Cycling and cooking "have the same goal: happiness". Chef Davide Oldani speaks

Cycling and cooking "have the same goal: happiness".  Chef Davide Oldani speaks

“The bike, as I pedal, in a non-violent, almost Zen way, gives well-being to the soul and body. I leave the house, I reach the canals and there I find silence, tranquility, depth". The memories, the rides, the Tours of Italy of a chef on a bicycle

My first love was the soccer ball: “At 16 I played in C2, then an injury took me off the pitch and put me on the street. Looking back, maybe it was my luck." Because the second love was the road bike: “The bike, as I pedal, in a non-violent, almost Zen way, gives well-being to body and soul. I leave the house, I reach the canals and there I find silence, tranquillity, depth. And nature. The bike is fun, pleasure, happiness. It is light-heartedness, lightness, serenity. It is also concentration, attention, inspiration. And then reflection, unloading, recharging. In one word: happiness”.

Oldani. Not Stefano Oldani, the Milanese rider of Alpecin-Deceuninck, but David Oldani, the starred chef of D'O nel Milanese, in San Pietro all'Olmo. His Giro d'Italia is in front of the TV and in memory, in places and flavours, dishes and perfumes. “My father told me about Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, the TV showed me Felice Gimondi and Eddy Merckx, passion led me to Francesco Moser and Beppe Saronni, whom I later met, and I even drank his Trentino wines from Moser . I also met Davide Cassani, and with him I share that way of experiencing the bicycle to enjoy life".

The pink race is a tour of memories and dreams, adventures and misadventures, businesses and crises, stories and passions. Another round is the address book of Marco Pastonesi who will accompany us along the roads of the Giro d'Italia 2023

And then the bicycle as life: “My first happiness was a small bicycle as a child. It had a coaster brake, we called it a Torpedo. Then a cycling team, the Coime, in Cornaredo. And even now I surround myself with bikes: two Colnago bikes and two Bianchi bikes, one for city, one hybrid and two for racing. And there's a fifth, the most affectionate: a Rossignoli, with a rear seat for my daughter”. The bicycle also as a lifestyle: “I pedal alone, I pedal with me and within me, I pedal according to my energies and my state of mind, I pedal by dint of sensations and emotions. Only once have I participated in a race, albeit not competitive, but very demanding, the Granfondo Felice Gimondi, that of 2014, in the Bergamo area, and at the start I had the privilege of being right next to Gimondi. For me, winning is finding the time and desire to go out on a bike, not to arrive an inch before someone else. The only real competition is with myself. In the head, in the heart, in the soul”. But the attraction of racing is strong not only for Oldani the runner, but also for Oldani the chef: “I witnessed a Giro d'Italia, which passed right in front of my house. And once also in the Tour de France, I was in Paris, it was the final stage, the arrival at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees”.

Cycling and cooking have one thing in common: “The same final goal, which is happiness. I don't know more. Not even the essence. Cycling, although they claim to the contrary, is an individual sport: you can count on the help of your companions, but pedaling that bike is only you with your legs and your physical and psychological energies. Instead cooking is, or should be, a team sport, the perfect team game. If four steps are needed to prepare a dish, it takes four people. It's arithmetic. And then you have to get to know each other and confront each other, look at each other and talk to each other. As if we pedaled together”. Then, perhaps, there would also be another link: “Fatigue. Cycling is the sport of effort, and it takes effort - a different kind of effort, however a long journey - even to elaborate and perfect a dish”. Finally: “Cycling was the sport of the people, before football invaded newspapers and TV. My cuisine is what I define as pop, born from the desire to amalgamate the essential with the well done, the good with the accessible, innovation with tradition. Italian cuisine is great not only for its variety and taste, but also for the possibility it offers of being constantly reinterpreted. I did it with simplicity, giving value to all the ingredients and making the seasonality and high quality of the products two commandments”.

As a more urban than competitive rider, Oldani knows how to evaluate the bike in the city: “It would be a solution to traffic, pollution, even aggression and tensions. But the figures say it, riding a bike is dangerous. And then we would need reserved tracks and lanes, limited speeds, areas closed to motorized traffic. But banning is not enough if you don't educate in mutual respect. Who goes by bike, also goes by car. Often on the bike we complain about the cars, but then in the car we complain about the bikes”.

Oldani has a dream on pedals: “Leaving the house and reaching the sea. Maybe in Forte dei Marmi. Or in Liguria. Or, from Cornaredo, the first stage in Liguria, the second in Forte dei Marmi, 150 km a day, is certainly not impossible. Travel is adventure and knowledge. Traveling you always learn”. But it wouldn't be easy. “The truth is that I pedal much less than I would like”.

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