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Giro D'Italia '49(7 posts)

Giro D'Italia '49Spirito
May 20, 2002 4:51 AM
TO DO THE RACE? IT IS WONDERFUL!
(transcribed by Aldo Ross)

Palermo, the night of May 19, 1949.

Dino Buzzati writes.

Due to circumstance and the whims of Fate (about which it is too late now to
complain), he who today writes this article, as a reporter assigned to
follow the Giro d'Italia, has never before seen a bicycle race.

This writer HAS seen races, of course, on water or on land, of one kind or
another.

He has never, though, seen the greats of bike racing competing the in bright
sunlight, racing numbers pinned to the backs of their dusty jerseys, spare
tires slung over their shoulders, their faces caked with sweat and soot and
dust.

He HAS seen, for instance, children running to school when they were late,

Lightning dancing across the sky during a gray-black storm,

People rushing toward air raid shelters in the blare of sirens,

Once he even saw a thief running - practically flying - being chased down
Via Andrea del Sarto in Milano. When they caught him I think they beat him;
but I couldn't be certain, because it all happened at the end of the street
and there was a lot of confusion.

I have seen ostriches in the African desert, running with the speed of a
gunshot.

I have seen explosive shells fired from enemy ships, racing across the
night, trailing a faint red glow, etching gentle arcs in the indigo sky.
Some of them actually bounced off the water like skipping stones, splashing
wildly into the far distance.

I have seen fast trains at twilight, their small square windows illuminated.
I have seen the dreams and fantasies they aroused as they hurtled across the
empty, darkening landscape. They were magnificent.

Many years ago I saw a jersey-clad racer training on Via Aurelia, and
someone told me it was the great racer Costante Girardengo, but I don't
think so, because it didn't look like him.

I have even seen Charles The Bold's messenger bursting through the forest,
bringing a last-minute pardon to his faithful squire, who was falsely
accused of treason, and whose blonde head the executioner was about to chop
off, but that was in a movie, and perhaps it wasn't true at all

I have seen with my own eyes, in the pinkish-yellow glow just before dawn, a
pair of flying saucers hovering over the rooftops of Milano; they were red
and seemed quite unthreatening. However, nobody wanted to believe me.

I have seen time fly - alas, so many years, months and days - playing havoc
on us humans, changing our faces little by little, racing at a frightening
pace, ever since the beginning of time itself, much faster than any speed
achievable by racing cyclist or driver or aviator or astronaut.

And me, too, for once upon a time, when I was a boy, I raced astride a
bicycle whose mudguards I had removed (so it would look a little more like
the bikes the champions rode), and I remember how one evening I stuck close
to Miss Alfonsina Strada's wheel for two whole laps around the park.
Honest!.

.after which I exploded, leaving me humiliated, especially when, after
Alfonsina shot-off like an arrow, a policeman grabbed me and fined me twenty
lire for speeding - an enormous sum of money in those days.

Thus I have seen quite a number of things racing. Never, however, have I
seen the giants of the road facing each other in an annual event sanctioned
by cycling's top organizations. This is, beyond any doubt, a drawback for a
reporter who is getting ready to cover an historic event like the Giro
d'Italia.

It is this deficiency that my fellow travelers, veterans of the Giro, take
advantage of, either in humor or malice. And since the Giro, in a sense,
already began the day before yesterday in Genoa.

(An odd news item: yesterday evening, off the coast of Capri, Serse Coppi
suddenly started to feel seasick, and had to go lie down in his berth, and
even his brother, Fausto,
Giro D'Italia '49 (part 2)Spirito
May 20, 2002 4:53 AM
cont.......
(An odd news item: yesterday evening, off the coast of Capri, Serse Coppi
suddenly started to feel seasick, and had to go lie down in his berth, and
even his brother, Fausto, did not look completely at ease, even though our
ship, the "Citta di Tunisi", seemed to me as stable as a massive basalt
cliff.)

...there was plenty of time for these old hands, these "fountains of
knowledge", to educate me, constantly trading old stories, humiliating me.
Thus:

"Do you remember??? Camusso punctured on the Ghisallo, and Pelissier
started an all-out brawl with Antonin Magne at the finish line."

??? (what?) ???

There were veterans who browbeat me, and others who gave me a glimpse of the
coming nineteen stages as a series of restful sanctuaries. They told me so
many stories that, whatever the case may be, whether the Giro turns out to
be just a fancy exhibition race or a torture or a gigantic affair or a lyric
poem or a comedy or a savage battle, at least one of them, these veterans
who lectured me, will be right!

One of them says that the Giro is a wonderful physical tonic, a joyous
outing in the countryside, a pilgrimage from one trattoria to another
through gastronomic Italy. He says that he used to go every year to
Montecatini, but now instead he follows the Giro and gets much more out of
it. When he returns home his wife is amazed (or so he tells us) at how much
younger he looks.

Another one, with equal experience and seniority, maintains instead that the
Giro is an hellish machine, designed to destroy men, racers, helpers,
officials, journalists, photographers, everything. He says that for three
weeks you fast, or nearly so, eating at most a heavy sandwich at breakfast,
and choking down a meal in the evening because you are so hurried and
exhausted. As for sleep, he adds - that's even worse! Last year, for
example, he managed at most only four hours of sleep between stages, and
only after the final stage did he get a whole night's sleep.

(But can that be true?)

One fellow tells me it's all a set-up. The cyclists finish first, second,
third, and so on, based on predetermined agreements, plots, corruption,
obscure higher interests. He probably believes in Dialectical Materialism,
Karl Marx's philosophy which attempts to explain everything based on alleged
"economic factors", even the boils the racer Luigi Malabrocca is suffering!
Nonetheless, it is stimulating. The crowds are merely naïve, he says, and
the tifosi, who rant and rave and loose sleep if their favorite has lost a
couple of minutes, are insane. The favorite had his own reasons, they can be
sure.

But there is another fellow, just as clever and intelligent as the others,
who swears to the majestic and absolute purity of the Giro. He sees it as
one of the last great examples of individual and collective mysticism. Even
if they have loads of money, the racers knock themselves out, just for the
Spirit, the Ideal. And it is this Spirit, this Ideal, nothing else, that
draws crowds to the side of the road. He dismisses everything else: money,
fame, special interests, even physical ablilty. It is the Spirit, he says,
only the power of this Ideal, which turns the wheels, climbs the mountains,
breaks the records. In his opinion, the champions are Chosen Heroes, the
organizers represent Priestly Celebrants, and the anonymous tifosi amass as
a Flaming Tide of Faith.

There is one other, one who complains all day long, cursing his decision to
accept assignment to the Giro again. He already predicts dreadful strains,
downpours, discomfort, bedbugs in uncomfortable hotels, and colds. He swears
that, since a certain racer is absent, the race doesn't have the least
interest for him, and it might as well not have been held at all, and that
no one gives a darn! In his worst moments, he
Giro D'Italia '49 (part 3)Spirito
May 20, 2002 5:00 AM
There is one other, one who complains all day long, cursing his decision to
accept assignment to the Giro again. He already predicts dreadful strains,
downpours, discomfort, bedbugs in uncomfortable hotels, and colds. He swears
that, since a certain racer is absent, the race doesn't have the least
interest for him, and it might as well not have been held at all, and that
no one gives a darn! In his worst moments, he proclaims that bicycle racing
is dead! Dead and buried! The champion breed has vanished. In the atomic
age the pedal crank is scrap metal belonging in a museum. To stubbornly
keep running this shoddy affair is absurd!

But I look at him - he is about forty-five, sturdy, and always seems ready
to fend off a surprise attack. His face is a bit rough, his expression a
little stern, but at the same time he's somehow likable.

I have been observing him closely for a day. I haven't yet figured out if he
is a team manager, a sports director, a head mechanic, or a masseur. He
grumbles and sneers, looks on the dark side of everything, and rushes around
breathlessly, as if disaster was impending.

I imagine he will be like this until the end of the Giro - a misfit, one
might imagine at first glance - one who's obligation is to labor against
his will, in an atmosphere that is repugnant to him.

So it seemed on first meeting him.

...but then I changed my mind.

I observe him now as he moans and groans and rushes around, acting like an
irritable old bulldog. I watch him with great pleasure and ask myself: How
long has it been since I have seen anyone so happy?

_______________________________________

thanks to aldo r.

some links for more flavor and pics

http://www.uwgb.edu/galta/333/giuliano.htm

http://www.sicilian.net/salvatoregiuliano/english/turiddu.html

http://www.reformation.org/garibaldi.html

http://members.aol.com/bry1976/saturnia/


enjoy....ciao
Marx and cycling- and it flows, amazing!!! thank you nmDjudd
May 20, 2002 5:46 AM
italian writers! as good as italian bikes and italian wine.colker
May 20, 2002 8:14 AM
dante. malaparte. Lampedusa... not to mention the old school, ovidio, luciano..
Don't forget Italian cinema!guido
May 20, 2002 8:28 PM
Vittoria DeSica, later to marry and direct the Italian Earth Mother, Sophia Loren, his first film, "The Bicycle Thief," about postwar Rome in 1949. It was a new form, "neo-realism," shot on the streets, with little known actors, like a documentary. It's influence reached as far as Lucas, Copolla and Speilberg, through Antonioni, Truffaut, Godard, Resnais, Rohmer, and of course Frederico Fellini, a class act all his own.

The story on Garibaldi, the Popes and their Papal States, in relationship to Mussolini and Hitler, is echoed today in Israel, defined by the United Nations as the only state founded on a single religion, and in racist opposition to any right of citizenship to Palestinian Muslims.

But this has nothing to do with cycling, only modern history. The bicycle in "The Bicycle Thief" was a metaphor for survival, something this board can relate to.

Interesting posts, Spirito.
i don't but i see no echoes of the giro in palestine!!colker
May 21, 2002 7:18 AM
since i'm a jew and no racist as well as every single jew i have met in school as a kid and in my adult life... i'm slightly insulted when jewish law is referred as rascism. be it from the un or a fellow ciclist cause part of my family was massacred on racist principles..
jew kids (like norman granz) were the first to propel jazz music on ty\he mainstream when blkack people were second class citizens in part of the states. jew filmmakers and writers of israel raise their voices against militarism and teh extreme right in israel. israel wss founded by european jews, raised on tolerance and conscience that racism is the utmost form of stupidity... as much as there is injustice, pain, death and horror in the palestine refugee camps in israel, as much as paletinians have rights that are ebing denied when having to go through barriers, when having their issues decided on israel law that is a jewish law, it is still wrong to call a jewish state a racist state.btw, it's a cycling forum, let's move on to cycling matters.