There’s nothing like meeting someone you admire from afar in person. And it was our Nina who got lucky. After travelling further south to the colourful and lively Catalan capital of Barcelona, she got to finally bump into Laura Celdrán Subiela, a fearless local downhiller and cyclo-alpinist, with whom she’s been in digital contact for years but only now they met in the real world. You could tell there’s a genuine connection between the two as they wasted no time and hit the trail right away!
After Laura got hold of Nina, driving through one of the typical narrow streets of downtown Barcelona, they stashed Laura’s bike into the ŠKODA KAROQ’s variable boot and headed for the nearby hill. As the car was making its way up the many hairpin bends, Laura unfolded some of her weekly routines. “I’m a telecommunication engineer in my own company, where I work Monday to Friday. During the work week, I also spend a lot of time in the gym. Many people think that riding your bike often is enough to be in form for enduro or downhill but gym time is crucial – all muscles need to be in top shape.” So, where does bike riding fit into her weekly schedule? “I spend most of my weekends as a mountain bike riding instructor, especially for women because I would love to see women’s cycling flourish. My logic is that if I want to see mountains full of women, someone needs to teach them,” Laura eagerly describes with sparkles in her eyes.
When they reach the hill’s peak, they get right on with riding. Laura selects one trail that proves to be astonishingly variable in terms of terrain. One moment you’re tackling tree roots in alternating kinds of forests and the other you suddenly enter a clearing that allows you to sneak a look either at the sprawling Barcelona on one side or Catalan wilderness on the other. If you focus for a second, the urban mass reveals the famous silhouettes of Camp Nou, the Sagrada Familia cathedral, and the sea and beaches on the horizon.
On one of the many crossroads of the labyrinthine trail complex, they meet two of Laura’s friends, whom they happily join. You can see they’re all on their turf and as Nina aptly puts it: “The more, the merrier!” Time flies by on the vast kilometres of tracks and as the two newcomers say their goodbyes, the night lights of Barcelona start flickering. Now it’s the perfect time to finish Nina’s and Laura’s little chat. “My specialisation is cyclo-alpinism. I climb a mountain with my bike and then I shred it. The body has a natural tendency to protest and go on a strike after several hours of such strain and it’s crucial not to lose concentration and to focus on what’s really important. That’s why is this activity so purifying for me.” Nina is naturally curious what keeps Laura motivated and driven when exhausted. “I try to explain to people that exercise is truly essential but when you spend up to 14 hours riding through demanding terrain knowing that several following days won’t be any different, that’s where the power of mind comes to play. Sport is my job but it’s also my hobby. It’s my way to feel free, it’s my way to live a life.”
The sky has gone dark over the hilly landscape as we leave the gals to chat some more. But watch your bedtime Nina, more adventures to follow tomorrow!