words and photos by Omar di Felice and Mavic
Every extreme project is born from an idea. Usually, during my long rides, alone, climbing some mountain pass, I imagine a point on a map and I start dreaming and tracking it.
So one year ago I told to myself “Hey, it’s time to cross Italy”. I supposed to do something different from the Giro d’Italia and I planned a route to cross every Italian region. 3,380 km and a little bit less than 50.000 meters of ascent. I set a time, 9 days and I started organizing everything, from the support crew, to technical issues (clothes, food, bikes, and so on).
The first part of this incredible adventure in my mind should be the easiest one. But nothing is more difficult than the “unknown”. I didn’t know very well the route and I found tough short climbs and hard asphalt conditions! It was a real surprise for me.
Day by day I felt better and when I started crossing Sicily and then Sardinia (I used a boat to rest some hours and to move between islands) I rode across peaceful landscapes and hills with perfect weather. Seeing the dawn from the top of Etna mountain was on of my favorite moments.
When you have something like 2000 km in your legs and you have to ride for other 1500 km you don’t have to think about what you’ve done until that moment. Starting from Genova (Tirrenic coast, Liguria) I made the Alps my focus: the most romantic moment was on the top of Superga Hill (Turin area) where I found a lot of people came from all the region to support me. After passing through Liguria, Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta regions, it was time to face the king: Stelvio Pass!
In my life I climbed many times the Stelvio Pass but I didn’t do it during the night until this adventure. I found extreme conditions on the top, with fog and light snow. It was one of the most epic and dramatic moments, but I really enjoyed it. After the descent there was my worst moment, I followed a wrong route and I lost a lot of hours to join the Dolomites area. It was terrible, when you don’t sleep (or you sleep for only 1-1.5 hours per night) your mind starts to have negative thoughts and you ask to yourself if you will be able to go to the finish line.
During this adventure I rode every kilometre thinking about the end, trying to do my best to reach my goal as fast as possible. But when I had to ride last 200 km I started riding slowly. I tried to enjoy every little moment, and if it would be possible I would extend the adventure. I never wanted to end it! It was a real amazing adventure, a once in lifetime experience and actually I’m not so able to tell all the emotions and how I really felt.
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