A challenge. That’s how the story on two wheels of Ivan Beltrami started. Extroverted teenager and a bit rebel, Ivan, since he was young, was used to play sports: tennis and above all surf. It couldn’t be anything else for someone who was born on the shores of Lake Garda, in Torbole, calm lacustrine heaven that in summer fills up with guys who live with water and wind. The bicycle enters in his life by chance: an afternoon while he comes back from a tennis match, a manager, friend of his dad tells him: ”Why don’t you try with cycling?”. The proposal becomes almost a sort of bet: the boy will do the first year as an under 16 repaid of all his expenses, provided that he wins. Otherwise he will have to give everything back. A provocation. Ivan is fascinated by challenges and he accepts. Almost as a game, he starts his cycling career and the victories of that first year encourage him to go ahead. His original personality makes him love the track: fascinating and particular discipline that, to be loved, has to be understood and above all lived. He likes the Six Days, he adores travelling and maybe that’s actually his cycling spirit: the trip, to pack, to unpack and then to leave again. “A crazy horse” as he defines himself, for a Beat cycling, that rotates around the madness of a shiny parquet ring and of a bell that takes you back to real world.
In 1987 he has been silver medallist in the Team Pursuit at the Junior World Championship. He defends the lightblue colours at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 and at he ones in Barcelona in 1992. When I ask him which one was the most intense emotion of his career I expect him to talk about his victories. But Ivan goes back to the day he received, for the first time, the Olympic stuff.
“I was a little fellow” he says “I was nineteen and I still remember the federation’s van that came to give me everything I needed: the uniform, the shoes. I spread all the things on my bed. There was truly everything, also the hair dryer! It’s an emotion that I will keep forever in my heart, even before the victories, the finish lines.” When in front of him a cycling career promises, in the Lampre, next to Maurizio Fondriest, Ivan understands that he has to choose. He is not someone who likes to temporise: even if it’s his life, the decisions are always blunt, determined. And so he says “no”, to the professionalism: Ivan knows he is a strong athlete but his ground is not the road. And he also has another project in his mind. His legs are the ones of a six-days’ racer but the head is the one of an artist. In Torbole, his dad runs a family café, born from a revolutionary idea, for those times:”In the sixties” explains Ivan “All the cafes had very predicted names such as Al Ponte, Bar Lina, Bar Roma and they were all in the centre of the town. My grandad, who also was a particular one, thought to open a café far from the centre and with a totally original sign. So was born the Mecki. An avant-garde, in a certain way comparable to an artistic installation”
The bicycle, is already in his blood and he would like to bring it there too, in TorbHollywood, as they nicknamed it.
From an original idea he had, an unusual union was born especially in a town that is used to bread and surf. In 1992 the historic Bar Mecki becomes “Mecki’s Bike and Coffe”: the breakfast becomes also a way to do alternative shopping. Ivan creates a clothing line of his own that, a part from t-shirts and sweaters, offers a various range of cycling uniforms and other charming objects for the bike. “I’ve always had this artistic flair” he says. “I like to communicate and that’s what I do with my t-shirts, with the items of my collection. I always want to give a sense to what I do.” That’s why everything you can find at Mecki’s is designed by him, first of all freehand drew and then with the computer. And it brings, as for every artist, the track of his trips, of his experiences, of his feelings: a contamination that makes you think of those notepads full of notes, of sketches that the travellers bring with them and that have, among its pages, the yell and the frenzy of the big cities or the contemplative silence of the countryside.
“Everyone is what he lived. And I don’t like that the things are always the same.” Explains Ivan “I undergo a lot what I live everyday. That’s why my way of living the bike is very surf-like and if one day I’m more rocker, tomorrow I could be influenced differently, such as by the seventies” Around him and his project collaborate also the photographer Dido Fontana that, with his uncommon shots, runs an advertising campaign outside the box and with concepts of “beauty” and “sensuality” of their own sake, and Virginia Sommadossi rensponsable of communication and images of the Centrale Fies, a centre for the production of contemporary artworks in Dro (Trento).
The Mecki’s, therefore, is maybe more a collective of artists than a simple store. And also the story of the leit motiv of the brand has something that reminds of the old scholars’ cafes. When I ask Ivan how the motto “Fucking & Perfect”, that recurs in many of his creation, was born he remembers of a night in Torbole with friends in 1999. With them there was also Alfonso called Pompo Bresciani, a photographer that, at those times, lived in Torbole and now he’s in the USA’s ground. “Among a beer (even more than one) and a laugh” he says “we coined this Fucking & Perfect that, in itself doesn’t have any particularly deep meaning. But it works, like many things that were born from improvisation, from the instinct”.
Yeah, instinct. Is needed on the bicycle, as in the life. Ivan, even quitting the career on two wheels, has known how to bring in his everyday life that madness and that passion that he had when he was the “crazy horse” on the track.
Passion, that’s another thing that counts. That counts more than anything else, maybe. When I ask him if he follows cycling now he answers: ”I follow Daniel in a particular way” he says dearly. Daniel Oss, a cyclist out of the box too, is one of his most famous and passionate supporters that, even in the official occasions, wears Mecki’s. And maybe, for his way of living cycling, he is the ideal testimonial for the F&P philosophy.
“I didn’t physically abandoned the bike though” specifies Ivan. “I ride five times a week. But not to train, as many people do. I don’t see it in that way. It’s for fun. I like riding with my music in the hear enjoying the pure air” Pure air that in Torbole comes from the lake, that brings the scents and with them also the stories, the mysteries that its streets, its waters had known. Air that caresses the cypresses that shade the paths in the mornings when the sun is burning. Would this be the secret of a fucking perfect life?
Translated by Martina Meroni
Original version here >>> “DALLA PISTA ALL’IMPRENDITORIA. IL CORAGGIO DECISO E INNOVATIVO DI IVAN.”