The following entry was painstakingly typed on my Blackberry.
The Giro. It’s nothing short of spectacular. In order to walk that dramatic line, err make that pedal that line, the race from start to finish must simply be over the top.
Anecdotes to support this? There are plenty. Even if you’re only following the Giro superficially, you’ve certainly seen that crashes have marred the opening two road stages. With no fewer than a pair of broken bones, a grotesque amount of opened skin road rash, and not just one hiney on display (mine), but now two in as many days courtesy of Brushegin’s brush with the pavement yesterday, yes the Giro d’Netherlandia is off to a precarious start.
Looking at the race profile before the Giro started, one would see that these opening three Dutch days climb a cumulative four and a half meters. Therefore, to make up for a lack of a vertical challenge, the route in and around Amsterdam has what I call “three-dimensional road art” or traffic islands to the layman. To the average American, however, I can’t even begin to describe what this entails. It’s not an occasional speedbump or flower bed alongside the road; rather, it’s an indescribable number of signs in the road, random cement barriers, cobbles through towns at 50+kph, cones in the road, three inch drops from bike path to road, yes, the absurd flower bed showcasing Holland’s finest flora, roundabouts by the dozen, and literally hundreds upon hundreds more bits of 3-D road art strewn about at random like a priceless Picasso.
Let’s just say that I think it was characteristically telling of things to come that the Giro’s kilometer zero marker, which is a symbolic kick off to the race, was split by a ginormous traffic island nearly causing a massive wreck the moment the Giro’s first road stage commenced.
I also couldn’t help but find it entertaining that the first communique from race officials stated that cyclists have now been warned of “speed bumps, traffic islands, and paved sections.” Yes, paved sections. Gotta keep your eyes peeled for those!
But look, don’t shoot the messenger here, I’m honestly not complaining – I’m merely observing and reporting. The Giro is known to be spectacularly over-the-top and last night’s transfer from Holland to Italy proper was equally over the top and thoroughly entertaining. After a two-hour bus transfer post five-hour stage, then a frenzied trip through the airport amid aggressive Belgian fans, we boarded a plane bound for Italy. (I’m sure this was among the top five lightest full capacity flights in the history of aviation, as no one had checked luggage and we have 200 svelte cyclists and staff who’s average BMI is in the range of 19. Again, just an observation.)
Ultimately, we arrived in Italy thinking a bus to our hotel would get us to our rooms and horizontally recovering in bed by midnight. So it was dizzying to instead arrive amid the paparazzi’s flashing bulbs, lead through regal flagged fanfare and orchestra (see photo) to a massive tent and a four course meal… all beginning just shy of mid-night. See the second photo – the blurriness is how we all felt at that moment not knowing what the heck to expect next.
Alas as the clocks pushed one AM and still there were teams waiting for their first course to arrive, the collective sensibility of cyclists racing a Grand Tour trumped the spectacle of the event and to some peoples’ chagrin we boarded buses for our hotels. Sometimes sleep is more important than a photo op in the middle of the night with Leonardo or Fibonacci or whomever.