So much has happened in the first year of Eat Sleep Cycle that for the first time in my life looking back actually slows time down. “Were we really painting the walls of our first shop the night before it opened just one year ago?!” I have never enjoyed reminiscing so much!
Yesterday around 60 cyclists descended on our Girona HQ to celebrate one year delivering amazing cycling experiences: 10 Pyrenees trips, over 30 Girona trips, hundreds if not thousands of bike rentals. But much more than that it was a day to celebrate with friends, loyal clients who have been with us since the start and anyone simply in town who likes riding bikes.
From the very start we set out to create a different type of business. At the core of what we do are the tours and bike rental but Eat Sleep Cycle means much more than that to us and hopefully the people that come and meet the community. The weekly social evenings and rides have brought locals, tourists and even non cyclists together. New international friendships are made, epic bike rides are planned and more people have more fun.
I’m sure that all new businesses have funny stories about how they got to where they are today. I sometimes wonder how many of those are kept secret and at what point they can be told!
We started with 7 bikes purchased on credit cards and stored in our apartment. When a client was in town they would call me and I would run down to the street, inviting them in and explaining we are new and looking for a shop…
We ran our first trip in August 2016 by recruiting friends. We rented a van, booked the cheapest accommodation we could find and set out into the wilderness. At the time Brian was still a reporter and had to stay back to finish some articles. He’d booked an apartment with one room less so Louise and I spent the night on the floor of the kitchen next to the noisy fridge (He claims this was intentional to prepare us for the first months in business; backs to the wall but staring at the stars!). I was determined not to switch it off to protect the mornings orange juice. The blow-up mattress was completely flat by the morning!
From our small savings we found a 30m sq shop and got to work painting, drilling and squeezing in 20 bikes. Clients would constantly bump into themselves or our bikes but still seemed to return to us. This first shop was opened on November 11th 2016 and that marked the date of our anniversary yesterday.
Six months later and we opened our HQ just across the road. The shop had been on the market for a long time and it was only the three of us (Louise, Brian and I) who persuaded the lovely gentleman Jordi that we were the reliable people he was looking for. We have now become good friends with Jordi and his lovely wife. We found local superstar Boris; an outstanding mechanic, creative whiz and all around incredible person. Rien from Belgium completed our 2017 team perfectly; mechanic, web designer very strong cyclist.
Between Brian “breaking” into hotels to find coffee for our clients the next day, Lou making a minor error in the route planning meaning an extra Pyrenees climb for our otherwise exhausted clients and me hurtling that first rental van around the switchbacks without strapping the contents down, there have been many challenging moments. One thing I am sure of is not the importance of these mistakes but how we react, deal and learn from them when they are made.
Hopefully this explains how we have come so far in such a short period of time. Our genuine social motivations, continuous improvement and a multi-disciplined team, each person bringing skills and different personality traits; together forming something much bigger than the sum of each of us.
Next year we want the Anniversary ride to be even bigger. We’ll probably need a rolling road closure to do that but we’re already planning that. We’re heading to the Dolomites and Picos mountains on our tours and the Girona bike rental operation is expanding too.
Thank you for being a client, a friend or just reading this blog!