Last year on our trip to Italy (click) we met Track Bike Total War, a group of guys riding fixed in the mountainous areas of North Italy. They were dead serious about organising a massive hill bombing race in the coming summer and they insisted that we should consider joining their apocalyptic mayhem of brakeless mountain racing. So it happened then and early June in Bihela, North Italy 40 racers aprox gathered to race Ragnarok as the race was named.
Themis packed his bike and travelled there to participate in an event that really looked too “true” to miss out. Ragnarok set-up was based around a hill climbing stage of past Giro d’Italia, 53 klm with 2145 m elevation gain. Not for the faint hearted for sure.The race as it appeared had a very competitive turn out. The set up was kinda straight forward: you had to climb the mountain, drop on the other side, get your manifest stamped at the checkpoint and come back the same way. Themis managed to get the gearing choice super complicated for one more time and he struggled with the climb but managed to get behind the wheel of one of his messenger mates from Milano and stayed at the top group up until the top of the beautiful medieval tower of Bihella. As it turned out the American rider of Unkown had made the best choice of gearing, being that dead light, gaining ground on the climb. Themis never really had a problem bombing hills faster than anyone else and he managed to overpass most of the weaker riders in front of him. After a quick gulp of banana and nuts at the checkpoint he did the same thing on his way back swallowing the pain on the climb and just flowing on the descent… until someone stopped him. It was the end of the race and he had just won the third position. Ragnarok was surely different than any other race the international scene has produced lately. It is halfway between street race and pro race and for us resurfaced the true spirit of track bike culture. The impossibility of the effort and the absence of reason/logic were always the most common characteristics for the fixed gear world since the beginning of the sport: You are in it for the “stoke” alone.
Also the people behind it, Federico, Dolore and their friends, were super nice and really hospitable, hopefully we meet again and we would be able to race track bikes together and return the hospitality. The whole Track Bike Total War and Cani Scolti Valtelina crews of mountainous fixed gear are a surprisingly fresh take on the scene and the definition of radness as far as we are concerned. Their mix of intense mountain climbing, fixed gear street culture, black metal, humour, dialed photography and impromptu events is what turned us to fixed gear in the first place and still does now.
Congratulation then to Themis for another great performance with his first international podium position.
Many thanks to Ani Naraci and Sylvia Galliani for these awesome photographs.