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Interview with Leonardo Paolino

We asked a few athletes, clients and friends of Effetto Mariposa to tell us everything about their love for cycling. We met 12 people, who told us about their background, experiences, skills and, most of all, how much they love bikes. Today we are introducing Leonardo Paolino, amateur cyclist part of Team Ridiculous, passionate about Marathon MTB, cyclocross and road cycling.

Leonardo Paolino Dolomiti Hero

He was supposed to buy a motorbike. Can you believe it? It was the year 2003 when, following the birth of his first child, Leonardo Paolino opted to purchase a mountain bike rather than a motorbike. He started to explore the Tuscan hills surrounding his house in Pontedera, especially the magnificent paths around Monte Serra. Initially, it was just for leisure; then, it soon proved to be a deep passion. Time passed, and he founded the official MTB Forum Team, now counting over a hundred registered cyclists all over Italy. Then, he started to compete in Endurance races and Marathons: “Basically, I experienced them all” – Leonardo told us – “I competed in the Hero Dolomites five times, then in the Dolomiti Superbike and the 3Epic Marathon, just to mention a few of them. I also took part in competitions abroad, like Salzkammergut Trophy in Austria, Titan Desert in Morocco and JoBerg 2c in South Africa (the longest MTB stage race, which is about 900km long), and then left for a long trip to Iran…”

Leonardo Paolino goes cyclocross!Leonardo, it seems clear to us that you like working hard, for real…
“I tried out many sports before cycling, always at amateur level: football, martial arts, swimming. Nevertheless, cycling definitely conquered me as I love to challenge myself with prolonged fatigue. Besides MTB, I also love road cycling and Cyclocross. Both my passion for cycling and my company started at the same time, literally two worlds growing together hand in hand…”

Right, you have an IT company that has about 130 employees. How do you find the time to train?
“As long as I can set an ambitious goal, such as an upcoming competition, I can easily wake up at 5am, even 3 days a week. However, since last year, I decided to take some time for myself by improving the organization of my company and delegating more responsibilities. Now, I have two free days a week when I can focus on something completely unrelated to work: my olive trees and cycling.”

Given the many kilometres you covered, you must have had many tyre punctures to deal with…
“As I usually compete in several endurance races, I have been using latex and tyre inserts since their launch. The first models were wearing out quickly and would absorb the latex. They surely helped against punctures but they were not the ideal solution. Later, I tried Tyreinvader and I could see the difference straight away: the inserts were lighter and firmer, they didn’t wear out nor absorb the latex. Consequently, you can use less tyre sealant on the tyre – if you use high quality one like Caffelatex, it will be even more durable and safe, allowing you to go faster…”

So, do Tyreinvader inserts allow you to go even faster?
“Yes, indeed. First of all, you feel mentally safer: I love going fast downhill on gravel roads. Although I managed to fine-tune my technique thanks to my extended experience, being hit hard by stones is still very dangerous, it could puncture or cut the tyre and make it explode. Knowing that the rim is covered by Tyreinvader and that the tyre won’t be critically damaged even with a puncture, encourages you to let off the brakes. Moreover, you can cycle with a lower tyre pressure, optimizing the adhesion of the tyre to the road. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I had a flat tyre.”

Really? Did you reach the finish line with a flat tyre without noticing it?
“Yes, it happened to me once, and so it did to a friend of mine. I reached the finish line in a Coppa Toscana competition and, only then, I realized that my back tyre was completely flat! But I continued to cycle pretty well, without noticing it. This is why I am using Tyreinvader with cyclocross and gravel bikes too.”

Is it true that, in order to get ready for the 24H of Finale “Solo Race”, you trained for tens of hours after work?
“It’s true. I cycled for days and nights, cycling from morning till night. Those experiences definitely have an effect on you” (Leonardo laughs).

Leonardo Paolino riding for 24hours to get ready for the 24H of Finale “Solo Race”

You seem to love cycling in a team just as much as you love cycling alone…
“Besides using my bicycle for competitions and races, which I love, I use it as a tool to explore and travel the world. Sometimes, cycling allows you to think about work at a different pace. In fact, my cycling training affected my daily work too: now I am capable of holding on and working hard under pressure, even when I am too tired to go on. Only cycling can teach you that: when your body asks for help and wants to give up, you still manage to proceed forward, finding an inner strength you didn’t know you had. You never give up. Cycling is also an excellent source of energy, you start setting concrete goals instead of relying on inertia. You look after your training, your diet and your sleep, enjoying the results of your efforts only after 5 or 6 months.”

Sure, setting long-term goals is useful in cycling but, most of all, in our daily lives…
“Exactly. When you set concrete goals, together with your team, you can manage all emotional peaks associated with professional successes and failures too.”

We started out talking cycling and we ended up talking philosophy, haven’t we?
(Leonardo laughs) “That’s true. Well, that’s also a part of cycling…”

What are your next cycling goals?
“This year, I would like to compete again in the 24H of Finale Ligure and I already enrolled in the Hero Dolomites. However, at this time, I am devoting more time to the countryside”.

We left Leonardo to his work outdoor, pruning his olive trees at his stunning farmhouse, collecting bundles of wood and undertaking the construction of a dry wall. It’s clear to us that working hard puts an enviable smile on his face: “I started out recently, but I love working outdoor and I am progressing fast”. From his garage, we could catch a sight of two Mountain Bikes and a cyclocross bike…we are sure that, soon, he will go from the Tuscan countryside to the usual, marvellous, dusty gravel roads once again.

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