December 1, 2010

On the Bike Again

A professional cyclist is rarely off of his bike in the off-season for more than a month.  Progressively, through the months of November and December I slowly ease back into the routine of training. With time, the distance and intensity of the rides increases. As the morning fog lifts with the chill of the damp night air, we meet at a café to plan a route over cortados and pastries. In the warmth of the café we linger and socialise. The races are months away, we know our fitness will come so for now we can simply enjoy the ride, the camaraderie and the environment.

Catalonia, and specifically Girona, is magnificent in the autumn and winter. The streets, which were once crowded with tourists through the summer are now spotted with locals who chat under the Christmas lights. The sun lies low in the sky creating long shadows and setting before the children arrive home from school.

We’ll ride for half of the day in a small group. There are no intervals pencilled into our programs or specific goals to meet. We rode as we did when we first started this sport ages ago. As David Millar wrote in the foreword to the update edition of the book, Le Métier,  “What was once the worst time of the year for me is now my favourite; Winter is now the time I enjoy most. During the Tour de France, Michael and I discussed how much we were looking forward to our December training rides. It’s then we get to meet in the morning and ride our bikes for fun, with an appreciation of our good fortune.”

Here are a few photos from a recent ride. Dominique Rollin is wearing the Cervelo clothing. Dom will ride for La Francaise des Jeux next season. Jordi Cantal, a local fireman, took many of the pictures and rides with us often. He knows the smallest roads and trails. And, he teaches me a little Catalan and Spanish as we ride.

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18 Responses to “On the Bike Again”

  • Posted by enric | December 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Michael;

    Nice photos.

    I have seen you this afternoon cleaning the bike at the petrol station in Sarria de ter. I went out to ride direction to Rocacorba.

    Good luck this season

  • Posted by Bernat | December 2, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Hola Michael, this is Bernat, Jaume’s friend, my best regards for you and to Jordi also, I’m looking forward to ride in Girona soon.


  • Posted by Michael Barry | December 2, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Hola Bernat and Enric–Thanks for the notes. I look forward to seeing you out on the bike soon. Salut, Michael

  • Posted by Tai McQueen | December 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Lovely post. I rarely envy the life of a professional rider, but the words and photos in this post make me wish I was there – ironic, I suppose, since no one needs to be a pro to experience long, leisurely training rides through beautiful countryside.

  • Posted by Flemming | December 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Michael

    Very nice pictures,and the landscape seems really nice, and i wish we would be so lucky here in Denmark,that the snow wasnt here :-) although it looks pretty, but a pain in the A.. to ride in. So for this time of year i only bike back and foth to work 3 Km each way, not much….but enough in snow.

    Merry Christmas to you all

  • Posted by Ricky | December 4, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Like the photos. Sitting here in Toronto looking out at a freezing cold dark night I am suitably jealous.

  • Posted by Henrik | December 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Very nice photos there Michael. Have to say I prefer aqua sin gas though…
    I will follow this blog now, keep riding strong!

  • Posted by Philip Hurd | December 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Interesting comments, my cycling buddies and I, (one is a ex pro), will be riding up the Wye Valley on Friday, lovely time of the year.

  • Posted by Michael | December 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Just finished ready Le Metier this weekend. It really is a fabulous snapshot of the life of pro cyclist – great photos, vibrant words. Just back from a 2.5 hr -5C ride in Oakville. I prefer the rain to the cold. Love the last pic of you and Dom on page 1. Dom is huge – is he really that much bigger than you? All we need to do is add Ryder to the mix and we have my three favourite pros. Salut.

  • Posted by mike c | December 7, 2010 at 4:25 am

    @ Michael in Oakville

    Dom is about 6’4 or so and positively Thor-like in build. His tree trunks are HUGE.

  • Posted by Michael Barry | December 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Mike C–Dom is also one of the few guys in the peloton who can strip a cog from a cassette or bend a crank and chainring. He reminds me of the hockey players I went to school with. A strong lad.

  • Posted by Graeme | December 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I have been trying to get hold of a copy of Le Metier as a Christmas gift but to no avail. Could you advise when it is likley to be available again.

  • Posted by Paul | December 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Hey Michael,

    Quick question. During the off season, do you guys still shave your legs?


    Paul (Bill Nickson Cycles RT)

  • Posted by Michael Barry | December 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Hi Graeme, The second updated edition of Le Métier is available at in the UK/Europe and, in the US, confirmed they’ll have it in stock this coming Monday. in Canada also has it in stock. Thanks and hope you enjoy the book. Happy Holidays. Michael

  • Posted by Michael Barry | December 9, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Hi Paul, I get a bit lazy in the off season so shave my legs on occasion. Often, when we get to the first training camp, many of the guys have a little hair on their legs and scramble to get them clean shaven before the photos are taken. Cheers, Michael

  • Posted by Krys Hines | December 21, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Graeme: Not sure where you are, but we have 3 copies left in stock too.

  • Posted by dave | December 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    hi, just come across this post (link from cyclocosm) i am getting over a bout of flu and have been housebound for 12 days now, too weak even for a potter on the turbo, sooo i began to well up overcome with self pity at the thought of cycling in the girona area over the years have had many hols on the costa brava sometimes with our tandem other times road or mtb, girona itself is a lovely little town. Riding from the coast up to the angel and retour or the st feliu-tossa coast road are my favourites

  • Posted by Bicycles Mark | January 5, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    What a brilliantly written insight to your world.

    I was lucky enough to be given Le Metier 2nd edition for Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    It was nice to read your words after Brad’s glowing testimonial in On Tour…

    My son Lewis has wrote a review of Brad’s book for his homework so I stuck it on our blog and now he’s reading and re-reading the spring section of Le Metier in anticipation of riding the Flanders Sportive and watching you all in April.

    Have a great season, 2011 could be the year of the good guys!

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