The first two things that went through my mind when I realized that I had scheduled my trip to Italy at the same time as the 2013 UCI Road World Championships: 1) What a coincidence, and 2) I can remember a time that I would have been thrilled to be around this caliber of racing.
The third thing was the hope that the course through Florence wouldn’t make it difficult to get around the city on foot.
So you can tell it’s been a long time since I was excited about racing. I shot way more pictures of townspeople riding around town than I did of the racers.
There’s no doubt, however, that people in Florence paid a lot of attention to the World Championships. The evidence was everywhere.
Tourists waiting to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence lined up across the street from this Legnano with cottered cranks.
Here’s a fine steel-framed Olmo in an olive oil shop in the Mercato Centrale.
You saw bicycles in clothes stores, shoe stores, wine shops–you name it. And you could tell that people knew their bicycles. They weren’t putting junk in the windows; they were putting their history on display. Here’s a brace of U-shaped folders, including one sized just right for a child’s first ride.
I may not care about contemporary racing, but I still thrill to these windows into the past. Once upon a time, I had the same poster: Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi during the 1952 Tour de France. It’s one of the most famous pictures in racing outside of a couple of Eddy Merckx and, in the United States at least, Lemond winning the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds in the final time trial. The jersey with chest pockets is in keeping with the Bartali/Coppi era.
Aside from a World War I Italian military folding bicycle, you couldn’t ride any of the bicycles on display, but you could eat this one parked in the Mercato Centrale.