Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Alessandro; I was born in Italy almost 33 years ago. A Sagittarius by nature, I have always had a sense of adventure and wonder. That is why as soon as I finished studying Industrial Design, I left home and started working in the transport industry. Even though my degree shows I am a designer, I feel like I am not only that: I am a free spirit who likes being in nature, travelling, and sports. In cycling I have found fulfillment and exercise which carries me on new adventures every day.
What’s your favourite place to ride your bike?
I really like mountains, but I am also in love with the sea. During my time in the Netherlands, a good ride by the coast was always a reconciliatory time with myself and the world. The sea has this special effect on me, so considering that I am in Tuscany, Italy, at the moment, I would say my favourite place to ride would be somewhere near the coast where I can do some climbing and then finish off at the beach to enjoy a good sunset.
Where is home for you?
It’s difficult to say, really; I have lived abroad for almost ten years, the majority of the time in the UK, then in the Netherlands for one and a half years. Now I am back in Italy, but I won’t promise I will stay here too long. I would say every place, after some time, can feel like home; it depends on the people I surround myself with, and if I can manage to find my own routine and places to visit so I feel like I know that place well.
What’s your idea of a perfect ride?
I am very used to riding in any kind of weather; I have always preferred outdoor training, rather than doing it inside. I have some good memories of rides in England, up in the Peak District with my 2 best mates, climbing up in the middle of some heavy fog. I really enjoy the quietness which silent days like that can bring on the roads. Forested, twisty roads and switchbacks are definitely my favourites, especially if the sun shines through the trees at the side of the road; it always adds some magic to it. I am not a fan of big gradients, but more of a long climb where I can find my rhythm and still enjoy my time up there while I pedal.
What do you think is so special about cycling in Italy?
Oh, well, that’s an easy one, I would definitely say the sun and the climate. We have fair weather all year round here and very few days of rain. It would be very different with wet tarmac, as Italian roads are infamously not the best. Another big bonus of riding in this country is the history around it. You always have the opportunity to ride through some little picturesque villages, where you can stop at a local bakery for some food or at a bar for a quick espresso.
What is your first memory with a bike?
I remember my first bike was a mountain bike when I was just over ten years old; that was my only way to move around, until I turned 18 and I could drive a car. Over the course of the years, but especially during my time in England, I developed such a big interest in riding bikes that it became my main passion. Those were the days of riding fixed-gear, all throughout winter too. I remember that my interest kept growing exponentially during those days.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to jump from one bike to another and clock 22,000 km in one year. Yeah… big time!
How would you describe Tuscan routes?
In the part of Tuscany where I live, west of Florence, there are lots of gravel country lanes. In Italian we call them “Strade Bianche,” from the famous road race which takes place annually around Siena on a mixed-terrain course with plenty of gravel sections. These are the lanes connecting small villages and “poderi” across our cultivated rolling hills. The scenery is very impressive, you ride up and down with vineyards or olive trees at your side. Not just that—in fact the real beauty of this part of Italy isthe right mix of cultivated land and wild forests. Due to the formation of the landscape, every hill is most likely to be 200 metres high, maximum. The sun can reach every side of it, creating very spectacular light effects.
Italy or the Netherlands?
I really like how open-minded people are, and the culture in general, in the Netherlands. Regarding the bike, riding there felt a bit boring after some time, since the country is so flat, but once you learn where to go, there are some nice spots.
Italy has such a variety of landscapes, which makes this country so unique. The weather is very nice, pretty much all year round—at least it doesn’t rain much—and the food is just fantastic. In this part of Italy it rarely gets windy, whereas in the NL, unfortunately wind plays a big part in our enjoyment on the bike.
Your favourite meal after a ride?
I don’t have one, as such. I can be quite “voracious” at times, especially after long rides. Still, I try to pay attention to what I eat, because I believe that after a long ride my body needs to recover. A big salad with lentils and some bread with good olive oil from my dad’s garden is definitely one of my favourites. Also, I always bring something like dates or boiled potatoes with me on the bike, to keep me fueled along my ride.
What is next for you?
I’ll probably keep on riding and exploring new trails. A friend of mine used to say “new roads are the best,” and indeed, that concept works for me too. I am very much driven by curiosity. I very often think when I am on the bike, Will I ever come back here again? Let’s make the most of this moment and this place. I am hoping to be able to travel again to South America soon, my girlfriend’s family lives there, in the middle of Patagonia. Obviously the bike will come with me, so I am planning to experience that beautiful part of the world again, this time with the advantage of my gravel Repete Verne
Alessandro’s Instagram: @alexbcib
Translation: Elizabeth Mills, Jan Svoboda
Editor: Robin Fišer