Wander out of the hotel this morning, nursing a hangover and wincing in the sunlight, heading towards the station.
Heart suddenly lifted by the sight of bikes. Bikes everywhere. The official bike park is full to overflowing and in the same chaotic way that Italians park their cars and scooters no place is left unused for the bikes. And what bikes – the oldest, ugliest and rustiest collection I have seen in a long time. Dutch railway stations used to be famous for the old black bikes but these really are the kind of machines I love, totally practical with no pretentions. But oddly few cyclists, perhaps because it is Saturday and these have been left here by commuters?
Returning in the afternoon the cycling scene has come to life and a steady flow of riders passes by. And just as H G Wells says, you cannot despair when you see these Italians on bikes. There is such a gentle pace to the whole thing, none of the hustle and bustle of riders in our northern cycling cities, no need to wear tribal clothing or pose for an audience. It’s also fantastically inclusive, lots of young people, women and ethnic minorities mixed amongst the more middle class riders. In this democracy of cycling who cares about the bike?
Yesterday we passed through the Italian sports cycling community heading for the finish of stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia, immaculate riders on immaculate machines. What a contrast to the practical cycling scene of Bologna, but what a great place to share these contrasting cultures.