A Sublebrity in Italy!

The big Interplanetary Critical Mass on Saturday May 31 in Rome, followed by the Sunday June 1st 25-kilometer ride to the beach (and following the monthly Critical Mass on Friday May 30), has to be one of the most fun three-day periods I’ve ever had. I am overwhelmed by the attention and affection showered on me (and gifts!) and the odd experience of fending off people’s gratitude” after all it is the people HERE in Rome who created such a beautiful Critical Mass. A huge amount of work went in to setting up the three-day extravaganza, which was attended by probably 1500-2000 on Friday, 4000+ on Saturday and another 1000-1500 to the beach on Sunday, all larger than previous years (this was the 5th anniversary).

I came to Rome four years ago, but this visit was such a surprise! My great hosts, Paolo and Giusi and their sweet daughters Greta and Viola hosted me in fantastic comfort:

while the huge community of cyclists made me feel like an old friend almost as soon as we said hello: Ilaria, Imma, Giorgia, Rosella, Giulia, Giuso, Livio, three Francesca’s, three or four Federico’s, Luca, Pietro, Piero, Patrizia, Rosabella, Giancarlo, Gianluca, two Chiara’s, Pepino, Fabbiana, Flavio, Uva from Sicily and Ciclofficina Etnea, AnnaLisa and her eco-taxi project, Eleanora, Magdalena, the list goes on and I’m sorry if I forgot anyone” it was really hard to remember everyone’s names in such a short time. Giovanni from the Ciclofficina in Florence, Eric from Campobasso, Romano who gave me all his books and maps on cycling in Rome and Lazio.

(Giorgia and Rotafixa at back left, AnnaLisa and Francesca the librarian in foreground… not sure the name of the fellow on the eco-taxi)


Alessio, from whom I borrowed the Ciemmona banner on a previous entry, with me, at SNIA before the Big Ride.

Imma in the middle, with her friend whose name I forgot, at the piazza prior to riding in the Big Critical Mass.

Rotafixa discusses the finer points of Sicily with Uva from Ciclofficina Etnea.

Rosella gave me such a great welcome… she and Livio were a couple of the main organizers, along with many of the other friends I’ve pictured here…

Luca (behind) and Andrea Maccarone who is Italian but lives in Toulouse where he is organizing the 2nd Intergalactic Bikeforum of Popular Ciclofficine (DIY bike shops) on June 13-15.

Then all the Internationals I met, who also gave me such a warm welcome and embrace! The Spaniards, Rebecca and her ferret and a half dozen other Madrileños, whose names I never quite got, one sweet guy originally from Mexico City. Felix, a Brit who helped Paolo with the interview we did for Il Manifesto, who tore off his suit from a corporate conference just minutes before joining the ride. I had a charming conversation with Ūna from Dublin via Catania, Sicily where she’s teaching English and connected with the local cyclists. Anthony, the Irish watchmaker, built an impossible painting machine. Andrea, Olivier and Alvaro from Toulouse (Alvaro originally Mexican too), Sylvan from Belgium, Becky and Geraldine and their posse from Lyon, Eileen from Geneva, ex-pat Andy who is high-end programmer and hacker, William from New York and Florence and perfectly bilingual (he was shooting lots of great video the whole time), Alessio the blogger, Morgan from Vancouver, Adam and Maryann from Hackney in London.

Alvaro from Mexico by way of Toulouse, France.

Rebecca from Madrid, who always had her ferret in her basket or wrapped around her neck, even when dancing to reggae!

Rosa, who lives and works in Ethiopia these days, but is home for the summer, taking a break from a culture with no word for “pollution” and that has basically run out of fresh water. She was the translator for the story of the train in the last entry to follow about the ride home from the beach.

My host, Rotafixa, who makes his own frames, and loaned me one of his amazing, speedy, one-speed bikes. He likes the fixie, but gave me one with coaster brakes (thank you!)…

Sylvan, from Belgium, having her 30th birthday by returning to ride in the Big Critical Mass weekend in Rome, where she spent five years earlier in her life. She tells a great story about corking during the Friday ride, coming in the next post.

Then there was the local couple about my age who hailed me during CM on Friday and asked if I wanted to do an interview with La Repubblica? Of course I said yes, and that very night Cecilia Gentile, the journalist, called and we had lunch on Paolo’s beautiful terrace the next day and the article appeared on Sunday in the national edition! I had a weirdly celebrity-ish time, having three major pieces in different national publications (Il Manifesto, L’Espresso, and La Repubblica), two public presentations of Nowtopia, four video interviews, and maybe 100 people ore more greet me personally during and after the three rides, plus I felt like I was constantly being smiled at and having my photo taken”¦ Very strange! And very fun! Here three of the videographers who I was interviewed by at various times during the three days of cycling and talking:

Eleanora, William, and Magdalena

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