Juan Antonio Flecha is a rider synonymous with the classic road racing scene. Winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a regular performer in Paris-Roubaix – the Hell of the North – Flecha has a decorated and impressive history in some of the biggest races on the calendar. It comes slightly unexpected, then, that Flecha has a love for gravel riding, one of the most modern and alternative disciplines in the cycling world today.
“I initially heard about the discipline when the first gravel bikes came onto the market nearly ten years ago now. A while later I was in Los Angeles and I joined a few rides where cyclists were riding gravel bikes,” Flecha explained when announcing his new gravel clothing range with Gobik. “Gravel allows me to be more in touch with nature. It opens up way more options for routes and therefore increases my sense of freedom.”
The 44-year-old explains that the discipline has taken him back to his roots: as a young child he always enjoyed exploring the “imperfect roads.” A true advocate for gravel, Flecha argues that it’s a type of bike riding that he thinks many cyclists have been waiting for, a chance to get closer than ever to the wonders that the world has to offer on two wheels. It’s with this inspiration that Flecha has collaborated with Gobik to launch “Mestizo”, a gravel clothing collection that is aimed at helping cyclists enjoy their off-road rides to the fullest, encouraging people to explore beyond where the tarmac ends. The collection includes gravel-specific “Grit” bib shorts, a technical “Volt” t-shirt, the “Stark” jersey and the 2.0 Gilet. The bib shorts feature pockets on the side for extra storage on all-day adventures, while the Stark Jersey’s “design of mountain silhouettes at sunrise brings you one step closer to the landscape.”
Flecha has had a big influence on the design of the garments in the Mestizo collection, drawing inspiration from many of his hobbies to help shape a range with a personal touch. The Volt T-shirt, for example, has different designs on the front and rear which represent the Spanish rider’s passion for surfing and skateboarding. Gobik also explains that the first 200 customers who order the Mestizo collection will receive a new triangle neck warmer and a free pin and sticker set.
The Mestizo collection will make its first appearance at Badlands, a self-supported, ultra-distance cycling event which spans five days, covers 780 kilometres and climbs over 15,000 metres through the regions of Granada and Cabo de Gata, before finishing at the foot of Pico Veleta. It’s a big challenge for the riders thanks to the strict rules about no assistance out on the road and the mammoth distance. It will be a true test of the capabilities of the Mestizo garments as they will need to battle all the elements thrown at them throughout the challenging route.
Flecha himself notes that experiencing the landscapes during the race is as important as performing well. Badlands explores the southernmost points of the ancient continent, such as the Hoya de Guadix, the sierras of Huétor, Alhamilla, Gádor and Filabres, the deserts of Gorafe and Tabernas, La Alpujarra and Cabo de Gata. “Badlands requires both a certain amount of planning, as you get no help along the way, and also the ability to improvise and adapt to change. The event aims to leave no trace on the environment and advocates respect for the balance of nature. It traverses landscapes that are as spectacular as they are challenging," explains the Spanish rider.
"I’m no longer talking about caring for the environment, which I see as a given, but about appreciating what I see and what fills my vision as I pedal”, Flecha concludes. “After the lockdown, many of us longed to be able to cycle outside, and the phrase “feel the wind in your face” went viral. It’s an invisible element, but it paints a picture of other parts of the landscape which we see from the bike. Not everyone appreciates it in the same way, but it’s clear that the environment holds a special place in every cyclist’s heart."
Flecha’s new range with Gobik has been an important labour of love for the 44-year-old as he embarks on a new journey in the sport. The limited-edition collection is available to buy now on Gobik.com.