Alessandro Stella makes shoes. Stunning, immaculate, breathtaking handmade shoes. What does a shoemaker have to do with cycling? Nothing. Everything.
One afternoon after riding you go to Siena to meet him in his shop. He’ll show you his work, show you his process, smile at you and laugh, speak to you in his lovely accented English. You’ll crowd into the tiny space, shoulder to shoulder with your riding mates and marvel at the smell of leather and the aesthetic precision that surrounds you on every side.
Alessandro is a man with lively hands, quick eyes and a generous heart. If you’re lucky, he will turn up at dinner later. If you’re really lucky, he’ll tell you a few stories from the road. And if you’re really, really lucky, he’ll have a few glasses of wine and begin to talk to you about life in abstract terms: there is a philosopher hiding in this shoemaker.
Maybe he tells you the story of what it was like to descend 15,000 feet on a bike from Tibet into Nepal, maybe he doesn’t. What does a shoemaker have to do with cycling? Nothing. Everything.