I have just finished my exams at university, and I want to go on a bike trip. Just me, my bike and the open road. I get offered a small starting contract for an event in Switzerland and that seems to me like a good way to start the trip. The plan will be to do the event in Switzerland, pick up the start money, and with what is left of it try to go as far as possible into Italy.
Well, I went to Italy for the same reason that I used to stand beside the side-line of a soccer field on a cold Friday evening- for love. But this time not for a person but for food. I like pizza and that was enough of a reason for me to cycle over 1000km, cross the Alps and just bring one pair of underwear. This solitary pair of pants was not part of the plan, but rather the result of my poor packing - I simply forgot to bring any more.
As the days went by, the trip was already unforgettable even before eating my first real Italian pizza. I spent my nights drinking wine in the Swiss Alps when a mountain climber invited me to stay at his place with his flatmates.
The next thing I knew, I ended up in a professional bike race riding in a t-shirt with a bike full of bags.
I was already in Italy when I started to see signs with arrows on them pointing out the route of the Tour de Alps. I decided to follow them thinking the peloton had already passed, but after a while there where police motors behind me and they kicked me off the road. I had to wait because of the race, when the main bunch had passed with all the cars, I continued my journey.
After a while I saw a big group behind me which had to be the grupetto and indeed it was. I followed the course with these guys to the top of the mountain, still riding in a t shirt with my bags on the bike. Luckily the DS of Team Sky gave me a bottle on the climb which meant that I could hold on for a bit. In the meantime, I tried to get some energy bars from a few riders I knew because I had some long days waiting for me and I had to stack up.
Arriving in Milan my life was like a rollercoaster, It might also have been because I was by far the most underdressed person and that evening I ate the best pizza in my life. The guy who cycled alone to Italy to eat pizza shared the best pizza he had over there, I kept riding with a smile until I got stopped by the police in Venice. Apparently, you’re not allowed to ride your bike over there, so I had to carry my bike to the train station and leave with the first train possible and make it back to Switzerland. My trip was over.
Gosse Van Der Meer
Gosse currently holds the UK National Series Trophy in Cyclocross, and is training to compete in the Cyclocross World Championships this year. He also runs Kit for Kids, a project dedicated to collecting cycling kit used in professional racing and redistributing it to children racing all over Europe.