Giro d’Italia

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”~ Mark Twain

I’ve never really been into biking as a sport.  But after having been to a bike race, I have to confess that there’s something enthralling about joining the throngs of people, cheering on bikers that they don’t even know.  Today, Giro d’Italia stopped through Orvieto.  I don’t know much about the bike race itself, but our director told us it’s the Italian version of the Tour de France.  Pretty intense, to say the least.  I do not envy these bikers for having to pedal up the face of the cliff to Orvieto rupe.

A group of us meandered down to Piazza Cahen at around 4:30.  The bikers were supposed to arrive in Orvieto at around five.  It was crowded, but not Boston Red Sox game crowded (fortunately…I don’t think our little town could hold that many people…).  The most striking feature about this race is that the color is pink.  Not pastel pink, or coral, but hot pink.  I am now the proud owner of a hot pink drawstring bag with Giro d’Italia emblazoned in black on it.

The whole feel of the race seemed kind of like a cross between what I feel like a watching a marathon would be like and Taiwanese New Year Celebration where they set up a giant stage and have loudspeakers blasting in every direction.  Vans opened up, selling hot pink Giro d’Italia kits.  The giant stage at the front of the piazza sported a massive screen on which views of the bikers were projected.  The loudspeaker, in addition to playing music, had a commentator talking over the music and telling us how many kilometers till they reached Orvieto.  Massive blow-ups of a cold tea bottle told everyone who the primary sponsor of the race was.

We finally found an opening by the fence so we could see what was happening.  It took a while, but finally by 5:10 the police cars and motorcycles starting rolling in, followed by the bikers.  I now know the Italian equivalent to the Mandarin “Jia-yo!”  Cries of “Vai! Vai! Vai!” filled the air…it sounds so much more poetic in Italian, whereas in English the translation would just be “Go, go, go!” which just sounds kinda lame.

I really admire anyone who completes a race like Giro d’Italia.  Just thinking about biking up the cliff is exhausting.  And the fact that it’s not always about winning the race.  I mean, winning a race like that is always a plus, but to be able to say that you completed a race like that?  I think they should get an award for just that.

I also like the way Italians get into their sports more than Americans.  Americans go crazy in an uncontrolled way.  Italians go crazy, but it’s much more controlled in the sense that they know what they’re going crazy for.  Their noise may or may not match the noise you’d hear in a Taiwanese celebration of some sort, with hand clappers and cheering, but it doesn’t matter how loud they are.  They have a reason for getting into.  Americans too often forget their reason and just use it as an excuse to go crazy.

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