Bikepacking, visual arts and social sensitivity: the virtuous Nepalese journey supported by Briko

Esplora is an invitation. An invitation from a group of creative Italians united by their passion for the outdoors and its many ramifications. Esplora is guidance. Guidance from a pool of young communicators to open up individual and collective horizons, combining visual arts and introspective experiences in mystical places like Nepal. This small corner of Asia is said to be the epitome of natural beauty and cultural richness. Within its ancient borders, Team Esplora, supported by the pragmatic wisdom of experienced adventurer Giuseppe Papa, will embark on a 1,200km journey, intensified by almost 25,000m of elevation. Augmented and supported by Briko’s vision and technical equipment, this venture will mix iconic sites, such as the Bodhi tree, where Prince Siddhartha achieved enlightenment, and mythological routes, such as the dreaded Thorung La, the highest pass on the planet. Marco Ricci and Davide Ciarletta, two Esplora members undertaking this many-sided journey, will contribute their voices to a physical, mental, and documented itinerary, which we will follow alongside Briko.

The outdoors and the visual arts: this combination has been taking on ever more forms and meaning in recent times. Within this global dynamic, how and when did Esplora become a reality?

“Esplora was born out of synchronization. We’re all passionate cyclists and long-time riders; we like to experience different things and go on long journeys. Over time, we have come to understand what fatigue means and where it can lead us. Our first real step towards the Esplora project was on the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri. We already knew each other, but during that collective journey, we noticed how we were creating parallel and related content, so we decided to go in a common direction. Our goal is to share experiences because sharing is what makes us human, and to guide the people around us out of their comfort zones: to discover things within and without. After all, every place can change a human being deep inside.”

How does Nepal fit into this far-reaching thought process? What attracted you to this magical country?

“Again, it was all chance. Or rather, chance doesn’t exist; let’s just say that the dots got connected and were destined to do so. At the last Bologna Bike Tourism Fair, we sat down with explorer Giuseppe Papa. We’d been intrigued by his photos from Patagonia, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, and countless other parts of the world. After about ten minutes, with his characteristic candor, he invited us to cross Nepal with him. It was special. We’re honored to discover this country with a highly skilled athlete like him, and can’t wait to have him share his 45-plus years of experience with us. We feel safe, and we know that Giuseppe will help us turn problems into adventures. In fact, he’s in India now, cycling at 4,300 meters with his partner Luca, and they’ll join us on the Nepalese border. Overall, we are attracted to Nepal, its history and ancient culture, and our content will try to narrate and channel all that.”

What kind of expectations, convictions and, of course, uncertainties are you approaching this undertaking?

“We’ll cover 1,800km in about 40 days: It’s not an impossible feat, but it’s certainly made more challenging by the more than 1,000m of daily elevation. As is often the case, our bikepacking will also involve many moments of hiking where we’ll have to carry the bike, which will require a lot of energy. At the same time, we’re going to be shooting a documentary, so we’ll be carrying heavy equipment. We’ll be taking it all on with a non-competitive spirit. Esplora projects do not revolve around performance; our philosophy is purely creative and experiential. On a physical level, it’ll be a struggle, but we’re trained and, thanks to Giuseppe, we can handle the various unknowns that’ll pop up along the way: from temperatures to the more pragmatic stuff like meals and nights in the tent.”

The connection with Briko will play a key role on several fronts, allowing you to wear functional material, convey content to a wide audience and, consequently, raise awareness of this trip’s social function. How important is this relationship?

“We are definitely happy, because we think it’s a genuine connection. We were immediately in sync with the Briko people and they’ve been giving us maximum support from an expressive-creative perspective and in product research. All the apparel we’ll wear in Nepal will be Briko. Physical balance is good for the mind, and clothing plays a key role on trips like this: being comfortable with the right materials is essential. No question. On the other hand, having a larger audience will allow us to share our views, moods and aspirations, in our own small way, to make a real impact on the new generation in Nepal. We’ve launched the first Explora crowdfunding campaign. Part of the money will go towards the work of VISPE, an organization committed to supporting health and education in disadvantaged countries, including Nepal. The funds raised will be used to finance the renovation of a kindergarten and, at the same time, to promote this documentary. We hope it will raise awareness among as many as possible. Finally, the first 50 donors will receive a special photograph book of the trip, printed with the Legnano social cooperative La Mano, which has provided employment opportunities for people with various disabilities for years.”

The departure is just around the corner. What kind of feelings are running through you?

“The tension’s been building for the past week, but it’s the typical feeling that comes before a big trip. We’re excited by the crossing and our documentary concept. We’re also pretty sure it’ll take at least a week to get into the swing of things and find the right balance between traveling and creating content… After all, it’s a first for us in many ways, and we can’t help but be excited.”