People tell me wearing a bike helmet is annoying. That it restricts you. It’s heavy. That they sweat too much inside it.
When they tell me this, I always cast my mind back to the fifteenth stage of the 1995 Tour de France. At the village of Saint-Girons, where the stage started, I met Casa (Fabio Casartelli), a gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He was riding with Lance Armstrong’s Motorola team and I was competing with ZG Mobili.
The year before, we had both raced with the ZG Mobili team and were considered two young emerging talents of Italian cycling. Yet, marketing requirements separated us in 1995. As we were similar types of riders with similar abilities, Casa changed teams to race his own race.
We remained friends, but not the kind that hang out together outside racing. Rather, Casa was someone you could chat easily to while pedaling in the morning. Ours was a friendship where you looked for each other in the pack and we enjoyed each other’s company while on the road, especially if there were few other Italians on the Tour.
What did we talk about that day while riding the ascent? We’re Italians, so women, naturally. I asked Casa if he knew the Coca Cola girl, she was incredibly beautiful. Yet, Fabio was more preoccupied thinking about home and his young wife, who was then five months pregnant.