Rounding The Corner: My Journey to the Strade Bianchi Sportive

As part of the Pearson cycling family, I've pedalled through my fair share of races and challenges, and spent blissful hours on two wheels since I can ever remember.

Gearing up for the Strade Bianche sportive this March feels like a special chapter in my cycling saga - a tale of recovery and pursuit of an event that epitomises true aspirational riding.


Last April, I found myself in an unfortunate, slow-moving crash while riding around the corner from our office to the shop which left me with a broken leg. Despite my years of riding, a momentary lapse of attention was all it took for the top of my tibia to snap off quicker than a pro sprinter hitting the line.

With my leg reconstructed, plated, and pinned, the road to recovery was like nothing I had experienced before, and nestled in this uphill battle was a glimmer of hope - the Strade Bianche Gran Fondo.

pearson gran fondo Strrade Bianchi

This sportive starts and finishes in Sienna and stretches 138km with 2000m of climbing, containing 41km of off-road sections. Set against the stunning backdrop of Tuscany's white gravel roads, spurred on by my cycling pals, this event became my beacon and a target to reclaim my place in the saddle in just under a year.

pearson duchenne dash

Preparing for the Strade Bianche wasn't just about physical training, it was a holistic approach encompassing mind, body, and bike. As many will know, the trauma of hospitalisation and disability can be acute. Family and friends were key to my mental recovery, their love and support were unfathomable and I can't thank them enough for helping me bounce back.

midlife cyclist

As for the physical, a well-referenced chapter in Phil Cavell's 'The Midlife Cyclist' book, and for those approaching or beyond their 50s, tells us it's not all about the bike. Disciplined regular exercise, as simple as push-ups, pull-ups and lunges, plus the incorporation of weights, helps to maintain your muscle tone and reduces the chance of injury. I've heeded his advice and as a result, this has enhanced my cycling performance measurably.

pearson bike fit london

A meticulous bike fit is something that every cyclist, new or expert, should undertake. Trust me, there's nothing more disheartening than spending hours in the saddle only to realise that your bike setup could be so much better to maintain comfort, control and speed. I'm in the lucky position to have bike fit on hand through Nas Karimi, our head of performance at Pearson.

Since my break, my riding position has become less aggressive, through pedal analysis, we've shortened my cranks to 165mm, plus the use of orthotics to reduce any imbalance caused by injury, has tuned my power output. Armed with measurements and his expert advice, I feel more at ease on the bike than ever.

pearson forge carbon road bike performance endurance

A sportive of this calibre demands a trusty steed that can conquer the toughest terrain with grace and grit. Enter the Pearson Forge. Our team worked on this bike design for over two years, and it represents a decade of fitting knowledge plus many more years of product expertise - it's an extension of my cycling soul! It falls into a performance endurance category and weighs in at 6.8kg. The Forge was the obvious choice for tackling the undulating roads, gravel sectors and punishing climbs of the Strade Bianche.

pearson forge

Of course, no amount of preparation can fully equip you for the unpredictable twists and turns of the road ahead. So, as March approaches and the final arrangements fall into place, there's an undeniable sense of anticipation from this return from injury back to riding hard. However, I still find the greatest solace in the unspoken camaraderie and the simple joy of spinning pedals alongside friends, in a country steeped in culture.

Here's to riding the Strade Bianche, where the gravel is white, the hills are steep, and the spirit of cycling reigns supreme.

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