Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some Winter Reading

Aside from getting the bib tights and balaclava out, winter also means more time by the fire struggling to get through some Italian cycling history books. Here is what's on the reading list this year...

Ganna went missing this summer only to be found a few weeks ago. His is a great story, the first real champion of the pioneer days of Italian cycling. His battles with the devilish cheater Giovanni Gerbi are great fodder to file under 'unbelievable'. I just finished this one, but it deserves another look, as the months it went missing left my memory of it a bit disjointed.

One thing Ganna lead me to was this book by famous sports journalist Gianni Brera, l'Avocatt in Bicicletta just showed up thanks to Amazon Italy. I know, Amazon is under fire these days, maybe rightfully so. But outside of eBay and a trip to Italy, how else are you going to buy this!?! Pavesi raced for a different team in each of his seasons from '04 until '19, sometimes two teams. He went on to manage the Legnano team for the better part of forty years!

Speaking of eBay, this rare and beat up original print of the Alfredo Binda memoirs turned up this spring. It's aged, rough and was printed during the fascist regime in 1931! The style is a bit aged as well, making for some tough translating!

This book took a while to get through the first time. It's the best story out there, of the greatest champion the cycling world has ever known (yeah, I just said that). 

Sante Pollastro was the Italian Robin Hood who grew up in the cycling-mad area around Novi Ligure. Poor as a child, he resorted to theft and eventually the shooting of a number of police to avoid capture. This book traces his steps and follows the threads that connect him with Costante Girardengo, the first campionissimo. The most intriguing connection would be at Paris' Velodrome d'Hiver, when Pollastro, a Gira tifoso, gave a famous whistle in the Novi 'dialect' to get the attention of, and eventually have a meeting with Gira. Rumor has it that Gira betrayed Sante, which eventually led to his capture. Don't confuse this book with the horribly-inaccurate RAI production of a few years ago.

My more-complete review is here. I only mention this book again, as the Kindle version just found its way into my iPad and I'll be pushing through it again.

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