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June 30, 2011

Moto cameras zoomed in regularly on Scarponi during the 2011 Giro d‘Italia. “Look at his fuzzies,” I said to my husband, referring to Scarponi’s thick chest hair visible above the lowered zipper of his jersey.

“He’s Italian,” my husband Donald said.

The third time I mentioned Scarponi‘s fuzzies, Donald said, “OK, that’s enough about Scarponi’s chest hair.”

I laughed.  Donald was on to me, but he had the wrong man.  I said, “I’m just surprised with all that chest hair that he hasn’t shaved his chest.”

It all started with another Italian, Ivan Basso.  To advertise my love of pro-cycling I tacked up in my cubicle a poster of Ivan I had pulled out of VeloNews’ Tour de France issue.  Of course I placed it where I could admire his hazel eyes.  Why Ivan?  Yes, it had something to do with him being Italian; I preferred the sound of “Ciao, Bella,” over anything my boss might say.  It was also about the time Ivan’s mom had been fighting cancer.

One morning that July I woke up from a dream that featured Ivan.  I mentioned it to Donald.  Whenever the TDF cameras focused on Ivan after that, Donald referred to him as “your boyfriend.”  Since Donald knows things about me before I do, I owned up to the fact that I had a long distance crush.  Ivan Basso was my first pro-cyclist fantasy boyfriend.

Until a few months ago, I thought I was the only married woman who hung onto every word of a certain pro-cyclist’s tweets.  At the 2011 Tour of California start in Auburn, a woman I met who was also there to study the stage start for one of the towns hosting the first USA Pro Cycling Challenge clasped her hand on my shoulder.  “Oh my God, there’s George,” she said.  The announcer on the sign-in stage had pulled George Hincapie aside and begun to interview him. “My friend is crazy about him,” she said, “I’ve got to get a photo.”

“You have no idea how relieved I am.” I said.  “I thought I was the only one with a pro-cyclist fantasy boyfriend.”

“Oh no,” she said, “all of my friends have one.”

Why is it we swoon at the sight of pro-cyclists who, with 5% body fat, might not be physically appealing to many women?  Even if they are tall, they are amazingly thin, their hips extraordinarily narrow, their arms slender stems (look at Jani Brajkovic, whose TT skinsuit flaps in the wind on his bicep).

I think once a female cyclist begins to understand the extreme physical and mental efforts these athletes dish out, their suffering garners a special corner in her heart. Even if you  weren’t a cheerleader in high school, even if you aren’t a mother, that mothering cheerleaderish feminine instinct compels you to do everything you can to ensure they get through the ordeal of a stage race.  You start to feel protective over their well-being.  You want to rescue them from their suffering.  You study their tweets to identify their favorite cake.

In 2008 my husband and I traveled to France for the TDF.  We stood on the road up Hautacam about three kilometers from the finish line and watched Andy Schleck grind by alone, behind the GC pack, with six inches of saliva hanging from his mouth.  This secured his place as my second pro-cyclist fantasy boyfriend.

At this year’s Tour of California, I talked with Andy.  I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with cameras.  He’s much cuter in person.

  1. Captivating and engaging! Can’t wait for the next post!!!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Arepa Fuel for Cycling, Part 1 « ProVéloPassion
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