Chica Loca, women who challenge themselves
“If you can cross the desert by motorbike you can do anything. Not being afraid of anything. Public speaking. Presenting a project in a meeting. Making your ideas come true, at home and at work. Nothing can stop you." The ultimate goal is to grow your self-esteem, become aware that you are ‘worth it' and defend this. Vittoria Dami has no doubts when asked what drives twenty women to get on a motorcycle and cross the Omani desert in a week. "We call it ‘moto-esteem', because riding on sand between 100 and 180 kms a day, your pride grows for what you are able to do."
Certainly, there must be a desire to test your limits to be part of this experience and it is no coincidence that the all-female adventure that involves professional and amateur riders is called Chica Loca. After the experience of Morocco, in 2020 it was the turn of Oman, with departure from Salalah in the south of the country. Enrica Perego, race director of the event, and Vittoria Dami, producer and organiser with a passion for motorcycles, led them and organised the raid. Pirelli supplied the tyres.
Alongside them are many adventure lovers and some professional motorcyclists, such as Anna Sappino, multi Italian enduro champion, Anna Ghiraldini, Italian raid champion of the TT 2017, and the professional Martina Beltrandi, who together led the Lady Enduro project group (Victoria Demma, Susanna Grasso, Michela Anzigliero, Deborah Niada), women all united by the passion for two wheels.
The road has been long. After leaving Salalah, the participants reached the city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the desert, so called because it collapsed due to the presence of an underground limestone cave. It is the last oasis before the Rub'Al Khali desert, the second largest in the world after the Sahara. There were the toughest tests.
Elisa Rovizzi knows it very well, with a broken rib due to a fall, yet she did not give up on the following day, got back on her bike and completed the stage. Then the pain and the diagnosis forced her to withdraw. "I don't like to abandon what I start, but from this adventure I learned that we must also know how to give up," says Elisa about her second Chica Loca, after returning to her work on labour law. She carries in her heart all of her travel companions who comforted and encouraged her.
Irene Pezzanera also fell off her bike during a seemingly easy part of the course, a transfer: after a jump, the bike crashed into the sand and she could not avoid a somersault. "I took a knock on the shoulder and leg, I also beat up my face, but I managed to continue," says Irene, who with tenacity and determination managed to complete the race. Her passion for motorbikes was passed on by her mother and in the desert she, who works in administration for an eco-sustainable toy company, found herself: “I understand what my limits are, how far I can go. Adrenaline was my gasoline."
Susanna Grasso is an environmental engineer and loves travelling. She has competed in motorally and enduro before, but had never ridden in the desert, so Chica Loca was the opportunity to get back in the saddle. "A unique experience thanks to the landscapes, the adventure of living in the desert, the encounter with a different culture". Susanna found herself overcoming distances of sand and stones or riding through wadis, small dry canyons that swell only with seasonal rains. Every evening she and others, after riding all day, set up the tents for the night. “We lived in a tent, with few clothes, water and little food, without technology, supermarkets or other material objects. And we were happy. It is shocking to see how many things we consider fundamental, but in reality, they are superfluous. "
The charm of the night in the desert with starry skies compensated for the visits of scorpions and mice. "We comforted each other and had fun", the protagonists say today, all back home with a sense of belonging to a group with a special chemistry. “In the evening, before dinner, camped in the middle of nowhere, we shared beautiful moments. Usually hyper-connected, in the desert we were isolated from the rest of the world, no cell phones reception. We have rediscovered the pleasure of chatting around a fire", says Gaia Franceschini Beghini with nostalgia, immersed in her everyday routine in the digital marketing world. Their evening conversations were a mix of advice from enduro experts and the insecurities of those who had less confidence with the bikes, all intertwined with interesting life stories.
The last stage was a race to the sea. In the evening, the girls slept on the banks of a river and as soon as the sun came up, they left through a series of slabs and dunes to reach a paved road. Seventy kilometres later they ended in a trail that took them to the top of a mountain a thousand metres high. From there the descent to the finish line began, a steep descent which finished on the beautiful beaches of Fazayah.
"It was the most beautiful moment, because as you rode down you saw the sea, a fairy tale arrival on the beach. Every one of us, after crossing the finish line, took off their racing suit and jumped into the sea”, explains Michela Anzigliero, a mother-of-three who was not even riding until two years ago. The desire arrived when she took one of her children to a motocross race with her motorcyclist husband. "When I jumped into the sea, I thought 'I did it', a wonderful feeling, of fullness." The dive into the water was a liberating act for all of the girls, the worthy closure of a tough test that led them to test their limits.