When friends and clients ask me why Studio Velo entered into the travel business with SV:Travel, now in its fourth season, I typically respond with a three-fold response: I wanted to travel more, to rides the great rides of the world, and to return with exciting stories to tell, photos to share and cultural learning to embrace in everyday life. There is nothing more valuable to the staff at Studio Velo than to share rides, meals and experiences with friends and clients alike-- both home and abroad.
Over the past month, I have been based between Spain and Italy. The month began with two, seven-day SV:Travel cycling trips to Piemonte, Italy, a cycling mecca beyond comprehension. Subsequently, I headed south to scout out some new rides in Tuscany and Umbria, staying at one of the most incredible estates inTuscany, Borgo Pignano. Thanks to a Studio Velo client’s super gracious invite and hospitality, this was quite an experience, one I hope to share with SV clients in 2014.
By the time I had finished the first two weeks in Italy, I had gained over 2.5 kilos. Despite riding nearly 1,000 miles and climbing over 45k feet over this period, I grew a nice "panna cotta" belly, as my wife says, and never felt better. It's hard to believe one can gain so much weight riding so many miles day after day.
I had crashed once (never a fun thing to do early in a cycling trip), learned more Italian along the way, and drank way too much vino-- is that possible? The adventure was full of ups and downs, but all in the all an incredible adventure.. Never regretting a moment, I was, however, genuinely looking for a bit of rest from the bike. Despite this desire, it was time for the next adventure to begin.
A hot, desert-like region once conquered by more Mediterrainean cultures than nearly anywhere else in Europe, full of remote, old-world roads, the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula proved to be an area with a considerable amount of promise for a cycling trip. Having completed my graduate studies in Sevilla, Spain, many eons ago, I was somewhat familiar with the remote white villages of Andalusia and wanted to return back for a look at a possible 2014 cycling adventure. This place was paradise.
After 7 days of scouting, the ingredients for an epic cycling trip were complied and it was time to heard north. Next came a short trip to Barcelona, the launching point for my return to Italy in preparation for the upcoming pro-amateur race in France (To learn more about the Trois Etape race, check out www.endlessascent.org).
Upon arriving to Barcelona, I decided on a whim to reach out to Javier Maya, the brainchild behind the most incredible cycling store, PAVÉ. It was over the course of two days that I was reminded why we do what we do, why we launched SV: Travel and why we strive to impart the best of Europe with our clients back home in the US.
I sent Javi an email Friday evening to let him know that I was in Barcelona. Within 5 minutes, he effectively planned an epic weekend of riding while extending an incredible invitation to shares meals with his family, meet some friends and ride two amazing rides in the outskirts of Barcelona and in the Penedes wine region.
It was 7:45am the next day and Javi was in the lobby of the Barcelo Sants hotel, taking my bags in hand and walking me to his van. (Take note, he too has a Mercedes Benz. Both shops have good taste I guess) After a quick change, Javi in his PAVÉ kit, me in Studio Velo, we set off for a 4.5 hour ride. Like all good, type A cyclists, Javi began with stout 325 watts effort up the first of many climbs of the day. But like any stand-up shop owner, he saluted and talked briefly with many a client along the way.
By the time we hit the false flat at the top, I had averaged over 335 watts for far too long, killed my legs and was hanging on for dear life. This guy was no joke. Former Ironman triathlete, now full-time roadie, Javi Maya is no ordinary bike shop owner. It’s always a pleasure to ride with other shop owners, but it’s even more of a pleasure to see how an owner can put his 12,000 euro Time ZXRS through the paces while working the typical long hours that we do to live/work this business.
By the time we stopped for a quick coke (yes, I drink coke on hot days and when I have already burned nearly 2,000 calories in less than 3 hours), we had talked about so many industry stories, insights and casualties, I felt like I had been to a two-day industry conference. It was amazing. Here we are, two high-end, customer-centric bike shops half-way around the world from each other, but we had more in common than most neighboring bike shops and owners in the area. Indeed, we whined about internet sales eroding the brick & mortar stores core business, the challenges of small businesses in general, and the lack of vision with the industry as a whole, yet we continued to remind ourselves that we love what we do.
LOVE WHAT YOU DO & DO WHAT YOU LOVE.
Loving what you do is the key to the success of any business. And it shows in PAVÉ. After two full days of riding, I told Javi that I really wanted to visit PAVÉ again. It had been over a year since I first visited the store and it begged another walk around. Though not open, he graciously brought me over to PAVÉ, just minutes away from the Barcelona Airport and downtown Barcelona. Few words can sum up PAVÉ. You must see it to believe it. I noticed my heart rate starting to elevate, excited by the entire look and feel of the store. I thought Javi was again dropping the hammer on me on the road, but rather he was showing me around with incredible enthusiasm. When one is patient about something, something he/she created, it can be felt. It’s contagious. I love it!
Part of me wants to share PAVÉ with you; part of me realizes that at Studio Velo we already share the PAVÉ experience, just in Mill Valley. It occurred to me that PAVÉ and Studio Velo are like Sister Cities, two places that impart an experience, a feeling, an emotion every time you walk in the door. They share commonalities, whether it be clothing brands like Rapha, bike brands like Time, or coffee machines supporting the slow-coffee movement and cyclist addiction for caffiene.
I invite you to join me for a visit to PAVÉ sometime. Or visit the next time you are in Spain. It’s worth the trip. Ask for Javi, he would be pleased to show you around.