The Musette Cafe

Earlier this year, we joined our sponsored partner team, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling in Calpe on their training camp, which also gave us the opportunity to visit one of our retail partners; The Musette Cafe. We spoke to them recently to see how they're getting on having had to cope with closure due to COVID-19, where restrictions were very tight over in Spain.

We have been open for a few days since the Covid19 lockdown rules here in Spain have started to lift. It has definitely not been business as usual for Musette Café;
strict distancing rules, nobody allowed inside and the wearing of protective
equipment are just some of the new measures we have had to adapt to in the early stages.

However, we are open and the locals are enjoying fresh speciality coffee and
homemade cakes again! We are looking forward to the days when cyclists and
racing teams can fly back into Alicante airport from all over the world and visit
us again...

During this quiet spell, we thought we would give you a brief insight into
Musette and how it came to be.

In August 2019, work started on our new coffee shop in a small Spanish village
called Alcalali in the Jalon Valley (close to the coastal towns of Calpe and
Denia). The surrounding area is the perfect place to escape the harsh northern
European winter for some dry sunny cycling, making it extremely popular with
many professional teams.

The preparations, plans and ideas however, began a few years earlier. We had
the desire of running a cycling based business abroad, and had considered
various locations and ideas, one of which was a café/shop. However, we
needed to find the perfect area and location for such a shop. In 2015, we
decided to move to the Calpe area of Spain to start a wintertime cycling
holiday and training camp business, with the café always in the back of our
minds. The holidays and camps felt like a natural move because of our
background in cycling and tourism.

James started racing aged 13. After seven years of racing in the UK and
winning the National Espoirs Road Race Series, he moved to France with the
help of the Dave Rayner Fund for three years, to pursue his career, which
finished 4 years later back in the UK with the UCI Continental team Sigma
Sport. Afterwards, he became a mechanic with British Cycling, travelling all
over the world with the national squad to events such as the World
Championships, World Cups and various training camps.

Rachel comes from a cycling family. The most famous being her Uncle who was
one of the top cyclists in the UK during the 60’s and raced for the Great British
team in many of the big stage races such as the Tour of Switzerland and the
Milk Race (Tour of Britain). He won many stages and helped to secure GC (the
overall win) for Les West. Rachel worked as a tour operator managing sports-
based holidays to Ireland and being the official UK Tour Operator for the Irish
Tourist Board for the start of the 1998 Tour de France. In 2012, she went onto
co-manage the UK men’s elite Metaltek cycling team for three seasons.

During the next three years of running the Spanish holidays and training
camps, the area became more and more popular with cyclists and in March
2019 we found a shop available to rent which appeared to be in an ideal
location, 2km from the bottom of the Coll de Rates (a climb used by thousands
of cyclists including the top professional teams for their testing). Before we
knew it, we had signed the lease and got cracking with the preparations,
transforming it into our new cycling café.

First, we needed a name and after many ideas we decided on Musette because
it is a good description of what we do, feed cyclists with small bites of food, a
quick coffee and cake! (Musette is a French word for the food bags held up by
the soigneurs in the feed zones at bike races).

We wanted to concentrate on offering coffee & cake, so it had to be good. For
the coffee, we went to the best in the business, The Roastery; these guys know
everything there is to know about coffee with nearly 40 years of experience.
The help and guidance from Marcel and Claudette (owners of The Roastery &
Bella Barista) has been instrumental in bringing fresh, tasty award-winning
coffee to our customers. For those not into their coffee, we have brought
Yorkshire Tea to the café as the best alternative for a crackin’ brew! The
Brownlee brothers appreciated this touch when they popped in during their
training camp.

The cakes are all down to Rachel, every single one is homemade and baked at
the shop. The theme is nutrition and taste rather than fancy icing cupcake
style. The favourites are the almond tart, carrot cake and banana bread, all of
which are based on real wholesome foods which is probably why they are such
a hit with the cyclists.

We opened at the beginning of November 2019 and during our first winter we have
made some good friends with many cyclists, some of which ride in the top
professional teams which was fantastic, especially when they kept coming back
saying we are their favourite stop! To name a few we have had Sunweb, NTT,
Deceunick Quickstep, WMN Canyon/SRAM Racing Team, Bahrain McLaren and
Alberto Contador’s Kometa Xstra Cycling Team.

The word seemed to be spreading about the “new cycling café” on social media and by word of mouthwhich was really encouraging and by January we were getting rather busy!

Many of the pro riders have bought the coffee beans to take back home with
them, a true testament to the quality of the coffee. The teams have been very
generous in leaving musettes and bidons (some signed) for us to decorate the
café with. Our most special item is from Greg van Avermaet who gave us a
signed jersey to go into the café, when we met up with him at the CCC team
training camp before Christmas.

The shop side is continually growing, we started with the essential spares a
cyclist on holiday may find themselves without, i.e. tyres, tubes, brake pads
etc. which has bailed out many a rider. We once had a fella snap his chain
literally outside of the shop as he rode past; luckily for him we had a
replacement link so James fitted it there and then for him and he was back on
the road. We then started stocking nutrition and some nice products like socks
and caps, items which riders can buy as a memento of their trip.

We heard some good things about the Veloskin chamois cream and after
looking into the product further we thought it would be a good addition, and
an essential item for travelling riders. So we made contact and it was in the shop a few days later.

We had the pleasure of meeting Chris and the guys from Veloskin during the
Ribble-Weldtite Pro Cycling team training camp, a team that Veloskin sponsor. We even discussed some ideas which was very encouraging and should bear fruit in the next few months.

We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our new business. We’ve had lots
of amazing comments, positive feedback and posts on social media from
cyclists all over the world.

So even though we are going through these difficult times, we intend to
continue to grow both the café & shop so we can provide more facilities and
make it an ideal meeting place for all cyclists visiting the area in the future.

Hope to see you all soon,

James and Rachel.

We are definitely looking forward to heading over to Spain and visiting the cafe once again and don't forget, it's not the end of the world if you forget your Veloskin when you go to a training camp, you can always grab a coffee and a fresh tin at the same time! 

Hasta luego!