Go ski touring in Switzerland. Finish the Ph.D. in style. Improve my French. Memorise twelve poems: one per month. Cook. Read one, big classic of Russian literature. Reunite Dani, Jonas and Tosan. Collect whiskey and photography books. Go sailing. Avoid developing an addiction for the pipe. Continue fencing and playing tennis. Race with the bike. Drink alcohol with Anna, visit Tirana. Hike with my parents, with Giallu, with Nicco. Travel outside Europe, meet Thomas. Spend some days with the Canadians, possibly in Istanbul. Get married. Nervous laugh: I was kidding on that last one.
Remember the 100-kilometre bike night that Giallu, Nicco and I did in 2015?
In June this year we did it again.
Yet – this time was different. First, there was no preliminary 48-hour hike on the Dolomites; and, second, the altitude difference was now -10m as opposed to +1.200 in 2015. Our bike night of 2017 ran from Ferrara (here) to the mouth of the river Po: easy. Or was it?
Things to remember. The fun and excitement of our first 10k. The sleepiness that followed. The pursuit of the big group at km 47 in the darkness, after all our three lights had run out of battery. My flat tire and the 15 minute-delay. The mad race we did afterwards and the early arrival to the beach – too early perhaps? The cold. My parents arriving at 9 in the morning to rescue us. San Luca outside Bologna, another sunset.
This was a peculiar ride for Nicco, who moved to London shortly thereafter; and for me, since June was probably the toughest month of my adult life. Perhaps the one of us who enjoyed this race the most was Giallu, who took care of the organisation and all.
Notes for the future: get some sleep before the race; remember to charge the batteries of the light; find Trattoria del Gallo in the town called Osteria del Gallo and ask for the desserts.
Few have been the posts I have published here in the last couple of months and this is due to a variety of reasons. Three of these are more important than the others and I want to discuss them with you.
First off, this space was born for myself, my family, and some close friends. In the last ten years of my life I have moved frequently, so this is a good instrument for communicating what I do to all those people who are nowhere near me. The problem is that the number of readers has grown over time. I think this has to do with the fact that nowadays some of my posts pop out on the search engines. Several of the people who read what I write barely know me or do not know me at all. This has changed my approach: at the beginning, this space was a conversation between me and my friends, now it feels like talking to an audience. Too often, this awareness has stopped me from writing, because, you know, certain posts read by the wrong kind of people are like a piss against the wind. Anyways: this is not how it was supposed to be. From now on, this blog becomes a conversation between me and my friends again.
However. My work has changed over the last semester or so. I am completing my Ph.D. dissertation and this is depleting all my energies. It is not so much about the amount of work – sure, though, that is a lot and I have started again to work until the wee hours of the night, just like when I was a student. Rather, it is the type of work: it feels like I am living in my mind the whole time. This makes it hard to communicate with others – personally and impersonally. This will come to an end soon. But not yet.
For now, my dear reader, I have one good advice for you. Invest in your friends, for they are the cornerstone of a rich existence on this planet. The quality of your life depends so much on them. I like the kind of curious, ironic, resilient people; but maybe you will be looking for something different. It doesn’t matter. Once you know that you have found people who make you feel good, keep them close. You can do it even if they are far.
Below you will find some pictures we took during our sixth new year’s even reunion with the Canadians plus and then some other pictures from a weekend with my florentine brothers. This weekend, really. All these pictures were taken in Torino, where I am living now. You know how they say about Mahomet and the mountain.
Continue volunteering with the Red Cross and do it regularly. Go ski touring. Learn a bunch of very simple recipes and cook with Niels and Anna. Keep reading one or two classics. Get drunk with Dani and Jonas. Collect whiskey. Find a long-lasting present for Martina. Get a better pipe and some good tobacco. Spend time with Camilla, Isabella, Marco and Francesca. Go fencing; and build up some muscles, for Christ’s sake. Organise the old pictures and start making new ones with the Polaroid camera. Hike with my parents. Fill a notebook with notes on Florence and fill another with notes on Torino. Discover some good music: it is about time. Find a new way to make money. Visit Toulouse and drink whiskey with Martin. Spend three weeks on the road, possibly outside Europe. Write Thomas. Do not give up on those pointless attempts to learn French. Go hiking with Manuel, Mindo, Giallu, and Nicco. Return to Ireland with the Canadians. Become a doctor in Social and Political Science.
I have always liked to have people around, but the circumstances of life are such that I find myself more lonely than I used to be. Fai di necessità virtù, they say. I still dislike loneliness; but there is one specific instance when I can appreciate living on my own (Dee do de de dee do de de I don’t have no time for no monkey business) and that is when I am on a bike.
So here we go again. At the crossroads of Valais and Ticino, the Granfondo San Gottardo is one of the hardest cycling sportive events of the year. For me, this race had a special gist for three additional reasons: (i) it takes place in Switzerland, where I have been living for a few months this year; (ii) it is harder than the other races I have done before, with 110 km and three mountain passes to climb for a total of more than 3000 m of elevation; (iii) Nicco and Giallu had decided to come with me, so we could be together just like last year in Trentino. To this, it must be added that I am in the middle of a tumultuous process of moving out from my home: I was relieved to have such distraction.
Onto our road trip with Nicco and Giallu then! We drove from Florence to Ambrì and we planted our tent in the airport. After a very wet and sleepless night we got up at 6AM, had a heavy breakfast and started our race at 8AM. Up to San Gottardo, Furka, and Novena. This is how my race went on Strava; and this is how it went in pictures.
It went pretty much as we expected. San Gottardo is smooth and pleasant; Furka is long and steady; Novena is consuming and never-ending. But we finished! Even Nicco, who got a flat tyre on the descent from Furka and spent about 45 minutes looking for a pump. I rode my bike for 4 hours and 42 minutes, with two long breaks at the feeding points, crossing the finish line at 2:40PM.
In the evening we drove to Neuchatel and the next day we visited Montreux and cruised through the San Bernardo pass, Aosta and Genova. We arrived in Florence in the middle of the night and I have been packing up my belongings ever since.
Racing a Gran Fondo was one of my resolutions for 2016; I have now raced three. This is it: all my aces are on the floor. In the coming months I won’t have time to train properly and I won’t have the determination to do all the sacrifices that the preparation for a Gran Fondo requires. So farewell to my bike and all of that: what a ride it was.
Neuchâtel, 26 giugno
Giallu, Nicco, Ivan, Alvise.
Quest’anno ho imparato che per prepararmi a una gara è necessario leggere e studiare il mondo della bicicletta. Non si tratta solo di curiosità: lo si fa per motivarsi e vivere con entusiasmo queste scorribande. I giorni scorsi mi è stata regalata una bellissima rivista di ciclismo, dalla quale vi inoltro la seguente citazione estrapolata da un racconto il cui protagonista si cimenta in un fine-settimana ciclistico in Scozia: I was in the middle of a year devoted to exactly this sort of trip – micro-adventures, I call them – and it was proving to be much more rewarding than I had anticipated. Since I began taking on these provocatively mundane expeditions, I had discovered that coming up with an interesting plan (and committing to making it happen) virtually always guarantees a challenging and rewarding experience. All you need is something difficult, somewhere new and a bit of imagination. For someone cursed with eternal ‘fernweh’, a beautiful German word meaning a craving for distant places, the year of micro-adventures was an excellent, regular tonic.
Eccomi dunque con un programma interessante per una micro-avventura. Il 23 luglio partiamo in macchina alla volta di Airolo. La sera dormiamo lì – in casa? in tenda? Il 24 luglio gareggiamo nella Gran Fondo del San Gottardo (daje!). Speriamo di arrivare in fondo davanti alla macchina-scopa. Poi guidiamo fino a Neuchatel: lì dovrei riuscire a garantire un alloggio gratuito per tutti e forse anche una cena da amici, etc. Notte di riposo e rientro in Italia il 25 luglio. Diamoci come obiettivo quello di fare, anche per conto nostro, almeno 350km nelle settimane tra il 2 e il 23 luglio.
Update, 2 luglio: nemmeno il tempo di rientrare in Italia che siamo già in sella. Alle 6:30 siamo partiti da Firenze, alle 8:00 arriviamo all’Impruneta, alle 9:00 a Panzano, e alle 12:00 siamo sparaparanzati a mangiare schiacciate farcite in questa famosa pizzicheria di Chiesanuova. Vamos.
So I wrote I was going to upload some more pictures concerning this little adventure I had together with my dad, Giallu and Nico. Here they are: they have been taken by the organizers themselves and I highly recommend taking part to at least one of their next events.
Addendum: people complimented me about the new glasses. In fact, they belong to Giallu. The reason why I am wearing them is I lost both contact lenses on the way to the lake – yes, crazy: they flew away, both at the same time, while we were speeding up in the dust. Loyal Giallu was kind enough to borrow me his glasses. We are almost equally blinded, so that worked out pretty well.
“La consiglierei subito, non la rifarò mai più“.
As I anticipated yesterday, there is yet one more experience in my life that deserves to be documented on this log. I am talking about the event that took place on the night between Saturday and Sunday and was organized by Witoor.
It goes like this. Upon coming down from the mountains we relax for a few hours. Three. And then my father, Giallu, Niccolò and I assemble the bikes we need and drive to Bolzano.
“Loren, vai a prendere tre luci, una sella, due pedali e una camera d’aria per queste bici.”
“E dove le trovo tutte queste cose, babbo?”
“Fai come si fa nell’esercito, quello italiano. Ruba tutto il necessario dalle altre bici che abbiamo in cantina.“
We get to Bolzano at 11PM: it is dark, it is cold, and it is pouring rain. One hour later we are on our bikes (well: my father’s collection of bikes, technically) riding towards the scenic Lake of Resia, naively unaware of the fact that the final 20 km are a very steep, long, extenuating climb.
It takes us three restoration points, 120km, 1,200 meters of ascent, and 7 hours. We reach our final destination at sunrise. We are completely wasted. So in the end our long, long weekend makes me think of this movie I watched and more precisely it makes me think of this: “I don’t think we are going to suffer quite as much on this trip. I don’t think it is going to be that bad. … Naaah, I mean, it’s definitely going to be bad“.