This past saturday was the well attended event in Rome "la Notte Bianca" during which millions of people stayed out all night to take advantage of the open shops and restaurants and the free museums and concerts. It was also the night of the Graziella World Champion Race http://www.ciclofficina.org/index.htm
The Graziella is, in my opinion, among the worlds ugliest bicycles. Its function is limited by the gigantic hinge in the middle. It is a collapsable bicycle that nobody ever folds. I see them abandoned on the outskirts of every town, rusted permanently shut (or open, if you prefer) and after seeing them in action I am determined to bring one home.
The race consisted of two revolutions of Circus Massimus which is the historic site of the rape of the sabine women. There was a required pitstop after the first lap for two glasses of wine, after which the cyclists went pedaling madly into the dark and the cold, their little wheels splashing through the mud. Mud?!! Somehow, on this important night, nature gave us twelve hours of thunderstorms. But this did not deter the dedicated riders-spectators and racers alike-who endured the chilling midnight wetness for a love of the graziella. I got the feeling that this is the sort of thing that might not happen back inthe states.