Friday, March 27, 2009

Professional L'Eroica

Mansini, our "Italian" correspondent, lives just across the Italian border in Switzerland. As he mentioned in his comment to the previous posting, there is also a professional version of L'Eroica, which I suspect was originally set up as an Italian answer to Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, the mother of all races. Like P-R it has it's own road issues, rather than the cobbles, it has the white choking road dust of le strade bianche and 15% grades. If you don't have a frame of reference to a 15% grade, it'll turn a good cyclist into a pedestrian pushing a bicycle. Kvale has ridden these hills on his vacation. I said that it really sounded like fun. Chris, who would never directly call me a lard ass, said simply and directly, "You can't do it." As an indication of the backbreaking difficulty of this race, in 2007 only 42 of 113 professional starters completed the race, a much higher drop out rate than the supposedly difficult Tour de France (an easy ride through the countryside). The Italian people seem to appreciate the suffering of cyclists, but for some reason never have adopted the professional L'Eroica, preferring instead to cheer on the amateurs, the everyman, those that Mansini referred to as "the duffers". Careful Rory, you're hitting pretty close to home there. I am rather proud of my dufferhood.

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