Asja Paladin

The last cyclist who thought Asja’s best weapons were her pretty smile and deep blue eyes got a few minutes up the hill and had to take everything back. After closing the doors on her professional career, Asja hasn’t forgotten how to ride fast.

An ex professional cyclist woman part of Enough? Well, it would have sounded weird to us too if we stopped at the prejudices. In Asja we can still see her determination and diligence of high level athletes, but we can also see the soul of a wild explorer growing day  by day. As a matter of fact, we can see clearly a new will to have fun and express herself in ways that were just not possible while competing as a professional. 

What kept her going and in love with the game throughout her career were adrenaline rushes and blood tasting efforts – all things she will not give up easily and, as a matter of fact, we will not ask her to do such a thing. Actually, she will add to those elements a new way to experience cycling, while travelling and adventuring, on her escape from the dullness she has alway kept away from her.

With the trusted Yugen  by her side, she is ready to leave at the search of beauty, better yet if among her beloved mountains or in  some remote places around the world. Asja just needs the little things – if we want to call them this way – to be happy and now that she has time to do so, she doesn’t want to put any limits on herself. 

That feeling…

The unconventional enough interview

How long have you been cycling for? What pushed you to do it for the first time?
I raced for the first time at the age of 6. It’s been exactly 20 years. Both my parents were cyclists before me and my father used to coach the youngsters in town approaching this sport. I could not avoid following their steps. Growing up I tried different sports such as volley, swimming, ice-skating… but I always ended up coming back to cycling.

How would you describe your relationship with bikes?
Cycling went from being just a fun activity to becoming my job. I’ve been a professional athlete for 6 years, up until 2020.  Afterwards I decided to stop and go back to living the bike as my biggest passion, free from stress and pressure due to competition,  it’s the best feeling in the world!

Tell us about your most beautiful ride.
It was definitely my first bike-packing adventure. Riding as a professional I never had the chance to live cycling as a leisure activity – I’ve always had to compete, train and rest in my free time. Such an adventure, however, was at the very top of my bucket list, being the best representation of freedom to my eyes. I remember experiencing the highest levels of euphoria the night before that trip – very  similar to the one you feel before an important race – and it was hard for me to fall asleep. Then the trip was even better than I had imagined, giving me the chance to see the bike from  a whole different perspective. I was able to appreciate every little bit of that moment, with absolutely nothing running  through my mind except for the things that surrounded me and the road below me. As soon as I came back  from that trip I was ready  to leave again.

Tell us about that time you felt challenged the most while riding.
It was in 2018 during a race in Czech Republic. I have never seen worse weather conditions anywhere  else. We had to go through four passes with temperatures below freezing, pouring  rain and snow falls. I was the only one from my team finishing the race, but I did it crying and trembling like a leaf. When I  crossed the finish line I let my bike fall to the ground and I jumped on the van completely frozen. I don’t get along very well with the cold weather and believe me that day it was brutal. 

What object do you always carry with you on a ride?
I always carry a little Panda bear doll. Its name is Yugen. Yugen is a Japanese word that represents the  consciousness of the hidden beauty of the Universe, which is impossible to describe in words but brings great  emotion. This is exactly how I feel about biking right now, an unexplainable emotion.

Complete this sentence: if you come on a bike ride with me be aware that…
… that the stop at the café is compulsory! 

What is your dream cycling event?
North Cape 4000. 

What are your plans for this season? Are there any events you look forward to more than others?
Surely my main focus this season is having fun on the bike. However, I will be participating in some events  very different from the ones I attended in the past, therefore I’m sure I will have the chance to exceed my limits.  I’m on the verge of getting to know new realities, nevertheless very close to my personality and my style, which  is very thrilling for me. I don’t have an event I particularly look forward to, but my first goal is Veneto Gravel. 

Having a lot of fun on the bike is my main concern this season. Nevertheless, I will take part in some events that are very different from the ones I attended in the past, therefore I’m sure I will get the chance to challenge myself in many new ways. I’m on the verge of getting to know new realities, which are very close to my style and personality and I’m very much thrilled about that. I don’t have an event I particularly look forward to, but my first goal is the Veneto Gravel event.

What did you say enough to in the past? What do you think you will never say enough to?
Sadly in the past, especially during the last year, I’ve happened to say enough to the bike. Due to what it represented to me I went through moments in which riding became a constrain. Since I quit as a professional things changed and I’m more  eager to get on my bike and discover new places. The miles are never enough now: the more I ride,  the better I feel. 

Time to relax and take a breath. That’s maybe something you miss as a Pro. For sure it’s something you can’t never get enough of.

Explain what Enough Cycling is to your grandma.
Granny, Enough Cycling is a blast!! Bikes, bags and a few beers are enough for us to be on top of the  World. Do you remember when you went dancing with your friends, feeling free and cheerful? Well that’s exactly how we feel, but we do it by riding our bikes. The feeling is just the same! If you don’t find me home for a few days just know I  have left to discover some new place and I’m happy. 

Your ideal Saturday night? What if it was a weekend?
My ideal Saturday night is pizza and beer with my friends. In the case of a weekend surely a bike-packing  experience. 

You have a gap year, how do you spend it?
I will travel the world discovering new cultures 

Tell us a sentence that represents you.
Hakuna Matata. 

Your favourite cyclist or athlete.
When I was racing the athlete I looked up to was Anna Vander Breggen, being her a champion on and off the peloton. On the bike she won everything: Europeans, Worlds, Olympics, Grand tours and Classics. Nevertheless she kept a humble profile, never caught up on small talks and always demonstrating her value through outstanding performances. 

If you are not out on the bike you are…
…working. I work in an insurance office, it seems absurd but I like this new reality too. Obviously in my  free time and in the breaks I always think about the bike, organizing the next ride or dreaming of the next trip!