Time, sacrifice, confidence and an incredible ability to overcome obstacles when you overhaul your life and set off on a different path–On Y Va Cycling Cafe is a story about a man who did just that.

When the phrase ‘Living the Dream’ gets bandied about, there’s a rosy tint that surrounds it; conjuring images of big houses, fast cars, feather-light bikes and the job that you could only wish for. Nine months ago Ferran Buxeda set out to build his dream—of setting up a cycling café and building a connected community here in Barcelona.

When I meet with him, at his brainchild—On y Va Café, rather than a radiant rosy complexion; the kind you’d expect following dreams to give you; he’s looking tired, face slightly drawn and like he could do with more sunlight. I enquire what it’s like to follow your dream?

“At first I thought it was impossible, but now I know it’s not impossible, but it’s really difficult, really difficult, it’s hard. But I believe a lot in myself and in the people that support me.”

In a world where we’re told that it’s not always about the destination, that it’s the journey that counts; if you were on a train, the journey to ‘dream accomplishment’ could be compared to riding a rickety old sleeper carriage—bumpy and not conducive to sleep. Ferran is well acquainted with night trains, to fund his dream by night he drives trains in the Barcelona metro; I ask what that’s like: “It’s thanks to the wage that I’ve earnt at the metro that I’ve been able to construct a life that I actually want. I’ve not been able to rely on family support due to economic reasons.”

So if he’s barista by day and train driver by night, how many hours a day does he currently work: “From 8 in the morning until 1am in the morning, not everyday, obviously there’s some days I have off.”

Seventeen hours a day, bar a couple when he goes home for some dinner! He hardly has time for sleep never mind about dreams. But I ask him to think back over the last nine months on what he’s achieved. From nothing he’s built a café out of sheer passion and the belief that one day he’ll construct the life he wants. On y Va is a bubbling space of energy, here you have a hub of locals riding their bikes, chatting over coffee, alongside people from all over the world. It’s a fun environment to be a part of, and it’s Ferran and the people who he surrounds himself with who have built this.

How did it all start: “A year ago I started to keep a diary to note down from day to day what I had done on the bike; kilometres; adventures I had been on; because I wanted a way to remember everything I’d achieved. That’s what I wanted to create with the café and why I decided to design the On y Va notebook, a sort of diary that people could buy and could use to record all their cycling adventures.” His inspiration has come from all over the world, whether it be brands such as Rapha or cycling cultures such as Australia, California and the UK.

“I realised that everyday we are constantly connected to computers and we’re not sharing our lives. We take photos but we don’t stop to have a coffee with each other.” He reiterates that the bloodline of On y Va is about coming together and sharing experiences.

Once constantly out exploring on two wheels, Ferran doesn’t have time to get out as much on the bike as he would like. Organising events, running the café, setting up the clothing side of the business, oh and driving trains, leaves him understandably a little drained. Are there times when it all gets a bit too much?

“There was a time when I was taking my uniform out of the wardrobe to get ready for work at the metro, and I just started to cry. I have to be at work for 7 and ready to start by quarter past, those are some of the toughest 15 minutes of the day.”

How do you get through it? I ask.

“In the morning I wake up and feel motivated to work, motivated but sleepy. But within 10 minutes I can be behind the bar working in the job that I want. It’s freaky, in these ten minutes there’s a range of different emotions—tiredness but also a lot of hope, that one day this will be my life.”

Hope is key when you embark on the journey of trying to construct a different life; a journey loaded with risk; potential for failure; losing face, the list goes on. But if you hit the jackpot and it all works out the reward of the ‘dream job’ is worth it. What Ferran has achieved in nine months is credit to his unwavering hope and belief that the dream is attainable—a life where he’ll get that rosy glow back and will be able to say: ‘I’m living my dream’.

I’m not usually one for bandying around inspirational quotes; I’m British! But I did come across this one that I’ll leave you with if you’re thinking about setting out to construct your own dream:


“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power’ –Alan Cohen

Words: Hannah Troop Photos: Robin Schmitt