!La Vuelta!

Okay, bike racing fans! Today marks the beginning of La Vuelta a España, the Tour of Spain.

Certainly less well known than Le Tour de France, probably less known than Il Giro d’Italia, it may be seen as summer’s last hurrah – an international version of the Willy Street Fair for you Madisonians.

The third jewel in bike racing’s Triple Crown, it offers one last chance at a Grand Tour victory, an opportunity to secure a contract for next year, or a shot at redemption for a season that was less than one hoped for.

Maglia Nera – Italian for Half-fast?

I always figured that being a bike racer was incompatible with being half-fast. I have been proven wrong.

I needed some new bike shorts and found a pair honoring the “Maglia Nera”.

Pretty much everyone has heard of the yellow jersey awarded to the overall winner of the Tour de France. Many know of the other jerseys (green, polka dot, and white) awarded in other categories.

Fewer are aware of the jerseys awarded for the Giro d’Italia. They have the same categories as France, but different jerseys. The equivalent of the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) is the pink jersey (maglia rosa).

There was a time when they awarded a Black Jersey (Maglia Nera), which went to the last place rider (the equivalent of the Lanterne Rouge in France).

They stopped awarding the black jersey because the competition got too fierce. Here is the story from Santini, an Italian clothing manufacturer:F826EAB8-5BBF-4932-A5D1-6AD13237EA7EWe hereby acclaim Luigi Malabrocca, the only two-time winner of the Maglia Nera, as an honorary member of the Half-fast Cycling Club.

Heck, we might as well salute Sante Carollo as well, as he was able to “beat” Malabrocca by two hours one year.

It takes a certain type of rider to be good enough to be a pro racer and yet take pride in finishing last in a major race. For this, we honor these men as Half-fast Cyclists.


Suddenly the world has turned green! Not the delicate spring green of last week, but the vibrant, full-bodied array of greens!

After a week of rain (about 7 inches this month!), the maples, cottonwoods, gingkoes, and ashes have leafed out. There is so much moss and lichen that the trunks of the trees are green. (The photo does not do the tree trunk justice – sometimes the camera does not take in all that the eye does – seeing the green trunk against the green leaves and the third different green of the grass has something to do with it.)

Redbuds and crabapples have bloomed. Lilacs will pop any day. Irises are here. The grass needs its second mowing as soon as it dries out enough to do it.irisWith this much rain, it has dawned on me that there are only five weeks until we start riding. I put in some miles on the trainer Thursday night during a thunderstorm. The check to Cycle America has been deposited. The hotel reservation for Seattle is made. Now I just need to pack and ship the bike and myself.

Our Wednesday Night Ride this week consisted of four half-fast cyclists meeting for dinner at a local pub (which, in previous incarnations, has been a bike shop and a French restaurant).

No long ride today, it being Mother’s Day and my niece’s wedding shower. After baking a coffee cake this morning I went to my favorite Batch Bakehouse for croissants. That required a stop at Cafe Domestique for an espresso and a quick check of Giro d’Italia results on VeloNews.

Mother’s Day Continental (pre)breakfast


The cafe currently has a display of old Schwinn Paramounts hanging from the ceiling, including a Campagnolo-equipped bike with chrome-plated frame exactly like the one my friend SI had about 45 years ago. The map of Wisconsin on the wall is made up of cogs.

Next week The Blessing of the Bikes! The ride out there will be led by my half-fast friend Tenny. We’ll hope for sunshine.