Remember Peter Murdoch? He raced at a high level as a junior on the road. In those days he roomed with a guy named Bradley Wiggins, whatever happened to him?
As a senior rider he spent time racing in France at Division One level then, in more recent times got the better of all the ‘pure’ testers to take the SC 25 Mile TT Championship in 2015.
He’d slipped off the VeloVeritas radar but has popped up in Espana in Javea on the Costa Blanca, not so far from our ‘Man In Iberia,’ Al Hamilton.
Peter runs Blanca Bikes, providing the full package for those who want some serious training in the sunshine – or who just want to potter ‘sans thermals’ and enjoy a beer and some tapas with that vibe that you only get in those old Spanish bars.
We started by asking him what made him desert Auld Scotia and head for the sun?
“I was getting older, I’d stopped racing, the opportunity to move to Spain arose and I took it.
“I love it here in Javea, which is just north of Calpe where many pro teams have training camps.
“Maybe I’m biased but I’d say the roads around here are actually better than the roads around Calpe.
“It’s a great area for biking; initially I did bike hire and offered villa accommodation.
“But now I offer it all, airport pick up, bike hire and have a lovely boutique hotel for accommodation – the villa accommodation didn’t work that well so when the opportunity to rent the hotel came along, I jumped at it.
“It was an unfinished project and I collaborated with the builders and owner of the property to complete it to a very high standard.
“We’re in central Javea, which is a nice town, with the beach within easy reach and there’s great night life if you want that kind of break where you ride the bike during the day but want to go out on the town at night.
“Or just bring your shoes, pedals and helmet and hire one of our Orbeas?”
Has Covid hit you hard?
“Yes, it’s cost us a lot of business with March and April wiped out but whilst it would be easy to sit and moan, many of the local bars and businesses have been hit harder than we have.
“The lockdown here in Spain was pretty severe and it happened so quickly, within 12 hours of the initial announcement.
“But the hotel landlord has been good and we’re optimistic for the main part of our season which is really October until May.
“Whilst UK business has remained down, because of the 14 day self-isolation you have to endure if you travel to Spain then return to the UK, we’ve doing well with bike hire for Belgian, Dutch and French people.
“We have lots of provisional bookings into the autumn but folk are shaky about confirming because of the ever-changing situation around Covid.
“What I’d like to tell potential clients is that any deposits we take will be refunded if the Covid situation dictates they can’t travel.”
Tell us about your clientele.
“Anyone and everyone, really!
“We’ve had Harry Tanfield the AG2R professional, the Pro Vision guys – Steve and Ben Joughin are supporters of ours – the Army Cycling Team, pro tri-athletes, club guys – the Royal Albert CC have been out, corporate guys, office workers as well as first and second cat. riders looking for quality training in a good climate.”
So the activity/ability spectrum is pretty wide?
“Exactly; you can bring your own bike or we’ll supply one, we’ll arrange airport pick up, you can just go for a potter or we can arrange structured training, up to and including motor pacing.
“I raced at Division One level in France so I know what’s what as far as training goes.
“I’ve got myself back into reasonable shape – in fact, I hope to get back into racing – and go out on the group rides.
“Accommodation-wise goes, it’s first rate with wi-fi, TV and coffee machines in every room – with all the rooms fresh and bright.”
If you’re of that bent can you tackle some of those big Vuelta climbs we see on Eurosport?
“Yes the Coll de Rates at Tarbena and the Puerto de Tudons near Alicante are both categorised climbs in the Vuelta and are within easy riding distance from us.
“But you don’t have to venture into the mountains, there are local roads to suit all abilities of rider, from guys just wanting to potter on coffee runs to pros and tri guys preparing for big competitions.”
And I guess it has to be a Spanish bike in Spain?
“Yes, Orbea Orcas from the Basque Country, equipped with Shimano 105 or Ultegra groupsets and disc brakes.
“We’ve stuck to mechanical gears, electronic shifting is great but we want to keep things simple.
“Just bring your helmet, shoes and pedals – or your own bike, we’ll pick you up at the airport.”
What about off-road riding?
“That’s on the ‘to do’ list, I’ve been talking to local MTb guys and that’s something we’ll be offering soon.
“Another avenue we’d like to explore is looking after junior teams who could come to experience organised training in a great climate.”
You can find Peter’s website here.