Last Saturday I reached my goal and from Aprile, I have ridden 2000 km . I am satisfied and happy.
If someone had told me fiftenn years ago that one day I would love cycling , I would have not believed them.
The first time I went on a bike ride it was a decade ago.
My boyfriend, who is now my husband, had parked his super professional bike in my garage and I, without thinking of the possible consequences , in order to park two cars instead of one, I had left the door open and saying OPEN I mean WIDE OPEN.
It goes without saying that within a couple of days ( yes , I left it like that for two days) , the bike was gone. Forever . I remember it was a Cannondale, but at the time I had no idea of a bike’s value, nor from the money point of view neither from the emotional one. today I can understand what it would mean to lose a bike.
If he hasn’t killed me , I think it was only because we were still just engaged. Today , most likely, he would not, but he surely would think about it.
He had recently come to live in this town and, apart from me, the bike was his only point of reference . It was gone, and it was my fault.
Despite this, we then got married. During the party that followed our wedding’s ceremony, my husband came to me and said, ” Tomorrow morning … surprise ! Some friends bought us a super present! two mountain bikes! I have already loaded them into our car and tomorrow we will be riding them across Tuscany”
What a joy …
I distinctly remember every speck of the so called “white roads” in Montalcino that seemed to never have an end , the way to the Abbey of St. Antimo … it was June and the sun was shining over the green hills and I still remember, after a 26 km- ride, that my bum was so sore!
I honestly thought that my riding experience , even if it was pleasant ( a part from the sore bottom) began and ended there.
A year later my husband didn’t give up and asked me to go riding with him, but with a road bike. I still felt guilty about the Cannondale that they had stolen a few months before (I live with a guilt-feeling for everything, anyway ) and shortly after I went , as I did years before , to work in Rome , leaving him here alone during the week. So , needless to say , it was time for a new guilt felling!
Perhaps, it is due to the guilt-feeling if today I love cycling…
To be honest at the time I was insanely jealous of my husband’s bike, or rather “this fuc. .. bike! ,” as I used to call it . I did not understand how it could be was so nice to cycle around, make so much effort and go home again. Sometimes , when I was driving my car, I would have liked to hit all cyclists in the middle of the road !
However this time I could not say no to the invitation to go cycling with him. . I still remember what I was wearing the day of the test on the saddle, I remember how it seemed difficult to even think about cycling on a road bike. And I will never forget the day when I went for the first time on my new bike , a total black Colnago.
At the shop, they kept asking me : “Are you sure that you know how to clip into and then disingage your pedals?” . I answered “Super sure .”
Would you like to try to cycle on the sidewalk before hitting the road? “” No , don’t worry , now I’m going straight on the road ” I said .
So I left the store , riding , and behind me, but on foot, my husband and the owners of the store. I cycled for a meter , two, three , then there was the descent to the street . A 5, maximum 10 cm descent. I do not know how, but I fell off . I fell off the bike, with my bike on me. I was covered in blood for a mega scratch on a knee and an arm . All those who were there to see my ” going on the road ” ran towards me to check. Then, while I was still trying to stand up again, my husband arrived and yelled, ” Noooooooooooooo ! You ruined the brake handle ! Noooooooooo ! ” .
There, I realized that the road would be an uphill battle.
That summer, I worked in Rome during the week , and I was home only on weekends , but from June to September I cycled 800 kilometers. But today I can say this: it was without passion.
My mom , whenever I complained about the fact that my husband was always out cycling kept asking me “Why don’t you go with him?” This time I followed her advice. I started cycling as I wanted to stay next to him, who, by the way, would have never given up his week-end rides for me. At the time I said that I liked it , but now I realize that was not true, or maybe at that time it seemed to me it was, but it is incomparable to what riding means to me now.
Today I NEED my bike . And I really believe that if a person does not cycle or if there is no passion in it , they can’t understand what it means to ride a bicycle and enjoy every moment of it.I do not know how and when I fell in love with cycling. I know it’s been a long path.
Actually, over the past 10 years I have never stopped riding, a part from when I was pregnant and all periods of time related to the births of my daughters.
I had short rides during the weekends with my husband to Lake Garda and back, a few times I tried to go uphill, on the Maddalena hill, in the town center, here in Brescia. The third time I tried to get to the top, I did it, without crying ( already happened ) , without sending my husband to hell ( this, too, happened), without turning the bike and back home ( well this ) , without all three previous conditions put together, and then many ascents in the mountains in summer.
I was a “by chance- cyclist”
While I was riding across my town towards the cycling path which leads to the Garda Lake, my only thought was: “Please God, let me find the traffic lights green!! ” I was terrified about getting my feet off the clipless pedals without crashing to the ground.
Then there were ( and still are ) my husband’s strict rules… I remember that he used to tell me a thousand times to stay focused. Once, we were riding on the Gavardina cycling path and I suddenly said,: “Look, love, it’s full of poppies ! “I said, pointing to a beautiful field . He said ” Stay focused ! We are not here to admire the landscape! ” Fu.. !
Then , last year , for my fortieth birthday my husband bought me a bike ( big surprise … ) . Bike that I have absolutely ignored for more than a year, but for a ride in Austria . Since then, my bike has been resting in my garage waiting for better times that, frankly , I thought would never arrive .
Autumn and winter passed by and then came this year spring.
The morning of April 19th , my husband asked me, for the billionth time , if I wanted to go and have a ride with him. I do not know why I said yes , just do not know . Maybe I thought about my mom telling me ” go and ride with him,” or perhaps because since our daughters were born, we don’t have a second for us alone , or maybe just because I love him…but I said yes.
I borrowed a cycling jacket from him , because I didn’t even remember where I had put mine . I rode only 16 km and I got the impression of being in the movie The Shining. I was so frightened! The slightest breath of wind made my bike swing, or at least so it seemed so to me , I was so scared and the Clipless pedals nightmare had come back again!
But back home , I said to myself that it was very pleasant. I even went to cycle two days later , the same location , just a bit faster, or I’d rather say, less slow .
Then , as I wrote here on the blog , a few days later , I had a bright idea and asked a mother of my daughter’s school , a sort of a wonder woman , who attends super competitions such as the Half Iron woman and other marathons or similar non-human things , if she could train me . We established 10 training sessions , two hours each . And Cristina made me realize that cycling could be fun . With my husband , I always felt not up to the task , because it’s true , I’m not up to it, of course, but it’s useless to underline it every single times. Maybe he doesn’t even stress it, but that’s how I used to feel. With Cristina and her very “casual” way of training me, it was different. As soon as she saw me slowing down, she would scream at me ” Ride ! pedal , Ari , fu..k! ” , I would blush, afraid that people on the road could hear her and then I would pedal so fast! I pedaled and laughed , laughed and pedaled !I remember our fist ride to the Montenetto , south of our town…sShe asked me ” Can you see all these beautiful colors around us ? ” And I could not see anything because I was focused on my bike and at that stage of my cycling life , I was not able to do two things at the same time. After a steep, super steep, ride on the San-Gallo Serle road (I had already cycled 500 since the beginning of the season) then Cristina told me” Now you’re ready to ride on the Maddalena” It was a dream come true.
And the next week I got to the top. ( 10 kilometers uphill with an average 6,3% gradient ) Cri was shocked by the fact that I occasionally stop to take pictures to report my enterprise, because it really was an enterprise for me ! I reached the top and I liked it so much that two days later I went there once again.
Maddalena hill is not the Everest, but , as I wrote on my Facebook page , it was MY personal Everest . The second time I cycled to the top of it , it was a Thursday in June this year.
The day before, I had gone to see an endocrinologist and out of the blue, he looked at me and he said ” there is a chance that you have a thyroid cancer .” As simple as that, just when you don’t expect to hear such a thing! The next day , riding on the Maddalena, I thought about life, MY life, my daughters , and about fear, as I had never done before in my life . I, who have never been afraid of death, certain that the one we are living now is only a trial for a next one, found myself suddenly attached to life, and with an incredible fear of losing it. Climbing to the top , bend after bend , pedaling as hard as possible, has meant to me something I will never forget . Getting to the top was a challenge with myself , that I won and I won again many times since then, even after the danger of a cancer was , thankfully, gone.
I won and won again when in the morning , even after I returned from vacation, without not so much continuous training , I took my bike and alone , slowly, until I arrived to the top or again, when one day at sunset, with my husband , lulled by the light of the sunset and the lengthening shadows on the already dark roads.
During these six months I’ve found that you can cycle and in the meantime you can have a look at the landscape around you, but my husband was right , you must first become familiar with your bike and now I add that you have to respect and love it .
Concentration is everything. I don’t have an athletic body, probably I have the farthest shape compared to a cyclist’s one. And If I can do it, everybody else could. I got to the conclusion that everything is just inside your head: strength, desire and passion.
I still ride with my husband and now it’s beautiful. Sure, there are times when I still get pissed off because he tells me to stay in the slipstream , and I don’t. Then he goes forward without checking if I’m still alive and well, times when I call him and he cannot hear me , and then I look like a crazy hysterical woman screaming his name in the middle of nowhere and then when he finally hears me, I have already forgotten what I wanted to tell him.
Every now and then I still do not feel up to it, but I live for the moments when , seized by I know not what kind of rapture , on a the flat road, I ” fly ” at thirty five km per hour and then at the traffic lights my husband reaches me and asks me if someone had put some hot chili on my bottom …
I know he has his rules , I now learned them by heart and respect them. I have my own , which is that first of all cycling is a pleasure, not a duty , so if I do not feel like going , I don’t . This rule is very often broken because if it was for my laziness , 90 % of the time , I’d stay home. I am grateful to my husband because , knowing me well , he insists on this and then I go out of my pajamas on Saturday mornings and I ride my bike. Happily. Thanks to this common passion , together, we are treading new paths , we are discovering new, wonderful places around here. Together.
Mine is no more A bike , but it is MY bike , my wonderful and irreplaceable bike .
These 2000 km on my road bike , which unfortunately is now going to rest in the garage until next spring to now leave room to the mountain bike, were 2000 kilometers of discovery of nature all around me, 2000 km during which I felt part of a sort of a parallel world which welcomed and cuddled me , but above all, these have been 2000 kilometers of travel inside myself.