Ryan Aitcheson is 25, and from Kitchener, Ontario (Canada). He is one of the best criterium racers in North America. He is also my longest standing teammate, it’s been four years now.

You’d never guess what he was capable of doing in a race if you met him on the street or just out riding. He’s stop, say hi, invite you for coffee and probably pay for it for you too.

Actually there is a caveat there; he’d only pay if he deemed the coffee good enough. If Ryan has one flaw, it’s that he’s a coffee snob! He’ll be the first to tell you.

There are great roads right in front of my apartment in Mojacar, Spain. But there are (and I don’t say this lightly) some of the world’s best roads about one hour’s drive away. In particular, a climb called Velefique.

Astellas teammates
The Velefique view. Photo©Matt Green

It’s an exact replica of l’Alp D’huez but with less traffic (we saw literally no cars) and more switchbacks.

We drove out and did the 1800m pass of Velefique and the 2200m pass of Calar Alto. With no gloves on. It’s February. That just endorsed that where we stay for the winter is the perfect location for training.

There are few things more fun than descending with a friend in the warmth of the sun at the tail-end of a great ride. I’m probably preaching to the choir. But Ryan, thanks for that ride mate.

Astellas teammates
Good times training with mates in Spain. Photo©Matt Green

Olly Moors is 19, and from Scaynes Hill in West Sussex, England. Olly has only been on club teams up until this point. He’s now a professional and he and I are teammates; Ryan and I passed Olly on the way home from our ride and he told us about a racing memory, because I asked.

Everyone remembers their best days on the bike and Olly’s best also happens to be his worst. After making the split in a junior Kermis in Belgium (a split of 10 in a race with 260 starters) he flatted with three km to go.

I felt sad for him when I heard the story but luckily in cycling where you could race, literally, 100 times per year, there will be another change – just not in the junior ranks, unless Olly has a time machine.

Astellas teammates
Riding out to Calar Alto. Photo©Matt Green

He was doing a recovery day. Here’s a tip for free…

Everyone needs recovery days and rest days. Note that I said both recovery and rest; they’re different things.

Rest days are off the bike entirely, recovery days are on the bike but riding exceptionally easy. If you’re familiar with zones, then recovery rides Z1.

If you’re a full time bike rider the mental respite of not getting into lycra is a welcome break, as is not riding the same tiny recovery loop when a total rest is as – if not more – effective.

So that’s two of my teammates. There are 13 more. Their time will come soon…

Check out Strava if you want to review the ride!