Saturday, May 11, 2013
In English, this is the Tour of Italy just like the Tour of France – a bicycle race that consists of multiple legs shifting all around Italy.
I promised a colleague, Pam in Oregon, that one day I would take pictures of the Giro when it was in our area. She made a special trip to France some years ago to watch the Tour which makes her an avid cyclist. I want to say that I am not a good sports photographer nor do I know much about professional bike racing. I went to learn more of both.
We heard just a few days ago the race was coming through here, so I made a recon of the route seeking a couple possible perches from which to take photos. I selected a scenic spot, got there a couple hours early, and the polizia allowed me to stay after they had closed the highway to traffic. Many officers on their BMW motorcycles waved.
There may have been as many police as bike riders. The other people were riding 600cc Suzuki or Yamaha scooters to keep-up!
The morning started wet. The race was starting from the town of Policastro Bussentino at 11.15. That was about the time the clouds parted and the racers had a sunny first hour. The temperature was about 20 when they reached my spot at about 32km. This was the fourth leg of the race and would end in southern Calabria in the town of Serra San Bruno. They would travel 246 km.
I didn’t know there was a small group of riders that ran together ahead of the big bunch. A photographer hopped off a scooter and joined me on my hillside. He was loaded down with about €12.000 of Canon equipment. He shot images of this first small group, then left telling me the rest were 10 minutes behind.
There are scooters and cars in front of and behind the cyclists – many vehicles carry photographers and videographers, so that’s where you see the live video feeds on television. I have to admit that the moving video cameras capture more than an old guy standing still with a camera.
I loved all the colors and color coordination of team riders and their bikes and even their cars. I guess there was an American team as one car went by sporting sponsorship by Radio Shack. Our satellite TV company “SKY” had a team. I wonder if Rupert Murdock was cheering-on his team.
It took hours of waiting, then just a few quick moments of actual shooting when the riders went by at 40kph. I was impressed by the logistics of this race. A great deal of coordination with police in many communities across Italy, plus all the support people. Speaking of logistics, I wonder what it took to build that little castle 700 years ago on top of the island in the background?!
I drove home for lunch and a nap. Schools were closed in Scalea for the race (including our Italian class), so we headed to Bar da Pietro on the beach where the end of the Giro was live on television. The newspaper opined that the Scalea kids were released from school to show crowd support for the racers as they came through. Friends today told us the Scalea crowd was diminished given the rain. The teenagers in the bar were ignoring the TV and enjoying coffee and Coke in the sunshine. Wednesday’s paper showed good crowds in Cetraro and at the finish.
I was impressed that after the racers passed me, they rode 214 km in rain and a climb into the hills at Vibo Valentia. I was rested when I saw the winner cross the line in Serra San Bruno. Then, they were to drive 1-1/2 hour to Cosenza where Wednesday they take off on another leg of the Giro from Cosenza to Matera. Strong boys for sure.
Not sure where this support team is from, but they are wearing their seat belts, so surely are not local!!
Ciao a presto, Guido