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Anatomy Of A Photo: Life Is Beautiful

Anatomy Of A Photo: Life Is Beautiful

by / / 49 posts

Guido went to extraordinary lengths to shield young Joshua from the horrors of the war. On the way to the camp, a bicycle race passed their truck. As the riders, themselves escaping a life of grim toil, dirty and sweaty from the effort of heaving their heavy steel bikes up the col, rode by, Guido lifted his son from the truck and placed him onto the road.

The crowd clapped and yelled encouragement to their heroes, and the riders responded by rising from the saddle, straining to turn their big gears over as the slope steepened. Strange men ran alongside the riders, and the cars honked at them to get out of the way. A broad smile lit up Joshua’s face, and it was at that moment he knew that he too wanted to race a bicycle. Suddenly, as quickly as they appeared, they were gone. The crowd dispersed, silence returned, the truck continued on.

But for those few minutes, life was indeed beautiful.

// Anatomy of a Photo // Awesome Italian Guys // Folklore // Nostalgia // The Hardmen

  1. @VeloSix

    Years ago, I spent a summer with my uncle in Portland, OR. I was 15, and like many teenagers, mostly on the look out for some trouble. My uncle who was not a father himself at the time, seemed to have just the right medicine. Back home my dad took us on these short, family oriented city bike bath rides. Usually short, and almost always to the same place for lunch at Mississippi Mudds on the Niagara River. My dad was using these trips to diagnose my ability to follow traffic laws, and judging my actions to decide if he was going to teach me to drive a car. We were certainly not cyclists, but never the less, I had a budding love affair with the machines we rode.

    My uncle was quick to put me to work during my summer trip, and once I showed a bit of interest in the three steel frame “10 speeds” as I called them, hanging in the back of his garage, the money was set aside for me to “rebuild” these old steeds. I was not a bike mechanic, but my family acknowledged my “fix up old shit” abilities, and passed down to me all their broken stuff. So, I found myself a local bike shop to supply all the parts, made trips back and forth on the most functional of the three. Crashed the brakeless “holy shit I can fly on this thing” trying to pass a van on a side street that didn’t take so kindly to my speedy move (and I found out those curbs in Portland are abnormally tall).

    All in all, I completely rebuilt each of the three bikes, and by the end of the trip my aunt, uncle and I were riding those machines all over the city, where I will never forget, cresting one of the many Portland hills to see “the upside down strawberry” of Mt Hood as the sun set and cast its beautiful setting red rays of light on its snow cap.

    Now, I’m 37, and only just over a year ago have I even purchased my first real bike. A long way away from that steel frame, friction shifting. pure awesomeness of a summer…

    The old photos of these hardmen of days long ago, always take me back to that trip across the country, reminding me of that summer when I connected with those three awesome machines, regretting I took so long to continue the love affair…..

    Great story and thanks for sharing. Those formative experiences sure stick with you, don’t they? I distinctly remember my first ride on a bike with “racing” handlebars: mid-late 70s, Grangemouth, bike from Aunt’s garage. Felt like I was doing 100 mph – on the sidewalk, in the dark. Happy days!

  2. @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! What’s not to love about Italians???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgg4H4zTHo

    Love his line where he thanks his parents for the gift of poverty. Although the audience laughed I believe that he meant it. Such an amazing movie and an amzing guy. Now THAT is passion!

    This is just fabulous!  I love the second clip…”This is a terrible mistake because I already used up all my English!”

  3. @wiscot

    @VeloSix

    Great story and thanks for sharing. Those formative experiences sure stick with you, don’t they? I distinctly remember my first ride on a bike with “racing” handlebars: mid-late 70s, Grangemouth, bike from Aunt’s garage. Felt like I was doing 100 mph – on the sidewalk, in the dark. Happy days!

    Yes, I certainly relate.

    I will never forget the moment I realized, “Hey, I can pass this small block V8 powered 70’s shag-wagon using my legs!!  Let’s do this…!!”

    Absolutely no idea how fast I was going, but when the driver saw me in his mirror and thus proceeded to “drift my direction“, the speed was immediately realized.  I tried to lean and point the dry rotted brake pad equipped bike left, into the intersection I was originally expecting to proceed strait through.  As quickly as the speed was realized, so was the fact an attempt at a turn was impossible.  All I could see in the eternity of a few seconds, was what seemed like a 3 foot tall curb, a 6 inch wide sidewalk and a rusty chainlink fence.  We were all immediately introduced to each other.

    What did this do for me, but just fuel my passion for ludicrous speeds, which in Portland could be found after each of hills I climbed….

  4. @Mike_P

    @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! What’s not to love about Italians???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgg4H4zTHo

    Love his line where he thanks his parents for the gift of poverty. Although the audience laughed I believe that he meant it. Such an amazing movie and an amzing guy. Now THAT is passion!

    This is just fabulous! I love the second clip…”This is a terrible mistake because I already used up all my English!”

    Hard to comprehend that Helen Hunt has an Oscar and Emily Watson doesn’t. Kinda like (pardon the pun) Oscar Pierero winning the Tour and Raymond Poulidor not. Injustice!

  5. I love this photo. Back when “manly men” ruled the peloton. So rare these days. No “stomach filled with anger” back then, more “punch you in the fucking face”. Race your bike, then go back to working at the steel mill, farm or some other blue collar tough guy job. Pretty sure they didn’t have $1million team busses and hot blonde masseuses either.

  6. @VeloSix

    ….. and only just over a year ago have I even purchased my first real bike. A long way away from that steel frame, friction shifting. pure awesomeness of a summer…

    Whooa there, slide back there, throw out an anchor.  What’s not “real” about a classic friction shifting steel bike?  Whole bunch of different skills and class in timing smooth gear shifts for instance.  OK my carbon stealth machine is fabulous to ride but my vintage rebuild will be equally real (I hope!) when it is finished and in some ways more so.  They are all real but just different experiences to be cherished and enjoyed in their own rights.

  7. There is an article about Bartali’s Santa Maria bike in the December 2013 issue of Cycle Sport Magazine……even includes the picture of Bartali leading Coppi.

  8. That’s a nice story, right there, VeloSix.

    Enjoy the new bike! I started out on a pretty nice, used Al Cannondale. Though it was a fine bike, every time I get something new, I still appreciate the upgrade qualities.

    That said, after thinking I hated SRAM shifters, I am very pleased with the new Red right shifter I just installed. The Force shifter was always a bit stiff and I was never quite sure if I was about to upshift, downshift, send it in two cogs. It was a new Force 2010 shifter. Well damn, the Red is much, much nicer. Very sensitive, smooth shifts that are almost effortless and never a mis-shift. This is also a 2010/11 Red. Don’t know if I just had a bad Force shifter or if Red is that much nicer?

    Either way, a big upgrade for my cx race bike.

  9. @Teocalli

    @VeloSix

    ….. and only just over a year ago have I even purchased my first real bike. A long way away from that steel frame, friction shifting. pure awesomeness of a summer…

    Whooa there, slide back there, throw out an anchor. What’s not “real” about a classic friction shifting steel bike? Whole bunch of different skills and class in timing smooth gear shifts for instance. OK my carbon stealth machine is fabulous to ride but my vintage rebuild will be equally real (I hope!) when it is finished and in some ways more so. They are all real but just different experiences to be cherished and enjoyed in their own rights.

    My inference of “real bike” is meant to describe a bike that does not have shocks or strait handle bars…..

  10. @VeloSix

    @Teocalli

    @VeloSix

    My inference of “real bike” is meant to describe a bike that does not have shocks or strait handle bars…..

    ha ha!  OK I accept that then.

  11. @pistard Thanks for those, I do have Bobets, agreed, awesome.

  12. @pistard

    Bartali’s position on the bike is magnificent there.  Coppi looks like a bird but you can’t argue with the results.

    @pistard

    @meursault And this, long out of print but worth seeking out: “The Giro d’Italia — Coppi versus Bartali at the 1949 Tour of Italy” (Dino Buzzati). Buzzati was a legit journo, and a novelist, poet and painter. Think Jorgen Leth, but words instead of pictures.

    Seconded.  Fantastic book.  And nominated (again) for The Works.

  13. Since we’re looking at and talking about old photos of Italians, here is one we found in an album when I was visiting my parents a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving. This is my father’s side of the family, very Italian. One guy was a boxer and also worked for the NYC Sanitation Dept. My father knew you weren’t supposed to ask what he actually did for them. My great grandfather is in this photo. His middle name – Archangel. No fucking joke.

  14. @scaler911

    I love this photo. Back when “manly men” ruled the peloton. So rare these days. No “stomach filled with anger” back then, more “punch you in the fucking face”. Race your bike, then go back to working at the steel mill, farm or some other blue collar tough guy job.

    +1 to that

    I look at these old photos and am struck by the hardness in body and spirit of these men.  They remind me of the fishermen I work with and the ex-miners in my community.

    We glorify the pain and suffering in service of the bike. We are lucky soft fakes in comparison; pain, suffering and bloody hard work was their life, they simply had no choice.

  15. @wiscot

    @Mike_P

    @brett Great stuff. Like VeloSix, I love these classic photos. The guy in second position has that look on his face. You know the one. The one that says “I’m going to ride up to you, rip your legs off and beat you with the bloody ends before I crest this mountain.

    Interesting to see that lunatics chasing climbers is nothing new.

    That’s because rider #2 is Gino Bartali. Awesome bike rider and awesome human being. His covert wartime exploits aiding Jews in Italy are incredible and earned him the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem. Truly one of the all-time greats. His rivalry with Coppi is also one for the ages.

    true

    I think the beauty of these pictures are the authenticity that resonates across time, you can’t buy this, you can’t google it, you can’t replace it…period

    Looking back, and searching the context of these times, these races and these men, is rich…rich…rich.  Bartali, is whom I love.  He was exactly like my grandfather, or my grandfather just like Gino.  Constantly disappointed, throwing things and re-doing it was how Gino has been described.  Righteous, the disciple he was, pious and respectful.

    However, getting to this photo in time, he did have a little rebellion during his youth with his father who was resistent to say the least for his passion to race.  He was denied many times the blessing to race.  However, he persuaded his father after working at the local shop and racing unbeknownst, with winnings…he went along with it.

    I’m blown away with what he did to liberate the jews during the WWII was absolutely phenomenal, brilliant and courageous.  And that he spoke nothing about it, says volumes

    and even though he despised Coppi in a race, they were gentleman, and his tears over time at losing a fellow rider says so much about him.

  16. @Ron Liking this pic too, forgetaboutit. I have a half Sicilian nephew, but my sister is now divorced. Which is a shame as  I dined out bragging I had a Sicilian bro in law.

  17. @wiscot

    @Mike_P

    @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! What’s not to love about Italians???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgg4H4zTHo

    Love his line where he thanks his parents for the gift of poverty. Although the audience laughed I believe that he meant it. Such an amazing movie and an amzing guy. Now THAT is passion!

    This is just fabulous! I love the second clip…”This is a terrible mistake because I already used up all my English!”

    Hard to comprehend that Helen Hunt has an Oscar and Emily Watson doesn’t. Kinda like (pardon the pun) Oscar Pierero winning the Tour and Raymond Poulidor not. Injustice!

    heheheee. Helen Hunt surfs at the same place I do. I’ve seen her out there and have been strongly tempted to casually ask her how I can get back the two plus hours of my life back I wasted watching Twister, or whatever that shiet tornado movie was, FFS! I don’t know if she would be as amused as I would be.

  18. What was the reason for the skin tone always looking so dark in these pics? They always look so dark and glistening with V…

  19. @Beers Early B&W film was orthochromatic — more sensitive to blue and green light, less so to red — resulting in darker skin tones, white skies. Panchromatic films were introduced in the 20s and 30s, but were more expensive and probably not readily available in some countries during and after the war.

    I can’t imagine these guys using sunscreen either, and who knows what was in the embro?

  20. nicotine??

  21. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    @Mike_P

    @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! What’s not to love about Italians???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgg4H4zTHo

    Love his line where he thanks his parents for the gift of poverty. Although the audience laughed I believe that he meant it. Such an amazing movie and an amzing guy. Now THAT is passion!

    This is just fabulous! I love the second clip…”This is a terrible mistake because I already used up all my English!”

    Hard to comprehend that Helen Hunt has an Oscar and Emily Watson doesn’t. Kinda like (pardon the pun) Oscar Pierero winning the Tour and Raymond Poulidor not. Injustice!

    heheheee. Helen Hunt surfs at the same place I do. I’ve seen her out there and have been strongly tempted to casually ask her how I can get back the two plus hours of my life back I wasted watching Twister, or whatever that shiet tornado movie was, FFS! I don’t know if she would be as amused as I would be.

    Just read this again – it actually does say “Helen Hunt surfs at the same place I do.”

    Right now we have a monsoon, 6 Celsius and a gale – its dark by 16.00 too. Helen Hunt couldn’t find Callander if her fucking life depended on it.

    Oh – and my wife wants me to take her Christmas shopping to Alloa – fucking Alloa.

    Maybe Madonna will be at Asda…

  22. @the Engine

    @Gianni

    @wiscot

    @Mike_P

    @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! What’s not to love about Italians???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgg4H4zTHo

    Love his line where he thanks his parents for the gift of poverty. Although the audience laughed I believe that he meant it. Such an amazing movie and an amzing guy. Now THAT is passion!

    This is just fabulous! I love the second clip…”This is a terrible mistake because I already used up all my English!”

    Hard to comprehend that Helen Hunt has an Oscar and Emily Watson doesn’t. Kinda like (pardon the pun) Oscar Pierero winning the Tour and Raymond Poulidor not. Injustice!

    heheheee. Helen Hunt surfs at the same place I do. I’ve seen her out there and have been strongly tempted to casually ask her how I can get back the two plus hours of my life back I wasted watching Twister, or whatever that shiet tornado movie was, FFS! I don’t know if she would be as amused as I would be.

    Just read this again – it actually does say “Helen Hunt surfs at the same place I do.”

    Right now we have a monsoon, 6 Celsius and a gale – its dark by 16.00 too. Helen Hunt couldn’t find Callander if her fucking life depended on it.

    Oh – and my wife wants me to take her Christmas shopping to Alloa – fucking Alloa.

    Maybe Madonna will be at Asda…

    Yeah, Gianni knows how to rub it in, doesn’t he? Mind you, HH was in Soul Surfer in 2011. Didn’t see it? Not many did.

    Christmas shopping in Alloa? Man, I’ll be Helen Hunt would ditch her surfboard for that in a heartbeat! That’s keeping it real for the holidays right there! You;ll be doing the Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany and the Gap stores then?

    I’ll take your wind, rain and balmy 6C for the -3F we had here last week in SE Wisconsin. That’s -20C  for you guys. Supposed to be 30F on Saturday before the snow flies. I’m so looking forward to getting a ride in!

    Asda’s more of a Kim Kardashian kinda place (or so I’m told.) Madonna’s an Ann Summers gal.

  23. @the Engine     Alloa squire! uwwww.

    But I’m sure your summer is worth waiting for. It’s not like I’ve ever talked to her but if I do, that question will be right up there.

  24. My uncle bought me “Ride to Valour” for Christmas, a surprise as I hadn’t requested anything specific. Pretty brief, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and fuck me what a stud Bartali was…

  25. @pistard

    @Beers Early B&W film was orthochromatic — more sensitive to blue and green light, less so to red — resulting in darker skin tones, white skies. Panchromatic films were introduced in the 20s and 30s, but were more expensive and probably not readily available in some countries during and after the war.

    I can’t imagine these guys using sunscreen either, and who knows what was in the embro?

    Thanks for that pistard! Reading the book on Bartali, they relate one freezing stage where he has added grease to the legs to prevent the cold affecting the legs so much, which may or may not have been the case here, the arms and face are also as dark… Still rode woolen jersey and shorts only though!

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