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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Showing 18 comments
  • enric
    Reply

    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

    • Michael Barry
      Reply

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

  • Bernat
    Reply

    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.

    Salut!

  • Tai McQueen
    Reply

    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.

  • Flemming
    Reply

    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
    Flemming

  • Ricky
    Reply

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

  • Henrik
    Reply

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

  • Philip Hurd
    Reply

    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.

  • Michael
    Reply

    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.

  • mike c
    Reply

    @ Michael in Oakville

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

    • Michael Barry
      Reply

      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.
      Michael

  • Graeme
    Reply

    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.

  • Paul
    Reply

    Hey Michael,

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

    Thanks,

    Paul (Bill Nickson Cycles RT)

    • Michael Barry
      Reply

      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

  • Krys Hines
    Reply

    Graeme: Not sure where you are, but we have 3 copies left in stock too. http://www.cafedomestique.com
    K

  • dave
    Reply

    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
    enjoy!!!!

  • Bicycles Mark
    Reply

    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 http://www.bicycles.org.uk/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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