Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Living Ballet on the Bicycle

Let us now speak of the bicycle--as the most elegant of transportation modes, not in the sense of sport of riding. My 10 days of living in Rimini were enriched by having a bicycle to get around.

On my bicycle I finally felt integrated into Italian life. Stripped of all monkish guides and traveling companions, it was just me, the city map, and the bicycle, and thus I joined the amazing dynamic that is Italian flow.

Rimini is a schizophrenic beach town. The beach side is like the worst of Ft. Lauderdale; the old town center has beautiful vestiges of ancient Roman engineering and medieval walls in a no-car zone.

My hotel was near the beach, and the music conservatory was in the old town. Each morning I bicycled down one of the city’s main boulevards to one of the bike paths in the park.

It is freeing and empowering to buzz around on a bicycle. Even though it is not with the speed of the sport, you still feel that “oneness” with the machine the athletes talk about. Riding each morning in a flowing skirt with flip flops on my feet and knapsack on my bike were some of the happiest moments of well being I have recently known.

Biking though a crowded pedestrian plaza is a challenging art. You can come up behind someone and stop for a few seconds and still not put your foot down-—you can actually hover for the nanoseconds it takes someone to step out of your path, when you start pedaling again. It is like a beautiful, living ballet.

Sometimes in the midst of the flow walkers and bikers try to share the very same space. Thumb on the bell, you can gently “brrrrrrrring” when coming up on walkers, or give a frantic, loud “BRRING, BRRIING” if impact is immanent.

Rimini embraces bicyclists; my hometown is not very hospitable to them, except maybe in Central Park. I won’t be biking down Broadway any time soon—I don’t have the nerves for it. For me a daily ride—like attending a music conservatory—is the road not taken, but at least now visited, with deep appreciation.


Tom W. said...

Wow - sounds wonderful. Great travel writing, too - felt for a brief moment as if I were there too.

M.A.Peel said...

Thanks tom W. Writing about Italy is a little like stacking the deck though.