Kinetic Motion - Blog

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is it Miriah?

In Greece it is the Meltemi. Egyptians call it the Sirocco. In California they are the Santa Anna Winds.
I don't know what they're called in Italy, but the winds that blow the tree-tops sideways arrived here about 12 hours ago and have howled all day. The bike course runs parallel the Adriatic coast, so beach sand has been whipping across it since early afternoon. While sailing in the Greek Islands I once was trapped by the Metlemi on Tinos for 48 hours. I hope this wind blows out sooner. The women's start is 24 hours away, and the first men's start comes 15 hours later. The parade of teams just ended, each national team marching behind its flag, introduced to music from their home country. We got the Beach Boys. Coulda been worse.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rimini

This little city on the Adriatic is just dozing now before it goes into winter hibernation. The temperature ranges from about 50 into the high 60s most days, and the huge array of beachfront bars and restaurants, the shops and hotels, all speak to summer months when this place must be wild and swarming. The Hotel Bikini, where we're staying, has a tour guide book in Russian and, like most European hotels, has literature in all the major European languages, but the newsstands tell a different story. All of the newspapers and magazines are in Italian, suggesting that in the main, this is a resort populated mostly by Italian vacationers during the summer months.
I've had the same funny reaction to Italian that I do when I visit most foreign countries. Hearing a language I don't know somehow activates my high school Spanish. Totally useless Spanish vocabulary, words that I've never heard or thought of since the 12th grade come back. Fortunately, when I needed it most, it turned out that the banyo was the bagnino. Close enough!
The mind is an entertaining device.

Musings about things Italian

The occasional tourist rarely pierces the veneer of a country and never sees its soul, so these observations are a comparison of that brief and superficial experience to familiar life at home. One of the most striking things about this place is that elders are held in an esteem that is denied them in the States. A woman above a certain age will throw a shoulder into someone who strays in the way as she heads out to her shopping. The old will scold the young in public, and their words are taken with respect. A trio of white haired women link arms and move slowly down a narrow street full of shoppers, and no one dares brush against them or suggest they not block the way.
What transformed the U.S. into a country that dismisses the elderly unless they are our parents?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dorks and "wankers," Italian style


Hello from Rimini. I am, as they say in mobster movies and cop speak, all "lawyered up," so on advice of counsel I can't write about why I'm here. Our secret, okay?
We made ourself the laughing stock of Rimini today. We decided to set out to tour the old part on this beach town/fishing port on bicycles provided by the hotel. They were a pair of old yellow cruisers. Vintage 1950 girls bikes with racks on the front and back. Kerri, citing recent history, insisted that we wear our aero helmets! Given that history it was hard for me to wage a good argument against, so off we went looking the two biggest dorks in Europe. Everyone here bikes. Old ladies balancing two shopping bags on their handlebars, old men on giant tricycles, women in skirts and impossible high-heels. Bikes all over. Not a soul wearing a helmet. I'm drafting on a 90-year-old so slowly that only my five-inch wide tires kept me from falling over. I'm wearing an aero helmet! Not one Italian crack a smile.
Then a bunch of folks from the New Zealand team asked us to pose for pictures in aero position on these ancient bikes. "You look like a couple of wankers," the guy told me.
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