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  • jigdaman

Bracciano, by Bianchi..

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Did you hear that I bought a bike?! Well, you did now. I have been looking for some time now for an Italian thoroughbred, and god knows how many hours I’ve spent on the internet looking at them. I’m not rich enough to get a new one, so instead I found myself in a dangerous place - with enough money to imagine I could get anything I wanted second hand, but knowing full well that a second hand nice bike had most likely been crashed, robbed, crashed and robbed, or was a child’s bike.

But here was a Bianchi, looking like a Bianchi, and at a great price. As Carl knew a thing or two about Bianchis, I took him along to an inauspicious neighbourhood in East Rome for a gander. And it was indeed a Bianchi Oltre Xr4 (The Xr4 stands for ‘adding extra letters and a number to make it sound like an Mr2’). And a beauty. A few nicks, but great. A 60 year old finance officer had bought it to likely rediscover his youth, and his back had said no. To compensate, he had inverted the handlebars so he could pretend that he was a postman. I needed to do him a favour. And so now I own a beautiful Bianchi, bequeathed by a banker with a bad back. The world is a mysterious place.

We began our ride by skirting round the Vatican and out West, past the hill where the prostitutes dance. Being 8.00 on a Sunday morning, they were not to be seen. And I’ve said it before, in a previous Bracciano blog, but the ride from Boccea up and around lake Bracciano, and back, is sublime. Too few cars to mention, excellent tarmac, gentle gradients, friendly waves from riders, unfriendly aggression from motorcyclists, pure bliss. The puncture Gods smiled on us and granted safe passage. We breezed around at a chirpy 30km/h, and then began the hills back to Rome, passing an older cyclist on the first one and thinking nothing of it. About 3km later, a cheery ‘Buongiorno’ came out of nowhere, and a 74 year old cycle enthusiast introduced himself to us. What a hero - still going solo and strong at a ripe old age, on a carbon beauty and with full spandex. ‘What’s the secret to life?’ I asked him. ‘La bici,’ he said, with a giant grin. He even slipped-streamed me at 55kph down a long left hand descent, before waving goodbye and disappearing off into the sunset - I hope the sun never goes down for him.

As for the Bianchi - it’s fast, faster than I am. It is loud, louder than I am. It has 50 34 upfront, which is too spinny for me. It’s a lot more Italian than I will ever be. But our friendship is developing fast. I’m going to clock off here with the promise of more coherent, and useful, reviews of bike stuff over the next few months, as I’ve been treated very well by the many reviewers on the web, and I would like to give something back. Stay tuned.

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