What happens when two Milanese messengers pin on a race number for the first time at Italy’s first ever UCI-sanctioned gravel race, Monsterrato?
Several weeks ago two young Milanese messengers and friends Chloe Mazza and Pietro De Giacomo, came and visited at our HQ in Caleppio, outskirts of Milan.
Both Chloe and Pietro are fast, both ride cargo bikes for work, both are extremely active in local messenger-organized races around Milan and both ride Cinelli track bikes when not on their work bikes: Pietro an ultra-rare Cinelli x MASH CX ss that he found on subito.it last year for less than €700 (!), Chloe a 2019 Vigorelli Steel “black night” edition (her first ever “real” bike).
Together we discussed the possibility of them pinning on a number at Italy’s first ever UCI-sanctioned gravel race, Monsterrato and trying to achieve a “fairytale” qualification for the Gravel World Championships.
Both were more than up for the challenge.
We signed them to Circolo Ciclistico Cinelli-Iuter our “informal” team, open to anybody with same attitude as us, we gave them a team jersey, gear and bikes: Made in Italy steel Nemo Gravel for Pietro, carbon fiber Zydeco King for Chloe.
With only a few days of proper riding to get used to their new equipment Pietro and Chloe set off to the race with our team “manager” Cappe and Charlie, his vintage T3 Volkswagen van.
Of the race – their first ever “serious” race – both said much the same thing: the atmosphere was very different, the adrenaline of the mass start together with elite athletes is a kick unique to the sport of cycling but the speed, despite an enormous amount of kilometres in their legs this season, was just too much and very soon the dream of qualifying for the world championships evaporated and both were left to enjoy a different kind of challenge, with themselves and against a particularly technical course.
At the end of the race we asked Chloe what the biggest difference between this race and the Italian Cycle Messenger Championship less than a month ago and we found the answer pretty illuminating:
“The biggest difference is that the point of a messenger championship is to race but also to meet people and to learn new skills and techniques for messenger cycling, like how to strap objects to your cargo or discover strange, exotic, custom made components…”
Would they race another UCI race? Maybe yes, maybe not, it was a good experience, it was fun, it was intense, it was crazy!
The first few kilometres in the pack, covered in dust with only a few metres of visibility were unforgettable but when cycling becomes racing it also loses a lot of the values that they find so interesting…