Cycling with Ferrari

17 10 2008

In which a plethora of supercars make my regular cycling route more interesting

After my recent encounter with a group of Ferrari Californias during my usual bike ride, I discovered that Ferrari is holding the official test drives and press previews of the new model in my town. Automotive journalists are coming from all over the world to try out the new model and they are trying them out along the stretch of road where I usually go out riding my Wilier.

Ferrari California - more exciting than the Fiat 126s I usually see
Ferrari California – slightly more glamorous than the Fiat 126s I usually see

 

Since the excitement of seeing the Ferraris last time was followed by a bad (Mercedes) driver’s attempt to run me down in front of my house, I increased my visibility this week by wearing my bright yellow ‘bad boys of cycling’ kits – first a Riccardo Ricco style Saunier Duval outfit and after my retro Marco Pantani-Mercatone Uno kit.

I usually go out (when I can) around 5pm after a long day at work or sitting in front of the computer working on the final revisions for my book. On Wednesday in particular, a number of Ferraris were going up and down the road the entire time I was out. I saw red ones, blue ones, grey ones, with the tops up and down, with and without camera crews, going fast or slow. Wow! My favourite moment was watching a group of excited local Fiat drivers pass one particularly slow moving Ferrari. The locals were punching their fists in the air as they managed to pass the supercar (at approx. 30kmh). For you car buffs, I can only say that the new model looks nice and makes a very loud roar as it passes…

Meeting the stars

As I was coming up to the top of the steepest hill on my route, winding my way around the switchback curves after 35km of fun, I came across a parked car and camera crew. Curious and always keen to talk to the stars (I met Angelo ‘King Kong’ Mosca twenty years ago), I felt I recognized the ‘motoring journalist’ from somewhere:

Me: Are you the guy from the car show on British tv?

Star: Yes.

Me: Cool.

As I was speeding down the other side, by racing bike standards, the Ferrari zoomed past and the driver waved at me. After I got home, thanks to Google, I connected the face with Tom Ford from the tv programme Fifth Gear.

All in all, an interesting afternoon on the bike.

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Cycling in Italy

9 10 2008

Cycling in Italy is fun when you see the new Ferrari and the driver gives you a thumbs up

Cycling in Italy is no fun when drivers of crappy little Mercedes cars don’t see you

A Wilier like mine

A) a Wilier Triestina like mine

B) My Canada team kit

B) My Canada Olympic Team kit

I think I am noticeable with my flashy bike and cycling kit.
I tend to attract a lot of attention when I ride around town and in the country. The area where I live is one of the cycling meccas of southern Italy and there are many cycling tourists from around the world, especially in the spring, who want to chat about the local routes when we meet along the roads. Drivers will often wave from their cars as well. I have even had my picture taken by some hikers as I whizzed by.
like my Wilier, world championship Italian performance

Ferrari California: like my Wilier, world champion Italian performance

On Tuesday afternoon, I happened to come upon the road tests for the new Ferrari California. As I was pedaling home, I saw one red Ferrari after another – and not your garden variety Magnum PI models.The first driver recognized the spiritual kinship between our two examples of world-beating Italian performance engineering, slowing down on the curve to give me a thumbs up as I passed. The second driver went by at mach speed…
After all that excitement and 50 windy kms of exercise, I arrived back in town and discovered that I had become invisible. A couple of cars cut me off on the main road – one genius drove across from the other lane and parked in front of me at a 90 degree angle. Tired and irritated, I was glad to get on my quiet little street and relax for the final few metres back home…
Alas, as I coasted up to my front door, some clown in a Mercedes A-class roared down the street at full blast. There no place to hide – typical of a narrow Italian side street, there were parked cars everywhere. The car slowed down – to 30 kmh – but I was getting squeezed between the pretentious minicar and a parked Lancia. The only place to go was up.
Some gymnast like balance, honed over years of cycling, along with some choice Italian obscenities saved my skin (and attracted a crowd on the neighbouring balconies) but it was a close call. As they say, most accidents happen close to home.