Starting again can be a great opportunity. Trust Loreta.

People & Partners

Starting again can be a great opportunity. Trust Loreta.
March 2018

Spring is all about women: in our previous article, we shared some tips on how to choose the bicycle best suits a woman’s body shape, and this time we will talk about how a bicycle has changed a woman’s life.

There are times in life that can change your existence; some unexpected events that can suddenly upset our everyday life and affect our choices. Loreta Pavan had to deal with one of these moments ten years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; it was the same cruel illness that had taken away both of her sisters only months apart a few years back.

You get such a strange feeling of suspension in moments like these; the ground collapses slowly under your feet, your heart skips a beat, your mind feels completely blank for a minute. There’s no going back; it’s a new starting point, for better or for worse.
And if there is a start, there must also be a path to travel and a goal to reach.
This is what Loreta thought when her brain started to put things back together, in an orderly and systematic way: act immediately and with determination, and do your very best even if you don’t know whether you will succeed or not.

Loreta chose to start again; indeed, she took a great leap forward.
She quit her job and her career, she put all her strength into fighting her illness, and she did it! But it still wasn’t enough for her.
She felt like she had to channel some of her energy into something that could help other people who were going through the same situation, because she firmly believes that no one should give up. Ever.
So by chance or fate,
Loreta got on her bike and started to ride. She regained her real life, which had been left pending for too long, and she turned into what she always wanted to be: a free, enterprising spirit that could get wherever she wanted to be.

Ten years later, Loreta became a randonneuse, a lover of long distances and cycling without haste.
If you meet her, you won’t resist her incredible charm. Her short blonde hair, her bold red lipstick, her tight-fitting clothes covering her perfect shapes; these are all signs of the femininity that she has regained and that she now wants to show off proudly. Her infectious optimism, her gritty personality and the determination in her eyes showed us her mantra, even before she revealed it: Never give up; I can do it”. It’s a motto that gives her the right energy to ride her bike every day and to give hope to all cancer patients at San Bortolo Hospital in Vicenza. Loreta is now a spokesperson for the Amici del quinto piano Association, which develops projects involving nutrition and psychological support for patients and their families, to make sure that none of them feels left behind while life moves on.

Q. Why did you choose a bicycle to start again after your experience with cancer?
A. Before they got ill, both of my sisters used to go cycling with their friends. They used to go for short or long rides, sometimes even during chemotherapy, and I used to think that they should stay home and rest instead of working so hard.
When I came home from hospital after surgery, the same friends came to me and asked me if I wanted to go ride with them; I suddenly understood why my sisters would go cycling, despite everything. It gave me a feeling of freedom and energy that I feared I had lost.
Maybe they came by chance, but I like to think it was destiny.

Q. What was the first long ride you have done on two wheels?
A. After becoming more familiar with the vehicle (I only used my bike occasionally and for small trips before then), I travelled 30 miles altogether between Bassano and Dueville, two small towns close to where I live. That time I finally became more familiar with my bicycle and all its parts: the gear change mechanism, the saddle, the triple crankset, which I had never even heard about!”
Shortly after, I went on my first “long distance” trip, 180 miles between Marostica and Loreto: it was my first big achievement.

Q. How did you face these first few rides?
A. With a lot of inexperience and a great desire to learn and improve. I knew nothing about bikes; just think that I covered my first 600 miles wearing my everyday trainers and with basically no technical equipment! But since I've never been rash, over time I've learned all that it takes to ride a bike as best you can; I now know when it’s time to stop and eat or to stop and rest, and even when it’s better to not get on my bike. The advice of my experienced travel companions was very useful.

Q. About this, how do you choose your ideal travel companion?
A. Personally, I choose them based on their approach to cycling: it needs to be the same as mine. When I cover long distances, I love to enjoy the landscape and the spaces around me; I don’t just focus on how long it will take to reach my destination. The worst thing that can happen when you ride is to be with someone who doesn’t share your pace, who pushes too hard or is too far behind. It's a bit like going on a holiday with the wrong person: you do it once, and never again!
My long-time travel buddy is Giorgio Murari; I covered some long distances with him (Pinerolo-Barcelona-Pinerolo, Paris-Brest-Paris, and many more) and he has taught me a lot about balance, nutrition and breaks.
Giorgio and I see cycling as a natural energy booster: you put a lot of energy and effort into it, but it pays you back with the same generosity.

Q. What is Randonneuring?
A. It is a sport that brings together cyclists who love challenges without haste. You need to cover at least 200 km by bike within some specified time limits. If you complete the course within the prescribed time limits, you will receive a brevet that allows you to cover increasingly long distances.
To join the Paris-Brest-Paris event, for example, I had to get brevets of 200, 300, 400 and 600 km. The association that brings together Italian randonneurs (ARI) certifies your brevets and enables you to participate in other long-distance events.
Paris-Brest-Paris had a 90-hour time limit. I did it in 78 hours and I also managed to enjoy the trip.

Q. How do you train in everyday life?
A. My personal “feel good” routine doesn’t require that I go out cycling every day; I just go three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, when I cover 150-200 km on average. I also try to keep some 1500-2000 metres in altitude, which I reach by riding on Monte Grappa, the mountain where I feel at home.
I'm not a fanatic, but I like to do things well: if I want to cover 200 km, then perhaps I will reduce the slope and add a flat stretch.

Q. To conclude, what is the essential gear for a randonneuse?
A. Apart from a bike, of course, I soon realised the importance of having a good helmet, the right pair of shoes and clothing that protects you from the wind and the rain. After Paris-Brest-Paris, I also realised how important it is to have a good saddle, the only equipment that helps a cyclist ride for so many hours without experiencing any back or pelvic pain.

Loreta is now planning to reach the North Cape with Giuseppe, her new travel buddy, with whom she shares the same idea of travelling. They have planned to leave in July and the Selle Royal group has chosen to support this extraordinary woman by providing all the equipment she will need to face her new adventure on two wheels.
Support Cyclists is a mission that goes beyond cycling and supports people who, like Loreta, have to chosen to embrace life by getting on their bike.

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