It's been a good week for me in the cycling department. I've ridden four times. Two of the rides were long and included climbs that I would have avoided like the plague last year. I just don't think I can pull off this "I'm new to cycling" thing much longer. People are catching on.
Today I rode with friends Barbara and Rossano. A nice easy ride to the most beautiful pastry I've had in a while. Seriously. Just out of the oven sfogliatina with cream inside. Warm, gooey cream. Flaky pastry. Cinnamon sugar on top. I nearly swooned.
I thought the pastry was going to be the most memorable part of the ride. I was wrong.
After saying goodbye to Barbara I headed across town to my home. This route takes me on a large street which has three painted lanes but since all the drivers are Italians (or lost tourists) the reality is that there are anywhere from three to five lanes and that number is always changing. The traffic here doesn't march along in single file like ants carrying food back to the anthill. It's more like a buffalo stampede. If your car fits, shove it in. If you can intimidate the driver next to you, do so. You can signal your turn if you want to, but who has the time? More efficient to use the horn. Don't even get me started on how to drive those hypothetical three lanes when one lane is strewn with randomly double parked cars who will only be there for a minute.
This is the gauntlet I run every time I come home from the park. Just to make it even more fun there are two underpasses that descend and ascend quickly and sharply. I have around two feet between a concrete barrier and the moving cars. In an effort to get it over with as quickly as possible I tend to treat this section of road like a sprint however I'm always pretty tired so I'm never sure if the speed I feel like I've reached is really there or only in my mind.
Today I can say with confidence that I had some actual speed going. How do I know? Someone told me.
After sprinting uphill through my 2-3 foot wide lane I stopped at the unfortunately red light and sort of wheezed for a bit. (it's hot, I wheeze when it's hot) Suddenly, from over my shoulder I heard a voice.
"Fai il Giro d'Italia?" (Are you doing the Giro d'Italia?) Funny man.
I should have trusted my instincts and kept looking straight ahead, but he kept repeating it as he slowly inched forward (sorry my metric friends but centimetered forward just sounds wrong). Slowly the driver, a man with longish greying hair, aviator shades and a killer tan got the car, a smallish Ford convertible, far enough forward to make eye contact. Because I couldn't ignore him anymore. The scooter drivers around me were starting to look at me like I was being sort of a bitch for not acknowledging the guy. So I looked over and he asked me yet again if I was doing the Giro d'Italia, confident he had chosen the perfect pick up line for this situation.
Instead of doing what I think he expected me to do, which would be to flutter my eyelashes, wave my hands around, blush (like that would be possible when my face was likely already a gorgeous shade of magenta), say "Who...me?" and possibly giggle, I just said no.
Obviously not one to take a little bump in the road seriously, he tried to joke with me about my riding. Thankfully the light changed and I started to roll forward.
"Di dove sei?" he shouted after me. "Germania?" (Where are you from? Germany?)
"No! Stati Uniti!" I shouted as I took off, thinking this ended the conversation.
I seemed to have forgotten just how relentless the Italian male is when in the grip of the delusion that every woman wants him.
He pulled up next to me, matched my speed (much to the chagrin of the drivers in that hypothetical lane) and shouted "Parla Italiano! Bene!" and then entered into the negotiation phase. As the horns started honking behind him and I started riding slower to encourage him to move on he peppered me with questions.
Can we have a coffee? Perhaps a drink? But of course you want to clean up, how about after you get home? Why not? How long are you here? (gasp) You live here?!? Just a coffee. Or perhaps a drink? No? Insert a no after every question and you have my contribution to the conversation.
Finally he gave up. With shrug and a smile he slowly pulled away from me, leaving me to endure the angry looks of all the drivers who had been stuck behind his car as he tried to woo me into a date.
On one hand, even though it was a pretty cheesy line, I must have been riding hard enough to kind of impress him. On the other hand, I looked good enough while stinky, sweaty and covered in that cottonwood fluff stuck to my sunscreen to be worth the significant time he spent trying to persuade me to have a drink with him. Or perhaps a coffee.
Is it bad that I feel complimented by a cheesy come on line?