January 2008 – the idea of a race throughout the 66 route takes place in my mind.
Febbrary 2008 – I take the first contacts to develop the project.
March 2008 – thanks to the enthusiastic cooperation of Mr. Alessandro Meggi, director of Autodromo di Varano de Melegari, I can get the ball rolling. I write down a strategy plan with the priorities and deadlines supported by Mr. Dallara’s suggestions. A lot of friends are helping me with suggestions, cooperation and finding new contacts. I can’t list the name of all these friends, I would certainly forget omeone.
April 2008 – firsts positive replies from people and potential sponsors. It is a point of non return! The company Sunrise Medical decide to support the project supplying me with an the handbike, the spare parts and the and accessories. The showman/anchorman/presenter and friend Max Bertolani invites me on Sky (Play TV 869 channel) to talk about this project. Mr. Vittorio Ottavini, Director of the Research Department of the company EthicSport, will try to improve my performances using the correct supplements, specifically made for disable people. My friend Pier Luigi Bianchi Morosini gives me a huge support doing the web site. The Professor GFA makes all the translations for the web site, another big effort.
May 2008 – a busy month: new contacts, few hand-bike races and a lot of work on the web site. The web magazine Parmaok.it contacts me for an interview. A new important contact in Chicago is taken.
June 2008 – the bad weather makes to follow the practice plan difficult. I attend at the TV program Velo’ on Teleducato, about cycling. The first hand-bike is ready and will be delivered to me on July, once it is set up and adjusted for the challenge. Massimo Sperinde’, journalist of the news paper Gazzetta di Parma, arranges an interview for me with his colleague Ilaria Moretti. On the 30th of June an entire page article on the news paper is released, including pictures and a description of the projects.
July 2008 – at last, during the first week of July, the first handbike arrives. Just a few pieces and spare parts are missing which are promptly ordered but I can start to practise with the bike I will be using during the adventure. Thank you Sunrise. My webmaster friend completes the website which is immediately put online. After a number of retrievals, Gioco Polisportiva in Parma consequently changed a series of agreements obliging me to contact another association, the ‘A.S.C. Il Castello’ of Varano de’ Melegari (PR-Italy) quickly summons an extraordinary meeting. The association puts to the records both my entrance as a supporting member and the opening of my 6six project, so all the fiscal procedures can be successfully formlised. Six of my friends give me their total availability to accompany me in this adventure. Thanks to the Varano racetrack director’s permission I am able to practise in abosolute peace and safety. Now that I have a VAT number, a company and just about all the companions, I can start to search for the funds which will help me to support this adventure with a more convincing approach. The weather is fine, spirits are high and desire continues to stimulate me…, a great start!
August 2008 – this is a month of transition. Just about all contacts have been postponed to september because of the summer holidays. I’m keeping up a good pace in my training also thanks to the good weather. Diadora, the sports equipment company, has arranged for me to have sportswear and shoes. After the first tests, I’m favourably impressed both by the gear’s quality, perfect fit and standing and I ask them to put more products to the test. This technical sponsor will dress all the team during the expedition in the U.S. Diadora’s attention and availability takes me further in my quest to reach the target. With the support of the A.S.C. Il Castello association, I open a bank account to be utilized for my “6six Project” and the first bank transfer arrives from the company CML di Civa Silvano based in Rubbiano di Solignano (PR).
September 2008 – during this month I try to define contracts with sponsors, bank transfers for donations and sponsorships are arriving and the budget starts to grow. Confirmations from my companions are coming in and the news of my adventure starts to spread, in fact I can see that my website has a growing number of international visitors. I get to know an engineer who lives in L.A. and who is member of the Route 66 Association in Italy. He accepts to manage and organize the contacts in the US and he helps me to plan the logistics. Confirmations and renunciations arrive alternatively but, luckily, from the Fossil company comes the acceptance of an important ecomomic request. Meanwhile the search for a motorhome equipped for a disabled seems to be more difficult than I thought. Perhaps I should somewhat revise my plans but my determination remains intact. After several months of continuous and steady training I start to have the first fatigue symptoms so, following my coach’s suggestion, I accept to slow down a little thus, using the moments of relaxation, I give the project the finishing touch. The public relations increase, delays postpone deadlines and plans, but self-management still seems to be the best option. There is not so much time left before the start of the project and if I don’t stress or personally take care of all these duties, the risk is to pile up delays.
October 2008 – there is good news and solid relations with collaborators are defined. As first media event, I am assured there will be a theme evening solely dedicated to the 6six Project by the Parma Panathlon Club. This exclusive club finances a number of sporting events through its members which are local entrepreneurs, politicians and important personalities from Parma town and province. I am invited to Piovene Rocchette (Vicenza) for a soccer tournament between the Singers’ National team, the Diadora team and a third team formed by important sports personalities from the Veneto region. In that occasion I present the 6six project and I am promised a part of the cash for charity. The next day I visit the Diadora company in Caerano di San Marco (Treviso) and I am able to define all the technical and leisure wear for my entire team. I then undergo a test by my trainer and he certifies my perfect physical status. From the monitored data, he encourages me by saying that, from an athletic point of view, he doesn’t envisage any problems in facing the whole feat. Wonderful, this gives me even more enthusiasm. “Dulcis in fundo” on October 30th at the thermal palace in Sant’Andrea Bagni (Parma), during the “Parma Award 2008-Sport Grand Gala”, organised by “Dossier Parma” and “Dossier Sport” and strongly wanted by the editor Michele Soavi, I am nominated sports personality of the year. This important prize gives me the chance to further bring out the 6six project and to propose it with yet greater emphasis and credibility.
November 2008 – the world wide economic crisis is frightening some of those who had promised their collaboration. Meanwhile, my message is quickly spreading and now, both in Parma and its province, just about everyone knows about the feat and the 6six Project and when I contact possible sponsors they listen to me in a less surprised way. Parma’s town councillor for the disabled, Dr. Giovanni Paolo Bernini, invites me to a meeting to define a possible collaboration in one the municipality’s projects. I feel that this collaboration will be very important for the future development of the project so I give the councillor my total availability. I do my best to give the finishing touch to the various budgets and start to analyse the quotations for air tickets and travel to the US. My only doubt remains the one regarding the motor home to rent. In the short term, lots of now pending issues will be finalised and several large expenditures will have to be faced. Fortunately, my friend Eng. Lino Squarza will spend the month of November in the US and will travel along Route 66 from Chicago and further beyond Texas, checking out the route from a disabled’s point of view and taking the necessary contacts. Great! I look forward to receiving his report because it will very helpful to me in my next decisions.
December 2008 – through my good friend Ettore Fabbi, owner of the bike shop ‘Road and Truck’ in Parma, the supply of the equipment for the team is confirmed. The bad weather continues and the specific training with the handbike is slowed down. I start training at the gym to maintain the right muscle tone and I occasionally use the handbike on rollers in my garage. From a dietary point of view I am supported by Dr. Marco Caggiati and his team of professionals from the Fitnestudio center in Parma. During this month and thanks to the precious collaboration from Vittorio Podestà, silver medalist at the 2008 Paraolympics Games in Beijing in the 24 kms chrono handbike race, I am able to define the measurements for the new customized handbike called ‘Quickie’ that will be supplied to me by SunRise Medical company based in Montale, Piacenza. The order has been passed and the delivery is due for february. Before the Christmas festivities I provide to buy the air tickets for myself and the whole team. Once I’ve fixed dates and precise combinations, I can dedicate more time to all the outstanding issues left behind for priority reasons. Much in advance, it will be possible to take care of all the documents, permits and insurance policies necessary while in American territory. By the end of the year, I am able to define a more precise budget considering both the contributions received and those still to come. I provide to write out a statement of expenses and I ask my professional accountant to give me further details concerning the economic and fiscal management of my project. Finally, I can say that I am completely satisfied about what has been done until now. The help, the spur and the encouragement received from a number of true friends, have turned out to be decisive to continue the work. Next year will be definitely exciting and will be full of many other interesting and attracting prospects.
January 2009 – we are now entering “the year of the feat” and this is an important month for fund raising. Moreover, for the first time since the start of the 6six project, I can feel the responsibility and the excitement of the coming start. My idea is becoming reality and accompanies me throughout the day. I can’t seem to talk about anything else. Every time I get a “haunted” feeling I just think of what I’ve achieved until now and suddenly everything becomes rose-tinted again. I can indeed feel how important, impressive and fantastic this project really is. But let’s get back to this month’s updates. Owing to some flu symptoms in early January, I decide to take a body and mind regenerating pause. Unfortunately, January turns out to be one of the worst months in the last thirty years from a climatic point of view and all handbike training sessions have to be postponed. Indoor training and gym have suffered a slight decrease. Sadly I must affirm that my dietary programme has undergone quite a change. My fault, from now on I’ll amend to this. Diadora company sends me all the sports and leisure wear for the team. The search for the motorhome is undoubtedly hard thus cannot be budgeted. I’ll have to absolutely solve this problem during the following month. A number of past agreements have been accomplished, others have been postponed or refused. Amongst justified worries, solutions and new adjustments, the remaining development of the project is following its course.
Febbrary 2009 – It really looks like the bad weather isn’t going to let go. Bergamo-based company Rivolta Group (Aero) has offered to supply me with the cycling gear. By web, I get quite a number of contacts by websurfers who encourage and support me. I take the much tested “Quickie” handbike in for general overhaul to Sunrise Medical in Montale (Piacenza) and I pick up the new white colour one (pure white for good luck) complete with all the final adjustments. My former national team buddies with whom I won the European Championship in Helsinky 1987, organize a reunion with dinner in Parma in my honour proposing new future collaborations. What wonderful processes can be motioned by having been a national sportsman! Further, the Parma Panathlon association invites me to one of their dinners. I make contacts with other people and industrialists from Parma and, on that occasion, I am able to bring quite some attention to the project. Fortunately, some of my closest friends help me in coping with pre-departure stress. I feel wound up but also freightened, happy but doubtful, certainly proud of who things are being managed. My determination in carrying out this dream helps me to face the pressure I didn’t think I could manage. I still don’t know what type of motorhome I’ll be able to rent. Thanks to recent contacts with a Turin based tour operator and the absolute need of this means of transport, I’ll have to conclude this enervating search as fast as I can. Issues I thought were over and done with are now put back on the discussion table. The event that one of the team members won’t be able to participate could be reality. This adds to my existing worries. However, by the end of the month new financial help will come in. At last I can face the future choices in a much more relaxed way and concentrate on my goals.
March 2009 – the possibility of one of the team components dropping out becomes a certainty but I manage to brilliantly overcome this inconvenience. After an endless series of fears of not being able to find a suitable motorhome, in mid march the enervating search comes finally to an end. This mind wrecking problem has come to a positive conclusion. I’m a bit short of funds, there are some outstanding issues I ought to sort out but I have a clear vision of what has to come and this makes it all much easier. At last, the start is near. Days are becoming longer, the sun is shining and I have started to roam the hills again with my new handbike. This ultimate model seems to be well structured and complete with the right adjustments. Somehow, only now I seem to understand why such a feat has never been faced by any other disabled before. The real challenge is organising everything up to the final detail, find the funds and also be able to train in maximum tranquility. The unexpected is always around the corner, so every detail must be in place. Now, at less than 30 days from the start, my hopes for miracles have become reality and plans and collaborations are definite. At this stage few funds are bound to come in but, all in all, I’m proud of what I’ve created and financially organised: the “6Six Project”. Apart from the personal pleasure of the on-the-road feat and the fact of being able to endorse ‘healthy’ sport, I will be taking a disabled, sweatty and joyous body for a 400 km ride into the american landscapes.
April 2009 – while waiting for the start date of April 25th, please go to MY DIARY AND PICTURES… that will take you right up to the departure for Chicago.