Willy Mulonia today is an expert Tour Operator with thousands of kilometers in the legs and thousands of clients accompanied around the world. But how and when did it all start?
I started cycling by accident. Not based on a stroke of luck, but on a problem, an injury. During the knee rehabilitation I am recommended to use the bike. And the passion was born immediately.
I start competing, I take flavor and I start to make it of all colors.
At some point in my life I have to face divorce.
The mental chaos in me. I went to therapy every Monday from 5 to 7 pm. The psychologist tells me: “Willy, look for a goal outside of suffering, concentrate on that and do everything to achieve it, do not stay anchored in the black box in which you are”.
The following morning, Tuesday, in the mailbox I find a leaflet of the stage race in Australia, it was 1998
“Here is my therapy.”
I get ready, do the race, go home with a good result, which is not as important for the numbers as for the opening of a “world of possibilities”.
In Australia I know a Spanish friend who says to me: “In Alaska there is a crazy race, I will go back if you come with me”.
In February ’99 I was in Alaska at -50. And I take part to Iditarod.
Here is the race. I can do it. I get to the bottom.
My “world of possibilities” opens wide.
Everything I did with my ass on the saddles was useful to me in daily life, I used it to try to fix several things. So I said to myself, “If I managed to make Alaska in the winter, how is it possible that I can’t get my private life right?”
The following year, in 2000, I went back to Alaska. An accident happens.
I risk killing myself, they pick me up with the helicopter and take me to the hospital. And a light in my head lights up.
“It is in those moments that my mind becomes clearer. I think: what the hell am I doing? If I had died on that cliff I would be very sad. Is this what I want from life? “
I go home and drop everything.
I quit my job, girlfriend, I close my house and go to live in Alaska.
I buy the ticket, I sell everything to get an economic fund, I pack everything. And when I’m sitting in the room with all my things in just 2 square meters of space, another light comes on (yes, I’m full of lights, I look like a Christmas tree).
“I go to Alaska but I start from the farthest point that the mainland allows me.”
I open the map, scroll through the map of Alaska, look for the difficult point and find out where Patagonia is. And I read: Ushuaia.
I’ll start from here.
I chose to go to Alaska for two reasons: because it was a pilgrimage of thanksgiving, and because the bike is the tool that helped me most out of the storm.
At that point in my life the idea of traveling to the Americas arises.
During that trip I went through wonderful scenarios but it is only when I am crossing the Desierto de Atacama that a feeling and the need to be there with someone explodes in me.
“30 thousand kilometers alone. It’s beautiful, but … I have to bring someone else here one day. “
I close the parenthesis and do not think about it for two years. Once you reach Prodhoe Bay, on the glacial coast of Alaska, it’s time to return to Italy. Towards the end of 2002 I reopen that parenthesis and in August 2004 I bring 22 people to cross that desert. My feeling of sharing was only at the beginning. My travel agency was born. Today it is called: Pa-Cycling.
Since the opening of the agency to the Mongolia Bike Challenge and then L’Eroica, and the year of Eroica in Spain, the BAM has also arrived!
It was 2014 in Livigno, the first year of BAM! The first meeting together with Eleonora and Andrea, a project written on the restaurant placemat: Mr Nobody. And this synergy that has lasted for years. Until today, until this interview.
What is the set up of your bike for Patagonia?
▪ Bike shoes
▪ 2 socks
▪ 2 shorts
▪ 1 shirt
▪ 1 cape
▪ 1 duvet
▪ 1 short wind
▪ The crocks
And for Europe?
The same. Maybe less:
▪ 1 pair of shorts
▪ 1 shirt
▪ 1 duvet
▪ The Crocks.
People who travel with you, what do they take away?
Of everything!! 4 power banks, the electric toothbrush … “And where did you leave the hairdryer?” I ask him. (Laughs)
Do you know what the point is? Having material with you, you think it can make up for fears.
What does it mean to bring someone with you?
It means a lot.
In my case it is a reason for living. I am made for this.
Not just to carry people around.
I used to teach boys first. I was attracted to the disabled, to those who could not swim, to subjects who could not even float with full lungs.
I was born to try to help someone overcome their fears or help them get better.
Today I just changed the scenario, and the tool. It is no longer a swimming pool, but it is the gardens in the world. It is no longer water but it is the bicycle.
When I finished the trip to America, I was torn between enrolling in psychology or setting up what I did … We know the ending.
I like to see how the group moves and how subgroups are created within people. The subgroups of 2, the crises, the small tensions for tiredness, for discouragement. I control everything from outside and it is a great responsibility because they put their dream in your hands.
There is also the responsibility of bringing them safely to the end.
So from that moment I wanted to do everything under the hat of the agency.
We are a travel agency because in order to be able to do this job professionally, legally and covered by insurance, the only way is to be registered in the register of Travel Agencies. On the contrary, I could not even use the term travel, trip, travel.
What are the three places every traveler should go to?
It’s a hard question. It is relative.
The right question is: “Three places that every traveler should allow to be crossed.”
We are not the ones who take a trip. It is the journey that makes us. So it doesn’t matter where you go.
Make travel, culture, people cross you.
The more you open, the more you allow that place to enter inside you, and the more you let yourself be crossed by the journey, the more you come home changed.
In the end, if you take a trip, it’s to go home different from how you left. Possibly better.
“Chino verso nord”, Willy Mulonia’s autobiographical book that tells his own life story, through the adventures by bike that somehow guided his course and helped develop a particular vision of the world in the author.