Whoever pedals on January the first pedals all year round. So, out with the bike, despite the fog in the Lower Po Plain, the damp roads and the bitter cold. Let’s not rely on the electric: the battery is not fully charged. Let’s challenge it. I check the Ebikemotion app that connects via Bluetooth with my Bianchi Aria e-road. It tells me that we are at 70 per cent. OK, I don’t have to climb the Mortirolo. I just want to get my legs moving and have a good-natured, or rather propitiatory, ride for the new year.
A bit of plain, as a warm-up, then the typical undulating road in the hills begins, in this case, it’s in the Oltrepò area. This is a land with a vocation for cycling, with views that are no less impressive than those of Chiantishire, lots of vineyards, no major climbs but plenty of hills, perfect for building up your legs and doing good cardio workouts. My goal for the day is to keep my heart rate within 150-155. The motor will help me, which is perfect for this job. I start off with minimal assistance and my leg is spinning nicely. I know the route very well: 35 kilometres, 650 metres of actual elevation gain. It is reassuring but still challenging enough. On the long ascent to Montalto I switch to assistance level 2 at certain points to keep my pulse in check. I climb fast, thanks to the motor. Faster, of course, than when I was perfectly trained on an regular bike. The feeling of tiredness is much less, but it’s a choice: I don’t want to strain my heart, because the season is long and I want to take my time.
It’s a smooth ride all the way to Montalto, then, on the climbs towards Madonna del Vento, I switch to level 3 – that’s it, a double-digit gradient – it’s here that the Bianchi tells me we’re below 50% battery life. Don’t worry, there’s plenty left. During the climb, I’ve emerged from the mist and I’m now enjoying the panorama with a beautiful clear sky. With a bike, the effort (almost always) is worth the journey.
The chilly air immediately brings me back into the saddle. Up and down, with assistance number two, then the “nosedive” into the valley via Molino Cella. Flat, my legs respond well, I adjust my speed with the heart rate monitor, in this case not helped by the engine, which cuts out at 25 kilometres per hour.
I don’t feel the weight of the bike (by the way, I have to weigh it, I’m curious and I’m also sure that my size 59 doesn’t fit within the 12 kilos mentioned but exceeds them by quite a bit) and I pedal at a good pace. The first sensations with the Aria e-road are of a stiff chassis that absorbs the potholes less than I expected – maybe it’s because of the presence of the engine and a front that in the corners you have to manage with some determination – but in this case I suspend the judgement because the grip is very far, much more than I’m used to. the Ultegra controls shift the grip point a lot. I need to shorten the attack. However, the modifications and the next rides will tell me more.
I enter the enchanted woods around Borgo Priolo, always at assistance level two. At some point I switch to three. Everything’s under control. The bike warns me, however, that I am down to my last quarter of residual energy. No worries, I only have the short steep climb leading to Torrazza Coste where I will challenge myself by going all out. And it is there, when I ‘shoot’ the maximum assistance and push on the pedals to set the pace, that the light starts to flash and the bike stops, because when the battery is almost gone the system limits the assistance. OK, I won’t be setting any records today.
At my destination, the elevation gain and the kilometres are confirmed, my heart has not overcome the threshold, I set a good overall time and feel properly tired. Then the question is, would it have been the same without the engine? No. And maybe today, given the weather, I wouldn’t have even gone out for a ride.
So, all in all, yay! A good first take. And happy 2022.