Francesco Moser races at Prospect Park in the P1/2/3 field, April 2012
On Saturday morning, when we lined up for the start, there he was, in the first row, wearing the kit of a local team and on a Specialized! I could not believe my eyes! Thinking that after a few laps he will stop, I managed to shake his hand and I introduced myself.
The race started and within a few hundred meters, zipping through the pack, I am next to him because I wanted to share with him my emotions, or better, the concept that I thought that it would have been easier to win the lottery than to "race" with Francesco Moser in Prospect Park! Yes, racing with him, because indeed I believe that everybody else, except me, wanted to race without conceding not even a couple of minutes of easy pace to enjoy the presence of the champion. Francesco laughed with me while pedaling fast toward the front of the peloton and asked me "ma la montagna, la montagna qui e' dura?" (but the mountain, the moutain in the park is hard?). I replied to him stating that it was already finished and with his class and by the way he was pedaling, I was positive that it was not too hard for him. Francesco then replied that "e il mestiere non l'ho dimenticato, ma se non si pedala e' dura...e quest'anno e' la quarta volta che esco in bici" (I still remember how to race but without training it is tough...and this my fourth time on the bike this year).
Francesco is 61 years old, so his body and his legs are not quite the same from three decades ago. His profile on the bike reveals the aging, as well as the white hair and the wrinkles around his eyes. But still, his smile, his facial expressions while forcing on the bicycle, his legs "affusolate" (tapered) and the legendary pedal stroke, were still there, unchanged. It is amazing that even though it was my first time on Saturday that I met him in person, while being on his wheel, I could say he is the Francesco Moser and he looks and pedals just like he did in my youth. This is the magic of television, because it lets you to become familiar with people even though you will never meet them! After a few laps, we were again next to each other, and while he was saying again to me "e si la montagna oggi e' proprio dura" I told him to hold on another couple of laps because I would have served caffee cornetto (coffee and croissant) to which he laughed very much.