My favorite biking experience took place in Bossano del Grappa, Italia in 2008.
Each morning scores of Italians would fly by and we would hear the hum of the gears. We did five rides of varying degrees of climbs. The most spectacular was a 50 mile ride with about 3500 ft. elevation to the wondrous town of Asiago. At the end of each day I would withdraw by myself for some quiet time by the river just below our little family run hotel. There is simply no better way to vacation for me than to exercise through Italian scenery and reflect by the river’s edge. But the sweetest moment came on the last day when I borrowed the hotel bike and headed off in my flip flops, pedaling to find some flowers for our host. Not finding the flower store, I stopped to partake of some gelati when…
“A Wave of Beauty”
While biking up river seeking fiori…to no avail
a gelati bar binds me to a group of lively old men
who just descended the Forza climb
each one dapper draped in red and white
take their repose at the bar
but just before they cross the threshold
a young beauty makes her way up the hill
on an old bicycle oblivious to the all bravado
she catches their eyes and seizes their hearts
with more emotion than they can constrain,
until one relieves the strain and shouts, “Belleeeesimaaa!”
Laughter roars as they make their way into the bar,
but one lingers long enough to see her face once again,
she turns, smiles and yes, even waves.
That insignificant gesture sends shock waves
through his beleaguered bones
and infuses the old man with such vitality
a warrior’s cry thunders from his lungs
summoning all his friends, who pour out into the street
to hear him recount the story
with wild hands waving as only Italians can do,
they surround him in their huddle of gregarious congratulations.
It was as if he had won the lottery, or had won her hand in marriage.
What is it that captures a man’s eye?
in its purest form it is not lust
but elegant beauty,
young, graceful and innocent
that makes us boys again
Flowers failing search
even across the ponte
one closed store after another
sends me home empty handed
until the old italian stallions
bike past me
and I, for a few moments,
drafting their sleek peloton
as if one of them.