For many years I have chased the claim of becoming a good mountaineer.
I sneaked into every climb of a certain type by trading my inexperience for my strength. I was always behind everyone, but I carried the heaviest loads. I followed in the footsteps of those ahead of me and for a few years the game worked until I tried to raise the bar.
Now never being tired counted for very little, now I had to be sure that those two millimeters of crampon inside the ice would support me, that the edge of the skis would not betray me, that I would survive thirty meters of flight because tied. Without the imprint of the void and unable to fill my technical deficiencies, it was a journey into anguish every time the slope increased.
I had come to the awareness of my mental limits, going beyond it would have meant playing on the other team only because I had stolen their shirt from the locker room.
My story did not come from pegs and ice, I had put on skis for the first time when others were already flying on the slopes, I was pulling a 6A to swear words and the fear of falling was stronger than the desire to climb.
At the time I lived in the high mountains and it was like being born in Rimini and not knowing how to swim. Mountain guides and formidable athletes were my family, I didn’t speak their language but I admired them infinitely. Their courage, determination in training, the joy they felt in their exploits and their stories, had inspired my choice to dare the peaks.
Okay, I wasn’t designed to go high, but why not long? It was one of them who threw me the idea of staying on the ground but going far. At the time there was no bicycle touring, there was little news from beyond the Alps of people in sandals with sock taking their bicycle holidays. A few times I had read in the newspapers of some Italians pedaling in places that I had not even heard the name of. What if there was all the poetry and power of the peaks also on the roads of unknown countries? This thought solicited me a lot and from a quick check on the fears it seemed devoid of dramatic moments and there was not yet a shirt to steal.
It would take another ten years before the advent of Google Earth, I didn’t have an internet address and travel bloggers had yet to be biologically conceived. However, I had a mountain of books and street maps of the world scale 1 to 2,000,000, the primordial material that would have made any boy of the time want to travel.
If I removed the freaks who traveled to India, the only species that migrated so far were mountaineers and I lived in the middle of them. They told me about expeditions to South America, to the Himalayas, to islands with sea walls and glaciers that are immense like continents.
Worlds, precisely unknown, to a young man from the suburbs who grew up among sad bars and dance halls on Sunday afternoon
And the day came when we came down from the mountains to Riva del Garda and the strongest of all gave me a bicycle for my birthday. Not to go to get bread down the street since she was old, but who would have thought that the baker was so far away?
Without social media, fantasy was the absolute divinity who dictated the deeds of men, but she demanded courage and a lot. Now I had a bike, a lot of curiosity and a bit of ardor I had learned, hanging with my fingers on terrifying overhangs. I could have dared.
A ticket to Asia, a box and an almost untouched passport, were my bags on the flight that would take me to a world I could only imagine, of which I knew nothing, which I had the foolish pretense of exploring far and wide. wide over the saddle of a bicycle, I who had never ridden a bike.
On the first ride of the pedals, under the sun of the tropics, I felt like I was melting, I didn’t know where I was going, let alone what route. But I was struggling like when I climbed the mountains, I felt the pleasant welcome of the muscles and the endorphins, I enjoyed the exhilarating feeling of deserving where I was, like on the peaks, but something wonderful convinced me that that thing there was what I wanted to do in life: it was tremendously easy.
A total neophyte was tackling hot climbs in the midst of the tropics, dragging food and clothing with him to reach the village after which he didn’t even know the name. And in the meantime he was overwhelmed by a tsunami of life, of people, of curious looks that too often turned into invitations to lunch or dinner with overnight stay.
In a few weeks I went from placing the confidence of the millimeters of ice under the tips of the crampons on myself, to relying totally on the humanity I met on the street. Like those climbing purists who hammer off the nails on the most beautiful routes to make them virgin again, I was now moving among the beginnings of my conscience to get rid of any prejudices planted in order to feel safer. That instinct for the vertical that I wanted a lot to have had made room for my natural propensity to trust others.
Good legs and this new feeling of security, combined with the increasingly unstoppable curiosity, pushed that inexperienced boy to travel thousands of kilometers, crossing the borders of countries whose existence he had not known about until recently.
A push with one leg and then with the other, disarming by the simplicity and shocking for the drug in return. It didn’t matter how many kilometers a day, it didn’t matter how far, you just had to get in the saddle and go. It was like zapping on TV knowing that you would surely come across a Mastroianni film. Only the term of the dollars put a stop to the distance traveled and from that day on I collected them only to invest them again in the streets.
By nature, the time came to finally raise the bar as happened for the mountains and there was an exponential increase in fun. Tibet, the Middle East, China, the Americas, Africa and even Siberia in winter.
Let me be clear that I did not defeat that fear that relegated me to ridiculous degrees of climbing, but I spent a great deal of time together and it kept me company in the savannas, in prison, in the most desolate deserts, under gunfire. by fire, and at the lowest temperatures on the planet. In the end we became accomplices because I invite her only where I cook and I carefully choose the diners, strictly on the ground floor.
Today I call myself a “paraculo”, because I have obtained very funny results with immense ease, but I have always been fighting against the impostor syndrome, which makes me write “very funny” rather than a comparative adjective.
However, at that table twenty years ago, surrounded by very strong climbers, I now show off my cycling tour guide jersey that I have not stolen from anyone. And this is beautiful!
Do you want to travel with Dino too? https://dinolanzaretti.it/viaggia-con-me/