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The Four B's, life admin and late-nights (or early mornings)
Taking the first train home from Barcelona has become an off-season pilgrimage of sorts.
If you Google “Best Party Cities in Europe”, the “Four B’s” will come up. Berlin, Budapest, Barcelona and Belgrade. I live a thirty eight minute train ride away from one of those.
If you want to end your night early, the last train home from Barcelona is just after 11pm, but that would be classed as early even by British standards.
The first train back is at 06:55.
If you live in Girona and want a night-out in Barcelona, there are three options:
Taxi Home (€150++)
First Train Back (€17)
Now I’ve done all three, but you can imagine which one is most popular.
Barcelona is somewhat unique when it comes to nightlife. The tickets didn’t allow us to enter our club of choice until 1am, and the kick-out time was 6am. From personal experience, the best hours to be out are between 2:30 and 4am.
My off-season of 2022 was characterised by partying. I didn’t have a contract and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I travelled to Lisbon, London, Toulouse and Dublin to visit friends and go partying. Barcelona nights were an addition on top. It was epic, it was a Southeast Asia finding myself type month.
This offie has been much more tame. At the ripe old age of twenty-two, maybe I’m calming down a touch…
In all seriousness, off-season is the time of year to chill out. Whether that be sleeping in until 11am, having a (fair) few nights out, or having no purpose at all, it is a sacred time.
It is the time of year that athletes in all sports look forward to. You’ll start to hear whispers mid-season when somebody is a little cracked. Come late August, people are beginning to make plans. Once September, and the inevitable September-itis hits, then it becomes a race to the break.
It is the one time of year that travel is for fun, there is no stress of the next session or whatever other little thing you convince yourself is the be all or end all. It is the time of year to take a stepback, to take stock of the season. It is rare as an athlete that you have time to stop and look around, off-season is one of those times.
Off-season isn’t just about degenerating into a nocturnal party animal, it is also the time of year to get life admin done. The pile of things that I’ve fobbed something off and said that I’ll get to during the off-season seems to grow
.Whether it be tidying up some accounting, catching up with freelance work or covering sponsor commitments. My time seems to get filled in another way that I question where the time to usually ride comes from. I mean, it’s still not the hardest of lives, I imagine the stock price of Idle Hands and Oniria goes through the roof during my off-season too.
What’s Coming Up?
As I write this, I’m in week two of the off-season. I haven’t pedalled a bike, nor have I done the classic cyclist thing of trying to run 5km as fast as possible. The only bits of exercise that I’ve completed are the odd hike; well and some dancing.
I have some family coming to visit me in town this weekend and I’ll turn into a Girona and Barcelona tour guide. I pride myself in this role, creating lists of restaurants and cafes to visit in major cities is my specialist skill.
Them leaving will mark me at three weeks sans bike, and the time that I’ll start to clip back into the pedals again. I hasten to say back into training, as the first couple of weeks I’m riding are gentle reintroductions to riding as I’m still travelling a fair bit.
After a few days of riding around Girona, it’s off to Berlin. Remember what I said about the Four B’s? The trip to Berlin is officially because my girlfriend will be racing in the UCI Track Champions League. The fact that Berlin has been high on my to visit list has nothing to do with it…
From Berlin, it’s back to Girona for a few more pedals, and then to the UK. I’m putting an event on with my partners, Pullwood Consulting the night before Rouleur Live in Central London, and then I’ll spend a couple of days hanging around Shoreditch for Rouleur Live itself.
This’ll be the second year in a row that my off-season has ended at Rouleur, and it’s the perfect place to do it. I love being in London, and not having the obligation to try and ride there makes the experience all the better. I’ll spend my time exploring coffee shops, being a bit of a tourist and trying to sniff out if there’s an open bar in any section of the Truman Brewery…
My first full week of training will be back home in Grimsby. In previous years I’ve found that after a month of chilling out, starting my winter training back home is actually pretty good. There are no temptations to go out drinking, hell there’s not even a good coffee shop in town. Life quickly reverts back to bike as number one.
This year it’ll only be a week at home in Grimsby as I’m heading off to Canada for the latter half of November. Granted, late November is a crappy time to be in British Columbia given that I’ll be back on the bike, but given my girlfriend’s race calendar it’s the only dates we could make work to go back. I’ll be back to normal training by then and I’ll be taking my gravel bike with me.
I’ll land back in Europe in the last few days of November, and it’ll be my now standard December-March block in Girona, bar a trip to Grimsby for Christmas.
There has been a lot more planning this off-season than normal. Last year, I still thought I was going to be getting a road contract so the search for sponsors, or building of calendar wasn’t even a thought.
I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time building up my 2024 calendar, speaking to potential partners and putting other equipment plans in place. I’m doing this almost three months earlier than last year, and I think it’ll pay dividends in lowered stress levels next year.
My calendar is 95% decided. Next year is going to look very similar, but also different. Northern America will feature a lot, probably three months or so of it in total. More to come.
On a partnership front, I have already confirmed some, but I am equally still on the look-out in many other areas. We are doing things in a few different ways next year, so whether you’re inside or outside of cycling and you’d be interested in chatting about anything at all on this front, drop me a line: email@example.com
Finally, I’ve got permission to design my own kit. British Racing Green. That’s all I’m saying. If we nail the design like I hope, they’ll be available for sale.
Project TAG, proudly partnering (both for my athletic and influencing ability) with…
While you’re here…
I’ve added both paid subscription and a ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ link to this post. As the year progresses, I’m planning on building this blog and putting out articles which I’ve always wanted to write but for whatever reason, haven’t wanted to pitch.
Any money that I make from either my Substack, or BMaC link will go straight back into supporting my 2024 racing project. I am planning on keeping all content on here free to view though.