is a performance cycling brand from Austrialia, who get all their kit made in Italy.  Additional support without unecessary bulk. MAAP have extended its bib short range to include a choice of 3 shorts. The new, premium Pro Bib Short is designed exclusively with performance in mind. They are most definitely a race cut, with wide, comfy straps and material constructed to minimise chafing & maximise compression. These are shorts which last well over time and through multiple washes – maybe something to do with the high-tech, 4D woven fabric. For the price tag you can take your pick of the best shorts on the market – we love these for their simplicity, durability & MAAP style.

The Training Bib & Team Bib short offer nice alternatives at a cheaper price point. The same chamois technology goes into both & MAAP have put the same effort into developing both their mens & womens range.

Pro Bib Short, €235

Team Bib Short 3.0, €195 

Training Bib, €165

Best for: Riders looking for a high performance, super stylish short who don’t mind the price tag. 

Read a detailled review of the MAAP Team Bib 2.0 by Bike Radar

CHPT3 Girona Bib 1.17

Theses are classy bib shorts that are the result of British Ex-Pro David Millar’s collabortation with Castelli. The bibs feature the Castelli Kiss Air chamois & a beautiful, understated design inspired by Girona city. We found the straps to be on the short side, so be sure to check the feel of the bibs in your ride position. The leg gripper is tight, providing a reassuring amount of compression – again, test the fit at your local stockist to ensure you’ve found your perfect match! The price point is spot on – these shorts offer great quality for the price.

Girona Bib 1.17, €125

Best for: Riders looking for everyday comfort.

Cons: It doesn’t come in women’s fit. 

Assos: The Golden Gate

Assos remain the brand to beat when it comes to cycling shorts & chamois construction. They have a short for every rider & once you’ve ridden an Assos bib, it’s extremely hard to appreciate another bib once you’ve found your perfect set of Assos. Assos make shorts that do not move on the rider – the shorts feel like a second skin & chafing is non-existent. The ‘Golden Gate’ is available in the Equipe & Cento short. It’s a clever innovation whereby just the front & the back of the chamois is stitched onto the shorts – any movement happends between two layers of fabric, and not between the fabric & the riders skin – bliss!

Mille GT Bib, €130 – For the everyday cyclist

Equipe RS Bib Shorts S9, €200 – For performance riders.

Cento Evo Bib, €255 – For long distance riders looking for luxury

Cons: Their women’s shorts are fantastic, but just available in UMA (Mille) & Laalalai (Equipe)

Trade in Trade Up

In the market for some new cycling shorts? Take advatnage of the Assos Trade In Trade Up Campaign. Bring any set of clean bibs to your local Assos dealer & get €20 off any set of Assos shorts.

What’s your favourite bib?

We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your best bibs or ask us if you’d like some advice with purchasing your next set of bibs – get in touch!

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

Guide-to-Cycling-In-Italy-Eat-Sleep-Cycle-Dolomites-Alps-Tuscany

Cyclist’s Guide To Italy

By Cycling No Comments

Italy has a special place in Eat Sleep Cycle history and we cannot wait to return to bring more of our amazing guests to this incredible country in the not too distant future. Italy has cycling deeply embedded in its culture & history. Capturing the depth of riding, the variety of terrain, the passionate cycling culture, the incredible food, the cycling industry in just one blog is pretty much impossible. But here I hope to give a tantaslising taste of what Italy can offer for the cyclist.

Italian Cycling Regions

Italy is packed with beautiful regions to explore by bike – there are high mountains & sparkling lakes in the north, beautiful vineyards, rolling landscapes & rustic farmhouses in the central region of Tuscany & stunning flat lands, mediterranean coast & whitewashed villages in the southern region of Puglia. Plus the Apennine mountains, the islands of Corisca, Sardina & Catania, the incredible Cinque Terre… the list is endless!

Cycling in Northern Italy: Lakes & Mountains

The north of Italy holds many delights and challenges for the cyclists. Not a place for beginners, the Alps, the Dolomites, Veneto, Piemonte & Lombardy offer off-the-scale-awesome riding.

To the north of the lagoon city of Venice lie the towns of Conegliano, Basso del Grappa & Feltre, all fabulous bases for riding. From Bassano discover the beautiful Veneto region & climb the Monte Grappa, a great warm up for the high mountains.

In the north east corner of Italy is a climb which inspires terror amongst the pro’s – Monte Zoncolan. The Zoncolan is a regular feature in the Giro d’Italia & the climb from Ovaro features a leg-busting 6km section which averages 15%.

To the west lie the picturesque Dolomites, known around the world for stunning rock formations. A must-ride loop is the 54 km Sella Ronda from Corvara – one of the most beautiful rides in the world which features four mountain passes. The Sella Ronda loop forms a part of the annual Maratona del Dolomiti sportive – an epic ride which also features the iconic Passo Giau & Passo Falzarego.

Continuing west we reach the Italian Alps, high mountains which include the 47 switchbacks of the Passo Stelvio, the eye-watering gradients of the Passo Mortirolo & the mighty Passo Gavia. These climbs are where the key battles of the Giro d’Italia are fought every year & are where cyclists become legend; remember Andy Hampsten cresting the Gavia in a snow storm to take the maglia rosa in 1988 & in 1994 the legend of Il Pirata was born when a young Marco Pantani launched a breathtaking attack on the Mortirolo.

After the Alps it’s wise to head to the Italian Lakes and enjoy some rest & relaxation. But don’t be fooled – from lakeside hotels the only way to ride is around the lake or up & out. Be sure to pay homeage to the Patron Saint of Cycling at the Madonna del Ghisallo shrine & test your legs on the short but brutally steep Muro di Sormano. As well as regular vists from the Giro d’Italia the Lakes of Como, Garda & Maggiore also play host to the final monumnet of the season, the Giro de Lombardia.

If you have any energy left, continue the adventure & head west again to Piemonte. Climb the gravel slopes of the Colle de Finestre, as well as the epic cols of Nivolet & Agnello. Drop down back to the Barolo wine region & savour the rolling roads & indulge in a spot of wine tasting to round off the northern Italian experience.

Want to experience Northern Italy? 

If you’ve got 3 or 4 weeks to spare this would be an incredible Grand Tour: fly into Venice, ride Trans Dolomites, hit the Italian Lakes for a week in Lombardy, then continue west to tour Piemonte. Fly out of Milan.

Cycling in Central Italy: Tuscany

For something altogether more relaxed explore the rolling landscapes of Tuscany. As well as making a great training ground for legendary Italian cyclists Bettini, Cipollini & Bartali, Tuscany is also well suited to lesiure riders & gravel lovers.

Cycling-Tuscany-Eat-Sleep-Cycle-Strade-BiancheEvery year the city of Siena hosts the Strade Bianche, the southernmost Spring Classic of the calendar. Riders tear across the white gravel roads of the Crete Senesi region, tackle short, steep climbs & a fabulously technical parcours. The first rider to make it to the Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena takes the honours.

Tuscany is home to fabulous hotels, restored castles, Italian villas & rustic farmhouses. It’s the perfect place for cyclists who love food & culture to visit.

Want to cycle in Tuscany?

Join us for a long weekend of cycling in Siena for the Strade Bianche or ask us about our brand new Tour of Tuscany!

Italian Cycling Heritage & Racing

Giro d’Italia

Italy’s Grand Tour is usually a highlight of life in May. The race started in 1909 and grew from a an Italian-only race to include riders & teams from all over the world. A total of 49 riders won the first 2,448 km race, with Luigi Ganna taking first place. In the 1920’s Alfredo Binda was the dominant rider, and it took the Ironman of Tuscany, Gino Bartali to defeat him. Bartali’s dominance was only challenged in 1940 by his 20 year old teammate, the great Fausto Coppi. 10 years later, in 1950, Hugo Koblet of Switzerland became the first non-Italian to win the Giro. American Andrew Hampsten became the first non-European winner in 1988, and the first South American winner was Nairo Quintana of Colombia in 2014.

 Italian-Cycling-Heritage-Race-History-Giro-d-ItaliaStrade Bianche

L’Eroica Strade Bianche (“Heroic race of the white roads”) was created in 1997 as a granfondo for vintage bikes on the white gravel roads around Siena. The concept was to recreate cycling’s so-called “heroic era” from the first half of the 20th century, when most bike races were ridden on dirt or unpaved roads.

The Strade Bianche is Italy’s youngest race on the World Tour calendar, but it’s quickly become a classic. The peleton races across the Tuscan countryside across a mix of country lanes & white gravel roads. The first edition rolled out in 2007, with a womens edition starting in 2015.

Milan – San Remo

One of the five monuments of cycling, Milan-San Remo was first held in 1907. The 298 km race is the longest one-day race in professional cycling and its flat(ish) course makes it a favourite of the sprinters. The course runs from the city of Milan across the plains of Piemonte & Lombardy, to the Liguran coast. The entire second half of the course has a view of the mediterranean as the race makes its way to the fashionable seaside resort of San Remo.

Giro Lombardia

If Milan-San Remo is the sprinters classic, the Giro Lombardia is the climbers classic, and the last monument of the season. Held in the autumn the race is also called the race of the falling leaves and started in 1905. The route has changed many times, with the only consistent features being Lake Como and the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo climb.Other famous climbs include the short but tough San Fermo della Battaglia and the 9.6 km Colma di Sormano.

Made in Italy

Italy in one of the major fashion houses of Europe & the same goes for cycling clothing. Itlay produces some of the world’s best fabrics & its no surprise that a multitude of cycling clothing is made in Italy and use this fact as a part of their marketing as a sign of quality.

As well as clothing, Italy has several highly regarded bike brands. Institutions like Campagnolo, Bianche & Pinarello are proud of their Italian routes. Family run business Basso Bikes continue to proudly make their frames in a factory in Bassano del Grappa – a step up from the family garage where Alcide Basso produced his first frames.

There is so much more to write about cycling in Italy – watch this space for our upcoming features on our favourite Italian cycling climbs & recommendations for the best places to stay, eat & drink!

Do you want to find out more about cycling in Italy?

As soon as you’re ready to travel we would love to show you around Italy! Check out our Italian Tours or give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 or contact us online for more info!

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

 

Ridley-Kanzo-Adventure-Gravel-Bike-Review-Eat-Sleep-Cycle

Ridley Kanzo Adventure Bike Review

By Cycling 3 Comments

Gravel cycling is developing from a cool-American niche to a mainstream discipline in cycling. Hundreds of gravel events have sprung up across the world, in a few short years the Strade Bianche has become one of the most important races on the UCI calendar & in January the UCI said it was looking into introducing a Gravel World Championship. The gravel bike has become the new essential bike in many cyclists collection and offers even the most experienced rider the opportunity to discover something new. In this blog we take a detailled look at Ridley’s new offering, the Ridley Kanzo Adventure.

Ridley Kanzo Adventure Review – High Speed, All Terrain

Ridley has a long heritage of designing bikes that work on rough Belgian roads – unpaved, cobbled or poorly surfaced. Ridley has an international reputation for making great cyclocross bikes & beautiful all-round endurance road bikes. The fact that Ridley have billed this as their first pure gravel bike is exciting.

The hugely popular Ridley X-Trail is the predecessor of the Kanzo. In our Ridley X-Trail review, one thing we felt the X-Trail could improve on was tyre clearance, a 36 mm max width just didn’t give the flexibility to enjoy all the trails in Girona. In contrast the Kanzo has a tyre clearance of 47 mm for 700c wheels and up to 50 mm for 650b – for those in the mood for something more extreme.

Ridley have also added extra bottle cage mounts on the fork, top tube and below on the downtube give huge flexibility for carrying your gear – this is a bike which was made for stripped down, fast days out in the saddle, or epic multi-day bike-packing adventures. The Adventure has longer chainstays & a shorter reach than the X-Trail, giving the rider a more comfortable position for longer adventure-style rides. The flex zones in the rear stays also add extra comfort by filtering the vibrations from all the different surfaces encountered on your adventure.

The Kanzo Adventure cabling is all internal – preventing mud & water from ruining shifting (not that there’s much mud & water in Girona this time of year!)

What’s in a name? Why Kanzo?

According to Ridley:

Kanzo is a word that dates back to the times of the troubadours, who were singers and poets in the Middle Ages. They traveled widely and experienced all kinds of adventures, which they turned into stories about knights & love. On return to their home villages, they would tell the inhabitants about their adventures using three different genres. The most commonly used of these was a “kanzo/canzo”. Their stories moved entire communities, who hung on their every word.

Just like the troubadours, we want to encourage cyclists to go out and ride their bikes, to discover new places or rediscover what they thought they already knew.

The Ridley marketing department is framing this bike as a machine for discovery, which is all well & good, but how does this translate to everyday use? We asked Kanzo owner Rich to share his opinion.

Ridley-Kanzo-Adventure-Gravel-Bike-Review-All-Round-TerrainRidley Kanzo Adventure – A Versatile Machine

Rich bought a Kanzo a few months back to enjoy a winter season of riding Girona on both the road & trails. Here’s what he has to say about his new machine:

The Kanzo has been a great mixed surface bike for me – with the stock wheels and tires, it’s super secure on all sorts of trails, from smooth hard pack up to single track trails. The 45c WTB Riddler tires just roll over most ruts, rocks and holes, providing great confidence when exploring new terrain.

When I swap out the wheels and tires for my set of Hunt road wheels (takes 5 minutes), this allows me to go out on long road rides with my friends. Super comfortable ride on the road, it has secure handling. While it’s not race geometry, the Kanzo keeps up easily with “real” road bikes and climbs surprisingly well.

For me, it’s really a “one bike for all terrain” that I can use anywhere.

Ridley Kanzo Adventure Review Analysis

Overall the Ridley Kanzo Adventure is a wonderful bike which brings together Ridley’s years of experience & applies it to the gravel market.

Positives:

  • Fantasic tyre clearance – 47 mm on 700 c, 50 mm on 650b wheels
  • Internal cabling for a sleek look & no interference from mud & water
  • Pure Line custom paint available for a personal bike
  • Fantastic price point – from €2,999 for a complete bike (Ultegra) to €3,799 (Force 1)

Weaknesses

It’s tough to find fault with the Kanzo! If there are other Kanzo riders out there, let us know your comments on the bike. We’ll keep this updated as rider feedback comes in.

Ridley-Kanzo-Adventure-Gravel-Bike-Review-Pure-Line-Sram-Force-Build.The Ridley Kanzo Range

The Kanzo comes in different models – a high-speed race version, an entry level alloy version & an electric assist – Ridley have truly covered all the bases!

  • Kanzo Speed – This is the fast, race version of the X-Trail – there’s less tyre clearance than the Kanzo & perfect for long, non-technical rides. Starting at €2,799 (105) to €3,599 (Ultegra).
  • Kanzo A – an affordable alloy gravel machine. Starting at €1,499 (Apex 1) to €2,099 (Ultegra)
  • Kanzo e Fauza – an awesome electric assist version, availble in road, flat bar or gravel versions. From €3,899

Want to try the Ridley Kanzo Adventure for Yourself?

You can rent the Ridley Kanzo Adventure (or the Basso Palta, or the Reilly Gradient) from us during your next Girona cycling vacation – we run gravel tours in Girona all year around & head over the Moroccan Atlas Mountains in Spring & Autumn! Give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 or contact us online for more info!

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

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Sustainable Travel & Responsible Cycling Tours

By Cycling No Comments

This is a blog that comes from the heart. Both Lee & I have a background in sustainability – we met whilst both working for an environmental behaviour change charity in London, Global Action Plan. We spent our days working with organisations to help them to reduce their impact on the environment in whichever ways made sense for them. With the havoc caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 it’s time for us all to reflect on our new reality & to recognise how unsustainable our lifestyles are & the devastating impact we’re collectively having on the natural world & on our global health.

As someone who’s livelihood is dependent on people taking holidays & flying out to European destinations to see us the solution for our guests is not clear cut. The human species loves to travel & move about. Modern lifestyles mean flights & short breaks are a really great way to stay happy & expand our horizons. The global reduction in pollution & carbon emissions as a result of lock-downs to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has been significant. No flights, no production, no non-essential journey’s is a great way to tackle climate change.

So the question emerges, how can we maintain a lower-emission lifestyle & still get to enjoy the travel that keeps us happy, and to ride bikes in some of the world’s most spectacular locations?

Solutions for Sustainable Travel

So, what can us travel-obsessed cycling junkies do? How can we experience new places in a way that respects the planet & does not have a negative impact?

Cycling-Destination-Staycations-Sustainable-Travel-Eat-Sleep-CycleCycling Stay-cations

The Cycling Stay-cation is a great way to avoid public transport & crowded public spaces like airports & train stations. Cycling from your front door on routes you have never seen before, is a pretty cool thing to do.

The cycling stay-cation might expand to destinations that can be driven to in comfort (& isolation), just a few hours from home. For example, Londoners might head north to the Yorkshire Dales or south west to Cornwall. Cyclists in Barcelona might head to Girona or to the Costa Brava for some relaxed days in the saddle. San Franciscan’s might simply head to Marin County, New Yorkers to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.  The truth is there are incredible roads & trails just a few hours from most big cities.

A great side effect of this is that riders will be supporting their local hotels, cafès & restaurants – a great opportunity to give back a little & cut your personal carbon footprint. Plus, it’s just less stressful. The language is the same, the food is familiar and staying close to home in holiday mode might change the perspective of where live for the better.

Taking Longer Holidays

If you do need a take a long-haul or short-haul flight to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime try and go for as long as possible. Can a few days be a week, can a week be two? It is possible to negotiate a remote-working solution with your company for an extended period?

Longer trips mean less trips & significantly reduces the amount of flights over the course of a year. And longer trips also mean you can spend more time getting to know your holiday destination.

Travel by Train

If there’s an option to travel by train to your holiday destination, take it. Overland journey’s are a wonderful way to see the landscape change & is a particularly awesome way to get around Europe. For example, the journey from London to Girona is a great one, starting with the Eurostar across the rolling green fields of Kent to Paris. From here the TGV heads south to the Mediterranean with views of the Massif Central, and an amazing section of track along the south coast of France. Door to door it’s around 10 hours but it’s a magical way to spend the day & peaceful, stress-free way to start a trip!

Carbon Offsetting

It’s not the solution, but it helps if flying to a quick holiday is the only option (which is more realistic for most of us!) The challenge here is to find a great scheme whereby your heard-earned €€ goes directly to great projects which are producing real-world results. There are some awesome projects out there – from tree-planted to clean energy projects. We would love to know your preferred Carbon Offsetting projects so we can start to help our guests to offset their own travel. Let us know via email or in the comments below!

Responsible Cycling Tours

If we’re encouraging our guests to think about their carbon footprints, it’s only right that we apply the same concepts to our tours & bike rental service.

Here’s what we’re doing so far:

  • We us recyclable cutlery & plates made from sustainably sourced materials on our tour picnics
  • We buy organic & locally produced ride nutrition wherever possible when on tour
  • Working with some amazing local hotel & guesthouses who are off-grid or have great environmental policies
  • Including fantastic local food producers on our tour itineraries – for example, an organic olive oil maker in Andalucia & a natural wine maker in Empordà
  • Recycling stations in our hub, service course & office
  • LED lighting in our hub & office

Here are our ideas for what’s next:

  • Transition our tour support vehicles to hybrid
  • Zero waste tours
  • Eat Sleep Cycle jersey made from recycled fabrics
  • Eco-packaging & postal service for everything purchased on our online shop
  • Offer incentives for those travelling to their holiday by train
  • Offer guests the option of offset their flights as a part of their holiday package
  • Digital tour handbooks for our guests
  • Plan to reduce our energy use
  • Plan to reduce our fuel use

As we work on developing our sustainability plan, we would love to hear your ideas & to get your feedback on everything – what do you think? Is there more we can be doing and working towards?

Sustainable-Cycle-Tour-Case-Study-MTB-Morocco-Eat-Sleep-Cycle.Case Study for Sustainable Tourism: MTB Morocco / All Brother Travel 

We work with a special company to deliver our cycling tours in Morocco. They have a very special ethos with is to build a global family of guests who together support the communities they visit whilst cycling in Morocco. We’re taking a huge amount of inspiration from how this small business is run. 

Founder Lahcen Errami lives in the village of Imlil and works as a bike guide. He’s built his company around supporting local communities in Morocco & in doing so all of his guests have a unique & authentic experience of his homeland. Here Lahcen shares his insights & values:

I was born in the High Atlas Mountains, in the Imlil valley, 70 km from Marrakech. I have been a guide since childhood – my father took me with him when he worked as a hiking guide. Eventually I had responsibility for my own groups & anytime I took guests into the mountains, I would work on sharing my culture. Then, one day, I guided a group of cyclists from the UK up to Mount Toubkal – the idea of cycling guiding was born! Cyclists are people who understand more about culture, because they travel a lot by bike. I love my bike because it teaches me to be human!

The High Atlas mountains my home and my preferred place to bike. The Atlas are also home to many indigenous tribes living in mud huts scattered along the mountainsides, and even nomadic and semi-nomadic families throughout the valleys. We’ve selected our top picks for biking in this unique destination. Our routes provide a glimpse in to Amazigh (Berber) life as trekkers pass through little mud-hut villages where time seems to stand still.

We make sure our tours support the communities we ride through. There is 2% of the benefits of the tour going direct to the community & sharing in our culture is one of the best ways to give back. Our community needs the world to be one country & for everyone to love each other as family.

My favourite ride in area is from Agouim to Igli, what amazing place to ride and to stay for night under the stars! For the future of tourism in Morocco I want to get more brothers and sisters & build a new world!

Lahcen operates tours as mtbmorocco & has two guesthouses in Imlil – www.riadjnaneimlil.com & Riad Altas Imlil. We work with Lahcen & his awesome team on our new Atlas Mountain tour!

Inspired to try to travel sustainably?

We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’d like more advice on how to adapt your travel plans or have some feedback & ideas for us, get in touch!

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

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Cyclist’s Guide to Getting Started in Road Cycling

By Cycling No Comments

There has never been a better time to start cycling. Whether it is to avoid crowded public transport, build your defense against the virus or just to get outside into the countryside after being in lockdown, this blog contains the key steps to get you started with cycling. Don´t worry, you don’t have to shave your legs….yet!

Step 1 – Just Ride!

If you have an old bike in your garage, or one that you can borrow from a friend, our advice is to brush off the dust and start there. You can always upgrade later when you get hooked, but why delay getting out and feeling that breeze in your face?

If you are not lucky enough to already have a bike, then you will be looking to purchase one. This is a great first commitment to getting into cycling. Just like booking a holiday persuades you to look after your waistline, buying a bike means you are more likely to get out cycling!

What Type of Cycling Would You Like to Do?

The most important question is what will you use the bike for? If you are looking for a bike to commute to work, you will want something you can use all year round, that is hardy and not too expensive so you can leave it locked outside a shop. Your frame material choice will likely be aluminium or steel which are durable and more affordable materials. Examples are the Ridley Tempo & Eddy Merckx Claris. These bikes are also perfect for leisure cycling at the weekends, not least because you can easily fix a rack and panniers to them for carrying your laptop or picnic alike.

If your idea is to become a weekend warrior; to escape into the countryside on the road, then consider a traditional drop bar road bike. Drop bars are actually safer than flat bars at higher speeds on roads with imperfections and you will be surprised how quickly you get used to them. It does feel a little faster at first and that is part of the thrill of road cycling. 

Most cyclists opt for an endurance road bike – these are bikes built for comfort and have a more relaxed geometry. This means your cycling position will be a bit more upright & less aero – perfect for enjoying a weekend spin with friends. If you’re a speed-demon & have good flexibility you may want to consider a bike with a more aggressive geometry – a lower front end of the bike will place you in a more aerodynamic position, great for racing. You’ll get some speed advantages but remember that unless you are flexible & have good core strength you might experience discomfort & enjoy cycling less.

Where to Buy Your First Bike

First things first, you do not need to break the bank. If you buy second hand you can obtain a much better bike for your money, however you should trust the seller.

You may want to consider buying from a trusted seller like your local bike shop or an online platform like the Eat Sleep Cycle shop. Buying from a trusted source means you are sure the bike has a credible history and will be safe to ride.

 Choosing-Your-First-Road-Bike-Endurance-vs-RaceWhat’s Your Budget for Your First Bike?

You can spend as much as you like on a road bike. If you are serious about getting started then we suggest spending at least €1,000 for a good entry level bike.

For example, the Ridley Fenix SLA Disc retails at €1,599.

Although you can get a more affordable aluminium road bike, carbon is the material of choice since it is lighter and stiffer than other materials. You can obtain an entry level carbon road bike for €1,000 to €2,000.

For example, the Ridley Fenix SL 105 retails at €2,099 or is available second hand for €749, or the Basso Venta 105 is a beautiful machine at €1,899.

If you would prefer to treat yourself there are of course also plenty of higher end options which boast lighter frames and better components. If you are getting started you don’t need this extra performance but if you can afford it and you want it, it’s better to go for it so you can truly enjoy the ride. Take the Factor O2 VAM, a bike which you will not be able to put down and will see you sailing up the climbs!

Bike-Fit-Getting-Started-Road-Cycling-Eat-Sleep-Cycle-2Getting the Right Fit

Choosing a bike that is the right size is important. Your local bike shop will be able to provide good advice but if you want to be 100% sure, consider a bike fit. A full fit can cost  €100 to €300, but many bike shops will include a basic fit when you buy a new bike. Always check the size guide for your bike and our advice is to go for the smaller frame. For handling it is better to be on the lower end of a size scale with a longer stem than on the upper end. 

Contact points

Soon after you start riding your new machine you might start to experience all sorts of discomfort. Some of it is your body adapting to the new position & type of movement, but some of it can be avoided by taking the following steps:

  • Choose a comfortable saddle. Saddles are a very personal thing & what works for your cycling buddy may not work for you. A saddle needs to be the correct width to support your sit bones.
  • Make sure your cleats are set up properly. A misaligned cleat can cause all kinds of issues, especially with your knees.
  • Check your saddle fore & aft
  • Check your stem length
  • Check your handlebar width

A good bike fit will give you tips on all of this!

All The Gear: The right kit is just as important as the bike

Cycling-Guide-Getting-Started-Kit-SelectionWhen you have the urge, whatever you are wearing, get out on your bike and just ride! Over short distances you can ride in pretty much any clothes, common sense prevails in that you normally need less on than you think, but watch out for wind chill which you do not feel walking but will at the higher speeds experienced on a bike. Rain is also one of the biggest challenges.

Dressing correctly on a bike comes with experience and you will learn as you go along. 

Lycra is a road cyclists best friend due to its incredible properties of comfort, aerodynamics and wicking (sweat and rainwater).  

Of course, here we are assuming that you are making the jump to lycra. If you are not ready for that, do not fear! There is plenty of cool casual cycling clothing out there like these Chrome Industries casual shorts. If you are commuting or doing short rides this type of clothing is absolutely fine.

The single most important item is the cycling short, available with or without bibs. These contain a chamois which is designed to protect your important bits from the repetitive motion on the saddle. The chamois design is the attention of innovation for the major kit manufacturers and just like with your bike, there is a complete price range to choose from.

An entry level cycling bib short can start at around €70 however our recommendation is to invest in a good set that will last a lot longer and provide you hours of comfort, for example the Assos range. You will not regret it!

Next, your cycling jersey which will also be lycra like your bib shorts. This clothing is designed to be a tight fit, to avoid chafing and reduce wind resistance. The more you ride and wear lycra the fonder you will become of it!

Your cycling shoes are important and should have a firm soul. Take your time moving to clip in pedals but once you can you will benefit from a significant power transfer and also feel pro!

As for handling variations in weather, consider applying several thin layers rather than one big one, like arm and leg warmers and a gilet. This allows you to easily adjust your body temperature as you warm up and cool down during the ride. Always have a pocket size rain jacket in your pocket!

Find some cycling friends

After your first couple of rides to get used to the bike it’s time to find some cycling friends! There is no better motivation to get fitter & fellow cyclists love nothing more than to talk about cycling, compare rides and their gear! 

More experienced riders will be able to help you pace yourself up your first hill & will teach you how to ride safely in a group. There are a bunch of hand signals cyclists use to communicate with each other on the road – getting to know these is all part of becoming part of the cycling community. 

If you do not already have cycling friends, connect to your local club or head to a local cycling cafe. Even during lockdown you can meet cyclists on online platforms and join any of the hundreds of virtual social rides published on the virtual cycling platforms like Zwift or RGT.

Book your first cycling holiday or challenge

Getting a challenge in your calendar is the perfect motivation to work towards. Whether that is a local sportive or a cycling holiday in the sunshine with your cycling friends, there is no better way to keep you pedaling! 

Inspired to Ride?

We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’d like more advice on buying a new bike or would like to find out more about the inspiring cycling tours & challenges we offer get in touch!

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

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Girona Insider: Insights from the Cycling Community

By Cycling No Comments

Insights from Inside Girona

Ever wanted to know more about the cycling community here in Girona? We’ve launched a new series on Instagram live where we talk to members of Girona’s cycling community. We chat to pro-cyclists, cafe & restaurant owners, hotel & apartment owners & anyone who’s anyone connected to cycling! The goal is to stay connected, to share stories & gain insights into life in Girona. We’ll get insider tips on where to visit, where to ride & where to stay & we’ll share the highlights of each chat right here!

Marco Hemskerk, Bravissimo

Girona Insider Live, Friday 1st May, 18:00 CET

Marco is an amateur cyclist from Holland who now runs the best guest apartments in Girona, Bravissimo! Bravissimo have been providing temporary homes for Girona’s heath professionals fighting Covid-19 & in the normal world offer beautiful, cyclist-friendly apartments for visitors.

Follow Bravissimo: @bravissimo_girona

Find out more: bravissimo-girona.com

Michelle Wilson & Mike Duff, Owner-Operators of La Bruguera

Girona Insider Live, Thursday 30th April, 18:00 CET

La Bruguera is a unique eco estate located close to the village of Púbol, for retreats, holidays and events. Fully-modernised from 2015 – 2019, it was built between 1978 and 1981, for Catalan landscape painter Francesc d’Assís Casademont “Le Vieux”, a friend and contemporary of Salvador Dalí’s. Michelle & Mike are an awesome couple who own & run this incredible estate. Mike is an expert in urban sustainability & Michelle’s professional interests are in the use of evidence-based therapies for achieving mental health and wellness, and the use of the arts as a change agent.

Follow La Bruguera: @labrugueradepubol

Find out more: labrugueradepubol.com

Laura Siddall, Pro Triathlete

Girona Insider Live, Wednesday 29th April, 18:00 CET

Laura Siddal Ironman Champion Girona Insider Eat Sleep Cycle“Don’t die wondering”. This is Laura’s motto & inspiration. Laura is a mechanical engineer turned amateur triathlete, turned pro. Laura has an insane palmares – she is the four time amateur World Champion, the fifth fastest British woman of all time over the iron distance & a four time Ironman Champion, which includes winning Ironman Australia for three consecutive years. She’s also the ETU European Long Distance Champion. Laura is from the UK but travels all over the globe chasing summer between the Southern Hemisphere in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Girona, Spain in the Northern Hemisphere…wherever the racing and training leads.

Follow Laura: @lmsid 

Find out more: laurasiddall.com

James Whelan, Pro Cyclist for Education First

Girona Insider Live, Monday 27th April, 18:00 CET

Jimmy-Whelan-Pro-Cyclist-EF-Education-First-Girona-InsiderJimmy Whelan is a runner turned pro-cyclist from Australia. He’s one of the stars of the recent Digital Swiss tour & a promising classics rider who loves the Ardennes. During his swift rise through the ranks of the Australian under-23 cycling programme, Jimmy raced in Belgium and won the U23 Tour of Flanders in 2018 – after just 18 months of being a bike rider & his first race in Europe.

Follow Jimmy: @jimmywhelan.jpg

Joey Rosskopf, Pro Cyclist for CCC

Girona Insider Live, Sunday 26th April, 18:00 CET

Joey-Rosskopf-Team-CCC-USA-National Champion-Girona-InsiderJoey is a pro-rider from Georgia USA who, like many others, has chosen to make Girona his home. Joey worked his way up through the ranks of cycling via the Hincapie Development Team to join World Tour team BMC in 2015. Joey now rides for Team CCC. Joey is the 2 x champion of the USA ITT & has ridden 5 Grand Tours. Joey lives in Girona with his partner Georgia, who teaches at a local school.

Follow Joey: @joeyrosskoph

Robert Bellsolà, President of the Antiga Casa Bellsolà Girona Cycling Team, Screenwriter & All-Round Legend

Girona Insider Live, Wednesday 22nd April, 18:00 CET

Robert-Bellsola-Antiga-Casa-Bellsola-Cycling-TeamRobert Bellsolà is a colourful Girona character who founded Girona’s first Junior mens cycling team in 2018. He owns a chain of bakeries which supply the people of Girona with delicious baked goods. He is also a screenwriter & video maker – tune in for entertaining chats & insights into the world of Bellsolà!

Follow Robert: @antigacasabellsola_gironateam

Check out the Anitga Casa Bellsolà Girona Cycling Team: www.antigacasabellsola.com/en/acbteam/ 

And check out the Antiga Casa Bellsolà Bakeries: www.antigacasabellsola.com

Cheynna & Rory Sutherland, Cyclists & Owners of Federal Café Girona

Girona Insider Live, Monday 20th April, 18:00 CET

Cheynna-Rory-Sutherland-Pro-Cyclist-Federal-Cafe-Girona Cheynna was born and raised in Southern California. She has been a cyclist since 1988 and is a former state and national champion. She continues to compete in gran fondos and ultra marathon events. Cheynna holds a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado and spent many years introducing children to cycling and healthy living through various community projects in Boulder, Colorado. Now living in Girona, she has developed community- based businesses in health and lifestyle sector, while keeping up with their two children.

Born in Canberra, Australia, Rory has been a professional cyclist since 2002. He has raced for the top teams in the world, represented his country at the World Championships and is widely regarded as being one of the best domestiques in the European peloton. Off the bike, Rory has dedicated his time and efforts to various community projects and charities over the years to encourage healthy living through sport. Alongside Cheynna, Rory owns the Federal Café Girona.

Follow Cheynna & Rory: @cheynnasutherland, @rorysutherland82 & @thefederalcafegirona on instagram

Check out Federal Café Girona: Visit www.federalcafe.es/girona/

Jetse Bol, Pro-Cyclist for Burgos BH

Girona Insider Live, Sunday 19th April, 18:00 CET

 Jetse-Bol-Professional-Cyclist-In-Girona-Burgos-BHJetse started his life as an athlete as a speed skater before switching to cycling. He’s from Holland & lives with his (Mexican ex-pro cyclist) wife Nancy & their little boy Mikel. Jetse won the combativity award in Stage 18 of the 2018 Vuelta and came 2nd on Stage 5 of the 2019 Vuelta (sacrificing 1st place for his team mates polka dot jersey). Jetse is a much-loved rider in the peleton & enjoys popularity in Mexico, Holland & in his Catalan home!

First ride after lockdown: Sant Hilari Sacalm & the Montseny area – into the mountains!

Jetse recommends: Coffee in town after a ride & chilling on his balcony with views of the mountains!

Follow Jetse: @jetsebol on instagram

Toms Skujins, Pro-Cyclist for Trek Segafredo

Girona Insider Live, Friday 17th April, 18:00 CET

Toms-Skujins-Girona-Cycling-Pro-Cyclist-Trek-SegafredoToms is a pro-cyclist from Lativa & one of the most approachable professionals in the peloton. He was the first ever Latvian to wear a jersey at a Grand Tour, and that jersey was the polka dot jersey at the 2018 Tour de France. He’s an awesome racer to watch and has worked his way up the ranks, starting with the Hincapie Development Team in America, before being picked up by World Tour team Cannondale Pro Cycling. Toms now rides for Trek Segafredo & can be counted on to make a race explode & commit to audacious breakaways! The Tour of California is one of Toms’ favourite races & has played host to the biggest wins of Toms’ career, as well as his biggest crash.

First ride after lockdown: Rupit. The long way.

Toms recommends: Espresso Mafia for coffee, the bakery on Plaça de Vi for lunch & yoghurt at the place just before the climb to Montjuic!

Follow Toms: @tomashuuns on instagram & check out his website for more fun www.tomsskujins.com

Jessica Allen, Pro Cyclist for Mitchelton Scott

Girona Insider Live, Wednesday 15th April, 18:00

Jessica-Allen-pro-cyclist-mitchelton-scottJessica Allen is a pro cyclist from Perth, Australia. She dominated the Australian road race scene as a Junior and became the Junior World Time Trial champion in 2011. In 2013 she signed her first pro contract & joined Mitchelton Scott in 2016 and is undoubtedly one of the teams strongest & most loyal domestiques, helping her team leaders to multiple major victories. After storming to victory in the Australian Criterium Champs in 2017, Jess moved to Girona in October 2018.

First ride after lockdown: The coast – from Tossa de Mar to the cake shop in Platja d’Aro! Or go super-long & ride to Cadaques.

Jess recommends: La Taverna for tea, Blend for a delicious blue drink & Federal for a Green Kale Salad

Follow Jess: @jessallen1993 on instagram

Andreu Garriga, Lawyer to the Cycling Community

Girona Insider Live, Tuesday 14th April, 18:00

Andreu is the go-to lawyer for anyone setting up life here in Girona. He arranges residency & visas, he provides advice on taxation, on buying & selling property, on starting new businesses, on wills & inheritance & also represents cycling teams. Andreu is the guy you go to see to get important stuff done and has been a huge part of the Eat Sleep Cycle journey – thank you Andreu!

First ride after lockdown: To the coast on an e-bike!

Andreu recommends: Bistrot for a relaxed meal in a beautiful setting – you can get a 2 course meal for €15 at lunchtimes!

Find out more about Andreu’s services: Visit www.advgarriga.com

Join the Conversation

We’d love to here your questions for our guests & suggestions for who we should chat to. Make sure you’re following @eat_sleep_cycle on instagram to tune in & follow our stories to be the first to hear about our next guests.

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

 

What’s Next For The Cycling Tour Industry?

By Cycling No Comments

The world has changed significantly since our blog on “How a Cycling Business can Adapt in the Face of a Crisis”, just 2 weeks ago. COVID-19 has a worldwide strong-hold, cycling has been banned in Spain, Italy & France, & the international cycling tour industry has ground to a halt. In this blog we explore the immediate impacts on cycle tour businesses, consider what recovery might look like & when it will start to happen.

The COVID-19 Curve

You will be familiar with the bell shaped COVID-19 curve, normally accompanied by scenarios of levels of action leading to a lower peak in cases, easing the strain on the healthcare system. Everyone has a critical role to play to ‘flatten the curve.’

Each country and region is in its own position on this curve. At the time of writing, the number of daily cases in Spain is stabilising and showing encouraging signs of dropping, meaning Spain is nearing the peak. In other countries like the USA, the number of cases continue to rise steeply suggesting a time lag to Europe of around 2 weeks.

Within countries and using Spain as an example, there are areas much more affected than others, for example Madrid and Igualada have higher concentrations of infected COVID-19 patients. Much of the “locking down” has been to isolate these more affected areas so the virus does not spread in the same way to the less affected areas.

The length of this curve (time on the x-axis) is still unknown. From the first reported case in China at the start of the year, the country has now, after 3-4 months, returned to some kind of normality. Of course there are social distancing, safety, hygiene and cleanliness measures, however people are moving around and businesses are operating. Using that timeline in Spain and assuming similar results from lock-down measures, some normality is possible in May.

Flatten-the-curve-covid-19-impact-of-social-environmental-measures

The Psychology

As well as the medical implications of COVID-19 we are all dealing with the psychological impact of what feels like a very personal, global pandemic. The numbers on the graphs are real people, with families & loved ones. Whilst we cannot imagine the devastation of losing a loved one to Covid-19, or the trauma of being in intensive care, or the worry of having a a friend or family member fighting the virus on the front line, the effects also reach far beyond those directly impacted by the virus.

Social media is rife with arguments and strong points of view, everyone is an expert & is ready to judge the actions of others – the reality is that everyone is handling the global crisis differently, everybody has their own personal problems and unique situation. It’s a ‘personal pandemic’ which has impacted the lives of millions of people.

There are many ways that psychologists are explaining this unique situation. In the following image we see that people who are perhaps suffering from fear may join in with panic buying or react negatively to situations surrounding the virus, whilst those in the Growth Zone may be more open to understanding each person’s unique situation.  We’re all making our way in and around this spectrum, oscillating between positive actions & negative thoughts, plunging into the depths of despair at our surreal reality & rising up again look to the future & the good times that will come.

Social Norms: To cycle or not to cycle outdoors

If you are a cyclist reading this you have probably been involved in the argument for or against cycling outdoors during this period. The argument for involves the benefits of cycling to general health, both mentally and physically, as well as the low environmental impact (if the ride is a mode of transport). The argument against is, in the case of an accident, well-needed hospital resources could be taken from patients that need them more. Also that cycling in a group is not respecting social distancing rules and could result in spreading the virus.

This social pressure against cycling outdoors and in groups could have a longer lasting impact on cycling events and cycling tours. It is particularly interesting that even where bans on cycling outdoors are not in place, riders have received pressure from cyclists in places where a ban is in place. 

In the UK, the bicycle industry saw an initial surge in business as Londoners swapped out crowded public transport for bikes & many took on board the health & well being message. Now the conversations are turning to discussing the length of ride which is socially responsible & no doubt opinions of cycling communities & public opinion as a whole will continue to shift as the UK continues its journey to peak cases. Most recently there was criticism of newspapers in the UK who printed misleading photos of cyclists appearing to ride too closely together. 

However, we’re an optimistic bunch here at Eat Sleep Cycle and we know that cycling is a great way to get fit & healthy. We predict a boom in those cycling & even tacking up racing as everyone tries to live life to its fullest after weeks (or months) of restrictions.

When will flights begin?

We’re keeping a close eye on travel bans & flight schedules – as soon as these are lifted, when planes can fly & when it’s seen as socially acceptable to travel again there is no doubt that our business will benefit.

On the 7th April 2020 Jet 2 announced that flights would resume on June 17th. Easy Jet has not yet confirmed when they will be operating again, but staff have been given a two-month leave of absence, suggesting a temporary date in June. British Airways is still operating some “repatriation” flights under a UK government contract. Virgin Atlantic have suspended all flights apart from to New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

Although it is difficult to predict, current suggestions are that airlines are hoping to run flights in June, although it’s still unclear as to how many people will be choosing to travel by June. 

What the experts say 

In a recent report, Deloitte Spain created a handy graph comparing the predicted impact of Covid-19 on food, retail, restaurant & leisure, travel & the hotel industry compared to 2019. All sectors barring food see a significant immediate drop in activity and then gradually recover over the coming months. Critically, industries to not recover back to 2019 levels, even by the first few months of 2021. We’re in this for the long haul.

Spanish-economic-recovery-from-covid-19-deloitte-report

As the saying goes, knowledge is power & for a Spanish based European tour operator like ourselves, knowing that domestic Spanish tourism recovers more quickly than international travel is a great insight to have. In this scenario international tourism starts to pick up this summer, but gets nowhere near full recovery until the end of 2020 & into 2021.

What does all of this mean?

Cyclists are getting reacquainted with turbo trainers are are looking to data & power numbers to stay motivated! As a consequence we think riders will come out of this with great explosive power but gagging for some long, endurance miles in the sun. As soon as their personal circumstances allow we’ll be welcoming guests back on tour and to our Girona Hub for beautiful rides in the great outdoors. 

A new appreciation of freedom. After weeks of restrictions which many generations have never known, people will just want to live & make the most of every day. Cycling, travel, new places will figure, but also a warm glow about normality!

It might be that we are more cautious as a whole about congregating in public spaces, it might be that people ditch public transport for bikes or cars. It might be that we celebrate the reduction in pollution & emissions caused by our massive shift in behaviors & realise the potential we have as a human race to guide the planet to a more sustainable, greener future.

Local tourism & ‘stay-cations’ will make a comeback – this is great for the planet & great for everyone developing appreciation for what’s on our doorstep. Perhaps we can create bespoke cycling tours which depart from our guests homes? There is something unique about pedaling to a new place from your front door…

How are we reacting?

We’re looking to the future & doing what we can to serve our cycling community in the present! For example, we’re kicking off our first ‘virtual tour’ this Easter Weekend. Cyclists can join from all over the world & take part in indoor cycling workouts, stretching sessions, nutrition workshops & even enjoy a social night. It’s great to have the excuse to collaborate with cycling experts in lock-down here in Girona & is set to be a novel way to spend Easter.

In the short-term we’re looking to local Spanish tourism for a summer boost & making the most of the downtime to develop our website, tour itineraries & online shop – all critical steps which will help us get back to the new normal as quickly as possible. We’re helping our guests navigate the minefield of travel bans and move their planned tours to later in the year, or to 2021 – it’s a tough time for the world but we’re sure everyone will be hungry for travel & a bike ride when it’s safe again.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear from you about your cycling plans! How are you coping now? Where is the first place you’d like to ride? Why not take our Cyclists Travel Survey & be in with a chance to win a cycling holiday in Girona?!

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10 Tips For Coping With Isolation

By Cycling No Comments

There is a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and this blog will help you to focus on that. It is easy to feel helpless with such a large global issue. Whether you are still able to get out and ride or you are in complete lockdown, here are some ideas to give some structure to your day and more positive thoughts.

1. Create a bucket list & plan things to look forward to

Beth Healey, a Doctor whose  expertise is in extreme physiology and isolation and who spent a year in Antarctica for the European Space Agency, said in a Global News podcast:

It is useful to think that a finish will come and to plan for that. In Antarctica lots of people used to plan for a big trip or holiday that they would have when they got back and I think that was a really useful way to look beyond and plan for what you’re going to do afterwards.

Taking your head out of the here & now & looking to a brighter future is a great way to escape the frustration, anxiety & sadness at our current situation. Getting concrete plans in place for your next holiday or creating a bucket list of things to do within a year are fantastic ways to snap out of the doom & gloom and start getting excited for life after Coronavirus.

Remember, you can book a risk free late Summer 2020 escape now or even book a 2021 trip for a fully refundable €100 deposit!

2. Make a structure for your day

Many of your regular activities, like going to work, may have now been taken away. Maintaining the structure of the working day, even from home, is the first piece of advice regular home workers give to newbies. 

Be disciplined with yourself – 5 hours of solid productivity is way more rewarding than 10 hours of procrastination. Consider switching your phone off or muting social media channels whilst you work. 

Keep your body-clock on track & get up at your normal time, long lazy sleep-ins are not sustainable every day & will force you into a negative cycle of late nights & late mornings. 

3. Keep working

Whether you are a business owner or an employee, your business will need you now more than ever. Working hard in a time of crisis will always pay off when the crisis is over so keep going the extra mile and looking for opportunities.

One gentleman posted on LinkedIn “put on a different set of trousers, the set that you would wear to go out to work”. The mental distinction between work and play is helped by some physical and structural boundaries. Define a place in the house for working and a place for resting. 

Set clear goals for yourself every morning, share them with your colleagues so you are accountable for achieving them!

4. Keep exercising & get fresh air when you can

If you are used to regular exercise and the endorphins this produces, it is important to keep this up during isolation. If you are able to go outside then keep doing so, respecting social distancing. Try and find an outdoor space, even by opening up your windows to feel like you are outside. If you do not have exercise machines then focus on stretching, simple core exercises and yoga. 

For cyclists checkout our blog on indoor training.

5. Try meditation to manage your stress levels

Meditation is a simple tool that anybody can use. All you need is a quiet place on your own.

The Coronavirus is causing widespread panic to the community at large

Says Carrie C. Mead, MS, LCPC, a psychotherapist in Maryland.  The article on “12 Therapist Approved Ways to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety” advises accepting and exploring your anxiety by first centering yourself when anxiety hits. Take a deep breath, focus on the feeling and understand it. Give yourself time alone to think about the feeling.

6. Control time spent reading the news and social media

Overloading on news can cause additional anxiety and stress so it is recommended to limit your intake. Set a time of day, perhaps the morning (to avoid anxious nights) to get up to date with the key facts from reputable sources. Remember that bad news gets more hits so it is important to not dwell too much on the big headline hitters.

Choose your news sources wisely & don’t trust social media trends. It’s also worth signing up to positive news feeds like Positive News & the Good News Network

7. Eat and Drink Well

It is important to maintain a balanced diet and not drink too much alcohol. As well as disrupting your sleep, alcohol can, following some short period of euphoria, make you feel much worse and down. 

You will probably need to reduce your calorie intake and an easy way to do this is to eat less sugar and carbohydrates, focusing more on vitamins and minerals from salads and vegetables. This will also help to boost your immune system.

8. Stay Connected: Call family and friends regularly

It is easy to feel worried about your family, especially if they are in the “at risk” category.

Social media is a great way to stay connected with them. You will want to stay in touch much more regularly during this time which is completely normal and a silver lining for us all! 

9. Make the most of the time

If you’re at home with no work, get those house-projects done, do a deep-clean of everything, start a new gardening project. 

If you’re working, tackle the things on the to do list which always get pushed to the bottom.

10. Support your local businesses

Feel good by doing what you can to help keep your favourite local businesses going! Order a takeaway from your favourite restaurant and bike parts from your favorite local bike shop. They need you more than ever now! If you have the advantage of extra time spend it finding your local alternatives to huge retailers like Amazon & Wiggle, a little extra of your time on google can go a long way for the local suppliers you support & you’ll likely get a more personal service too.

We’d love to hear from you!

We’re open for online business – give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 or contact us online!

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