EVERY DAY COULD BE THE NEW BEST CYCLING MEMORYEcrit par Celine Champonnet06.30.2020
Can you tell us how and when did you start cycling? 5-6 years ago the easiest way to move from A to B in Milano was with my bicycle: I started with a single-speed with a flip flop wheel (I used my bike as fixie only once and I thought it was too dangerous). I fell in love with the freedom of going anywhere in the city. I also discovered that not only was it a pleasant ride but I combined that freedom and happiness with burning calories too, killing two birds with one stone. 4 years ago I moved to Berlin where I immediately fell in love with kilometres of cycle paths and the bike community: it has been one of the ways to meet new people in this big city. I’ve since replaced the Milano bike with a German one and in November 2018 I bought my first (first!) road bike. Since then, I’m trying to keep my legs moving every week with social rides or higher intensity rides.
Do you have a training routine, or do you do it according to your current wishes? If the sun is shining and the temperature isn’t below 0’C, you can probably find me outside riding my road bike. Here in Berlin, I have many bicycle friends with different skill levels: depending on how my legs feel I pick one or the other.
How have you progressed in cycling? Did you join a club, get a coach, make friends? Moving from a fixie to a road bike was already a big step for me, as was adjusting from using the bike for short commutes to riding it for 5 hours in Brandenburg's fields. The only problem with this area is that… it’s flat. And when I say flat I mean flat: no hills, no mountains. If I really want to stand up from the saddle I guess I’d have to travel somewhere else in the country - or maybe I should visit my bike friends in Italia! My friends are my coaches: they push me to learn more about my bike, nutrition, mechanics, what’s best for me and what isn’t, and which tires are better than other ones. They are also the best because they smile when I ask stupid questions.
Cycling is a sport that requires resilience, what resources do you use when you are at the end of your strength? I’m still learning what my body needs before and during a training ride, nutrition-wise, so sometimes it happens that my legs decide that they don’t want to move fast anymore and in those moments I start to sing rock songs in my head (please don’t listen to music while you’re riding on the street!). It’s a sort of mindfulness shifting: from thinking about the present - about my legs that hurt and my back screaming “I can’t, sorry”- to focusing my mind on something else, something that gives me the energy to look forward and lets me dream about that piece of cake that I’ll eat at the end of the ride.
How do you define yourself today as a cyclist? In my Instagram Bio I’ve written: “I want to motivate ladies to ride their bike more”, and that’s what I’m trying to do with all my posts and by documenting my bike rides with pictures and illustrations. This is a sport that if done in a group gives you the feeling of being part of something, of being part of moments that you share with your companions and there’s nothing more rewarding of finishing a bike ride with lots of smiles (and painful legs but it means you did a really good job). That’s why I ride bikes: for smiles and cakes ;)
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start cycling? Look for nice people and join their bike rides. Don’t give up, and keep your legs moving. Don’t listen to who might tell you that you’re too slow, too “this”, not so much “that”, who cares! Enjoy your bike rides, always, and don’t forget to smile!
What is the most beautiful spot where you have ridden? Madonna del Ghisallo, during Giro di Lombardia, Oct 2019, at 754m above sea level. At first, I didn’t want to ride up there because my legs and body are not trained for hills, but I was then convinced by my Italian friends that I could make it - slowly. That’s what I did. I took it very slowly and after a couple of sweaty kilometers and 1,5 km with 10% grade, I reached the top and I felt so good. It was an important moment for me, not only because I was celebrating it with two of my old friends from Milano, but also because I did it by myself, with my power, my strength, and my weaknesses. The reward was a traditional dish with polenta and spezzatino
Can you share with us the cycling memory that you enjoyed the most? I have so many. My first group ride, the day I upgraded to a road bike, that time when I had a beer and it was summer and I took a train to go back home because I was completely wasted, those rides that end with a beer on the street… every day could be the new “best cycling memory”.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work, your illustrations, your insta? I’ve been reading a lot lately because in this historical moment staying at home is the safest thing to do. I’m inspired by:
When you go cycling in your area, do you have any nice refuel addresses to recommend to us? Omg, I was waiting for a foodie question. Not that far from Berlin, there’s an old lady that bakes cakes every day. She’s pretty famous and if you’ve never been there it means you don’t know anything about riding south-east from Berlin. Hollys is one of the first tasks that you should check on your list. Ok, so, she bakes cakes. But not only a couple of different ones. She does like seven or more, every day. Every time my friends ask what’s on the menu that day, she decants a list that never ends, a list of super yummy cakes. Unfortunately, I’m lactose intolerant so there’s “only” the vegan one for me + a lot of coffee. P.S. Portions are pretty big.
Breathe (a magazine about mindfulness and wellbeing); Monocle (their articles and podcasts are so inspiring); In The Moment (I’m so happy I subscribed to this magazine); Far Ride (the best magazine that shares people’s journeys and stories related to cycling around the world).
In general, I could be inspired by a song that I listen to, by an interview that I read, by a walk in the park, by a bike ride in the forest…. Colors and shapes are so attractive and I’m so in love with them when a combination of those creates something that has soul and personality.