Saturday 12th November 2016: a race, a chase & a grand opening

It’s Sunday afternoon, the day after the 12th November – a day that will be forever etched into Eat Sleep Cycle history. Yesterday, we opened our headquarters in Girona. It’s a little patch of cycling heaven in the centre of the Old Town, or Barri Vell. It constitutes a dream come true for myself, Lee […]

It’s Sunday afternoon, the day after the 12th November – a day that will be forever etched into Eat Sleep Cycle history.

Yesterday, we opened our headquarters in Girona. It’s a little patch of cycling heaven in the centre of the Old Town, or Barri Vell. It constitutes a dream come true for myself, Lee & Brian.

The week leading up to the opening was full of painting, paperwork, packages arriving, drilling, drawing, hanging, cleaning, cava buying, ride planning, late night pizza eating & a little bit of cycling. It was busy, but we were busy dream-building and we were happy.

Saturday 12th November dawned.

Lee & Brian were up early making Pinxtos, I was up early mopping & cleaning up the shop. Set up complete, riders started arriving for the celebration ride, and the roller coaster began.

The Ride

We spun out of town in crisp sunshine. It was nothing short of gorgeous, a mix of old friends & new faces headed out together to the mighty Mare de Deu del Mont climb (1,123m). The newly wrapped Eat Sleep Cycle car, manned by Lee (driver), Shane (photographer) & Stephen (swanny aka slave), tooted it’s way past, gleaming in the morning light. It was glorious.

We re-grouped at the bottom of our mountain, re-filled bottles & prepared to take on the Eat Sleep Cycle Sufferfest Segment and earn our spots on the inaugural Mountain Leaderboard. Being cyclists, we all pretended we weren’t that bothered, and told anyone who’d listen how bad our off-season form was. But when we set off for the top, the pace was suspiciously high.

Rutger took on the pace-setting for the first flatter section, stomping out a massive gear and pushing the pace to 30 kmph. He cracked, others came to the front and maintained. Our Stigette attacked the group, forcing more legs to give in. A battle for 1st ensued. Brian (our very own Irishman) lost out to The Stig by 1 min 20 seconds. Dale rounded out the podium with a fine time of 1:02:34. Peter posted a storming effort to come 4th and win the 50+ category with a time of 1:02:57. The Stigette will also prove exceptionally hard to beat, coming in under the hour at 00:59:45. The women’s podium was completed by me (1:04:26) & Rebecca (1:29:00).

After photos at the top and a good refuel from the ESC car we headed carefully down the technical descent to Besalú. Tired legs were felt by all as minor inclines caused limbs to burn, but the sun stayed high & spirits were even higher.

The Chase

After getting back into town just in time to open the shop Mark came running up (I say running, he was more ‘hobbling quickly’ in cycling shoes) in a panic – someone had just ridden off on his bike. I’d just seen a guy go past ESC HQ on a bike that he couldn’t really ride. I knew which direction he’d gone in. I hopped on my bike and sped off after him. Bike skills I never knew I had kicked in, I weaved through the crowd on La Rambla. I felt like a bike-ninja. I could see the man on Mark’s bike ahead, crossing onto the Pont de Pedra. I sprinted up behind him and drew alongside.

We made eye contact.

I said something in Spanglish (no idea what), the weekend crowd’s head’s turned.

He replied “Es Tuya!?”

Me: “Si!!! Que hiciste??”

He got of the bike, I took it off him, heart beating, totally bemused by the audacity of the situation. Neither of us really knew what to do. By this point Mark was hobbling around the corner onto the bridge. I shouted I had the bike and pointed to the guy who’d taken it.

Mark saw red and shouted at him (pure English this time!) The man started walking off, protesting that he hadn’t taken it. Then Brian appeared around the corner on his bike. He also saw red and joined the verbal battle. The guy gave up and started running. Brian chased him on his own bike while I returned the nearly stolen bike to Mark.

An onlooker told us we shouldn’t let Brian go alone after the thief. A very good point. Mark and I set off after Brian (meanwhile it was 4:01 pm and Lee was pouring the cava in the shop) Irish-accented shouts located Brian (still in lycra & cycling shoes) carrying his bike between some cars, following a metre or so behind the thief, waving a finger in air, shouting “POLICIA!!” Neither wanted to actually come into contact with the other, so Brian and the thief were locked into a never-ending chase around the same block. I went to find a policeman. Brian kept running around in circles. Lee sent panicked messages wondering where on earth we were.

Brian tracked the guy to an apartment building where police arrived and took over. He may have missed the opening toast to his own shop, but Brian was hailed a hero on his return and sank many a glass of cava to celebrate. This bike thief messed with the wrong crew.

The Opening

Amidst the bike-thief-chase-drama guests started arriving to our little shop, and very soon it was buzzing with activity. We welcomed new friends, old friends, members of the Girona cycling community, people without who’s help we wouldn’t have got this far. It was a humbling experience to see so many supportive faces, everyone wishing us every success.

The Opening

So thank you from the bottom of our cycling hearts to everyone who has supported us to ‘do our thing’ and make it this far:

To Amy & Ryan (for interior design help), to Peter (for the drill, step-ladder & unfailing support), to Shane (for the fab pics), to Lee’s family, Lou’s family & Brian’s family (for their unconditional support of us all quitting our jobs to pursue cycling happiness), to Dave & Saskia for integrating us into Girona, Gareth & Fiona for all the great advice on getting set-up, Amber & Christian (for saying ‘do your thing’ and for very good cake), to all our first clients who took a punt on us, to those who’ve taken the time to write us reviews, to Andreu (for everything!), to Goretti for all kinds of everything, to Joan (for your patience), to Josep (for going the extra mile to help), to Rutger (for an exciting new opportunity), to Tristan (for creating a buzz about Girona-Biarritz), to Sophie & John (for keeping Lou pedalling) to everyone who’s been on a Thursday night social, to our Stig & Stigette (for suffering). Thanks to all the cyclists, amateur and pro, who have shown us awesome routes, ridden with us on epic rides and allowed us to take cool pics, especially Miquel,  David, Stephen, Paddy, Toms and Gonzalo. We have probably forgotten to mention so many people but your help has been massively appreciated and will never be forgotten.

And thank you all for your continued support.


Written by Louise Laker

The bike has always been an escape for me - a way to get rid of the stresses of the day, to set myself a physical & mental challenge, to meet great people and have ton of fun.

After years of studying, working in the sustainability sector and road racing on the UK circuit, I moved from London to Girona to pursue the dream of professional cycling.

Instead, something more incredible happened - I co-founded Eat Sleep Cycle in the cycling capital of Europe, Girona.

We create & deliver beautiful cycling tours all over Europe. We love what we do and that shows in our work.

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