real life cycling

Italian skinny

“Are you in shape?” he asks, looking me up and down. A loaded question. He hasn’t even said hello yet.

“Erm…yeah,” I reply, now not so sure.

He was mentally weighing me. Calculating my body fat percentage. Skin fold calipers for eyes. This is Italy, see, where the weight of a cyclist is an obsession. Back home I’m very normal; 1m 82 high, 78 kilos wide. Not skinny, like Italian skinny, but not bad. Slim. Healthy.

But among Italian cyclists, tubby.

We met up with a local group, all of whom greeted each other with jabs and jibes: “Amico, sei così grasso.” So fat. No punches pulled. These guys are tiny. Blade thin to a man. Ribs are poked and stomachs patted and we head for the hills.

This is all they talk about.

I’m largely dropped.

Riders fall back, kindly, to work with me.

I drag myself to the summit and decide face needs saving. Taking risks on the descent I roll through towards the front. We hit the flat and I’m full gas, making the most of my, ahem…weight, while I have the chance.

The climbers string out behind me. I could sit on and conserve this energy for the next climb but why? Might as well have my moment now; I’ll suffer like a dog on the hill either way.

“Eeessh, you can drive the peloton, eh?”

A backhanded compliment, but I feel better now. I have a job. A thing I’m good at. Kilometre after kilometre on the front, a massive turn, like a big Belgian pulling the leaders towards Roubaix. A dozen Italians single filed in my slipstream.

We hit the climb, I peel off, to nods, gestures, and the sight of skinny backsides heading up the road. Job done. I’ll treat myself to a big bowl o’ pasta tonight. A glass of wine. Maybe some Tiramisu…

Just to keep my strength up.


(Image: Dynamism of a Cyclist by Umberto Boccioni [Public domain])

3 comments on “Italian skinny

  1. Loved this. We all have our place in cycling. Enjoyment is the best part.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favourite road cycling insults is “You look like you hold a lot of downhill KOMs!” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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