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THIS IS A GIRO SPOILER!!! (well 53 years ago)....(13 posts)

THIS IS A GIRO SPOILER!!! (well 53 years ago)....Spirito
May 17, 2002 11:47 AM
(Transcribed by aldo Ross.)

Onboard the passenger liner "Saturnia", the night of May 17th, 1949.

Dino Buzzati writes...

We open the door to cabin number 223. Darkness, and the musical whisper of
an electric fan. In here are Lucienne Buysse, Roger Missine, Jef Van der
Helst, and Giuseppe Cerami, racing cyclists. They are asleep.

We open the door to cabin number 234. Darkness here, too. This room is
assigned to Albert Dubuisson and Jean Lesage. They, too, are asleep.

And here and there, behind the bright white doors which line the deserted
corridor, are others: Ferdi Kubler, Nedo Logli, Monari, Valenta, Conte,
Crippa, and on and on, borne through the Mediterranean night, lulled into
slumber by the quiet purr of the ship, whose stupendous lights can be seen
(even at such a great distance) by fishermen in their small boats, as if
they were seeing a mirage. And though they know what it is, they point and
call out to one another, hardly able to believe their eyes.

Bysse, Missine, Van der Helst, Cerami. names - some famous, some not.

Tomorrow morning we land at Napoli.

In the evening we set sail on another ship. And the day after that, the
landing at Palermo.

One more day after that, and then everyone will climb into their saddle,
position their feet on the pedals and, teeth clenched, off they will gallop,
ready for this great adventure.

But tonight, in this brilliantly illuminated ship, how relaxed their dreams
must be.

Thus this morning in Genoa the 32nd Giro d'Italia began with this strange
maritime debut - actually, only a small number of the Giro's protagonists
are here on board the passenger liner Saturnia: team managers, technical
directors, mechanics, masseurs, etc.

As for actual cyclists, there are only 23. Fausto Coppi, for example, is
not here. Nor is Gino Bartali.

Many of the cyclists, having never sailed before (especially those from
rural areas) blindly believed the terrible tales of seasickness, and instead
are currently traveling down the Italian peninsula in old, worn-out trains.

Many will join the sea travelers in Napoli for the short trip across the
Mare Tirreno to Palermo. But, for the record, the story of the 1949 Giro
d'Italia began this morning, when the gangplank was removed and the mooring
lines were cast-off.

Can we compare this with the departure of Garibali's "Mille di Quarto",
which left from Liguria on May 6th, 1860? It would be wrong for us not to
do so, for it is impossible that whoever devised this unprecedented start
did so without remembering the "Leone (Lion) di Caprera".

And even if the organizers didn't do so consciously, they have copied, for
cycling rather than military purposes, the same reasoning which Garibaldi's
used 90 years ago.

Is there perhaps a sort of "peninsular strategy", a recurring, obligatory
solution for whomsoever decides to conquer Italy? A strategy which does not
allow any deviation from the traditional path, even when the invasion is
launched by bicycle?

Tonight, however, the heroes of tomorrow's adventure are not "keeping watch"
as Garibaldi's sentries did on the maintops of the ships "Piemonte" and
"Lombardo." These heroes are sleeping, savoring the sweetness of this
comfortable, elegant night, lulled by the hundred voices of the ship -
voices which in the wee hours tell wonderful stories about oceans, whales,
skyscrapers, exotic lovers, and distant cities with names too difficult to

Tomorrow, at breakneck speed, they will tackle the road, straight and long -
the great enemy that ends in nothingness on the horizon, or snakes it's way
through a steep crag, the very sight of which takes one's breath away. A
road covered with stones or dust or mud or tarmac, or ruined by potholes. An
endless ribbon that must be consumed,
THIS IS A GIRO SPOILER!!! part 2Spirito
May 17, 2002 11:51 AM
Tomorrow, at breakneck speed, they will tackle the road, straight and long -
the great enemy that ends in nothingness on the horizon, or snakes it's way
through a steep crag, the very sight of which takes one's breath away. A
road covered with stones or dust or mud or tarmac, or ruined by potholes. An
endless ribbon that must be consumed, little by little.

But tonight there is only the immense, broad avenue of the sea, which has no
potholes, nor ditches, nor climbs. A soft carpet that the ship's prow cuts
with startling ease, as if it were made of silk. No need for leg muscles to
push it with turns of the pedals.

Tomorrow there will be sweat, cramps, aching knees, hearts in the throat,
muscle fatigue, thirst, curses, flat tires, collapses of body and soul. That
bitter taste in the mouth when the others, the good ones, break away,
disappearing in a whirlwind of cheers.

But tonight, lying in the soft berth, with muscles soothed and relaxed, they
are young, resilient, extraordinary, irresistible, buoyed by the promise of

Tomorrow, there will be merciless orders from team manager's to dutifully
drag the team captain, who is not feeling up to it, to haul him up the
slopes like a sack, fruitlessly throwing away one's own best strength in the
process, on the very day when this mere gregario was hoping to attack!

But tonight there are no orders from the team manager, no differences in
status. Tonight even the lowliest trainee is like a Napoleon.

And he dreams...

He dreams, this little soldier who has never heard the crowd roar his name,
nor been lifted victoriously onto the shoulders of the delirious throng. He
dreams of what all men have an absolute need to imagine, at one time or
another, for otherwise life would be too difficult to bear.

He is dreaming of HIS Giro d'Italia, an awe-inspiring revenge, and right
from the very start of course!

One hundred six kilometers from Palermo, where the road begins the difficult
climb toward the Colle del Contrasto, more than 3000 feet above sea level,
out of the thundering pack of racers, still as compact as a herd of buffalo,
who leaps out? None other than he, the gregario, the unknown one, whose
name children have never chalked on suburban walls, as encouragement or as

Alone, he hurls himself like a madman up the steep climb, while the others
ignore him.

"What an idiot," says one know-it-all, "That's the best way to do yourself
in! In five minutes at most he'll explode."

But he continues to fly, as if carried by a supernatural force. He devours
switchback after switchback as if, instead of climbing, he was hurtling down
the Stelvio, or some other mountain pass.

Behind him the others are no longer visible. People along the road shout
"Bravo, Bartali!", but he shakes his head, trying to make them understand
that he is someone else.

"Who is he, then?" No one recognizes him. In order to identify him they
must look for his number on the list printed in the newspaper.

And panic runs through Sicily...

"When will this little wretch give up?" This "joke" is annoying everyone.
"Now THIS is TOO MUCH! Let's teach that madcap a lesson."

The aces arch their backs. Yes!, it is Coppi himself who will inflict the
punishment!. Bartali, of course, is stuck to Coppi's side. What had
earlier seemed to be so amusing now turns into a gigantic battle.

But he, the anonymous one, the last of the last, has donned wings. A
twenty-minute lead, twenty-five, thirty. Compared with him, who are these
campionissimi? What are Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali? Poor little grubs
plodding in his wake far, far behind, losing minute after minute.

Here, finally, is the city of Catania, and the finish. The rumor of a
"miracle" has arrived before him, unleashing a frenzy of crowds, flags,
THIS IS A GIRO SPOILER!!! part 2Spirito
May 17, 2002 11:56 AM
Here, finally, is the city of Catania, and the finish. The rumor of a
"miracle" has arrived before him, unleashing a frenzy of crowds, flags,
applause, flowers, kisses, and brass bands.

The time-keepers, with staring eyes, scan the road. He arrives
unexpectedly, like an arrow, on a road that is clear, totally deserted,
incredibly empty.

The hands of the stopwatch run on, and still no one else appears.
Forty-seven minutes, forty eight, fifty-five, sixty! One hour and five
minutes go by before the pursuers are seen emerging in the distance. The
crowd has remained, watching them in silence.

How easy it is to dream this night, on board the great illuminated ship. But
why be satisfied with one stage? Why not increase the lead to a couple of
hours? Why not continue the miracle all the way to the finish of the very
last stage?

:::The average for the Giro: 46 kilometers per hour!:::

:::A day-an-a-half's lead over second:::

:::Coppi out of his mind:::

:::Bartali confined to a monastery:::

After all, what does it cost, this dream? Lying back in his berth, he who
will never finish in front, this mere "pencil pusher" of the road, this
faithful servant, this most humble of the humble, smiles, victorious,

But perhaps it's not like that. Maybe even these fantasies are denied him,
and even in his sleep he remains a poor gregario.

Perhaps he is simply sleeping, relaxed like a beast of burden, weary after
the long road raced, exhausted by the distance yet to be covered, because he
knows he has no hope.

So then, it is better to just sleep.

Sleep and nothing else.

And he dreams of nothing.
NB. .........Spirito
May 17, 2002 12:01 PM
copies of the gazzetta del sport of the '49 giro are rare and impossible to find now. aldo ross has tyranscribed them all and if you fancy reading in day by day (as printed) serials of one of the greatest bikes races ever then i wil post them in the classics forum under "Today in the Giro d'Italia".

many thanks to aldo for his time and effort to bring it to us who are interested and appreciate it. we live for this stuff.

After all, what does it cost, this dream...AllisonHayes
May 17, 2002 12:15 PM
Thank you! Great post! Great read! Great line!


Pablo Neruda
Sonnet LXXXI

And now you're mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.
The night turns on its invisible wheels,
and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

No one else, love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
we will go together, over the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
and let their soft drifting signs drop away;
your eyes closed like two grey wings, and I move

after, following the folding water you carry, that carries
me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.
May 17, 2002 2:17 PM

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

--Billy Collins

One of my current favorites. Thought you might like it.

"the moth is life with its papery wings."AllisonHayes
May 17, 2002 3:42 PM
as i feel the wind on my morning ride
my limbs are as paper and I fly once again

thanks for sharing, Ahisma.

where on EARTHlonefrontranger
May 17, 2002 1:40 PM
did you find Aldo's stuff??!!!

He was my original coach and mentor, and is a seriously dangerously crazed retro-bike grouch. He's one of my oldest and dearest cycling buddies, and my SO and I have been begging him to come visit us ever since we moved out here.

He e-mails us these kind of stories every so often.
May 17, 2002 1:56 PM
i had noticed his offer of the daily transcriptiones via email on the classic rendezvous list and thought how cool to be emailed each day with that great race in exact detail. i know nothing of him really other than a few simple emails asking would he mind if i posted it on these pages and today his giro glory had started.

i dont feel comfortable posting someone's email address without them knowing but i can pass on yours to him if you would like (sory if the ettiquette seems a
little elaborate).

i still think its the coolest thing that he wishes to share what some of us would never see or read. he is a man of much spirit and a true cyclist if you ask me. (put something like "looking for aldo" in the subject line)

Too Highbrow?rwbadley
May 17, 2002 3:34 PM
Fun with SPAM Haiku

Sis saw Son spit SPAM
Sis' Son spurts, SPAM spew sprays Sis
"Screw SPAM spew" spouts Sis
Please do! Lyrical poetry..rwbadley
May 17, 2002 9:29 PM
it's a masterpiece.colker
May 17, 2002 6:41 PM
i haven't read anything as good about sport and humanity... maybe nelson rodrigues, the brazilian playwright genius, writing on football reaches the same depth and drama but it's dino buzzati and it's no less than genova, napoli and sicily thta he is talking about.
i would love to read curzio malaparte's on the giro. i read his "the skin" and "kapputt".
it's a masterpiece.colker
May 17, 2002 7:02 PM
since i mentioned nelson rodrigues, this a classic of his. football finals, botafogo x flamengo, crowded maracanã stadium. nilton santos, slaps the referee in the face after a terrible judgement on a faul. he is sent out of the game and every single commentator talks about the terrible attitude of the botafogo leader. next day rodrigues defended santos: he responded like a human being that couldn't stand unjustice, opened heart, outraged and the whole stadium silenced watching a single man confront his feelings.