Tuscany Trail;Interview With Alberto Dal Magro 

In the most difficult moments our mind is crowded with questions like “but who made me do this?”, “Why does this happen to me?”, “I was so fine before”, etc.

I have always wondered what drives a person to struggle, to find motivation in sport or adversity and above all where he finds the strength to overcome such adversities. We think of runners, cyclists, hikers, cross-country skiers etc …

Perhaps you too have been fascinated by these situations at least once, you have tried with curiosity to understand how some mechanisms work or you have simply looked with healthy skepticism at those who, despite living a normal and peaceful life, choose to engage with determination in enterprises at the limit of endurance.

Today we host Alberto Dal Magro , the first from Belluno to try and finish the Tuscany Trail . Alberto, as well as being a dear friend of mine, is also an established professional with a passion for cycling, the outdoors and… fatigue. Let’s try to understand the strategies and motivations that led him to test himself in this enterprise and above all the reasons that supported him on this journey!

Gaetano : I guess you traveled very “lightly”, how do you live with little ? What do you really need ?

Alberto : This question is almost philosophical… You obviously have to limit the weight to the maximum so from the start you can do a series of tests at home to see what fits and what doesn’t. And it is true that we are obviously used to the excess of objects and things that fill our life. Just from the clothing you take out and put on the bed to start filling the bag you can see that you have to do a nice skimming because everything will never fit and you really only get what you need , not even an extra gram. You obviously also adjust to the weather you control until the last minute. Considering that they had forecast a really bad weather (and then it actually was) I put inside the classic jacket that you wear practically in winter because I thought that if I had been a thousand meters in the middle of the night in the rain I would not have wanted to die since cold (it’s okay to have determination, but you also need to be prepared) Then of course you have to think a little about everything you can need from a mechanical point of view because anything and anywhere can happen to the bike. It is true that along the way we have touched several countries including Florence, but between one city and another it happens to be 100 km in the middle of almost nothing. Anything can happen and you have to be prepared because it would be really absurd to have to give up because you didn’t bring the piece to fix the chain. And anyway, in the end you find yourself loading everything on a bike that must remain rideable on a demanding motorcycle route. From its initial 12Kg it came to weigh about 18Kg with 6Kg of luggage: a little on the handlebar, a little under the saddle, a little attached to the frame a small backpack on the shoulders and off you go!

Gaetano : What have you forgotten?

Alberto : Fortunately I haven’t forgotten anything. Then it always depends on what happens to you, in the sense that I have not had any mechanical unexpected and I have not needed anything in particular. I had the inner tube, I had everything to fix the most common mechanical problems, but if I had an unexpected breakdown where I didn’t have a part at this time I would be responding to you differently. In fact, I took away something more . I had planned to stop and sleep where I would find, in the open on a meadow, under a wood, where it happened: when the light went down I would have camped. As I told you the weather was really bad so all this was not possible and I always had to rely on a structure to spend the night. And therefore sleeping bag and tarp(cloth to create a kind of tent without the poles) and other things I have brought with them for 600km but I could very well have left them at home. I was motivated to sleep outdoors, but also all the lighting part for traveling at night was not used because as I repeat to you the conditions did not allow to make certain choices.

Gaetano : Is there a guide that tells you what to bring?

Alberto:  On the Tuscany Trail websitethere is a forum and among the various topics there are also advice on what to bring and what not. There are mandatory things, also required by the highway code: lights, reflector and helmet. Then as mandatory tools there is also the GPS because you receive a track and you are obliged to follow it. The route is never marked: you cannot trace 600km! A mountain bike was also recommended for the bike, but there have been those who have used a gravel or hybrid bike with more than a few difficulties. I certainly brought with me the desire and motivation to have this experience !

Gaetano : Is there anything that gave you confidence in what you brought ? Something you wouldn’t have abandoned ?

Alberto : The fact that I brought a nice set of batteries for the GPS certainly gave me security because that was your guide if you ran out of batteries or in any case it stopped working for any reason you had to abandon the race.

Gaetano : Do you think that I had thought about the identity card and the credit card.

Alberto : No well, that wax.

Gaetano : In other words, would you have had this experience anyway without or with little money?

Alberto : You become quite animal in these situations, to tell you the first two nights I have cycled and I was not thinking who knows where I will go and where I will sleep tonight, the idea was just to go on and on… I stop when I’m tired and bon. I found sleep only thanks to some incredible coincidences because the first night a guy found me a room who was looking for a hotel for himself. I asked him if he had an extra room and he found it for me. One evening we were in Chianti and it started to have a very strong storm. We saw that there was a small town nearby. We went and knocked on the first door. We found a very helpful lady who gave cooking lessons to the English, but she didn’t have room. He started calling around the country until he found us a nearby B&B.I would never have had the determination to ask or even just play a pota of someone I don’t know. However, you feel that you have a need, that you need, because the need is primary because you are cold and you need to eat. We asked those at the B&B if they made something to eat, but they told us they didn’t do anything and there was a restaurant two kilometers away… we insisted a lot, also because it was two kilometers uphill! until the lady went home and brought us some pasta, a tin of tuna, some tomato and let us cook in a kitchen of the apartment. You become more enterprising and determined in things. I wouldn’t leave without money though.

Gaetano : what is the best memory you have?

Alberto : Two things. First, you know a lot of people. Fatality with two guys I found myself twice on the way and we shared the last 150km as well as sleeping together. Therefore some beautiful friendships were born.

As you remember, it may seem strange, but the things that are still left to me almost a month later are the scents I felt while pedaling . When you entered these villages you could smell these very strong jasmines, the scent of flowers in the Chianti area, as well as the scent of the sea when near the Argentario.

Gaetano : after this experience what has changed and what do you keep? Do you have different habits?

Alberto : I would not go so far as to say that an experience of this type can push you to change habits. I am certainly very proud of the way I faced it and above all of having completed it with determination given that of the more than 500 participants almost a third left the company for various reasons.

Gaetano : What was the most difficult moment and how did you overcome it ?

Alberto : The most difficult moment was in the morning of the second day when on a rather steep descent, initially a dirt road, I made a fairly violent front with a car. Fortunately, the consequences were quite slight, in the sense that I was superficially bruised but at that moment I thought “game over” here everything is over. The bike turned 10 meters away and above all the GPS opened! However, I managed to cheer him up and I calmed down by recovering motivation . It was a very difficult time but it went well.

Gaetano : But have you ever had moments of discouragement perhaps due to fatigue ?

Alberto : No in the morning, yes in the evening. You always went a little beyond your limits and it was actually difficult both physically and mentally . It motivated me a lot to know that I still had my family at home who supported me. I was tracked with an application on my mobile that showed where I was in real time. It’s a small thing but it helps you to know that there is someone there who looks and says “come on, it’s going on” . And anyway with a lot of determination because you have to leave motivated to the maximum : there is little to do. And I was, in short, I wanted to do it, I wanted to get to the end and so it was.

Gaetano : Why did you want to have this experience?

Alberto:  The reason  is that Ireally like cycling , as well as seeing new places and traveling , so I wanted to combine these two things being alone . Perhaps I had a certain need to unplug and be on my own. These four days that I have taken by now I have been looking forward to them since January which is when I signed up for this event. In short, I really wanted to do this whole series of things!

Gaetano : But why this thing? So it’s a bit of a challenge , why not just get on the bike and go about your own business for a week?

Alberto : Yes, it could also be done like this. Maybe it’s even more difficult and you need to be even more motivated and determined. What I mean is that I wanted to exploit this thing here to say ok I do it and not procrastinate . It is also easier to explain to others. So you have a fixed date otherwise you are always saying “when I do it” , in short, then it turns out that you never do it busy with all the commitments and you do not find time for important things …

Gaetano : How did you prepare yourself physically and psychologically ?

Alberto:  Physically, I did a lot of preparation by cycling a lot . I also combined a diet that allowed me to arrive at the appointment particularly dry because of the weight issue. The bike already weighs on its own, so you put a little bit on the things you carry and a little on your weight. I didn’t do long-distance training even though I knew I had to ride 16 hours a day starting at dawn and arriving at sunset. Doing my 3-4 hour outings with a lot of altitude I was convinced that it would be enough and so it was. The desire to do it, the motivation and the determination were the psychological support to face the fatigue .

Gaetano : Would you do it again?

Alberto : I’ll do something similar again. In recent years this model of races without support and over long distances has spread in Italy, so much so that the Veneto Trail has just ended. There are competitions in the Apennines and in Trentino so I think I’ll do something.

Gaetano : Well congratulations Alberto for your 560 km on your bike. 565 to be exact! We are happy to have hosted on our pages an example of determination and motivation in sport!


by Abdullah Sam
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