What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro Di PEZ: The Race Of The Lasts

Post-Giro Roadside: This year I chased just three stages. I chose the three stages closest to home for me, in the centre of Italy, on the Adriatic side. At the end these three days, they had been the warmest days of the entire Giro; we have never had it so hot in May. Now it’s colder and those days seem so far in the past. Was it just a dream?

The only solid proof I have that I really lived that day are my pictures. All the rest is extremely confused. Everything has been so fast that I didn’t have enough time to taste it as I planned. It always seems to be that way, doesn’t it? The wake up was always too early, the roads were always too congested, the riders were always too fast. There was never enough time to write what I was really feeling, as everything was passing so fast, right through my hands…like sand through my fingers.

So, now, looking to the pictures I captured, I have the time to find something I didn’t at the time. I love now to bring that time closer, and look to the faces of the riders from those days. I don’t look to the protagonists, but to the last riders. Looking at them I better remember those moments, especially the ones I also shared whilst riding my own bike. You’ll often find here on PEZ other of my colleagues, much better trained than me. Sometimes I read their stories, and I would like to be with them, on their wheels, during their fantastic trips. It’s often the case with Jered Gruber and his top rides.

The reality is that I wouldn’t be able to do what they do. I’m not well trained, and every meter of elevation gained means a lot of suffering for me. I still remember the day I was on the Monte Nerone waiting for the Giro. It was terribly hot, and I was completely exhausted. But then, looking to the lasts I found the energy to climb part of the Monte Petrano as well to watch the final moments of the 16th stage.

So, this is not a story; it’s just a tribute to the riders that were able to ride this Giro. A tribute to the lasts, those who lost the wheels, but tried to fight till the end of their power. It’s their loneliness, the printed expression they had on their faces that makes the difference. It’s a mix of desperation, panic, anger, but it’s also a firm determination to continue. No matter how many kilometres they did alone, how much time they were losing, or what their general standing position was.

They are suffering, and that suffering is real. This is what makes cycling different. It’s not the great attack, not the highest mountain. It’s the suffering, the plight of the lasts. The Giro of the lasts. And it’s something everybody has felt at least once in his life on a bike. Do you remember? You were feeling strong, but suddenly you start to worry. Why? No answer. It’s not your breathing, not your legs, just a general feeling. Your whole body was losing strength and you weren’t able to understand what was happening.

The shivers. The headache. The thirst. The bike wasn’t your friend anymore and you didn’t care anymore about that climb or that ride. Now, looking at them I remember very well my Giro. There was no time for anything. It was a storm, a fast summer storm. Bologna, Faenza, Forlм, Pergola. All mixed together. The traffic was terrible. The riders always too fast. The plans too optimistic. No time to write what I really was living.

The Giro has gone one more time. The last rider has completed his own hard ride through Italy, summited the last mountain, and now looks to the next ardors. The pictures remain with me though. The hidden story of the people who rode the Giro, and were elated just to complete the saga. There should be a reason for everything, but now, looking to their faces – it’s hard to find one. There seems to be no reason, save for the love of cycling.

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