The sanctuaries of the bicycle
A journey through the sacred places of worship of cycling
Do you play tennis? Fine, but get rid of any idea about making the cut for Wimbledon. Football’s the most pleasant and premature of infectious diseases, isn’t it? Well, you should also get rid of any ideas about sinking your studs into the turf at Wembley. Do you go cycling? Is amateur cycling your outlet to burn off a bit of fat and leave behind the problems of the week?
You’ll find that cycling is accommodating, it opens its shrines to you and gives you the freedom to get all your troubles and trials right out of your system; whatever way you want to go about it, whenever and, above all, wherever and with absolutely anyone you want. Roads you can cycle on don’t have any restricted traffic zones, they belong to everyone, like the snow in the mountains and the waters of the seas and lakes. Like sailing and skiing, cycling is the most democratic of religions. It feeds off the breath of its community of devotees. A bike, a healthy desire for sacrifice, and off you go! A film for everyone, and that anyone can star in.
Do you want to spend a whole day feeling like you’re the Champion of Champions, Fausto Coppi, opening up an unassailable lead on the endless bends of the Stelvio?
Want to be Federico Bahamontes for a day, taking over from him as the Eagle of Toledo and staring back into the forbidding face of the Pyrenees on the Tourmalet? Do you want to feel like “Pirate” Pantani, taming the sheer climb over the Col du Galibier? You can, if you want.
It’s entirely up to you. The cycling stadium is an open space that dominates the landscape for hundreds of kilometers, the great mountains are its temples.
Stelvio, Gavia, Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Izoard, Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Galibier and, more recently, Mortirolo, Zoncolan and Angliru. These are sacred places, open to the profane.
Steep climbs that have become theaters of mythology thanks to the exploits of their heroes, who have themselves attained legendary status thanks to the sacred places their names are part of, their rightful place in literature assured by the songsters.
You go up and down by bike. Cycling is a portrait of life. It’s the story of life, a novel.
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