Tag: Giro d’Italia of 1914

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

Feedback from readers of Time Heal my Heart so far tell me that my protagonist’s brother, Oscar is again a hit. Due to popular demand, I continued his story in this sequel. This older brother of Winifred seems to be a popular character for readers. I enjoyed creating him too. Although most of my characters in the two Time Trilogy books so far were real people, I never met them as Time separated us. They are but Whispers through Time. My family knew nothing about our grandmother’s family, including Oscar. As he disappeared without trace, I was free to make him whoever I wanted. I chose to construct Oscar as a wanderer, philanderer and adventurer. That is how he becomes involved in the terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914.

There had never been a race like it and never will be again. Plagued by the most horrific storms, rain and set to cover enormous distances and altitudes, it was the most grueling bike race ever. You can read all about it in a very entertaining book called Gironimo by Tim Moore or just read his BBC blog. Tim decided to re-ride this race in the modern age wearing the original cyclist’s apparel and travelling the huge 3162 km distance on a 100-year-old bike. He bites off more than he can chew. He soon discovers how easy life is for the cyclists of today. They have gears and comfortable bikes with proper brakes not just wine bottle corks.

Neither do they have to contend with nails strewn in their path and saboteurs at every bend. Cyclists were not popular sports heroes back then. The bicycle was seen as a threat and imposter to the traditional way of life. Add to that, strangers riding through one’s towns and locals became outraged. The weather was most foul of mood too. The first part of the race was the worst and the heavens opened upon the eighty-one contestants as they climbed the formidable Mt Sestriere peak and navigated the dirt roads awash with water. Their woollen maillot outfits with wool padded crotches became sodden and heavy. They shivered and slithered about on the mud. This stage alone was enough to demoralise many of the entrants. Half of them were just local boys, not professional cyclists. they entered for the fun of it and mostly for the prize money.

Like my character Oscar and his mate Luigi, they rode on borrowed bikes and had little experience or stamina for this endurance test. of the eight odd entrants only eight finish the race. This makes this Giro not only the hardest bike race ever but also the one with the longest overall distance and stages but also the one with the highest proportion of dropouts. Reading about it in Tim Moore’s book, It comes as no surprise. See some old photos here.

My characters make it only from Lucca to Florence. They decide to rest but end up at Luigi’s uncle’s house for a sojourn. Oscar is introduced to real family life, Italian style and the delights of the beautiful Florence. He buys a Bradshaws guide and he and Luigi continue their travels not by bike but by train to the east coast and then by boat to Sarajevo. There by chance they witness the opening shots of World War One. Life will never be the same again, for these two young men and for millions worldwide.

This sets the scen fro the second part of the novel entitled The Agony of War. By then, hopefully if not before, you will be so engaged you can’t but help reading on…

Young love, family troubles, mystery, war and loss, this book, Time Heal my Heart has it all. Plus, you get to travel not only back in time but to the mysterious abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast, Paris, Italy, Yugoslavia, Argentina and Sydney, Australia where the story begins. It’s a sweeping family saga that can be read alone or after Whispers through Time. The third part of this story, entitled Last Time Forever is due out next year. I have already written it. So, embrace the past and discover Oscar, a popular minor but memorable character. Join him on his travels and see how he reacts to the outbreak of war. He is the lost black sheep of the family. Don’t you just love these naughty boys? You never know what they will do next.

The contestants of this terrible ordeal had no idea that war would soon erupt and plunge them into another hell on earth. Maybe the Giro was a good preparation for what lay ahead?

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time Heal my Heart. Read about them on https://joniscottauthor.com.

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