Sunday, April 12, 2009

Therapeutic mud

No, this is not a post about thermal hot springs. It's about mountain biking, a day out with the fellas for a 50km (that we somehow screwed up, and turned into something closer to 65km) giro across northern Lazio.

In the spirit of service journalism, here's the map:

The trio included Stefano, our fearless guide. Here he is after demonstrating how to extricate yourself from knee-deep mud.

Next comes Bruno, a trained medical professional who is fond of recounting in mouth-watering detail favorite meals from across Italy. Starving, pedaling along the trail, the effect of these stories is vivid hallucinations. Dishes of pasta, steak and potatoes seem to appear one after another along the trail the closer you get to lunch hour. Mirages, all of them. Drat! Here's Bruno, settling for a picnic of panini and tepid water.

I brought up the rear, snapping photos and asking questions.

Turns out Italy is filled with routes like the one we took yesterday. They're vestiges of the railroad age, a grand age indeed in Italy. A century ago, Italy built an incredibly comprehensive network of rail lines, connecting just about every town, village and city to the outside world, bringing passengers and commerce to even the quietest out-of-the-way place. The automobile put this age to an end. Today, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of km of old rail lines. Perfect for mountain biking!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Berlusconi v. the Queen

Rule Number One: Use your "inside" voice when you are in the Queen's company.

The full story is here, courtesy of, gulp, The Daily Mail.