The Italian FMX King of Style
In Italy everything is done with style: the way they make cars, the clothes they wear, the food, you name it. Style is like a religion so it seems. The man leading the charge in the Italian FMX style department is Alvaro Dal Farra. After he canned a promising snowboarding career to pursue freestyle, his FMX career is booming. Dal Farra's life is unfolding exactly as he wants with style.
Back in '02 Alvaro Dal Farra's snowboarding season had just come to an end. He was sitting at home in the small Italian hillside town of Belluno, trying to adjust, when he made a call to longtime friend and Oakley athlete manager Giovanni Balestra. The call went something like this:
"Hey Giovanni, it's Alvaro. What's up my friend?"
"Hey Alvaro, how are you, you want to ride an FMX comp in Rome in two weeks time?"
"Well ring this number and talk to the promoter."
When Alvaro hung up the phone he was excited and terrified at the same time. He'd been settling into a great snowboarding career hucking 720s over huge gaps all winter. But that phone call would change his life forever.
The promoter knew Alvaro well from snowboard magazines and films. Once Alvaro told the promoter of his desire to start riding FMX the promoter happily invited him to try his hand testing the jump they'd be using at the competition. Alvaro didn't care about being paid; FMX was just a hobby for him then. He just wanted the experience to see if he had what it took to make the grade in FMX.
"So will it be a dirt jump?" Alvaro asked to the promoter.
"No, we have a metal kicker from America. You can try it out this weekend," the promoter replied.
Alvaro ended the call and thought to himself, "F---!" The weekend was only a few days away and Alvaro couldn't even remember where he'd left his Kawasaki KX250, let alone if it was in running order.
Three days later, after finding his bike, prepping it, and taking it for a quick squirt around his garden to get a feel for it again, he arrived at the freestyle park of Mikki Monti. Along the way he'd picked up two people: one a photographer to capture his first day hitting the kicker and the other, a friend for moral support.
Before they'd even parked the car, Alvaro's eyes nearly popped out of his head when top Italian freestyler, Massimo Bianconcini, hit the ramp and launched into a Hart Attack. Alvaro remembers the moment as if it were yesterday.
I followed him 40 or 50 times, and then just decided to go for it. I made the jump perfect.
--Alvaro Dal Farra
"Straight away I freaked," he says. "It looked so big, and I thought it's not possible for me. I still had the goggle mark on my face from snowboarding in the winter sun and didn't want to get out of the car. Previous to that day I'd only ever jumped dirt tabletops, never a jump with a gap in the middle. Everyone except Mikki jumped with a 125 so he told me to follow him to check my speed. I was so scared of the metal ramp and the gap."
"I followed him 40 or 50 times, and then just decided to go for it. I made the jump perfect. Man, I was so happy! Before too long, I tried tricks I'd only practiced on smaller dirt jumps cliffhanger, double can, heelclicker and nac nac but it took me awhile to get used to the kick off the ramp, and adjusting the angle of my bike in the air."
This is the story of Alvaro Dal Farra's life. He has the balls to go for it, and so far, it's all worked out in his favor.
What you need to remember is that Alvaro was not a skilled motorcycle rider back then. Sure, he had natural talent, good balance and control from snowboarding. But jumping a dirt bike off a serious ramp is an entirely different ballgame. Alvaro didn't grow up racing motocross or trail riding through acres of bush. He had one of those dads who said a big "NO" to owning a motorcycle. At 14, the closest thing Alvaro had to a dirt bike was a Cíao bicycle with a tiny lawn mower engine on it he rode it back and forth to school. But a year later, Alvaro and his mates saved enough money to secretly buy an old moto bike with two springs in the back. That's when Alvaro got his start getting foot-high airs in the local paddock.
There was no doubt Alvaro had the passion for jumping bikes. At 16 he'd saved enough money working in a fabric manufacturing plant to buy a '92 Honda CR125. But he still had no money left, no car to take him anywhere and no support from his parents. There was only illegal riding in paddocks.
The most important thing to me in motocross and in life is style and being different.
--Alvaro Dal Farra
After a while, Alvaro sold the bike and turned his focus to a snowboarding career, where he quickly gained a reputation. Alvaro's natural flair and partying ways suited the snowboard lifestyle well: Ride by day and party all night.
Alvaro's first freestyle bike came a few years down the road. At 23, he'd been snowboarding professionally for a few years, making money from sponsors and competitions. With that money he bought a Honda CR250, took it to the local track and hit some properly shaped dirt jumps for the first time.
But Alvaro and friends ran into troubles that are hard to imagine for riders in the states.
"My friend and I got kicked out of the local motocross track," Alvaro explains. "The boss didn't like our image [baggy shorts and gear] and our bikes with cutdown guards and shaved seats."
Alvaro and his friends were forced to build their own jump at a friend's place, where Alvaro would begin to learn his first maneuvers. But when Alvaro's friend snapped his femur badly, it scared Alvaro enough to park the bike for a while, yet again. He headed back to the softer slopes for one more snowboarding season.
The Big Toe in Daboot
When Alvaro hit his first serious kicker back in '02, it was the start of many great things to come. He connected with Italians Miki and Massimo straight away. And, after making it safely through his first competition, he rode every chance he could, picking up tricks faster than many riders with more experience.
A year later, traveling with Massimo and Jader Toninello, a name for their expanding crew popped up.
The track owner didn't like our image [baggy shorts and gear] and our bikes with cutdown guards and shaved seats.
--Alvaro Dal Farra
"We were all throwing around names that we thought sounded good," Alvaro remembers. "Jader was coming out with all sorts of names, but we kept telling him they were s---. Then he shouted out, 'Daboot.' Like, we wear boots in freestyle and Italy is shaped like a boot."
Flash forward a few years and Alvaro is the driving force behind one of Europe's strongest freestyle teams. He is the businessman of Daboot, the most marketable one because of his colorful character, and the one who knows how to deal with people and make things happen. He is the only rider from the Daboot crew who is personally sponsored by the Fiat car company, which also sponsors the team as a whole. He has a custom-designed Alpinestars boot and clothing line. Alvaro also has side projects including owning a shoe company called CMYK with his friends and building snowboard parks each winter.
Alvaro succeeds at everything he puts his mind to but he has only one rule that's he followed the entire time: "Ride to party!" Alvaro doesn't mind working hard, as long as he gets to party even harder.