Ci vuole più coraggio a essere brutti. A essere belli e bravi siamo bravi tutti
It takes more courage to be ugly. We’re all good at being beautiful and good.
Song: “Modigliani.” Artist: Dargen D’Amico. A piece by a singer-songwriter from Milan that talks about an artist: there’s no better soundtrack for our first outing with Team Cinelli Smith. Because if we can't talk about Milan and art when we’re with Cinelli, well, when we can do it?
But let’s be honest. The fields and canals around Novara — with all due respect — are nothing like the hills of Franciacorta, the Crete Senesi or even the farmland of the Veneto. In short, it takes courage to organize a gravel race on the outskirts of Novara.
But fortune — the Romans were right — favors the bold, and Novarenberg has become one of those events that we like. One of those moments that are worth living. #LiveIt.
Because if you take away the names of the famous places, the good food and the elements that can attract the masses, you find yourself at the start with only authentic people. Those who show up with the right spirit and the desire to ride and spend time together. Those who bring their bike and a couple of beers to leave at registration to share at the end of the race.
And us? We brought breakfast, and the team seems to have appreciated it. Almost as much as they liked the Fiandre Light and the Supergiara Bibshort that we gave them for the event. Considering the weather and the road surfaces, we thought they were the perfect pieces for the occasion. And with a few years of experience with the pro teams behind us, it seems we weren’t wrong about that either.
It’s time to stash the beers and gather the 300 people, and off we go — 105 kilometers, of which at least 65 are on gravel, among the fields around Novara.
The Canale Villoresi features prominently. This 86-kilometer-long artificial canal that connects the Ticino river to the Adda river was built at the end of the 19th century by Eugenio Villoresi. Thanks, Eugenio! You don’t know it, but you designed a perfect route for a gravel race. And no, it doesn’t matter that in your day you didn’t even know what gravel riding was.
Abbiamo tutti il diritto a una certa ora di sentirci bene un’altra persona
We all have the right at a certain time to feel good, another person
It soon becomes clear that Team Cinelli Smith has fixies in its DNA. Because in cycling, as in life, it’s the attitude and the approach that makes the difference, not the number of sprockets you have on your rear wheel.
And the team’s approach to Novarenberg is more or less this: smiles, photos, hugs and kisses until the start, then all out for 100 kilometers, pouring out loads of watts on their opponents at every acceleration and on every gravel section, and then smiles, photos, hugs and kisses after the finish.
If we want to talk about results — even though that’s not what interests us — the men on the team took first and third place, with Paolo Castelli and Paolo Bravini.
Second and third for the two women in the race, Martina Biolo and Elenore Saraiva. Not a bad season debut.
The great thing? That while sparks were flying at the front, with riders covering the 100 kilometers at an average speed of 33, behind there were others enjoying the scenery, chatting and taking it easy on their way to the finish. Everyone riding the way they like, so they finish with a smile on their face. Which is exactly what we believe in at Sportful.
We wrap things up with pizza and some shared beers at the finish. A late 19th-century canal, some fairly wide tires, a trunk full of boxes and people who want to spend time together.
In the end, it doesn’t take much to experience another unforgettable day on the bike. And to make the Novara countryside the most beautiful place in the world for one morning.
Siamo dentro alla favola che ci lascia sorridere
We are inside the fairy tale that lets us smile
Novara, Piedmont, Italy
Chris Leustean @iamchrisart
Federico Damiani @damianifed