My name is Paolo Bravini, 28 years old, Iiving in Novara, near Milan, in Italy and I rode my first bike at a competitive level at the age of 8.
I started following my father Claudio’s greatest passion, cycling, a day of almost twenty years ago. As I watched one of his race I was approached by a manager of a local team in my area who proposed to me and my family to let me try the thrill of racing bike and from there it all began. When I became an adult I left the bike for a couple of years and then I fell in love with it for the second time discovering the discipline of fixed gear criterium that I currently practice worldwide.
I race for the Team Cinelli Chrome, an Italo-American team that was born at the beginning of this year. We run on bikes without brakes with only one gear, people think that we are insane but we feel like pioneers of this specialty, as an elderly gentleman told me one day he saw us racing. Running on a bike with a single fixed gear and no brakes is a strange thing, almost intimidating and difficult to grasp for those who have never tried it. You are the engine that drives the bike but also the brakes that stop it, the effort is completely different from a road bike, you use some muscles you never knew you had and you become all one with the machine.
The choice of the gear is crucial, there’s not just one and only gear ratio, every rider has its own characteristics and preferences that guide the choice of gear ratio based on the course that must be raced in order to be exploited. The first fixed gear race I run was in 2010. I wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and I have lived the evolution of this world since then. It has now become a real sport made from great components and by riders prepared to exceed.
I would not be surprised if in a few years the fixed gear criterium will be part of the Olympic Games, the format is spectacular and fun, a circuit of approximately 1.5 Km repeated several times where technical corners alternate with stretches of pure power, the essence of cycling concentrated in less than one hour race on a bicycle without brakes and with a fixed gear.
It’s an alternative type of cycling, which fortunately is still based on sound values and fairness, when the races end often you ride your bike all together with all your previous opponents in the city where you have just competed, then have a drink or something and exchange impressions and feelings by putting all the competitive spirits aside.
Not everything is obviously perfect. There are many difficulties that I encountered on a daily basis and most of them are related to the sacrifices that cycling requires. Long workouts with all weather conditions, especially at a young age giving up on something that all of your friend do it weighs a lot (when my friends went dancing I came home because the next day I had to compete), often you fall and that not only physically hurt you but sometimes undermine your desire to work hard. Often the challenge is with yourself rather than with your opponents. The struggle to succeed and give that little more to achieve your goal.
If I can overcome all these difficulties and constantly find the strength to go ahead and give my best is certainly due to my love for this sport but mostly because I have people around me who support me and encourage me constantly. Friends, family, no one has ever hindered my passion but rather often they put themselves aside and give up on something to give me the opportunity to dedicate myself to the sport I love one hundred percent and that’s why I’ll always will be immensely grateful to them.
The satisfaction to finally reach your goal, which sometimes is not the victory but the simple knowledge that you have achieved your objective, is infinite, it stimulates you to not give up and to overcome all the difficulties and it rewards both me and the people who support me .
I must say that all the sacrifices and efforts that I have done have so far paid off completely. I won the London Nocturne Condor Criterium in June, surely it was the most sought and painful victory. To have in front of you more than 5000 people who shouted my name and who supported me with their cheering until the arrival line, it was unknown emotion for me. In addition, in March I finished 19th in the Red Hook Criterium in Brooklyn, and just a month after I got the 8th place in Fijate Crit in Puerto Rico. During the month of May, I finished 2nd at the Rotje Ronde of Rotterdam and just a week after I finished 5th at the NMC Dijon and in july I got the 7th place at the Wolfpack Hustle Civic Center Criterium in Los Angeles
Beside to these international results have won seven national races and achieved many other placings of relief in Italy. Beyond all the victories and awards, which are always nice and very welcomed, however, I must admit that what really makes me happy is the fact that I’m living my dream, I am part of one of the best teams in the world, almost a second family, and with them I’m racing in some cities and countries that I’ve only watched on the world map before. Thanks to this sport and my sponsor I could achieve an other of my dream, not strictly related to cycling. While I was competing in Los Angeles I drove to Las Vegas with my long time girlfriend Silvia and we got married.
We are a big family that often gathers around the world and this is precisely the beauty of the sport that we are “creating”.