Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Anthony Golden Hour 2
20 Mar 2019

Photo Journal: A Nearly Vacation In Barcelona

Alex Donnachie and friends do Barca

bsd cult fitbike shadow subrosa vans flying v clean

Photos and words by Wes McGrath

In February of 2018, I was finally going to be visiting Europe for the first time, I had joined the annual migration from Estonia to Barcelona with countless other riders, to bask in the sunshine of Southern-coastal Spain. After spending a full week in the Estonian winter at an indoor contest called Simple Session, this was a time of year I've only heard about and seen online for years... So soon before I departed on my journey from California, I formulated a plan with Joris Coulomb and Alex Donnachie to spend two weeks in a flat in Barcelona, as Alex worked on his latest installment of his personal video project called, Nearly5. During Simple Session we invited, Anthony PerrinAustin Augie and Alex Kennedy to join the trip and make it a full house! Needless to say the line up was heavy, not only in talent but in friendship... Most of this crew have known each other for years, making the daily routine an easy one and the sessions some of my most memorable to date!

A year has past now since this trip happened and Alex Donnachie first envisioned to use this footage as a start to another full length installment of his DVD series, Nearly, as he healed up from a bad knee injury/surgery! Time passed he decided to put together this exclusive video packed full of two weeks worth of good times and great bike riding in Barcelona! I was fortunate enough to be there everyday to be apart of the action to make these photos and share them with you, finally!

Alex Donnachie

Home Country: Scotland

Age: 25

Sponsors: BSD, Vans, Monster Energy

Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Donnachie Filmer 1

Alex Donnachie. One of the top riders out there today and one of the nicest guys around, Alex pushes his own limits on a bike at the same time pushing the envelope of street riding as we know it. You can see the strength snd versatility in his riding with insane rail combos and real man sized set ups! Given the nature of the game, Alex gets hurt from time to time and this specific trip he was strictly on a filming mission, as seen here...

Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Filming Vx 1

In addition to his VX-2100, Alex keeps an original Sony VX-1000 in his arsenal and you know it's serious when Alex and the MK-1 come out to play!

Nearly5 Barcelona Alvx Footy Check 1

Alex is a seasoned camera user and movie maker, creating his own video series called, Nearly. He has produced 4 full length DVD's under that title and if he's not riding in front of the camera he is usually lending a helping hand while on location with his BSD teammates. In this photo you see the trusty Sony VX 2100, which Alex has used exclusively for his video purposes.

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Nollie 180 Bar 1

Anthony Perrin has to hurry to beat the sun setting behind the buildings just a block away, to be able to keep that golden shimmer from the last minutes of sunshine! Nice and smooth, Anthony cleans up this nollie 180 bar down the set!

Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Anthony Golden Hour 1

Just as I'm used to the California sun setting into the Pacific, lasting almost into infinity, I see this Barcelona landscape do just the same. As the sun sets and sinks into the Balearic Sea, Anthony, Alex and I leave the group to take advantage of this spots golden light!

Nearly5 Barcelona Alexz Donnachie Super 8 1

Alex brought along a new Super-8 camera that he bought refurbished from a far away country I can't remember nor pronounce?! I love the feel of Super-8 footage, it's so nice to get a taste of it in this video...

Anthony Perrin

Home Country: France

Age: 24

Sponsors: Vans, RedBull, Federal, Marie Jade, DUBBMX, BMXavenue.

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Nose Press Rail 1

As we began to set up at this spot we gained a lot of local attention, which isn't unusual of course. All the while people waited for Anthony to have a go at the rail but since he did it first try, so smoothly and silently that no one who was watching made any noise or even applauded... It seemed as though the were confused by no noise and no crash!?

"Having a chance to stay together in Barca after Simple Session was amazing! Great vibe and great energy! A good crew just out trying to get some clips, thanks a lot Alex!"

- Anthony Perrin

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Snaggle 1

Threading the needle between traffic and people as well as Alex and I on the stairs, Anthony had very little room for error and he dialed in this steep feeble to snaggle-tooth grind fresh out of the house!

Our flat was up in El Carmel, a neighborhood resting in the hills just above the city center of Barcelona. Which made for great spot discovery and an exhilarating pedal downhill into the city everyday! Given the hills and steep sidewalks we were very fortunate to come across perfect rails like this one. The streets were busy, the sidewalks are full of very unforgiving pedestrians and frankly there is just barley enough room to fit on the stairs with Alex. We squeeze into position and did't wait long for Anthony to pull it right away, no problem!

Here is a little background on El Carmel: The neighborhood of El Carmel lies on the the slopes of one of the hills above Barcelona between Horta and Gracia and is one of the steepest in Barcelona. The name of both the hill and the neighborhood comes from the Santuari del Carmel, which dates from the mid-19th century and the first summer residences were built in the area from 1875 onwards. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first permanent residential neighborhood consisting of single family detached homes, such as Can Bacardí, Can Mans and Salt de les Bruixes, grew up and these houses were mainly occupied by bourgeois families from Gràcia and Horta.

The first wave of immigration from other parts of Spain came in 1929 when mainly Andalusian and Galician workers came to take jobs building the Barcelona Metro in the run up to the 1929 Barcelona Universal Exposition. However, El Carmel remained mainly two story houses until the mass immigration from Southern Spain came under Franco in the 1950s. The housing at this time was initially shacks and shanties built by the new arrivals until the were replaced by large faceless blocks of flats in the 1960s. In the last couple of decades some improvements have been made with the building of the Rambla del Carmel and Carrer Llobregós and the installation of metal escalators that help moving around this incredibly hilly neighborhood.

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Breakfast 1

Our flat location at the top of El Carmel gave us the chance to spend time inside when we finally made it home, cooking and resting before and after riding was a major part of the success rate on a daily basis. Anthony enjoys his daily dose of internet and some freshly cooked up breakfast!

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin High Five 1

Anthony was on fire this whole trip, taking advantage of everyday with a solid nights rest, (most of the time) good food and friendly motivation! So a reaction like this one was a familiar sight early on in the trip!

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Over Smith 180 1

If you didn't already get the point that BCN has almost unlimited spots. Pick by shape, size and even color if you'd like, so it's no surprise when a grocery store visit / rest stop turns into a session. Here Anthony puts down his baguette and coffee to pick up this over smith 180 just as the daylight officially comes to a close.

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Outlook Wide 1

As Anthony and I both stop and turn around from the rest of the group to take in this breath-taking view, we both couldn't help but gaze at the huge city-scape in-front of us! Barcelona for as far as the eye can see!

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin Overlook 1

It's a wild comparison. I've waited 13 months to release this specific photo, even though the photo taken on Anthony's phone was posted that very day, I still feel that my photo finds its proper place. I am fortunate to have a place for photos like this...

Nearly5 Barcelona Anthony Perrin 180 Bar Gap 2

Showing up to this bank spot reminded me of some old VHS footage but I couldn't quite put my finger on it, until Anthony started to 180 the gap... Josh Bedford first 180'd this rail past the sidewalk back in the video, "Tomorrow We Work" by Joe and Dan Cox, released in 2008. Over a full decade later Anthony throws the bars in Josh's name!

Alex Kennedy

Home Country: England

Age: 29

Sponsors: Cult, Eclat, Nyishar

Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Kennedy Building Portrait 1

Starting the session with the sun shining after a few days full of rain, keeping us inside and anxious. Alex is happy to take off a layer as we warm up at spot number one of the day!

Nearly5 Barcelona Alex Kennedy Table 1

Alex Kennedy with a drop table into the bank below, this playground was the first fine of the day and we couldn't be more pleased! Originally printed in DIGBMX Magazine issue 99.9!

This photo was originally published and printed in our latest issue DIGBMX Magazine 99.9 as a full page spread. On this day we left the flat at noon with intentions of searching without any reference to locations  or spots. This is quite easy to do in Barcelona with a plethora of spots and warm days, it didn't take us but a few city blocks and one giant hill to find this hidden gem of a playground. We warmed up here with the sun shinning and snacks in hand, the guys all had a go at this spot but this photo of AK in particular is my favorite!

On this specific trip, Alex showed up to the party a bit later than the rest of us... After a longer than expected stay in Tallinn, Estonia after a long week at Simple Session 18, AK ended up coming to the flat for only a short week but his presence brought plenty of laughs, good tea and mischievous outings into the night!   

Alex Kennedy is hands down one of my favorite bike riders and people to spend time with, his approach to life is contagious, to most of us it's inspirational and somewhat of a mystery to the rest... Either way, if you know AK closely or only know from a distance you get a feeling of calmness from him and that feeling translates to his riding. For years Alex has wowed us with his unique and stylish street riding, gifting us with several video parts that are frequently playing in almost any BMX household.

Nearly5 Barcelona Ak Taxi 1

One early Sunday morning, AK and I made it to the coffee shop via cab soon after the club closed after a nice night out celebrating with more than a dozen of our fellow friends from all over the world!

Austin Augie

Location: USA

Age: 26

Fit Bike Co.

Nearly5 Barcelona Austin Augie Fastplant Rail Hop 1

This was the first time I saw Austin foot-plant in such a manner, or anyone for that matter! His signature boost off the foot gets him the extra needed height to clear over this laid back rail hop.

Nearly5 Barcelona Austin Augie Metro Portrait 1

Taking the metro all over the city for us made our travels up and down the hill from El Carmel a lot more efficient and easier on our bodies! Austin rests against a very unsanitary post on the long tube back home.

Nearly5 Barcelona Austin Augie Terrace Smoke 1

Funny story about this patio, one afternoon I was sweeping the terrace while most of everyone else was away shopping and a kid hollers up 4 stories at me from the street to get my attention. He anxiously asks if Austin is home?! I was surprised at how the kid could possibly know where we were staying in such a large camouflaged city... Obviously I lead the kid a stray but he was persistent enough to wait for Austin to show up and asked for a photo! I guess being a Vlogger has it's perks, right?!

Nearly5 Barcelona Austin Augie Wallride 1

Leave it to Austin to handle this kind of set-up... The streets were still wet from rain the night before and each time he went at it he had to dodge parked motos and the elderly whose neighborhood we were invading! He gets his wet tires on the edge of the wall just as planned.

"I bet Austin three coconut yogurt cups from the market across the street to do it it the rain. On his last try he bet me double or nothing, so I had to buy him six!"

- Wes McGrath

Joris Coulomb

Location: France

Age: 29

The Shadow Conspiracy, Subrosa Brand, Marie Jade.

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coloumb Footplant 180 1

I've know Joris the longest out of this whole bunch. I worked with Shadow and Subrosa as a team photographer a couple years in a row and that's when Joris and I became friends. Once I saw this fast-plant from Joris with the little heart I had to coerce him to shoot a photo, it's wild and I love it!

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coloumb Switch Bar 1

I've seen this spot in countless bmx and skate videos for years and honestly, it's one of the spots I was looking forward to rolling up on in particular. Joris has some of the coolest switch bar spins and he didn't hold back at all on the famous "shark fin".

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coloumb Tires Metro 1

As we rode through the city with about 10 other riders, we were in search of the correct metro and a coffee. Joris loves a good tire ride and this was wasn't hiding from him. The rail was tall and awkward, crooked and obviously the drop into my plane of view isn't a good one. He does this with ease and throws the bar switch out into the street to finish it up!

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coulomb Porch Morning 1

The trip ran into some rainy days that kept us inside but as soon as the sun came back out we were ready to get back to it... Joris really utilizing our terrace as we wake up to a clearing sky.

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Portrait 1

Even though we had left the Estonian winter behind, the cities beach breeze throughout most of the city keeps the air crips and cold at night. Our days last long so we have to be prepared and bundled up!

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coloumb 360 Ice 1

Joris was on fire this entire trip! Super focused, healthy and on a routine that kept him producing clips at NEARLY ever turn! 360 ice on the way down the hill

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coloumb Tires Boost 1

Downhill, hectic and with a face full of hair, Joris cleans up another signature tire ride as the pedestrians stare at the sky.

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coulomb 360 Tooth 1

If you've ever been to this city than you already know how repetitive it is to constantly say how many spots there are here, all over the place! This one in particular set-up seemed to have no real purpose, of course except for Joris to execute this fast 360 tooth on the light pole.

Nearly5 Barcelona Joris Coulomb Tire Ride 2

Joris Coulomb is one of the most recognizable riders when it comes to crazy rail rides. This one is big and a little bit legendary, in the town of Badalona the spot is a mission but only a few have won the battle with this spot!

"It was incredible to see how calm Jo was when he was feeling out the rail, even with all the students, teachers and cars passing by, he did it perfect first try!"

- Miki Da Silva


I came to find rather quickly, that one of the most important aspects of the Barcelona scene is the friendships between the riders that live there. The city is a mecca for BMX and riders visit from all over the world to take advantage of something special, this sets the stage to form a brotherhood with people you never thought you would meet. The month I was in Spain I had the chance to meet so many different riders as well as a few familiar faces from the states. Thankfully to the hospitality of the locals I have been able to experience Barca in a way that makes me feel at home... These friendships transcend boarders and oceans, which keep intertwining as time rolls on to strengthen the international bond within BMX!

This is a small slideshow of extra photos I had from the trip, including friends, street photography and a few snaps from my assignment in to photograph Corey Martinez and Peter Adam as they filmed Corey's winning 2018 X-Games Real Street contest video!


A Nearly Vacation - Perrin, Coulomb, Kennedy and Co in Barcelona

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