The beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest

In a universe that is completely digital, stuck somewhere between impalpable realities and their cold containers, is man.

The modern world has brought us experiences that are ever more fleeting, distant and immaterial. We are distracted by notifications, Netflix series, Instagram uploads and the interminable WhatsApp voice messages. We are immersed in a huge, timeless spiral that accompanies us and will lead us a merry dance for the rest of our days, probably changing form, allowing us to reach unimaginable horizons along paths that are increasingly holographic and fast.

 

Having said that, inside each of us, there is the child that loved digging its hands into the soil, getting dirty in an attempt to put the chain back on the bike or, for those who grew up with a less technological kind of cycling, extracting the inner tube from the tyre and placing it in a basin of water. I remember it well. My father explained how to find the puncture. I slowly caressed that smooth, pinky surface, like a rubber snake, and then I would see it: the air bubbles escaping from the tiny hole that had interrupted my ride. I soon learned to use the adhesive and puncture repair kit that dad had placed in a little, fake leather bag, under the saddle. And I was so proud that I knew how to do it by myself, from the pedestal of my 8 years, and proud that I was not afraid of getting a puncture out on the road. I dirtied my hands with dark grease while putting the chain back on, and then went home with sticky fingers because I had used that miraculous paste that would seal the holes caused by the roads that were always too dusty for a little girl.

 

The bicycle was a big part of my childhood. It was one of the first presents I received that made me feel grown up. It was a playmate when the weather got warmer. And it was the only vehicle I had on which to pretend that I was running away from home, making me feel more like an adult. I often fell off the bike and got dirty. My knees were always black with soil and my hands were never spotless. Today, many years on, my work has placed me in an orderly, clean and dust-free world. If I stop to look at the children around me, their knees are not scratched, their hands are not filthy and sticky with sweets. It is an increasingly rare occurrence. And I become a little nostalgic, because if there’s one thing that made me fall in love with L’Eroica, it was a great opportunity to get dirty, just like old times.

Alessandra Ortenzi