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Enduro World Cup, Finale Ligure Round up.

Behaviour change and the development of community that is fundamental to that change takes time. It takes passion, energy and determination to persevere with the opportunities that present themselves to you. 

Back in 2021, I had no idea when I was speaking to Enrico Guala on stage at the EWS Tweed Valley (yes, that EWS Tweed Valley where we all got a bit soaked) what might happen. I was summoned to the stage by our good friend Aoife Glass and whilst standing up there, soaking, with Enrico, Phil and about 5 confused-looking spectators admittedly I questioned what the point of all this was. I was tired, damp to my bones and despite my best efforts, probably not the most enthusiastic! 

But Enrico & Phil liked what they heard, and we had a great conversation. I can’t speak for the 5 members of our audience, but I got a ripple of sodden Scottish Borders applause and hurried back to the van for some shelter and warmth. To be honest, at the time I thought little more of this than what it was - a rather unenthusiastic talk to 5 people in Scotland, in the rain. How wrong I was, and what a lesson I learned that day. Never underestimate the power of the people in front of you, no matter how many of them or what you know or don’t know about them.

Fast forward a year or so, and we start seeing a bit of activity in the Finale Outdoor Region from a couple of Instagram accounts - @_rifutiapedali_ & @chefonabike were tagging us in posts and stories pretty regularly. Now, not to sound big-headed (ok maybe a bit), but we get this kind of thing a lot, and it’s difficult to pay enough attention to each, so short of some resharing and interactions on those posts, we didn't think much of it. 

That’s until the person behind these accounts, Mario Presi, got in touch with Dom & I directly, with an idea for bringing the TFT ideology to his trails, his community, and the country he loves so dearly. The plot thickens, I hear you say! 

Fast forward to late 2023, and TFT Approved’s most successful year to date with a presence at the Cycling World Championships XC / XCO Glentress. TFT Approved “platinum” - the extra special version of our sustainable event accreditation checklist where the organiser invites TFT HQ to attend in full force, had had some great outings here and at Red Bull Hardline, and it’s getting noticed on an international stage…

Meanwhile, Mario has been hard at work to share our values and mission with the management team at Finale Outdoor Region, and guess who’s the main man there? Our friend Enrico! It transpired that Enrico was far more than “just” the guy that I had that 10-minute conversation with a few years ago. I had no idea, but along with his colleague Maria Luisa, they are the people who can make things happen in the Finale Outdoor Region. 

So everyone was getting quite excited, but for what? What can we do to bring TFT to an entirely new country, a new community of trail users that care passionately about their trails, and the wild places they take them to? An invite to the opening round of the Enduro World Cup in Finale Ligure itself?! That will do very nicely indeed! 

So that was that. We were going on a road trip to bring TFT Approved Platinum to the Italian people! We roped in our good friend Rich Baybutt, rented a van, loaded it and off we went to what has got to be the best place to ride bikes in the world. Not even joking. 

The usual TFT Approved Platinum event activations took place - the Rubbish Raffle, daily trail cleans, briefings with the event volunteers, placard making workshops, SoOT Reporting, Trash Free Track Walks and the ever popular kit donation bin saw event attendees, passers by and delivery crews getting involved which was incredible as always, but the real magic was in our behind the scenes mission here - to gauge appetite for TFT Italia. 

And wow. What an incredible response we received. I have never felt more welcome, comfortable and at home in a brand new place where I don't even speak the language (1-10 and “parli inglese” was about as far as I was going to get!). And it’s not because I’m such a nice person (thanks), believe it or not. It’s because the people of Finale wholeheartedly bought into what we were doing there. Young and old, mountain bikers, runners, holidaymakers from across Europe that had nothing to do with the event - they loved our mission, vision, values and how we intend to get where we are going. With community, and the people needed to make Trash Free Trails Italia a reality. 

If I had turned down that talk with Enrico in 2021 (I very nearly did), none of this would have happened. If Mario hadn’t relentlessly tagged us in all of his posts, sharing that work with Maria and Enrico, none of this would have happened. If I hadn't pushed us to go to Italy, I wouldn’t have heard from an 85-year-old grandad of the Rubbish Raffle prize winner, begging us to return to his hometown.

This is all proof of a huge lesson learned by me, and by TFT as an organisation - It doesn’t matter who’s not there. It matters who is there, in front of you. Focus on them, talk to them and find out why they are there. You never know who they might be, and where that conversation might take you.

TFT Italia 2025. Watch this space.

Words from Rich Breeden. Images from Rich Baybutt


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