The fact it’s easier to get on the bike than organise eight people to go rowing helped reignite a love for cycling
I met Passoni’s owner Matteo Cassina through our shared passion for rowing,” explains Jean-Pierre van Tiel. “There’s a group of us at the London Rowing Club who rowed at an international level. We’re all vets now and maybe not as fit. However, we’re still very competitive, and we all race together”. Striking up a friendship, he and Matteo found themselves discussing the difficulties of staying fit enough for competitive rowing. “Training on the water is quite time-consuming and difficult to organise if you need eight other people to show up,” explains J.P. Cycling provided the solution, and obviously, Matteo was keen to see his friend riding a Passoni.
“In Holland, kids with a long commute to school would get a moped at 16. But my parents got me a Peugeot Aubisque for the ten-mile journey, so I’ve almost always had a bike,” says J.P. Ahead of the creation of his new bike, J.P. travelled to Milan for a fitting and to discuss its production at the factory. “We showed up at the fitter’s and the walls were covered in pictures of people like Giuseppe Saronni and Claudio Chiappucci,” says J.P. “The fitter measured me from top to bottom and looked at what the computer suggested. Then he put me on the bike and made small adjustments by hand until everything was perfect”.
Collecting his new Top Force bike in person a few weeks later, Lombardy made an ideal venue for a first ride. Since then, along with many 7 am dashes through Regents Park with a very loyal group of friends, J.P. has packed in many other adventures, including rides at sportives like L'Étape du Tour, de Ronde, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. However, he’s generally happiest riding long distances alone or with a few friends and taking time to appreciate his surroundings.
“Mostly, I like to take the GPX and ride by myself,” he explains. “Among my favourite trips was riding alone from London home to Holland through the night. Once you’re into Belgium, you pick up these canals. From the border to Bruges and on to Antwerp and Turnhout, it’s all towpaths with no traffic”.
Like his trip along Europe’s canals, for J.P., the water and the tarmac now run beside each other. “Both rowing and cycling are about being out in nature,” he says. “Rowing in the single scull or riding in the mountains have the same atmosphere”. An expert in data science, J.P. thinks both sports’ physicality and escapism positively impact all areas of his life. In fact, he reckons he achieves some of his best thinking on the bike. “It’s never a waste of time. I come to a lot of insights and burn so much negative energy when I’m cycling. It makes me a better person to be around and better to work with, so I’ll always try and make time for it”.