The Giro d’Italia, one of the three prestigious cycling Grand Tours, was held in Northern Ireland last weekend. The whole of Belfast was abuzz with excitement in the run up to the race, with Belfast’s Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir even dying his hair pink for the event.
I especially loved the pink spray-painted bicycles that dotted the city, the shop fronts that were decorated in shades of pink, and other little details that just showed how the city had gotten into the spirit of the Giro. While Belfast may be better known for clashes between certain groups, those are hardly representative of the majority – the majority who band together during events like the Giro with pride, a love of fun and a warm welcome. I certainly don’t think we’d have the same atmosphere back home if we were to ever host a similar event.
Although I’m not at all interested in bicycle races, with Giro fever raging I couldn’t pass up on this once in a lifetime chance to catch some cycling action. The time trials last Friday would take the cyclists down a road nearby, so I took the opportunity to get in on the craic.
And it was actually quite fun. People lined the streets with their family and (furry) friends – one of the bike shops even blared music, giving the entire event a carnival feel.
And when the cyclists appeared, they were going by so quickly that you could hear the wind rushing through the spokes on their wheels
I rather preferred seeing the teams though, and the lines that they created.
Not forgetting either the camera crew following behind and the cars carrying the spare bikes, who were pretty cool too.
It’s a pity that the actual races only started from Belfast to run along the northern coast on day 1 of the race, or inland down towards Dublin and beyond on day 2 – that would have been even more exciting, if photos of the actual race are anything to go by. In any case, I don’t know when or what the next big event in Belfast will be, but I’m hoping it comes soon so that there’ll be more of that great atmosphere to soak up!