Cycling is all about going places (but always coming back to Trentino)
Riding and chatting with cycling star Daniel Oss
We arrange to meet at a café in Riva del Garda at nine o’clock in the morning. We cannot wait to go for a ride with Daniel. We park up in front of the café that he chose and take a seat on the open-air terrace, ready for some breakfast. It is one of those cafés where cyclists stop off before, during or after a ride on the cycle paths around Lake Garda: a cross between a refreshments stop and a bicycle shop. There are lots of places like this in the area around the lake, where cycling is a key part of the lifestyle. Outside, we left our bicycles in nicely arranged racks that are specially designed for road bikes. In this part of Trentino, everything is conceived and designed with cyclists and their needs in mind.
Daniel turns up on time and sits at the table with us. He is in good spirits. We have a quick coffee and then head straight out for a lovely ride towards Toblino and Lake Cavedine, initially on cycle paths and then on quiet, well-surfaced roads. We talk as we pedal: this is an interview on bikes, in every sense of the term.
Daniel, do you like living here?
“Coming to live here by Lake Garda was an important decision for me.” Daniel is originally from another part of Trentino that also boasts stunning scenery and lakes: the Valsugana. “Being a cyclist means I’m always travelling all over the world. There’s constant pressure when you’re racing and it’s a real emotional rollercoaster. I take part in three-week races like the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, so I meet a lot of people and feelings can run high. It can be very demanding. When I come home to train or rest, I need a place where I’m surrounded by the natural landscape and the people I love. My home is here, in Trentino" he says as he lifts his hand off the handlebars and gestures to the world around him.
How did you get into cycling?
“It was all thanks to my dad, who used to take me out for ice cream on my mountain bike when I was a child. We used to go to neighbouring towns and villages, visiting a different place every time. Ice cream and riding bikes gave him an excuse to take me out exploring. Bicycles are the epitome of freedom: you can see new places, travel far away and meet people. Cycling is an enjoyable pastime. All of the time that you manage to dedicate to yourself and spend with your loved ones is precious.”
Do you often find yourself out riding with people you don’t know?
“Living near Lake Garda means I have all sorts of terrain close at hand: big climbs, valley bottoms, hills, and even the big passes in the Dolomites aren’t that far away. A very large number of cyclists come on holiday here, both professionals and amateurs. We meet up in the morning and set off in a group. As well as my usual bunch of friends, there’ll occasionally be the odd new face. We ride together for the first few kilometres and then everyone has their own plans or routes to follow. I have my training schedules so I often head off alone, at my own pace. When everyone’s finished their workouts, we meet up again on the road and end the session together. Cycling in Trentino is more than exercise: it’s a lifestyle. Just look how many amazing cycle paths and cyclists there are!”
What do you like most about cycling?
“I like seeing new places and meeting people. That’s the great thing about cycling. It’s also a great sport because of the variable nature of sporting performance: everybody can put themselves and their own limits to the test, in a very private, personal way. In some ways, I experience the same sensations as someone who only rides a bike every now and then, perhaps when they’re on holiday. Isn’t that wonderful? That’s not as likely to happen in other sports. Then there are the roads: amateurs can take on the same roads where professionals ride in races. Just think of the great climbs in the Dolomites, Monte Bondone and also the climb up Monte Velo. You can go there and relive the feats of legends in the sport. Alternatively, you can pedal along at a leisurely pace and have just as much fun.”
What advice would you give to people who come cycling in Trentino?
“Explore. Forget all about watts, heart rate monitors and numbers. I’d advise them to mark out a basic route on a map, then follow their instincts and ride to their hearts’ content. At the end of the day, cycling is a journey. Sometimes you want to ride alone and sometimes you want to be with your friends. Sometimes you want to push yourself and work hard, sometimes you just want to unwind a little. In Trentino you can have all of these things and choose whichever you prefer. Just ride! Get on your bike and go: that’s my philosophy.”