When Lynne Ashdown, her new lover, and more than fifty Italian male cyclists departed Italy in June of 1990, no one had yet ventured into the Long-closed reaches of Eastern Europe since the falling of the Iron Curtain more than forty years before. They would be cycling almost a thousand miles from Verona, across Northern Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to Warsaw, in just ten days. Ashdown hadn't realized she would be the only woman cycling with the fifty-four men. One American Woman Fifty Italian Men tells not only of a sweeping journey of adventure, romantic disaster, and cultural collision, but also of a revelation of Ashdown's identity, forged by her will in the constant pain of trying to keep up with the men who were stronger. This trip back in time shows the stark contrasts between the world she knew as an American and the world she saw in impoverished Eastern Europe. This true story, rich with images of the countries they cycled through, describes the warmth and the cycling lives of the Italians, as well as the lives of people who lived under communism for so long and the values that survive all governments. In One American Woman Fifty Italian Men, Ashdown conveys the aloneness of cycling over vast distances even in a spread-out pack, the growing pain and fatigue of each pedal-stroke, and the caring of the men for her and for each other. This journey draws us into a universal drama not just of cyclists, but also of hearts and possibilities.
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