Bikes of Italy

Where are all the fabulous road bikes of Italy? The Colnagos, Williers, Bianchis, Rossins and their lycra clad pilots? So far, not in Rome and not in Spoleto either.

I’m currently in Spoleto Italy. Its an old town sitting on a hill with a fortress at the top of the hill overlooking the valley below in every direction. When I say old, they say it was here when Rome was a row of tents. When I say hill, think Mt Cootha. In this place there are no straight lines, right angles or smooth surfaces, everything is paved with cobbles or what looks like river stones. It resembles a cobbled velodrome, with many rough, steep sections to traverse. People mostly walk and this is not a place for a road bike, not at all.

Here, the most level paths undulate across the hill with steep steps running up and down the hill connecting the different levels. Only a few bikes have been seen, mostly tour groups who stop over on the Assisi trail and the occasional local on their way back from a shopping expedition.

The only other bike seen in motion are very serious mountain bikes, riders clad in lycra and full face helmet, heading down the steps, normally at great speed and weaving in and out of any pedestrians who might be using the steps at any time.

Here there seems to be a complete lack of outrage for this sort of thing whereas in Oz this would spawn waving of fists, self righteous articles to the paper and all the usual stuff that seems to follow entitled views about what cyclists should and should not do. Here bicycles are an normal mode of transport and just another obstacle to avoid like pedestrians, scooters, delivery vehicles that just stop where they need to and other motorists. All these modes of transport seem to coexist quite happily without incident. Of course the traffic is moving a lot slower as well around town, but people have developed the ability to maneuverer around any obstacles without having an aneurysm and raging.

It explains fairly comprehensively why there are no fast road bikes to be seen as well – its just the wrong environment.