Seeking Adventure: The Pyrenees Part III
16 February 2017
2 January 2017
Published by Orbea
At Orbea, we have always been - and always will be - committed to partnerships with elite competitive teams (such as the mythical Euskaltel Euskadi in the past, and Team Cofidis and Clif Pro Team in the present). They are the best test benches for our bicycles.
But our user community increasingly wants to know what every day life is like for these pros in the world’s top competitions: the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, XC World Cup, etc., and in every discipline: road races, triathlon, XC, enduro, etc.
You’ve asked us for experiences on bicycles and to give you an inside view of what cycling is like. Not just for pros, this includes races that are attracting more and more attention from thousands of bicycle fans around the world: amateur events and brand-sponsored festivals and experiences. Events like the Cape Epic, Sea Otter, Orbea Monegros and other amateur “classics” come to mind.
This two-part demand led us to perceive the need to create our own team, which had to include two people who have dedicated their entire lives to living and breathing cycling, and who still maintain a brutal competitive level to battle it out in the world’s most demanding competitions.
This team is the Orbea Factory Team, and these people are Ibon Zugasti and Tomi Misser. Two “characters” who will allow us to experience cycling from the inside at some of the year’s main events: the Tour de France, XC World Cup in Vallnord, and more.
They will also compete in some of the most demanding events on the cycling calendar, such as the Cape Epic (the first great challenge of the season, and for many, the Tour de France of Mountain Biking), and will take part in mythical rides, such as the Cyclos de Flandre, held the day before the even more mythical Tour des Flandre.
If you already know Ibon and Tomi, which is quite likely, we needn’t say anything more. It’s enough to tell you that you can follow them on the Orbea Factory Team social media (on Facebook and Instagram), Orbea’s profiles on Twitter and YouTube and on Ibon and Tomi’s own channels (Blog, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Strava / Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Through their videos, reflections, pictures and posts on the social media, you’ll enjoy and learn about cycling as you have fun and start to notice the little things that used to slip by unnoticed. Of course, the Orbea Factory Team is open to any suggestions, questions and requests from Orbea’s user community.
The Orbea Factory Team is also a living project, and soon we will include new members focused on enduro competition, who will surprise us with their impossible challenges and training videos.
The Capo and the MTB legend
In case you don’t already know Ibon Zugasti and Tomi Misser, let us introduce them. Ibon Zugasti is, in this own words, “a guy who is somewhat good at cycling, who quit his job to do what he likes best: eat, sleep and ride bikes.” Since we obviously couldn’t interview him while he slept, and ruling out the option of while he ate, we had to talk to him while doing pre-season stairs where he lives in Barcelona.
It’s nothing he wasn’t already used to, according to Tomi Misser. “Riding bikes with Ibon is like riding with the radio on, because he never really shuts up during the entire trip.” For Tomi, “Ibon is a very open and friendly person with inverted biorhythms. He’s a kind of bat, who lives more at night than during the day; he has no set schedule. He operates on impulse, and clearly knows what he has to do. He knows what he likes, which is cycling, and is 100% dedicated to it.”
“I am what I am. My entire life, I have always been the way I am, and I’m going to continue this way,” Ibon says. If anything characterizes him, it’s his spontaneity and naturalness. And above all, he always says what he thinks, no matter what. Regardless of any brands, trends or sponsorships. This may be why he has more than 54,000 followers on Instagram, 14,000 on Twitter, 30,000 on Facebook, 24,000 on YouTube and 12,000 on Strava. Altogether, more than 150,000 followers on all the social networking sites combined.
As for Tomi Misser, Ibon describes him as “a mountain bike legend.” And that’s no exaggeration. In the 1990s, Tomi was already Spanish Junior Downhill champion and Spanish XC champion. He was ahead of his time, an athlete who paved the way for MTB in the ‘90s, when the same bike was used for everything: XC, Downhill, etc. It was in this latter discipline that he was crowned European Champion in 1996 and became known as one of the world’s leading cyclists. He was a runner-up at the World Rally Championships, 15-time national champion and runner-up at the World XCO Masters. There’s no doubt about it, the history of mountain biking in Spain would not be complete without the Misser name.
“I’m really eager to team up with Tomi,” Ibon mentions, “because he is an amazing guy. Technically, he’s amazing. I’m 44 years old, but every day I go out with him, I learn something.”
What is a Zugastada?
If you follow Tomi and Ibon in "Imparables", a project they are still associated with and in which Orbea also takes part, you’ll already have noticed that there is a special relationship between them, and Ibon in particular has his own language, which without realizing it, we have incorporated into our own cycling vocabulary: capo (Mafia boss), bicho (literally, bug), mandar algo o a alguien al palco (send someone or something to the box seats)…and the Zugastadas.
A lot of people talk about Zugastadas, but few know that the term was coined by a long-time companion to Ibon’s bike adventures. “He called a Zugastada,” Ibon remembers, “something he did that didn’t seem to make sense, but in all reality made perfect sense. It’s like, ‘damn, it seems like he is just screwing around, but he knows what he’s doing!’ You know what I mean?”
Call it a method to his madness or peculiar habits, one such Zugastada is having pedaled non-stop since 1993 and maintaining the same passion as on the very first day. Or having competed on his bike in 26 countries and confessing that “I prefer only one country every day on a bike over 26 different countries without a bike.” A Zugastadaza.
The Orbea Factory Team will share different experiences with the Imparables. We can reveal that they will compete in February in “The Pioneer”, or in other words, a Cape Epic right in the middle of a New Zealand summer, and they’ll travel the Way of St. James together in July. There will be more surprises that we’ll reveal over time.
But what exactly is the Orbea Factory Team going to do?
“We’re going to explain more of what is going on inside the competitions,” Tomi indicates. “We’re going to experience the competition more. I think that’s why the Orbea Factory Team is going to be a different team and a different channel: we’ll live the experience and then tell about it from our perspective. Besides being informative, so people can learn, we will try to make it fun to watch the videos.”
“In Flanders, for example, I want to really transmit the nerves and the preparation of a cyclist who is sweating it out in a race, and also tell about the very special ambiance there is in Belgium, where cycling is a religion. It’s much more important than soccer,” he concludes. “Talking with cyclists who are going to compete, but also with fans holding the Flanders flag and showing what cycling is like there. Whoever follows us and watches the videos will actually be able to feel the cobblestones.”
“In Vallnord, we might see how the bikers of the Clif Pro Team prepare their bicycles and why they do it in that way,” Tomi continues. “Or we can ride a lap around the circuit with them, as they tell us why they follow a trail they way they do, the before and after of a competition, etc.”
The vast experience of Ibon Zugasti and Tomi Misser on a bike will undoubtedly ensure that the ideas abound in any cycling setting around the world. All this with one interesting extra: “Ibon and I come from different worlds,” Tomi indicates. “He is more of an expert on the road, while I am in MTB. Therefore, when we go to road races, I will have questions about things that he will take for granted, and vice versa. Interesting things will emerge from the way we complement each other.”
“Almost without realizing it, we have naturally created a project that we are very excited about,” Ibon says. “The year of our dreams awaits us. I’m convinced of it.”
The Orbea Factory Team will ride the Orca on the road with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon or Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon wheels, Mavic Yksion Pro tires, FSA components and Prologo seats. In the mountains, they will compete with the Alma and Oiz, along with Sram Eagle, a 36 chainwheel with the new 10-50 cog and FSA assembly + Mavic with Maxxis tires. They’ll also wear Orca gear and R10 helmets.
The Orbea Factory Team will debut during the upcoming Costa Blanca Bike Race (January 26-29), an event in which their entire staff will be available to explain the project and, of course, to take a bike ride with Ibon and Tomi. If you’re interested, contact us through the team's social media!