“Riding a bike is a unique sensation that no one should miss” – Saleta Castro

Spanish triathlete Saleta Castro

Interview with Saleta Castro (1987, Pontevedra, Spain), former Spanish national triathlon champion and Ironman athlete.

As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Spanish cycling website www.gregarioscc.com, I have been carrying out a series of interviews with prominent people involved in the cycling community in Spain in general and, more specificually, in the Valencia Region. The article below is an English version of the original Spanish text which was published on 24/03/22, which you can read here: «Ir en bici es una sensación única que nadie debería perderse» – Saleta Castro.

Welcome to the new installment in our series of interviews with some of the many people who make up the cycling community in the Valencia Region of Spain, an area known throughout the world for the excellent conditions and facilities it offers all year round for the practice of cycling. 

In this week's Gregarios interview we talk with Saleta Castro (1987, Pontevedra, Spain), an exceptional, multifaceted athlete and a reference in the Spanish triathlon scene. Spanish Elite Long Distance Champion in 2010 and focused on Ironmans for the last decade, she has competed in a wide range of sports from an early age and is passionate fan of cycling, both racing and for pleasure.

Spanish triathlete Saleta Castro competing in MTB
Spanish triathlete Saleta Castro competing in MTB

Gregarios: To begin with and for those who don't know your story, who is Saleta Castro and how did you become involved in the world of cycling?

SC: I am a triathlete from Galicia, in northern Spain, and I am passionate about sport and endurance sports. My first contact with the world of cycling came when I was around 5-6 years old and I first learned how to ride. From the moment I learned I was always out on my bike whenever I had the afternoons free, but it wasn’t until I was 13 years old that I got to try real road bike. That was when I was loaned one the very same week that my livesaving coach decided to take me to a provincial school duathlon championship. I remember that right from the first moment I didn’t want to get off the bike, until I fell a few times trying to take my feet out of the clipless pedals (laughs). Once I started to train a little more seriously, however, I realized that cycling was a very hard and that there was a lot for me to learn, as I came from swimming and athletics, and that it was not all so much fun all the time. So my first year cycling I remember as being very hard for me.

Gregarios: The RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) provides us a definition of the term “gregario” in relation to the world of cycling as that of a "rider charged with helping a team leader or another cyclist of a superior category than their own", and although this definition is true, it does seem somewhat incomplete. As someone who sees the world of competitive cycling from the inside, how would you define the concept of “being a gregario”? 

SC: For me, to be a gregario is to be a teammate who is prepared to do everything that is necessary for the team, and to put the results of others before your own. Someone who enjoys the trust of the team leader and who needs only a look to know what to do. A gregario is someone who provides unconditional support. And not only in cycling: I can say that I have gregarios in my training and in my day to day life, people who make me get the best of myself and who are prepared to give me everything, both during training an in competition.

«A gregario is someone who provides unconditional support»

Spanish triathlete Saleta Castro running
"The sense of a personal challenge and of bettering  myself is what makes me want to continue". Saleta Castro

Gregarios: What makes you lean more towards triathlon?

SC: Well, triathlon is my sport, it's what I've been doing since I was 13 years old, I've tried all the distances and disciplines and it's my passion. I have been competing in Ironman for 10 years now, and the sense of a personal challenge and of bettering  myself is what makes me want to continue and do more. I have also competed separately in each individual sport as preparation, outside triathlons, and I practice other outdoor sports and, as of last year, MTB, but in my essence I am a triathlete.

Gregarios: You’ve spoken in the past about your need to enjoy sport and physical exercise: have you ever tried cycling tourism, exploring regions by bike without any link to competition?

PMG: Yes, of course. In 2017, I did Seville – Santiago solo on a mountain bike with panniers, I rode the French Way to Santiago some years ago with friends and whenever we travel outside competition we explore by bike. And for some time now I’ve had the idea to travel to some distant location and return to Spain by bike. One day…...  

«I have been competing  in Ironman for 10 years now, and the sense of a personal challenge and of bettering  myself is what makes me want to continue and do more» 

Gregarios: Do you see yourself at some point in the future trying out unsupported ultracycling such as 'Badlands', 'Transibérica' or 'Transcontinental Race'?

SC: I would love to. Two years ago I started competing in mountain bike stage races. I am getting more and more attached to the bicycle and these types of long, point to point races that go from one place to another really capture my interest. I would love to do some in the future.

Spanish triathlete Saleta Catro cycling
I am getting more and more interested in long, point to point races

Gregarios: Gregarios organizes its own Gran Fondo, called 'La Gregarios'. It was originally held for 5 editions in the 1940's and the route covers the 400km that separate Madrid, in the centre of Spain, from Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast. There are also a couple of alternative, shorter routes, for less demanding legs, and the question is… do you see yourself up to the task of completing the next edition of La Gregarios, which is to be on October 8th this year? And which other person would you nominate to complete the event? 

SC: If I can fit the dates in I would gladly sign up and challenge a few of the brave people who train with me (laughs), such as Victor Benages, Jose Luis Bottle, Carlos Abad and Alejandra Ruano. Let's see if something like this would be enough to stop them from going out everyday and trying to see who can ride the furtherst and the hardest (laughs). 

Spanish triathlete Saleta Castro in wetsuit
"In my essence, I am a triathlete". Saleta Castro

Gregarios: Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to our questions, Saleta. To finish, is there anything you would like to add? Any recommendations or a cause you’d like to promote?

SC: Yes, I would like to send a message out to encourage girls, girls and women, to get out on a bicycle, of any kind, and to learn at their own pace. Riding a bike is a unique sensation that no one should miss out on.

 

Do not miss the most recent interviews published in Gregarios with the winner of the Giro in 2000 Stefano Garzelli, the Valencian former professional cyclist Javi Benítez and the Spanish national cycling coach Pascual Momparler.

 

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Michael Dixon

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