This past spring I thought to myself, “I’m not going to miss it this year!” I had heard about BAM mostly through the social medias, where other travelers were sharing stories of what seemed like an opportunity not to be missed: a get together of bike travelers, sharing the same passion for the bicycle and the adventure! Then, the registration day arrived. I was out on my skis… a bit of wondering and all of the sudden… sold out. Damn!! After a bit of blaming myself for not having registered quickly, I moved on, thinking that I would have to wait for the 2022 edition.
A few weeks later, something unexpected: a DM on Instagram asking me to take part at BAM as a presenter and talk about my journeys on a bicycle! Whoa! Three years ago, I was living and working in Cape Town, South Africa and had always thought that one day I’d have taken some time off to travel around the world. In the two years I lived in South Africa, I had heard a lot of amazing stories about Africa and I wanted to experience it! A climbing friend, Warren, had cycled across South Africa, from Cape Town to Durban and it sounded like a great adventure. In the car, we started chatting about how cool it would be to cross the entire continent on a bicycle. These chats stuck in my head and a few months later, I had resigned from my job, sold everything I had in South Africa, and was pedaling north towards my hometown: a small village in the Italian Alps. Seven and a half month on the road, 27,500km, and houseless. Or better yet, my home was an entire continent.
Besides posting some photos of my journey as I was pedaling, I never tried to promote my journey too much. Once back, I kind of put it to the side, going back to an 8 to 5 job. The invitation to BAM was great in two ways: I would have the chance to take part in the event, and I would have the opportunity to remove the dust from the memories and share them with others.
A few weeks later, I was on my bicycle heading to the BAM, riding ‘Frank the Tank’, a second hand bicycle I had bought over the winter and had crossed the Swiss Alps with during a three-week bikepacking/skitouring trip in April, cycling across the passes from my home to Verbier and back, and skitouring along the way. Tank, because it has been the heaviest bike I have ever ridden! Not the newest, not the most stylish, and for sure not the most expensive bike, but my favorite! I headed to BAM not knowing what to expect. I arrived early and enjoyed the warm and sunny day at the beautiful venue of the event. I pitched my tent on the beautiful grass field overlooking the mountains to the north and the gentle rolling hills to the south. After checking in with the organizers, I began chatting with some of the people there.
The morning passed quickly and after a few hours I went back to my tent and wow! There were bicycles everywhere and the field was covered in tents! I didn’t expect such a turnout! Some of them I knew from social media. But to meet them face to face, it felt like sealing a friendship. Many others, I just met for this first time there. We talked about our experiences and our past adventures and about our future projects. I felt inspired by the amazing stories and the sparks in the eyes of everyone, ready to embrace new adventures. I have always been fascinated by listening to travelers: everyone has their own approach and there’s no right or wrong way. Some prefer tarmac, some gravel. Some like to sleep in tents, and other prefer the comfort of a hotel. But what everyone has in common is this spark, this motivation to just go and explore.
Later in the afternoon it came time for my talk to share some of the stories from my journeys. It had been a while I hadn’t been sharing my journey with others. It was amazing to see people interested and inspired from it. Most of the talk was centered on my journey through Africa. I guess for many people, Africa seems too intimidating and it attracts a lot of curiosity. To me it felt good to bring back the memories of what were my best times, living on the road and exploring a continent that can inspire emotions like no other.
Once off the stage, I felt one with the festival. We had a few beers and kept discussing about my favorite topics—bikes and traveling. Meanwhile, on the stage, other people where presenting wonderful stories. The venue made everything magical. A stunning sunset reflecting its colors over the hundreds of tents and shining bicycles, and smiling happy people feeling part of one big family. That’s why BAM is so special. And that would have been enough to say it had been great, but then the night arrived, the band started to play and everyone was dancing under the stars. Pure heaven.
Waking up the morning after was tough, having slept just a few hours. Slowly heading to breakfast in a much more silent and composed way and trying to get back to life. After listening to a few more presentations and having greeted all the people met in this wonderful weekend, it was time to pack and pedal back. Besides my gear and clothes, I put in my bags all the nice memories of an epic weekend, the laughter, and all the new friendships made. Thank you BAM, it has been great!
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