Comincia il Giro d'Italia!
The Giro d'Italia is set to begin this weekend. This is an annual bicycling race, similar to the Tour de France in scope and duration, although perhaps not as famous as the Tour. In fact, I myself first heard of the Giro only three years ago, because it was going on while Sheila and I were in Italy in May of 2002, and I saw a few bits and pieces of it on television during our trip. Now that our Dish Network subscription includes RAI, the Italian TV network, I plan to follow it as closely as I can, and in the process perhaps pick up some new vocabulary as well. This event has become one of the highlights of my year, for three reasons: first, because I myself am an enthusiastic cyclist; second, because just about all things Italian interest me; and third, because it takes place during the same month of the year we took that trip, and thus always brings back some fond and happy memories.
This map of the Giro course appears in the online edition of Gazzetta dello Sport. (The text is in Italian, but go ahead and check it out anyway.) After a few days of preliminary events, the race proper begins this coming Sunday, May 8, at Reggio Calabria, at the toe of the Italian boot, and ends three weeks later, on May 29, in Milan. The total distance to be covered is just over 3498 km (about 2162 miles), which is divided into 22 stages, and covers all sorts of terrain. This is obviously no undertaking for the weak or faint-hearted.
I encourage all of you to follow the race. I realize, however, that I may be the only person among us who has any real interest in the Giro; but at least all of you know about it now.