"There are lots of quiet roads around Melbourne but what still astonishes me the most is the huge amount of dirt roads, gravel bike paths and single track you can find in and around the city. One of my favourite weekly rides is what we call CX Fridays. There are so many options to choose from that the course changes every week, depending on who takes the leadership, but it’s always a one hour ride on a Friday finishing with coffee. This is my favourite version of the ride. It goes along the Yarra River taking in as many single tracks as possible."
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Before I moved to Melbourne four years ago, I’d only ever lived in Barcelona. The love I have for my hometown meant that I never imagined that I would enjoy living anywhere else, but Melbourne changed my mind from day one and its cycling community had a central role in this.
I have been riding bikes for a long time now, almost thirty years. I started off riding MTB in the late 80’s, when bikes were steel and completely rigid, and riding was a way to seek out adventure. Back then I explored the tracks in the Pyrenees and travelled everywhere from Morocco to Scotland, taking trips which would now be considered what we in the cycling community call ‘bikepacking’. After a few years of doing this, I was ready for a new challenge and I started racing my mountain bike. I then jumped into duathlon and from there the only natural move was into triathlon. But as with most things, this became too popular, so I jumped into trail running for competitions and moved to more social riding. It was at this point that I realised I was always riding with the same friends, or with teammates if racing and training for competitions.
In Melbourne, my experience was very different. I cannot count how many rides there are each day of the week where you can just rock up and join a bunch of strangers. You feel welcomed immediately, which is great if you are new and coming from abroad. From these rides I have discovered that Melbournians are curious people, they will immediately ask who you are and where you are from. This inquisitiveness always makes me feel integrated within the group and ready to share my experiences with them.
Rapha has been very important in this integration process. I currently work as a Music Administrator in the classical music scene, and even though Melbourne is a vibrant city with a lots of culture, it took a little while for me to find my feet in the local industry so I had to rely on my skills as a barista to fill the time. Early after my arrival, I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet with Andrew Pike during the classic post ride coffee, which inevitably included the typical inquiry about my life. ‘Where are you from? What do you do?” It just so happened that he was looking for a barista that would be able to drive an old Citroen H-van up to the Adelaide Hills during the Tour Down Under. I thought I was dreaming when he asked me if I would do it. Without hesitating I said yes and that journey to the Hills was the start of my love affair with Rapha and the community that surrounds it.