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It all happened so naturally that, at the time, I never had a moment to consider if it was all part of some grand plan or merely the right timing. But now when I think about how I began helping the team at Pegoretti after Dario passed last year, it feels too right for it to be anything other than a setup. Whatever it was, someone somewhere is laughing — and probably smoking, too.
My Pegoretti Mxxxxxo is Mediterranean blue – like a Matisse. And that’s about as much of my design brief as Pietro was willing to listen to. It’s a Ciavete – the Officina’s “do what the fuck we want” scheme prized by Pegoretti fans. And it has a zip on it. “It’s because you are English, and zipped!” explains a laughing Cristina, after Pietro deposits the frame into my lap and I open my eyes to see what he created. “And you are stiff, you see!” she adds, somewhat unnecessarily.
Everybody is laughing, so I take the time to explore my new frame. It’s light, blue, beautiful and honest; and she’s right, in my heart I know I don’t have the easy way of an Italian. Zipped is correct.
I started working with Cristina and Pietro at Pegoretti a few days after Dario took off for someplace else. Cristina, who I knew from her time as CEO of Brooks England, called and asked for help: Dario had been building a new website, it wasn’t live, it wasn’t finished, and everything was in flux. Soon after, I boarded a flight from Portland, Oregon to Verona, Italy and something fell into place. I’ve been working with Pegoretti from afar ever since.
Pietro laughs a lot. Today, he’s laughing especially hard as I carefully examine my new frame. You’d think by now he’d be over the look of wonder that passes across the face of a new recipient of a Pegoretti. He’s not. The problem is, there’s so much to take in: the welds, the vibrant paint that you only really appreciate in person, the palpable feeling of craftsmanship – a word that only makes sense when you see the real deal.
Pietro asks me in Italian if I like it, and I wish I had the words to express how I feel about being part of their thing. Because it’s not just the frame; it’s sitting here with Dario’s presence all around, and these people whom I’ve come to love. I manage a stiff English nod, feel particularly silly and hope he understands.
From frame to bike
“So, how are we building it up?” asks Kevin, co-founder of Portland’s Golden Pliers bike shop when I swing by with the frame a week later. I spec Shimano, which some would say is a minor heresy on an Italian bike. But screw that – Ultegra works great and feels right to me. Wheels come via another Portland business, Sugar Wheelworks – Chris King R45 gloss black hubs laced to Velocity Quill rims with Sapim CX-Rays on brass nipples. Finishing kit comes via Ergon, Sim Works and Paul Components, whose orange-detailed skewers complement the frame’s paint scheme.
The first ride is terrifying; what if the bike doesn’t match up to my feelings? I start with a gentle roll around the block. Bloody hell, it’s fast. A small push on the pedals and it leaps forward like it knows where to go, Chris King humming and trees beginning to blur. Faster now, we’re flying, and a turn comes far sooner than I expect, but it’s too late to brake and I prepare to crash.
The ground is closer than I’ve ever seen it in a turn, but the Peg holds on, with only a muted squeak to tell me how hard the tires are working before the bike rights itself and we’re speeding up again. Descents follow, personal bests break, and I realise I’ve never felt this good on a bike before.
Back in 2017, during a visit to interview Dario for another publication, he told me: “At the end of the story, I think, just the road can say it’s the truth, not the centimetre.” At the time, these words caught my ear as a standout quote for the article, but one that felt somewhat abstract. But now I think I understand what he meant. And I have the zip to prove it.
Frame: Pegoretti Marcelo (Mxxxxxo)*, custom geometry (approx 57cm)
Fork: Pegoretti Falz Carbon
Headset: Chris King D11
Wheelset: Chris King R45 hubs, Velocity Quill rims, Sapim CX-Ray spokes (20H front, 24H rear) – built by Sugar Wheelworks
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra R8000, Compact
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Ultegra Threaded
Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 11-30T
Chain: Shimano Ultegra RHG-701
Tyres: Panaracer Race C EVO4, 28mm
Handlebar: SimWorks (by Nitto) Misirlou, 41cm
Stem: Thomson Elite X2, 115mm
Seatpost: Enve Road Carbon
Cages: King Titanium
Skewers: Paul Components
Bar tape: Fizik Tempo Classic
Saddle: Ergon SR Carbon
Accessories: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Spurcycle bell
*Marcelo was the name of Dario’s father. Mxxxxxo is a redacted version of his father’s name in light of their love/hate relationship.