1988, Bassano Del Grappa.
The first time he got on a bicycle thinking he was doing “sport,” he climbed Mount Grappa on an old garage mountain bike.
Result? Failure, of course.
But it’s there, at the edge of that comfort zone, that you decide that no matter what…you’d rather ride a bike there.
“”I would rather ride a bike.”
2300 kilometers to reach the start of a gravel event, training legs and mind and learning that what matters is the journey and not the destination.
From Turin to Tarifa, then to Cadiz to catch the ship and ferry to the Canary Islands, heading for the second edition of GranGuanche gravel.
From the extreme north to the extreme south: why?
I liked the idea of joining the dots on the map and completing the imaginary line connecting the two extremes of Europe. It’s kind of like when as children we used to fantasize about the highest mountain, the longest river to the largest region…. Here, in this case I was fascinated by the idea of resuming what I had started in 2019 with Turin-North Cape and completing the route by cycling to Tarifa, reaching the southernmost point of continental Europe.
What was it like to prepare for this impossible trip?
For me the real difficulty was not preparing for the trip itself but the idea that if I didn’t go I would be standing still, static thinking that not far away, in some corner of Andalusia, something magical was waiting for me.
What was the charm of Andalusia?
Simply incredible! I love places where there is a strong cultural identity, it excites me to travel through places as rich in distinctiveness as Andalusia. Spain in general is a country that if you travel through it crossing multiple regions, it accompanies you in all its nuances making the journey even richer and more authentic. Besides, flamenco is pure passion … but then again, you probably already know.
But 2,300 kilometers is really a lot. What inspired you to set off?
I wanted to take time for myself, to travel slowly and enjoy the whole route, which, with all its various aspects, accompanies you and allows you to better understand the territory you are in, the people you meet and in a way also the feelings you have.
Friends. Ulrich and Nicole in Girona, Ada in Barcelona, Toni in Tarragona and Javi in Valencia…somewhat crazy cyclists united by the passion of bikepacking, maybe we have only seen each other once, however it is as if we have known each other for a lifetime! I mean, we speak the same language….
What did you bring home (metaphorically)?
The knowledge that my serenity as an individual depends solely and exclusively on me! When I decide to leave everything changes, yet I am still the same: it all happens inside our heads, we are still us but the journey sets us free and the effort broadens our senses while at the same time lowering our filters. There is no time to judge, no room for negative thoughts, you simply live at 120% and that is most of the time when you leave your comfort zone.
A place every traveler should see.
The place that is suggested to you by instinct! Even the most beautiful place in the world can convey nothing if it is experienced at the wrong time. On this trip I will carry a lot of places in my heart but if you get a chance, search up some information about the Sierra de Grazalema and the Ruta de los pueblos blancos 😉
What would you say to people who don’t ride bikes because they tell themselves a bunch of excuses? (I don’t know where to start/I’m in a hurry/I should start training).
I started cycling for sport when I was 24, in the semi-acute stage of a sciatic nerve inflammation due to a herniated disc. 15kg heavier than I am now, a smoker and with a bike that even left at the station without a lock would not appeal to anyone! There are no excuses, sometimes you just have to push yourself a little and then get carried away.
What about those who don’t ride bikes because they think they don’t like it?
It is practically impossible! Unless a person has suffered some trauma related to biking or the road, biking causes mostly positive feelings. One has to try it at the right time, after feeding oneself properly and perhaps with some technical tricks (saddle and position) so that it is less tiring. In general, all outdoor activities that involve expending energy to achieve a goal ( even if simple) can only motivate those who enjoy them to continue in that direction.