Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Language of Cycling

I realized today that there are no language barriers in this emotional sport of cycling. If you have a passion for the sport, you can ride with almost anyone. Cycling is a language in itself. Maybe that's why I am finding it easier to assimilate into the culture and make new friends, despite my elementary command of the language. When you're riding with a group, body language talks. Stlye talks. Etiquette talks. You can read alot about a person just from the way they ride. You can tell if they're happy, sad, aggressive, mad. Whether they're having a good day, if they're tired, angry, greedy, timid, stressed, sharp, shy, tenacious, extroverted, selfish, considerate, genuine or friendly. Regardless of what language you speak, when you share the passion of the open terrain, when you sweat together, work together, sprint against each other, try to outskill each other, you are simply talking a common language that has no need for words. The group dynamic is something you feel, and cannot describe. You just have to be there. The commuication is invisible. Sometimes you only get a chance to talk to each other at the begining of the ride and at the espresso stop. But that doesn't mean that you aren't talking. That's one of the reasons why I love so much to ride. It is a happy and healthy way to develop a cameradie with people.

Today I rode with 8 team members to Borgo San Lorenzo, for about 56 miles. It was the first time that I saw again David, Giuseppe, Zanobi, Massimo, Filippo and Chris. We rode north through a headwind at the begining...the pace was brisk and the company quickly disappeared, but what could I expect? I was dust in the wind. Lorenzo and Zanobi appeared at the summit to coach me on. Had I known where I was, I would never have expected them to wait for me, but they did. I can't expect to keep up with them, no matter how hard I train. It would be like trying to keep up with the Tuedsay Renegade Ride. For now, I will be happy to roll out with them at the start, and use my Garmin to get me back home.

On the way back I heard someone calling me from the street! "Barbara!!!". I was astonished to see Barbara Livolsi on her city bike, riding home from work at Euro Pass. I met Barbara last year and no sooner did we start becoming friends, that I left here for California. She admitted that she had wondered if I was really coming back to Florence. We immediately made plans to ride together this Sunday. Barbara is a native Italian from Florence. She owns and directs a private Italian Language and Arts school here named Euro Pass. In January she took me for a tour of her school, which attracts foreign students from all over the U.S. and Europe.

Also, today Leif and I talked about some upcoming multi-day bike tours that I might be interested in guiding, including itineraries to Radda in Chianti and Siena. I am thrilled to have this opportunity and will be speaking to him further in the next few days to discuss training and logistics!

I am looking forward to my first Gran Fondo this Saturday.