Forty-two years in the name of Enduro.
It doesn’t make a difference to Dario Agrati whether you refer to the seven he spent as a rider or the thirty-two that he’s been a journalist. Asking him even just to hypothesise whether he could ever conceivably live without Enduro, his response is so ab rupt and so unyielding that no other comments or doubts are necessary.
Dario Agrati has photographed, and written about, riders and motorbikes since 1977. It was a passion which became even more after only a few years.
“In the beginning of 1977 I started working with the weekly Motosprint. Photography and journalism had been my hobby also while I was studying law. This is how, in 1980, I became a professional and member of the Italian Order of Journalists.”
When somebody thinks of Dario today, they immediately think of Enduro. He is present at every single race and one of the most historic figures in the paddock. In his early days as a journalist he also had the opportunity to get to know different worlds.
“I have to say that until the mid-1990s I didn’t only write about Enduro, but also about road racing, rallies in Africa, the Dakar, motocross, trials, the Camel Trophy.”
He then decided completely to dedicate himself to his great passion, trying to approach his work with the same spirit that first made him take the road of sports journalism on two wheels in the 1970s.
Today Dario’s passion is more alive than ever. It’s not only about appreciating what happens during the competitions, it’s much, much more.
Dario has a very personal interpretation of Enduro which has been shaped by his personal experience and by everything that his job has enabled him to do and see in all these years.
“I also got to know the remains of ancient civilisations, for example in Peru or Mexico, and lived the chaotic metropolitan life in Brazil and Chile thanks to Enduro. I discovered old street markets where I bought accessories for my Nikons and my computers in those highly technologically advanced Asian country. I even experienced places I already knew in a totally different way. I think of myself as one of those chosen few who have a job-hobby which in the end is always more of a hobby than a job.”
Basically, Enduro becomes a philosophy of life which, of course, is also reflected in how a motorcycle is ridden. It’s very different to the other disciplines. You have to become one with what surrounds you. It’s so much more than a race against the clock.
“After forty-two years of following the competitions and after attending forty consecutive Six Days including Portugal this year, I love everything about Enduro. It stimulates my curiosity; it always gives me the possibility to discover new places. Enduro means the motorbike immersed in nature. Enduro isn’t as aggressive as the motocross motos. Of course, a rider has to be aggressive during the special tests and fiercely approach the route in order to make good time. However, as soon as the special test is over, Enduro regains its special charm of a sports competition that shares its most romantic aspect with nature: something human beings also have to face in their daily professional and personal lives.”
Dario drove for many years and, for even more years, he has taken photos of, and written about, other riders. His work is characterised by the dichotomy between the objectivity with which he wants to tell people what happens during the competitions in his own words, and the subjectivity with which he takes his photos.
“As a journalist, I always try to tell what occurs during the competitions ‘from the heart’. I approach my tasks with the same spirit that I have always had. Of course, this can’t be said about my body which, at the age of sixty-eight, definitely isn’t that of a boy. As a photographer, on the other hand, my main aim is to take a photo that conveys something first and foremost to myself: if this isn’t the case, I am convinced that other eyes will remain completely unaffected by everything the picture contains.”
Just like the riders, there must be specific reasons that caused this man never to stop loving what he does and to continue doing it with such a unique constancy for so many years. The past can often provide answers. In this case, he never really lost his rider’s DNA from which he must have also forged his professional approach.
“I have always believed that whatever job you accept you accept for your readers who are your only true employers. Then there is also the fact that I want to approach competitions in the same was as I did when I raced, because, in the end, you can only really feel proud and like you did your duty when the report published in Motosprint is a good one. Every time I write I have to remember a famous sentence of the American Supreme Court in which it is explained that ‘the press was to serve the governed, not the governors’.”
Dario has noticed how the riders’ approach has changed over the years. In the 1980s, it was ‘beautiful and romantic’. Over time, he witnessed how the competitive aspect became increasingly strong until it reached the heights of professionalism today’s riders represent. However, he adds a belief that all the main protagonists of Enduro have in common.
“In Enduro, the human aspect of this sport never changes.”
Maybe it’s exactly because of this that he mentions the late-lamented Mika Ahola as the champion he not only loved the most, but also considers the best rider he has ever seen.
Everyone has a dream and Dario gives the impression that he has been living his dream for over forty years. For example, in 1990, he was willing to invest his own money in order to be able to create a book on Enduro, even if he had the support of companies that had invested in advertising at the time.
It seems like he enjoys chasing dreams: the books have greatly increased in numbers over time and, today, his twenty-ninth book is about to come out.
“I will never stop thanking companies, friends, and sponsors for all their support. Great fans just like me. Already two years ago, I had the great honour of being able to exhibit my photos and a small collection of Enduro motorbikes at La Rinascente, the most important and most famous luxury department store in the world, in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo. All of this because La Rinascente’s management are also crazy about Enduro.”
Without the words and images of other fans like Dario, they might not be so crazy about it.
We thank Dario Agrati for his availability.