In late April, Ryan le Garrec rode his bike from Madrid to the start of the Border Bash Aragon, a gravel camp in the Aragon region of Spain. The event is not a race but simply a way for riders interested in camaraderie and sharing big days to meet in a beautiful place. Along with stories about a few characters he met at the bash, Ryan shares words from the organizer on the event’s intent, and Ryan’s own perspective on these “non-race” events.
FAIL 9 The Dull Bits: Finding Poetry While Cycling from Lisboa to Badajoz
You never know when life is going to take a dramatic turn. On the cusp of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Ryan le Garrec set out to explore a route linking the Portuguese capital, Lisboa, to a border town in Spain, Badajoz. On his way, he found nothing much else than the blissful privilege of getting bored on a bike. In his FAIL 9 film, he reveals the poetry, the emptiness, and the loneliness the road can expose, yet completes the ride with a renewed sense of gratitude for the freedom to roam after learning of the irrevocable events being waged further east.
Bicycle Touring Spain’s Montañas Vacias Route: A 35mm Photo Essay
Created by Ernesto Pastor, the Montañas Vacias offers interested bike tourists route options ranging from 100 miles to 430 miles through the Spanish Lapland. Photographer Carlos Blanchard Nerin recently made a second voyage to the country’s southeastern region, remote in nature and characterized by countless miles of forest roads on a high plateau. In the photo essay below, he reflects on connecting to a place you thought you knew more deeply and sharing moments of beauty on the bike with friends.
Bikes of the 2022 GiRodeo: Argonaut, Battaglin, Belle, ENVE, Mosaic, OPEN, Repete, Rizzo, and Scarab
Aside from pristine days of riding, the GiRodeo was also a semi-nomadic bike show. The Service Course has long-term collaborative relationships with a number of builders, working together to pair builders and customers appropriately. I say “semi-nomadic” because the majority of builders rode their bikes, but also because the bikes that were not being ridden magically popped up in restaurants and breweries or wherever else events were held as part of the show. This is a rundown of my favorite bikes, many of which were part of the GiRodeo, and others were part of The Service Course’s furniture.
My First Rodeo: 2022 GiRodeo with The Service Course
Four hours into the drive from London to Girona, I began to question my life choices in having decided to drive rather than fly. Eight hours down the road—winding through the mountains with the cruise control set to 140kph with lunatic focus on the pool of tungsten light illuminating a patch of road ahead—I began to see its value. I needed this focus. High beam, dip beam, high beam, dip beam. The solo drive that started off listening to audiobook recommendations from Josh Weinberg had descended into a white knuckle ride against the clock to beat the dawn and shut myself in a dark hotel room to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before my first GiRodeo. It would be, in fact, everyone’s first GiRodeo. The inaugural edition of ENVE and The Service Course’s collaborative framebuilder roundup gravel extravaganza G-Rodeo, but in Girona. The GiRodeo.
Les Liens: Staying Connected in an Analogue World
In modern society, it seems that many of our connections are made in a world of algorithms, a superficial sphere where swipes and likes have replaced the more tactile world I grew up in. This seems intrinsically wrong; we need to be connected physically but we are increasingly isolated from one another, caught up in a world where our eyes and hands are fixed to our screens.
The Bird Was a Butterfly: Ana Orenz on Recovering from Injury
About one year ago, Ana Orenz had a crash going downhill during the first night of the Trans Pyrénées. Her accident ended in nerve damage, spinal injury, and facial reconstruction. But Ana never backs down.
Continue reading below for Ryan le Garrec’s multimedia profile of endurance cyclist Ana Orenz…
Radavist x Komoot: The Women’s Montañas Vacías Bikepacking Challenge
“I think the big highlight for me was just the energy—the energy shared any time I passed someone, or they passed me—I’d stop and think I was alone, and all of a sudden, I’d turn a corner and see someone I knew. The energy we left echoed through those mountains.”
This past April, in the quiet Spanish town of Teruel, a few hours east of Madrid, 56 riders set out by bike to take on the Komoot Women’s Montañas Vacías Bikepacking Challenge, an eight-day exploration of one of the least-populated regions in Europe. The 57th rider, Josie Fouts, followed along in the media van and recaps the challenge below.
Note: This article is part of a sponsored partnership with Komoot. We’ll always disclose when content is sponsored to ensure our journalistic integrity.
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together: Bikepacking in the Pyrenees
“I love it when a plan comes together.” That catchphrase that Hannibal Smith used in the eighties sitcom, The A-Team, could perfectly be the motto that has guided my professional career. I’m used to organising shoot productions, managing large teams, and to the volatility of people when working together. In my personal life, I have only recently learned to enjoy changing a route, any last-minute changes, and the excitement of improvisation. Therefore since I am by now used to plans going awry, I’m also well versed in re-routing them. Hence everything that happened on this bike tour around Val d’Aran didn’t lead to frustration.
Radar Roundup: Konga Open Source Frame Fixture, I Am Here, Miles of Portraits, Lael Wilcox Interview, and XR SPAIN
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
Radavist x Komoot: When The Islands Sleep
International bikepacking duo Tristen Bogaard and Belén Castelló have a special talent for looking at destinations through the lens of bikepackers. On their exploration of the Balearic Islands they sniffed out hidden gems and immersed themselves in the local culture, history, and landscape of the islands to ‘bikepackify’ them for future explorers.
FAIL 8: No Spain, No Gain
FAIL 8 is the latest installment in Ryan Le Garrec’s multimedia “Fail” series. Check out the related articles below for more of Ryan’s work.
Day 47 – Santo Isidoro, Portugal
My son told me the other day:
“Dad, the trees don’t use their roots only to drink, they also use them to communicate.”
When I saw these two trees, on the way back from Spain somewhere in Alentejo, I thought: “These two must have some kinda romance going on.”
The Lighthouses Route of Spain’s Galician Coast
Spain’s Galician coast is extensive, beautiful, wild, abundant and it is feared for its mightiness since ancient times. The Atlantic Ocean beats the Galician cliffs and rocks with a fascinating strength. Fishermen and their families are in close contact with this Ocean’s powerful force. The potent waves often attempt to drag nightmares into these shores, but the coastline is dotted with lights of hope. One lighthouse after another sends signals to sailors and fishermen alike, these are the large torches that illuminate the way back to terra firma.
Senderos of the Spanish Pyrenees: Basque Country Singletrack
Spain is known for its people and their energy. Dinners at 10:00 p.m. are not unheard of, if not mandatory, in order to fuel the even later “madrugada”—a word used to describe that amorphous and intoxicating time spent in the streets after midnight and before the sunrise with hundreds of other souls savoring every last scrap of their waking hours. When I visited Spain twenty years ago I was a sponge for this lifestyle and spent six months in Madrid soaking up the culture, the clubs, and the calimocho. But this trip would open my eyes to an entirely different Spain, one more suited to my forty-year-old self.
A Preview of the Kromvojoj Event: Road Touring in Catalonia – Stronger than Vinegar
For me, riding a bike has always meant three things; experience, adventure, and escape. From childhood, it’s given me the opportunity to experience new, it’s given me the freedom to explore, to embark on adventures near and far, and it’s also given me a much-needed escape from my battles with mental health. Cycling has also introduced me to a community of amazing people and this for me is perhaps the greatest benefit of riding because they never fail to enrich the three reasons I love the bike.
It was the speed at which it happened that shocked me the most. One minute Tomas and I were laughing hysterically as I tumbled into the snow for the umpteenth time, the next I was genuinely scared my buddy was about to collapse into some awful hypothermic coma. It was terrifying.
Julien’s 2-11 Cycles MR4 Stainless Steel Gravel Bike
As I drive home to Barcelona from a photoshoot in the South of Spain, I dream about the next three days. They will be calm and tranquil while I worked from home. Then, my phone buzzes with a message from Mike, a friend and owner of a bed and breakfast in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. He needs help with a last-minute photoshoot further north in the Basque Country. By last minute, he means tomorrow. No time for a rest. I live for photoshoots. It’s my job. My passion. The lure of home will have to wait, as the car stays packed and continues northward toward France.
A few hours later I am in the French Basque Country, in the town of Saint Jean de la Luz. Mike has brought me to his friend, Julien’s house. It is like the rest of the neighborhood, an etxea, in typical Basque construction with white walls crossed by solid timber beams, covered with a clay terracotta roofs. And there in this iconic French village sits the subject for the day. It’s a fresh, stainless steel 2-11 Cycles. So fresh that it’s barely been out on the road yet.
Dancing on Fascism’s Grave: Beyond Bike Racing in Euskadi
More than a year later, I’m still captivated by the memory, the scene, the moment.
It was a hot autumn day, one of the last of the year before the seasonal chill poured from the Bay of Biscay into the Spanish Basque Country. A young man stepped into the middle of the road. He wore a flapping outfit of white with a red handkerchief and belt. It was the kind of attire that flails down the narrow streets of Basque cities during the annual running of the bulls in Northern Spain.