This article was written by Marco Nicoletti, dear friend of our Gianfranco.
I’ve never met him in person but I’m sure it will happen soon.
These words about Gianfranco are a gift that I want to share with you…
If you want you can follow his blog www.marcopedala.com
I remember when, twenty years ago, you stepped into my store, looking for a mountain bike to use with your kids: you left with a yellow Cannondale Scalpel. Soon after we started to ride together, I showed you my home trails, and you showed me yours. I remember how you were mad at me when you brought me to those “technical sectors, impossible to ride” and I was able to clear them at first sight, a “f.. you!” never lacked, like once down the Pavillon, and then the laughs..!
One Thursday afternoon you led me to the Val Ferret balcony (right in front of the Italian side of Mt. Blanc), where I had never been, and hours later we found ourselves at “Rifugio Bertone” drinking a Coke and eating a sandwich saying to each other “ooops, it’s almost dark, and we still have to descend!” so, down like cannonballs, I was leading and you behind, swearing each time I rode smoothly over challenging sections with you “f… you” chasing me! And I knew from your “YYY-AHHHH” that you were having fun.
It seems like yesterday when, with Luca and Paolo, we left to trace what was your dream as a mountain bike guide: the Tour of Mont Blanc on the most cycleable version, and we spent three memorable days creating what is still nowadays the “base route” of the Tour of Mont Blanc. You had your maps and an endless knowledge of the territory and I had the very first Garmin available, to create GPX tracks, since then used by thousands of riders over the years. *
And then the Tour of Grand Combin, and of the Mount Falere, more of your “creations”… you’ve always been a step ahead, you knew exactly where mountain biking was going; because you were the best!
My first ski mountaineering trip, with a snowboard tied to my backpack and snowshoes, was with you; once at the end you told me “Marco, trust me: skis are better”, and I trusted you, and the same day went to buy skis; and you taught me how to ski, how to move in the snow, understand dangers and prevent risks, how to use a beacon, and you led me to do the coolest things I’ve ever done, from the Vallee Blanche to the Toula off-piste, endless, until the total consumption, because, even if you were 20 years older, you were always giving me hard time trying to keep up with you.
With you I went into places, that, alone, I didn’t ever dare thinking about, and I always felt safe, like that time on the ridge between Citrin and Flassin my ass was tight and you behind saying “ you’re doing great, relax”. “It’s alright, I’m out with Gianfranco” I used to say to those who worried about me. Gianfranco you were my “safety voucher”, if you are with Gianfranco, nothing bad can happen… Then Giuditta arrived, your way of looking at life changed a bit and you discovered a new World, that I loved already, bike touring; we spent a formidable weekend in Val D’Orcia, You, Giudi, Samy and myself; I still remenber our laughing when we reached home after being hit by the hailstorm of the century, with ice balls bouncing on our heads.
This memory keeps coming to my mind: the four of us happy like never while the sky drops loads of ice on our heads! How fun was that day? And when you two went for your first bike tour in Sicily, we talked each night and you told me how beautiful and moving it was travelling on a bicycle, as I told you before…
Last winter you made Samy’s dream come true, you led us on the Vallee Blanche, once again to play like kids!
We met a few days before the tragedy that took you and Giuditta, we agreed on meeting for a good dinner, to tell each other of our latest adventures. You still had to bring me to the Mont Blanc, to drop a flower on the top for my dad… I’ll go, in any case, and will bring a few more flowers, for you and Giudi, because friends like you in life are rare…
Goodbye my friend, from over there continue to keep an eye on me, so I won’t do silly things, just like when you were here with us. We’ll meet one day, remembering that time when we rode under the hail laughing like children..
* friends mountain bikers, each time you ride the Mont Blanc loop or the Mont Falere or Gran Combin, remember Gianfranco because you’re riding on “his” home and probably using a GPX track that he routed.
(thanx Enrico Pizzorni for the translation)
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