Hiding away, up in a valley surrounded by steep Alpine peaks and guarded by Monte Rosa, Riva Valdobbia is only a few miles away from the sleepy town of Alagna. Today its icy quiet is destined to be broken.
The parking lot is already full of people, preparing their bikes for the competition. A race is a race and the engines are already roaring. There isn’t a minute to waste, as competitors wrapped up in furs check their rides and their custom studded tyres for faults. Every second, every test matters for the rally on ice they’re about to embark on.
The kids at Deus Ex Machina have set up a truly special show with the help of English magazine Sideburn. In the distance, we notice a two-wheeled monster stand out among the crowd. It’s called Project-X and it is a Deus Ex Machina creation, too: a stripped-down Yamaha XJR1300Racer, fitted with custom tyres designed by Pirelli for the occasion, elaborating on their famous off-road SCORPION™ Rally model. Marco Belli, Italy and North America’s Flat Track reigning champion is the man who tamed the beast. He is here today to show off his extreme control skills aboard this incredible ride: if anyone can handle a 1300cc on ice, that’s him.
There’s just about time for a mulled wine before the start of the day races. These are nothing like your usual motorcycling competition, but spectacular displays of virtuoso riding skills, featuring, among others, El Solitario, one of the world’s most famous customisers. As the day progresses, the races become harsher and more extraordinary. Strange coats and furs, different nationalities and generations, take to the track with only one aim in mind: to make it to the end of the race, happily jumping off the seat as the sun is setting behind the mountains.
The world’s most insane race is taking place right before our very eyes. Among cries of adrenaline and chants of victory, here we are, right at the heart of great live racing.
Pilots set off on one or two extra leaps, powerful wheels spraying snow at a breakneck speed, as a pink “Ciao” moped bravely follows, high up on the tallest bend. As the day sets into night, the ‘winners’ are crowned on a podium carved into packed-up snow, and the race draws to an end, among big grins and sizzling tyres.