Five years on the saddle and behind the lens with Raida Come Mangi

The first time I met Jack was in 2009, at the time I was working in a bike shop and a mutual friend introduced us. Or at least he tried but the customer I was serving kept asking questions to buy a “MTB for competition under €200” and after a while Jack had to give up and nodded me like saying “maybe we’ll try again another time”. The first time I photographed him he was riding a green BMX with red pedals mandatorily matching his T-shirt.

Talking about Fabio I’ve met him in 2013 in Biella at the FCI (Italian Cycling Federation) MTB instructor training, he was the inflexible instructor who judged my XC clip in pedals and my almost total inability to do a proper bunny hop. He wore the baseball cap with the flattest visor I had ever seen and cruised around on a very stylish all-white full suspension bike. Of that weekend I also remember very vividly the beer tiramisu of the Menabrea restaurant in Biella.

Obviously at the time I was completely unaware that about ten years later the three of us would all have ended up sharing many hotel rooms in half of Italy working side by side in dozens of events, in the sun and under the rain, in the dust and in the mud , in the middle of the mountains and by the sea.

5 years in numbers

  • 28 events
  • 100 days
  • ω hours in the van (especially that time that we drove back from Gemona del Friuli with the trailer)
  • 70.000 images
  • 1,5 TB of archive (which in RAID take up twice the space)
  • 3 camera bodies (technology quickly becomes obsolete)
  • 7 lenses (one of which started loosing screws due to vibrations)
  • n aperitifs (Raida Come Mangi literally translates in “ride the way you eat” from an Italian saying meaning don’t make it too complicated, be clear)
  • n² beers (chips make you thirsty)
  • 1 X-Ray (all was ok)
  • 3 scars
  • 1 rear rim (maximum two)
  • 1 inner tube (we then switched to tubeless)
  • a bunch of brake pads (thank you Formula)
  • many tires (thank you Maxxis)
I will never get tired of saying it: hotels always underestimate the value of a table in the room.

Most of the work of a photographer is, unfortunately, in front of a monitor to select, post produce, catalog and finally export the images he quickly shot a few hours earlier. A positive aspect not to be underestimated, however, is that in the case of sports photography and MTB in particular, it is often necessary to move quickly from one location to another and the best way to do it is using the same tools as the subjects you want to portray.

It happens, rarely, that I end up on the other side of the camera and this leads to have evidence that, despite the electric bike and the heavy backpack with the photo equipment, I is able to timidly detach the wheels from the ground.

Clockwise: Livigno (© Teo Trabucchi), Sauze d’Oulx (© Peter Honda), Livigno (© dirtybikesphoto),
24h Finale (© Sportograf), Sauze d’Oulx (© Alessandro Musi).

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Steve Jobs

5 years in one image gallery

A MTB rider blows up some dirt in a steep line between rocks and trees A MTB rider blows up some dirt in a steep line between rocks and trees
A MTB instructor jumps on the trails of Dolomiti Paganella Bike Park during a training camp A MTB instructor jumps on the trails of Dolomiti Paganella Bike Park during a training camp

Most of the photos that I take when I work with RCM are action shots but there is much more in the roll (figured image) because although it is true that you spend a lot of time riding the bike it is equally true that during a course of several days many other things happen. For example, once a chain rusted, not to mention the time a beetle crossed the trail.

IMBA Italia & Raida Come Mangi

With RCM we share a vision of MTBiking that goes beyond just riding a bike, an example is the nice chat on IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association), on the trails and on their maintenance that we did in one episode of “take off the helmet” that you can listen on Spotify (in Italian).

Podcast registrato con RCM in qualità di vice-presidente IMBA Italia

Ah, I almost forgot, from this year I’ve joined the RCM tutors as I will work with them also as a MTB instructor, I sincerely hope that at the end of the quarantine I will still be able to ride my bike off the home trainer…

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