SET YOURSELF FREE RIDE
SET YOURSELF FREE RIDE // CAP DE FORMENTOR // MALLORCA // SAT. 1ST OCTOBER
Was that nerves I was feeling? Standing on the smooth tarmac of the Carrer de Formentor beneath the already bright and bold Mallorcan sun, my tummy felt like it had more than its fair share of butterflies that morning. After all this was it, Saturday 1st October - the big day, here at last. Yes, it was the first ever Parietti group ride and indeed those butterflies were definitely giving me some cause to pause, holding off on sipping my expertly made flat white. No offence to the marvellous baristas of Holibikes, the new cycling cafe who were kindly hosting our inaugural Parietti ride, but I didn’t take a sip, instead I looked at my watch, again.
I was sure people would show up (wasn’t I?). There had been a good sign up rate and just between you and me I had phoned a few friends, just to be sure. I think it was more that all the hard work of this last year (and the rest!) had finally come together, culminating in this moment, this ride, on this road, the brand was finally going to be put to the test. This is where Parietti meets its people.
As you know we’ve had an online presence for a little while now and the response and the feedback has been great. Our mission to change our sport, our industry and our world, with the best relaxed fit, responsibly made cycle clothing seems to be resonating with you. Presumably because you care too. But this was the first time it had really hit the street so to speak.
Oh, and what a ‘street’. This is one of Big Toni’s (That’s Snr. Parietti to you) all time masterpieces. The road from Port de Pollenca to Cap de Formentor is continually described as one of the most stunning 30 to 40 kilometres in Europe and truly, it is a cyclist's dream. Great climbs, stunning views, a diverse and ever changing landscape traversed via perfectly smooth tarmac. A true marvel of engineering, working in complete harmony with the earth and culminating in one of the most magical spots on the island - the lighthouse at Cap de Formentor.
So we had the purpose, we had the presence, we had the location but would we have the people, would they turn up and if they did would they get it ?
It was a few minutes to 9, that flat white still wasn’t going anywhere and then they started to arrive. First a trickle then a flood - Parietti people - and wow! What people they were. We had a British ex-Olympic rower, a German triathlete champion. Cyclists from Dubai, tourists from Poland. We had road bikes, gravel bikes, electric bikes - no judgement. Everyone was welcome. We had people in their 20s and in their 60s. All coming together, to ride together purely for the love of the ride.
And my gosh, what a ride it was. Even as we set off you could already tell the dynamic, the atmosphere was something unique. There was a tangible sense of freedom in the air, because this was not a beginner ride or a medium ride, a get up at 5am for a 35km ph average speed ride. This was the Parietti Set Yourself Free Ride and the spirit of togetherness, friendliness and a willingness to ride together, for the pure joy of it shone through from the start. That’s not to say you didn’t have to be fit to do it, you do, it’s just the pressure was off. Not having to perform for each other, or for social media, but rather having a real, owned sense of achievement and a stunning experience into the bargain.
This feeling of togetherness was cemented early on in the ride as we stopped to pay our respects to our patron saint, Snr. Parietti, we call him Saint Toni. Most people don’t notice the monument in memoriam to Antonio Parietti and those who do don’t know who he is. We’re here to change that. Because he is the one who made Mallorca the cycling destination it is today, he literally designed the freedom that we all come here for. So we stopped, we came together and shared our respects - opening with a “Gràcies Toni” and ending with a “GET HIGH” - It’s what he would have wanted.
And it felt fantastic for me personally, to finally come full circle, back to where it all began. You see I didn’t know who he was either, but when I found out who built these roads that I loved cycling on it all came together, it clicked - Freedom by Design! An engineer who didn’t just build roads, he crafted freedom, sculpting it in sinuous form, in absolute harmony with nature. They are an experience in themselves.
And then on we rode. Climbing higher with shear sea cliffs falling away to our left and rugged mountains soaring up into the bold blue sky on the right. Powering round the sweeping curves to be suddenly greeted with the whole bay of Pollenca, spread dramatically beneath. Sea sparkling far in the distance. It’s quite simply breath-taking, raw natural beauty made attainable. Sure, you have to work for it, but when you breathe that clean air, when you see the world at your feet you feel truly free. This is what we mean by GET HIGH this is why we want you to LOOK UP and SEE THE SKY.
And so it went, 35 of us living the Parietti dream and as we returned back to Holibikes, now very ready for my coffee, I took the opportunity to say a few words… Yeah I know, I know, but come on! Like I said, this was a big deal for me. So yes, I stood up and I told our story, a story about how we got here and where we want to go next. And you know what? This time I wasn’t nervous at all, because there was such an outpouring of support, of love for our mission. This shared sense of purpose and belief, let’s call it our soul, it shined through and was visible in everyone who was listening. Everyone loved it, because they’d just lived it.
You see it’s all well and good to talk about your mission, to talk about your ‘why’, in flashy decks and snappy social media soundbites, but it’s so much better to get out there and live it with real people. We’re creating clothing for people to ride on bikes, so we’ve got to get outside and ride, together. And we will again. Because this experience went so far beyond my wildest hopes and expectations, not only did it validate all the hard work we’ve put in but in itself it was simply a pure magnificent, magical moment and the best bit of all is - this is only the beginning.
So thank you to everyone who showed up that day, thank you to everyone who made it possible and most of all - Gracies Toni, because we couldn’t have done it without you.