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I grow up in the land of engines, Emilia Romagna, in the Bologna of universities but more than anything in the city where motor vehicles are prepared behind the shutters of the garages and closed in the cellars, then run along the avenues on Friday evening.
Among the thousand interests of my adolescence one stands out, the one for the wheels: eight then two, four and again two, sharpening wits in the research of new solutions that week after week are realized and tested.
From the university to the European Institute of Design, first in Turin then in Barcelona, the address has been Industrial Design applied to transportation. The interest in three-dimensional modeling then leads me to move to London for specialization courses.
When I returned to Italy, I immediately started an office job to finance my passions and a motorcycle trip that would have taken me and my girlfriend to Persia, but the monthly pay dampened the adventurer’s ambitions and I found myself waiting the two holiday weeks per year; then I discovered the cafe racers motorbike, the special bikes obtained from vintage motorcycles, and the seed of creativity applied to mechanic returned stronger than ever.
An accident in 2013 left me temporarily crippled and with reduced mobility, without the possibility of walking I’ve been lent a bicycle to be able to move if necessary.
That Esperia mountain bike became the tool for my freedom and pedaling with one leg took me back out of the house after months of imprisonment.
I was conquered by the feeling of being able to go where I wanted in the night, and after fifteen years Bologna was back again the playground that has been when I was a teenager.
I began to visit the Lime bar in the last hours before closing time and I met the first fixed gear enthusiast, it has been love at first sight, only needed a suitable frame with the horizontal dropouts, mandatory to adjust the tension of the chain, I resumed the old Legnano Condorino of my father, I find her in a barn, I take it home and clean it.
In the meantime I start commuting to work, five kilometers in the morning and five in the evening in the amazement of my colleagues.
The Legnano was restored and I ordered online my first fixed gear hub, I followed a tutorial on the internet and laced my first wheel, the following week I introduce myself to the fixed gear group in Bologna, the Gatti randagi (Alleycats), which every wednesday evening used to have a spin in the city, talk about bikes and drink a beer.
With the Gatti Randagi came the first race, organized right in Bologna, an unexpected seventh place galvanized me and I begin to enjoy it. With that group of cyclists I also started to move to other cities to participate in races dedicated to fixed gear bikes, a niche circuit that brings opponents closer and makes them friends. Now to take the train over the weekend to reach a city where to race had became a constant, hospitality has been always available and the pre and post race events helped to tie up the network of friends.
From the ten kilometers of commuting to work, to the tens of kilometers of the races, I raised the bar when in September the circus of the Red Hook Criterium landed in Milan: the Italian stage that concludes the criterium world championship, in which all the legends compete against outsiders or last-minute messengers provided with powerful legs and iron will and recklessness. I decided to ride up to Milan with a couple of
friends, the satisfaction of having done 250 kilometers between morning and afternoon fills me with pride and here is where the seed of long distances was settled.
I started to go to races out of Bologna by bike the day before or to return back home pedaling the day after, with my partner we decided to buy a tandem bike and plan a trip, we found one used online and we went to Pescara equipped with a universal rear rack, two 15 liters touring bags and a camping tent.
At the Pescara station we received a racing Bottecchia tandem modified with riser handlebars; the thin 25 millimeters wheels and the precise shifter let us fly along the coast up to Bologna in a few days, we immediately started planning the next trip to Barcelona via Genova and then following the coasts of France.
I had to move and the kilometers traveled daily have been no more the five plus five but thirty-five plus thirty-five, a situation that guaranteed a good volume of training even if all done on flat roads.
Meanwhile, the bike park continued to expand and comes the new whip : a Bianchi mountain bike readjusted in something truly unique that allowed me to further extend the distances covered.
Between a race and the other I had the opportunity to cross my path with other long distance riders and I’ve been really impressed when I casually found an article on FixedForum dedicated to the adventure of Jacopo and Niccolò from Belgium to Turkey. Without even realizing it I was already part for the event that would have changed my life, the Transcontinental Race.
It took me an entire year to convince myself to register and I applied despite the limited possibility of being accepted. Somehow, facing a thousand obstacles, I managed to get the OK from the organization to show up in Belgium at the start line of the race, ready to travel 4.500 kilometers on a fixed gear bike up to Greece passing first from Italy, then going up to the border with Poland and then descend through Romania and all the countries that divided the various check points.
It as been an exciting journey, able to demolish even the most vigorous minds and the most trained legs, the opponents abandon the race one after the other, I trudge overcoming one border after another between a thousand vicissitudes, I can not give up, I can not do it after the chance that I was given to be part of this adventure that brings out all my strengths as well as all my limitations, the determination in times of difficulty and the monsters that lurk under the layer of civilization necessary to live in civil society.
Upon returning from the race it is clear that the direction that would have taken my life would have been that: the long distances and adventures that characterize this type of travel. I immediately start working on planning the next edition of the race, ready for registration that has been delayed for many months. This time I would have participated with a bicycle with the gearbox, an aluminum BMC Roadmachine..
To get ready for the next edition I decide to change the events in which to participate by integrating the alleycat and velocity with the gravel and the trail. Every occasion is good to test and refine the equipment, every event is a starting point to test myself, passing from the muddy woods to the frozen asphalt of the winter solstice randonnee.
A month before the race start a crack in the frame forces me to find an alternative vehicle and I get help from Cinelli, a historic Italian company that offers to support me with the Zydeco that leads me to conclude my second Transcontinental Race.
This adventures forged my character, making the desire indelible to push me a little beyond the next curve, out of the comfort state to the discovery of new situations, places, people as well as looking for the next version of myself.