Happy First Day of Spring! With the warmer weather, I’m thinking about breaking out my bicycle. Maybe you are too—and I’m betting our guest will give you further inspiration.
Please welcome Kimberly Menozzi,
Because I'm writing a novel set in the world of professional road cycling, I've had a distinct case of "Cycling-on-the-Brain" in recent months. As a result, I'd like to
share with all of you some of the trivia tidbits I've picked up along the way.
13 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Professional Cycling
1) The first organized bike race was in 1868, with the first World Championship in 1893.
2) When the modern Olympic Games were established in 1896, cycling was one of the events. It has been an Olympic event ever since.
3) The oldest race ridden annually is Liege-Bastogne-Liege – the first race was held in 1892.
4) There are different types of races, including single-day/night races, multiple stage races and even marathon races.
5) In a stage race, there are different kinds of winners, including: the winner of each stage, who is the first across the line; a points classification winner (who collects points by sprinting for interim wins at different times through the length of the race); a "King of the Mountains" (or Queen, in women's races) winner who collects points by being the first rider over the summit of each climb; and, finally and most famously, there is the overall winner, who has the fastest time of all the riders.
6) It is possible for the winner of a bike race not to be the first one over the finish line on the final day. In 1990, American rider Greg LeMond actually won the Tour de France without winning a single stage. He still had the fastest time overall.
7) During a single mountain stage, depending on the length of the stage, a cyclist can burn anywhere from 7000 to 9000 calories.
8) There are three "Grand Tours" in road racing, all of which have (on average)twenty
one stages: The Giro d'Italia (Italy), The Tour de France (France), and the Vuelta a Espana (Spain).
9) This year's Tour de France will cover just over 3,479 km (2,161 miles) in 23 days.
10) Cycling is very much a team sport. Within a team, riders with different specialties (climbers,sprinters and domestiques) work together to protect and advance the Team Leader, who is usually (but not always) the strongest all-round rider of the team.
11) The overall winner of the Tour de France in 2007 received €450,000 after riding 3,569.9 km (2,218 mi) over 21 days of racing. The prize money, however, was shared with his teammates.
12) Many of the terms used in cycling are French or Italian in origin.
13) The average speed of the peloton (the main group of riders) in a stage race is frequently in excess of 50 km/h on flatter sections and around 60 km/h in the final kilometres of a stage. However, the speeds encountered in bunch sprints (the manic rides at the end of flat stages) can vary considerably. There have been winners in previous stages of the Tour de France who have reached speeds in excess of 70 kilometres an hour.
While you’re waiting for Kimberly’s novel about cyclists, you might want to check out her current
“Wow. You weren’t kidding, were you?”
Emily took a small sip of cappuccino and sighed.
“It is as I told you, eh?”
“Proprio così.” As Emily looked around the bar, she felt a
small smile blossoming. “This place is positively charming, too. How did you
“I told you before,” he said in a bad imitation of an American
accent, “‘Bologna is my town.’ I know where everything is here.”
“Sì.” He nodded, raising his eyebrows a notch too high. “Veramente.”
“So you’re a professional tour guide, then?”
“No. I spend a lot of time in the University Quartiere.”
“You’re a teacher’s assistant?”
“No…” He stirred his caffè macchiato idly, shaking his
“Well, a student, then. You don’t seem old enough to be un professore.”
“Don’t I?” He leaned forward and the small table jostled between
them, the cups clinking in their saucers. “Look closer.”
It felt like a dare, a childish challenge, so she leaned nearer
too. Her courage faltered after a moment, but only after she’d noted the laugh
lines around his eyes and the few gray strands in his hair.
“Don’t fall for it,” Jacopo’s voice scolded at once, almost
making her flinch. “Kill time with him if you must, but for Heaven’s sake,
don’t let this go any further.”
She pulled off another piece of her brioche and popped it in her
mouth to keep from thinking about the hint of woodsmoke and earth in Davide’s
“There’s something I’d like to ask you,” she said before she could
lose her nerve.
“Che cos’è?” He was running a finger over a lacquered-over
message someone had scratched into the surface of the table.
“On the train this morning—you were watching
me, weren’t you?” She laughed nervously and shook her head, blushed and looked
away. “I’m sorry. You know, right when I said it, I realized how...”
“Sì,” he interrupted softly. “I was watching you on the
train, but there is a simple explanation.”
“And what might that be?”
“Well, I confess: at first, I saw you across from me on the train,
and I thought, ‘What a lovely woman she is’.”
Facing him once again, she chuckled in spite of her embarrassment.
“Oh, please; I saw so many stylish, elegant women on that train. I’m not like
“I saw the magazine you were reading,” he said, as if that would
“Yes…?” she encouraged with her hands, drawing him forward.
“Well, then I thought, ‘She’s intelligent as well. That’s
wonderful.’ So I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”
Emily laughed more freely, waving her hand, shooing his words
away. “Oh, please…”
“No, è vero, è vero,” he laughed too. “But there’s more, of
“Oh, really? Okay, what is it?”
Smiling, he nervously busied himself with brushing up the crumbs
of his brioche. “I saw you with your magazine and then… I saw the article you
were reading with so much interest.”
“You could see which article I was reading?”
“You’d read it, too?”
“Sì, sì. Many times, in fact.”
“Imagine that… I would never have guessed something like that would catch your attention.” A wave
of relief washed over her, now that the mystery of his “attraction” was solved.
“You know, I thought the article was very interesting, but I’m not sure I
completely understood it. My Italian isn’t perfect and there were some rather
abstract concepts and complex language in it…” She trailed off, a realization
dawning. “Oh, lord… ‘Davide Magnani’.” She put her hand to her forehead,
embarrassed. “You wrote it, didn’t you? That’s
why your name rang a little bell in the deep, dark recesses of my mind.”
“Sì, I did. It’s just that other thing I do when I’m not
teaching or speaking to educational conferences in Padova…”
“Amazing… I mean, what are the odds of reading an article and
having the author sitting right across from you on the train like some average
Joe? Or, in this case, like some average Giuseppe?”
He chuckled. “I would think that the odds are probably quite
“So you were in Padova
for a conference, then?”
“Sì, I was there for a sort of…come si dice—‘workshop’,
for professors and enthusiasts of modern literature. I spoke about the article,
explained my theory, that sort of thing.”
“How interesting. I wish I could have heard it, too.”
He laughed loudly before covering his mouth with his hand, abashed.
“What?” she asked, puzzled. “What was so funny about what I said?”
“I’m sorry. You must understand, though, that I’m not used to such
politeness. Most people are not interested in what I talk about, except for my
fellows and the students who are obligated to take my course to gain their
degrees at university.”
“Okay, but I was reading
it, wasn’t I? Wouldn’t that indicate a sincere interest?”
He shrugged modestly, a faint pinkness shading his cheeks. “We all
read the magazines in the doctor’s office, whether we have an interest in
fashion and gossip or not.” He looked around the bar, his smile still pulling
at his mouth when he faced her again. “Emily, tell me the truth: would you
really be interested in the speech I gave?”
“I would, yes. I really would.”
“Then I have something else you might enjoy equally. Come with me.
We’re nearly there, anyway.” He stood and hoisted his knapsack over his
shoulder while she got her coat and shoulder bag.
“You’ll see. Come.” He held the door for her and once again they
braved the February cold.