Dreams of Bikepacking
From Issue 94 • Words by Paolo Ciaberta & Simone Bracco
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Keep a steady pace…breathe…follow the trails…breathe…leave the trails behind… breathe…look around…breathe…stop and recover…breathe…open your jacket, don’t sweat too much and breathe, breathe, breathe. Never forget to breathe—not for the lungs, which is an involuntary gesture, but for the mind, a reactionary gesture.
A long weekend on the bike, enchanting mountains, dirt roads and starry skies. The upper Val di Susa in Italy’s Piedmont region is magnificent; some roads are easier, some more difficult, but at the end of the day they’re always worth the effort. Don’t ask us “who” makes us do it, just ask us “what” makes us do it? Our answer is in these images.
Beauty exists. Maybe it’s just a little farther, after that shelter, the easy one to reach, up the slope, opposite the chairlift? Yes, exactly there, where the asphalt ends and the alpine world begins. It’s the trail that’s far from everything, the one with thin air and thoughts of pure delight.
Planning a bike ride near your home is as difficult as finding an unknown corner in your bedroom and thinking about four days with your riding companions, distilling the best of the places you know, reading a map and turning each yellow, white or dashed line into a path for bicycles, friends, sweat and fun.
Mountains, trails and stones. Many stones, rounded, square and pyramidical, stones that split away and stones that slow down the pace, stones to avoid and stones that you can’t avoid. Bikes broken from the harshness of the path, tents, sunsets, campfires, laughter, hot soup, wine and chilliness. Then the fear of nothingness and silence, annoyance at the cold…but also the awe of immense starry skies. Seeing oneself transformed—one step away from home and in such short order—into a different person, listening to the essence of life. And seeing your companions come alive, too.
Each day something happens, always different or perhaps always the same: a new peak, a new side of the mountain, a new horizon. And we are there, seeing beauty in the beauty as only raw and essential things can be.
At a certain point there are no more borders between you and nature. There’s just an empty canvas on which your feelings are in complete harmony with the environment; bikepacking has the same ingredients as dreams.