Poor cyclists in Monte Pego

 

Arthur Silber, the unsung hero in my two-wheeled saga, was the powerhouse behind Silber Pro Cycling from 2013 to 2018. His cozy guesthouse in Monte Pego, Valencia, became our training camp haven. We utilized his house for a few weeks in January for four consecutive years, with various friends joining at different times – a mix of young Canadian riders aspiring to become professional cyclists, including Charles-Étienne, Laurent, Ann-Pascale, Félix, Robin, and myself.

Situated atop Port dels Sorells, Monte Pego stood seven kilometers away from the nearest supermarket in Pego. During our early years, we strategically summoned taxis to transport our groceries, perfecting the art of penny-pinching. Our rest days turned into grocery expeditions, where we’d load our backpacks and conquer the 2.70 km ascent at a 6.2% grade of Port dels Sorells.

Operating on a tight budget, the 200 euros in cleaning fees became grounds for disagreements – should it be split four ways or per day per person? On one occasion, faced with a 6 am flight and reluctant to pay 160 euros for a morning taxi, I opted for the bus/train/metro combo, arriving at the airport at 10 pm the night before. I would never tell my parents this of course.

Year two transformed our training camp into a sitcom, featuring the lively neighbors – a couple from Alsace, France, and another from Belgium, living out their post-retirement dreams. We shared hearty meals at their house, relishing their culinary skills. We became fast friends; they even rescued me after a training ride crash. Their generosity knew no bounds; they embraced our needs, and in return, we could offer little. We chuckled over the nuances between Québecois French and their own, discussing the myth that “women cyclists crash more than men,” a notion I vehemently defended as false. They delved deeper into cycling, watching my races and attending a few in Belgium, always armed with chocolate.

I sought to recon the 3rd stage of Setmana Valenciana and wished to arrive three days earlier. Enter the neighbors – now feeling like my family abroad – graciously opening the doors to their downstairs apartment. They organized my meals, like parents planning a college care package. Poolside naps felt strangely at home beside these retirees.

A huge shoutout to Arthur Silber for being the unsung housing hero, a linchpin in my cycling journey. And a nod to those nosy yet curious neighbors who turned a few weeks in January into a familiar vacation. Though Arthur sold his Monte Pego house in 2022, his generosity lingers, inspiring me to pay it forward when my chance comes around. I’m grateful for the wonderful souls who’ve entered my life thanks to his house, and a big shoutout to Port dels Sorells for contributing to my climbing prowess.

Finally, in those early training sessions, glimpses of Anna Van Der Breggen and her team, alongside DSM, Trek, or Quickstep, added a surreal touch to the cycling landscape. Amidst the group rides, I occasionally spotted lone riders. Despite my friendly waves, reciprocity was rare – perhaps my amateur kit played a part, or maybe they were focused on their interval sessions. Yet, these non-waving professionals fueled a personal commitment: I vowed to be the eternal waver. For on the opposite side of the road, there might be a junior dreaming of joining Movistar or simply turning pro. My wave isn’t just a courteous gesture; it’s a salute to the arduous journey I hope they undertake.

In March, on my calendar is Strade Bianche, Extremadura, which includes a time trial that I’m really looking forward to, and Alfredo Trofeo Binda. Follow me on Instagram @olbaril!

Until next time,

Olivia

More news

Share this post