Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Forzati della Strada

"I Forzati della Strada" is a new vintage bike ride scheduled for June 20, 2010, in the hilltop town of Montottone (Fermo) in the Le Marche region. The ride is dedicated to Fausto Coppi.

The Italian ride announcement referred to the journalist Albert Londres, and its from him that the ride title "I Forzati della Strada" originates.

Albert Londres was a foreign affairs reporter for Le Petit Journal of Paris. In 1923 he went to the French penal colony of Cayenne in Guyana. Describing the horrors, his reports produced reactions in public opinion and the Establishment:

"It must be said that we in France have erred. When someone - sometimes with our knowledge - is sent into forced labour, we say "He has gone to Cayenne". The penal colony is no longer at Cayenne, but at Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni first of all and later at the Îles du Salut. I ask, by the way, that these isles be debaptised, for they are not the Isles of Salvation, but the Isles of Punishment. The law allows us to behead murderers, not to employ them. Cayenne is nevertheless the capital of the penal colony. (...) Finally, I arrived at the camp. The labour camp. Not a machine for producing well defined, regulated, uniform punishment. A factory churning out misery without rhyme or reason. One would search in vain for any mould to shape the prisoners. It crushes them, that's all, and the pieces go where they may."

Shortly after returning from Cayenne he was invited to follow and report on the 1924 Tour de France. His observation was that suffering of the riders and the convicts of Cayenne were similar. He referred to the Tour de France as the "Tour de Souffrance" (Tour of Suffering) and that the riders as the "Les Forçats de la route" (The convicts of the road; in Italian, I Forzati della Strada).

The "I Forzati della Strada" ride will offer two distances: 40 and 80 km. The routes will have many sections of "strada bianca" (white roads) in good condition. Although the event is open to non-vintage bikes there will be a separate classification for pre-1983 bikes and these riders should also use pre-1983 clothing and accessories. Several prizes will be available in this category.

There will be no technical support along the route; there will be a sag wagon to pickup riders that have difficulties.

Register before June 10th. For the 10 Euro registration you will receive a bottle of wine from Terre Picene with a label dedicated to Fausto Coppi; a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, an event t-shirt, and a silk screened print of Fausto Coppi by artisit Querelle.

For more details see: (there are also English and French versions).

I have a calendar of other vintage bike rides in Italy for 2010 here.

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal about rides, granfondos, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, etc. are very welcome. Contact me at There are more than 1,300 stories in this blog. The search feature to the right works best for finding subjects in the blog and there is also a translate button at the bottom so you can translate each page.

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