The Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) is currently under way, so the timing of today's reading recommendation is more or less perfect. My book review deals with the 224-page publication titled "The Giro 100" (Rapha Racing Ltd., 2017) and it was written by Herbie Sykes, an author of several other cycling works I've had the pleasure of perusing.
First, a little background on the Giro d'Italia. It is an annual multi-stage bicycle race primarily held in Italy, but also starting in, or passing through, other countries. This year's edition began in Hungary. The first race was organized in 1909 to increase sales of the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. It is one of the three Grand Tours, with the others being the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain).
To be honest, this book remained untouched on my library shelf for quite some time. I was in no rush to turn its pages. Part of the reluctance, I believe, had to do with my overall unfamiliarity with this particular event, while having been fully immersed in the granddaddy of them all — the Tour de France. Especially during the Lance Armstrong years.
But as I've learned more about the Giro, and most certainly after delving into this excellent presentation by Sykes, I've developed an understanding — and an appreciation — for just how much this legendary road battle is embraced by the people of Italy. It's intertwined with their culture, their everyday lives. To the point where I think — realistically and spiritually — it's more representative of a "true" race than even the one that circles the country of France.
In "The Giro 100," instead of following the usual and banal script like countless other books on cycle racing do, Sykes made the supreme effort to locate 100 of the Giro's constituents — the champions and their domestiques, their wives, their fans, along with kingmakers, journalists, sponsors, officials, and others. He then gave them the opportunity to tell their tales, inviting them to share their recollections, through the utilization of words, scrapbooks, and family albums.
As it says on the back cover of the book, "It is a highly personal collection of snapshots that conjures the spirit, pathos and beauty of the greatest show on earth. And, more poignantly still, of lives conditioned by it."
Yes, the Giro d'Italia is a bike race, but "The Giro 100" is the real winner for anyone wishing to properly understand it. So, please check it out.
Bike bit …
In the last week, I’ve had to replace the chain and cassette on both my Trek Domane and Trek 2.3 road bicycles. I’m thinking to myself, “How can that be?” But I guess when one does just over 16,000 miles in the last two-and-a-bit years, bike components do kind of wear out. Stay safe!