For Ride with Us, we drew on the Strava community in some of our favourite cities – Barcelona, London, Los Angeles and Sao Paolo. We asked local riders to show us their territory, take us out to their favourite roads, make us coffee and feed us lunch. They’re the real deal: no models, no stylists and no gimmicks.
TRACY CHANDLER, LA / PALM SPRINGS
The bike for me is a moving meditation…
“I live in LA, by the ocean, it’s always a couple of degrees cooler here than other parts of the city, but I grew up in Palm Springs, in the desert, and I know the roads out there. Every time I’m out there visiting my family or whatever I try to get a ride in. There is some strange and amazing riding in the desert. It’s really windy and really hot, but if you catch it right, you can use the wind to your advantage because there’s these long straightaways – there’s a shot of them in the film – where the tailwind means you can be going 35-40mph, you’re totally spun out, and there’s no effort. It’s so fun.
“I try to put a lot of girl groups together and I ride a lot with some friends of mine: Machines for Freedom is a women-focused cycling brand that I’ve supported as a creative consultant, and as a ride leader and product tester ever since the first pattern the founder, Jennifer Hannon, put together. Every day I help with what I can, because I believe in women’s cycling and entrepreneurship, and I believe in the brand. It has a soul to it.
“The bike for me is a moving meditation. It’s an adventure, and although I’m covering ground it keeps me grounded, it’s something I come back to. Any sort of anxious energy or tension I have is not only released but focused. My body has something to do, I have to keep turning the pedals, keep moving to stay balanced.”
IAN ELLIOTT / LA
Founder of a strategy practice specialising in philanthropic investment
Riding represents an open landscape for me…
“I got into riding a bike as a replacement for surfing, something that allowed me to leave everything behind for a moment and just breathe. Whether I’m rising at 5:15am on the weekdays to snag some lung-bursting repeats, or going further than planned on the weekends and getting lost in the thrill of it all, it’s as much about adventuring as it is about seeing how hard I can push myself, mentally and physically.
“Riding represents an open landscape for me. It’s a chance to let everything you have on your mind roam laterally so that you can really process it, and I guess come back into the world a stronger healthier and fresher person. That’s what gets me up in the morning…
“The reward is the perspective you gain when you push past previous precedents and look ahead towards new horizons. This extends into how I approach my role at Sew to how I approach my role as a husband, brother, friend and member of my community. The bottom line is, riding is as much as all the crazy stuff we get to see on the road, the cool people we connect with while riding and the delicious cookies we get to scarf down unashamedly, whenever we want, as it is about constantly becoming a better human being.
“Daniel’s kind of the only guy I knew who was really interested in doing super crazy rides. Just because… it’s fun. We linked up and started touring around all the different places in LA that allow us to get outside of the city, breathe different air, spend time just talking and thinking while simultaneously bursting our legs and lungs.”
DANIEL REDWOOD / LA
Digital product designer
The more we ride, the deeper the adventuring goes…
“People think it’s tough to be a bike rider in LA, but it’s actually so particularly great for riding I always giggle when people say that… I don’t know many other metropolitan cities where in two hours we can roll out of our houses, meet up in Griffith Park, climb 4,500ft in 28 miles and then go to work. That’s crazy and magical.
“Because LA’s so big and has so many different places to ride, everyone is really focused into riding their particular area. There are the guys who ride pacelines on Angeles Crest Highway, people who ride the Pacific Coast Highway and the canyons, Griffith Park, commuters, domestic pros. And then you’ve got these weekend wanderers: We’ll be up in the mountains, way high up at Crystal Lake grabbing a sandwich, and there’s some guy or woman who’s like 70 years old and riding bikes all their lives.
“We’re so spoiled… the more we ride, the deeper the adventuring goes. Now, if we go up to Mt. Wilson, which is part of the route that was filmed, we think, ‘If we’re already up here, we might as well go up the neighbouring peak, Mt Disappointment.’ Because it has a better view, even though it’s a way harder climb and the road’s a little unkept.
“What Ian and I have found ourselves doing is, because we really love this city and all the kinds of riding, to try to take advantage of as much of it as possible. Where a lot of people have their intervals or their racing, or wandering, we really try and do as much of it as we can. We pass through and connect a lot of these groups together. And because, if you run into someone on a bike on top of a mountain, you know they’re good people, right? There’s no question! There’s something special and cool about that that we do not take for granted. It’s so good.”
ERYN NOLAN, LONDON
Co-owner, Pretorius Bikes
We love riding with our customers, you get to become a part of their lives…
“We love riding with our customers, you get to become a part of their lives: We see them come in and ride with us, become better riders and make friends. Also, riding with them on a day-to-day basis is really good feedback. When you’re designing stuff for riders, that first-hand experience of what’s useful and how stuff performs is so important.
“We didn’t see ourselves as race-oriented originally, primarily because I think the mass market puts so much focus on aerodynamics and facts and figures, and we simply don’t think about our bikes in that kind of way. But, ultimately, we realised that we still ride our bikes like we’re racing, and so we design them to ride and handle like race bikes. Our club rides create a natural path for riders to coming up through the groups, becoming better riders and then wanting to start racing. We’ve had some good results this season and seeing all the riders reach at least Cat3 in their first season is really exciting.
“I feel like I hold very different views to a lot of the current trends in the bike industry. Primarily, I don’t believe in women’s-only or men’s-only rides: we have a lot of women in all our rides, from the A group through to the Cs, and our women’s race team is doing well this year. I like riding just for riding’s sake, so by getting in my intensity sessions through racing it means the rest of the time I get to just ride my bike for fun. I’m not sure what keeps me training, except maybe the dream of get up in a really sunny beautiful place and ride your bike every day, with no commitments. You keep training so that when that dream comes true you’ll be fit enough to really enjoy it!”
JEAN-CLAUDE PRETORIUS, LONDON
Founder and co-owner, Pretorius Bikes
I was chasing a dream…
“Since the day I started riding I wanted to be pro, and I raced from the age of 8. I didn’t want to just ride as a normal pro at a lower level, I wanted to ride in the ProTour. I raced with the South African national team all around the world up until Juniors, and then I moved to Europe and rode there for three years, racing in Continental teams with the goal of ProTour in mind.
“I was chasing a dream, but I realised that I wasn’t going to make it to the ProTour. I tried really hard and got close, but I just didn’t have the talent, or the contacts, or the luck… and I didn’t want to be one of those guys who raced and raced forever and didn’t progress. After that it was a quick decision – a really hard one, but a quick one – to stop.
“I moved to London soon after that and three years later I started Pretorius Bikes. I like metal bikes and always loved titanium, but I never got to race on it. That’s why Pretorius bikes are titanium. The brand evolved from the workshop I used to run in some arches behind King’s Cross, and now we’re in Shoreditch with a workshop, showroom and coffee shop too. Our own bikes and accessories are increasingly important to us, as is the whole riding community around Pretorius.
“I did so much racing in the past, I don’t really want to race any more, but it’s becoming a bigger part of Pretorius. I don’t race for myself: I race now to try to help these guys who want to race, to teach them. I think I’ve got a lot to offer when it comes to racing for these guys. They also like the fact that I’m there, with knowledge and a cool head. For me it’s been interesting to see riders become better.”
JAVIER MAYA / BARCELONA
Owner, PAVÉ Culture Cycliste
To ride on new roads and find new sensations, those are my goals…
“I love cycling because I love sport! So it’s not traumatic for me to get up when the sun is still asleep. Sometimes you have to confront laziness, but I usually win the battle. Once I’m on the bike, my satisfaction is total, and the day begins in CAPITAL LETTERS.
“Normally, I train for a marathon in winter. I run so I don’t lose my love of cycling: I move away from cycling so that I can come back with more intensity! On the other hand, I don’t set any goals when I’m cycling, and I hate cyclosportives or big groups of cyclists. I get annoyed and my pleasure evaporates. I prefer to look for more intimate times, with a few friends or on my own. To ride on new roads and find new sensations, those are my goals on the bike.
“PAVÉ is right next to a big city, and sometimes it’s difficult to ride without being surrounded by cars. But if you know the area well you can find nice roads, which lift you up for a bird’s eye view of the Mediterranean. Staying so close to the sea is beautiful! And if you take the car, in an hour and a half you’re in the Pyrenees. Barcelona is a great place to live.”
PAQUALE SPAGNUOLO / BARCELONA
Works in IT
For me, discovering cycling was like coming alive again…
“I’m Italian, but I’ve been living in Barcelona for more than nine years, and I’ve been cycling for three. I took up road riding as training for mountain biking, but after the first time I put slick tyres on my mountain bike, to go out on a road ride with friends, I put the mountain bike to one side and never stopped!
“When you’re road biking you spend a lot of time side-by-side, in people’s company. Road cycling attracted me in particular for this reason, because I got to know a lot of people. It was a big change for me. I spent so many years just in the office and didn’t know that many people outside my family and wife’s friends. It’s been a new experience, I’ve met all kinds of people.”
FELIPE PARADA / SÃO PAULO
When I don’t ride my bike my day is completely different…
“I’ve been riding bikes all my life. But when I got my driver’s licence, I thought, now I’m an adult, I’m gonna drive everywhere. So I stopped, and I started to gain weight – like 10-15 kilos. So I said, ‘Oh gosh, I have to do something!’ I returned to mountain biking when I was 22-23 years old, and after 10 years of mountain biking I decided to switch to road bikes. If I hadn’t started riding my bike again, I think I’d be over 100 kilos now, and I’d have high blood pressure, be on medication… my life would be completely different.
“I think in São Paulo about 80% of the riders are MTBers. In Sao Paolo the traffic is horrible, the worst in the world I think! The mayor of the city is building many bike lanes in the city, but some drivers don’t understand it, they think we’re taking their space. They’re not visionaries. They think cars are the future, but it’s the opposite – bikes are the future!
“When I don’t ride my bike my day is completely different. Strava helps to motivate me to ride every day. It’s hard sometimes, during the week or in cold weather, to ride by yourself. It’s so hard to find people available during the week at the times you are. When I was younger, I used to play video games a lot. Nowadays Strava is my video game!”
MARCELO GRACIANO / SÃO PAULO
Works in a hardware store
The friendship and competition motivate me…
“I started riding my bike in 2010. The friendship and the competition of riding motivate me. Everybody says I’m a good rider and it really helps me to go faster and faster. It motivates me to go into competition. I also like to compete because I lost an arm after a motorcycle accident. I’ve participated in more than 70 competitions and this year I’m leading Big Biker, GP Ravelli, Four Seasons and Copa Vale, which are the most important races in São Paulo.
“I live in a city called São Francisco Xavier, it’s about two-and-a-half hours from São Paulo city, and it’s a paradise for mountain bikers. The landscape is beautiful, and there are a lots of unpaved roads that take you to singletrack and waterfalls.”