Ezio, the adrenalin digger
“Peter Pan is my favourite: it doesn't leave you a moment's respite, you have to read it carefully, easy as it might be, it cannot be taken for granted.”
We are not talking about cartoon films, but the first flow trail that Ezio Cattani and his team created in what is now the Dolomiti Paganella Bike Area, which includes 400 km of bike tracks in the Paganella and Brenta Dolomites.
‘I was never a cycling fan”, admits Ezio. “Peddling always seemed too much like hard work and my real passion was for motor sports. But just over ten years ago, out of curiosity, I tried MTB gravity riding. It was love at first ride.”
This led to the idea of setting up a Bike Park: “To practice a sport you need an infrastructure, and it is much better if this is close to home. The Paganella was the nearest area equipped with uplift facilities to me!” Today, ten years later, it has become one of the favourite biking areas in the Alps for enthusiasts, and Ezio is the Project Manager and trail builder.
“I spend my days driving a mini excavator, with a pack lunch to eat in the woods.”
“I get up very early, dedicate some time to office work, and then I meet up with the other members of the team to start our trail building work. We construct and maintain mountain paths, for MTB's, hiking, or both. In the popular imagination our work is almost considered romantic, given that we pass our days immersed of nature. However, this also means working whatever the weather conditions, in the cold and snow, in the rain, or under the scorching sun, it is sometimes tough! However, trail building was clearly my destiny: at 5 or 6 years of age I was already driving a digger, and I was better on it than on a bicycle!”
“Just think that until a few years ago all we took into the forest was a blower, a rake, and a bow saw!”
Today the work of a trail builder is increasingly technical and you need highly trained people. “Fortunately, there is also a place for creativity, especially when you are actually building the track”, notes Ezio. “A lot of things are decided on the job, because you never know exactly what type of terrain you are going to work on. On the various Paganella trails we have had to deal with completely different types of terrain, despite being within the range of just a few kilometres.”
“Adrenalin, a sense of freedom, and the views that you only find in the mountains … I love this sport.”
Ezio observes that you should not be scared to try even if you are not particularly expert on a bicycle. “Nowadays, with the new flow trails and high performance MTB's, downhill riding is within reach of almost everybody.” By chance the first trail in the bike area was called Peter Pan: what better way to rediscover your youth?
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