Issue No. 4 // Darkness and Light

Photographer: Brian Goldstone

Location: Squamish, BC, Canada

Editorial  //  by Jill Macdonald

DARKNESS AND LIGHT

Humans are unable to distinguish colour in conditions of either total darkness or infinite light. When reduced to black or white the world can become a place of fear and chaos, whether we are considering life and death situations or moral conflicts.

In science, technology and culture, a collision of ideas is happening, spawning new forms and systems. The creative process requires courage and combines unlikely forces. Above ground and underground we map new horizons and break with convention.

Darkness only exists because there is light to reveal it for what it is – absence. The absence of light, or of knowledge, or of inspiration. In the absence of absolutes, we find grace and dignity. Perspective is everything.

 

A COLLISION OF IDEAS

Diving, swimming and alpine use: mountains and military equipment share innovations in technologies and equipment. The design story behind the Drypack is uniquely Arc’teryx.

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THE CRUCIBLE: THE CHEMISTRY OF CREATIVITY

Mountain environments challenge us to do more and to do better – artists, athletes and scientists alike. Remote and teeming with wildlife, Banff is the unlikely site of an international crucible of creativity.

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PROJECT CAVING

Mapping the world beneath the surface, Director of Equipment Design Dan Green shares stories that span twenty years of being the first to explore and sketch caves from North America to Peru.

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THE INVISIBLE MADE VISIBLE

Colour is energy. It is also psychological, emotional and more powerful than we might imagine. So how many people does it take to choose, match and plan the colours of Arc’teryx? An entire team.

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SELECTIONS

In the hands of a master the camera is more than a documenter of moments; it is a creator of emotion and a sculptor of light. Selected images on the theme of "Darkness and Light."

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NEVER SURRENDER

Professional sport is the playground of hopes, dreams, courage and loss. When it becomes the playground of politics, racism and oppression, athletes must draw even deeper from within.

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"The length of the design process is whatever amount of time it takes to understand and deliver exactly what is needed."

Photographer: Eiko Jones

Subject: Military diver carrying the LEAF Drypack 70

Research & Development  //  by Jill Macdonald, Photography by Eiko Jones

A COLLISION OF IDEAS

A braided river of information connects mountain spaces with the technologies and equipment used to get out there. Innovations to the evolution of tools, fabrics, instruments and packs pass back and forth between two fundamental forces of discovery – exploration and the military. It's an unlikely yet symbiotic process that involves creativity and intimate knowledge of the task at hand.

Alpine technologies address the need for lightweight protection, mobility and efficiency in harsh environments. Elite military personnel and outdoor athletes operating in these conditions push the limits of their equipment. Performance is critical and urgent and often they are the first to identify needs or new ideas that can solve equipment challenges. Working directly with manufacturers, their input goes into creating solutions, with ideas that trickle down to benefit all users.

In 2010, the concept of a swimmer's bag was brought forward. For travel from water to land the need was for a waterproof, durable, adjustable buoyancy bag that could be submerged. On land, it needed to be a high performance alpine pack that was comfortable, with significant load bearing capacity. All of this without weighing in at the kilos and profile of a sumo wrestler.

Functionality relies on a profound understanding of what an object needs to be: its primary use, its environment, and the expected outcome for the design. Initially, the focus was on underwater capability. This was unexplored territory. The design team focused on the bag's performance at depth, beginning with the fabric and the construction.

Advanced Composite Construction (AC2) is a refined technical construction process that is unparalleled in durability and light weight. Urethane coated on both sides, the fabric can be taped and sealed, freeing it from the need for stitching to create shape. Waterproof, the bondable nature of the fabric also allowed for custom placement of external components: straps, attachment points and a carry system that could be easily removed and stored inside the bag.

Two years into the process however, field testing revealed that the bag was overly complex and although the fabric was functional, with any length of time spent at depth folds in the textile compressed into knife-like blades that shattered upon contact. The concept failed.

Design is an evolutionary process. A reexamination of understanding its use revealed what the bag truly needed to be. As a drybag, the pack could be hauled, tethered, towed and carried; there was less focus on diving, more on being submerged. Simpler, leaner versions of the bag went out in 2012 and 2013, with refined solutions for buoyancy control and the closure of the main seal. Four years after it was first brought forward, the Drypack was close to its final form.

Necessity is the source of invention. Extreme situations are extreme; having equipment that won't fail means comfort and safety for the individual. For elite athletes and military personnel, a successful mission is a successful return. To develop solutions that meet the leading edge, the length of the design process is whatever amount of time it takes to understand and deliver exactly what is needed.

The Drypack 70 is part of the Arc'teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) program.

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"Holy shit, that's a good idea. How do we make it happen?"

Photographer: Dennis Owen

Location: The Banff Centre, Banff AB

From rehearsals of Kid Koala's Nufonia Must Fall Live

Creativity  //  by Jill Macdonald, Photography by Dennis Owen

THE CRUCIBLE: THE CHEMISTRY OF CREATIVITY

Creativity roosts in the most unlikely places. Started in 1933 as an arts outreach program, the Banff Centre has grown into an international hub of ideas. Bringing together artists and intellectual leaders from all disciplines, it is unique in the world, a rare crucible where diverse elements are thrown into the same cooking pot. The results are unpredictable.


Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It is a process; it's not random.

KEN ROBINSON, EDUCATIONALIST

Process is at the heart of the Centre's philosophy. Supporting half-formed thoughts and allowing them time to mature is combined with the agitation of being around all kinds of other practices. Dancers, musicians, writers and mathematicians live and work on the same campus. It promotes community and the cross-pollination of ideas. Because everyone here is working, it's understood that nothing is at the polished stage; it's raw and open to suggestion.

Very much a work-in-progress institution, the Centre sticks to its origins in not becoming an academic hierarchy. Programs are brief and intense. They inject inspiration.

Typically at mid-career, artists who arrive in Banff are on the cusp of really taking flight and when placed together in a confined, remote place, truly anything can happen. Abrupt shifts in direction and radical blends of media are encouraged. Like any science experiment, the catalyst that spawns new material can be unexpected.


Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

RAY BRADBURY, AUTHOR

Mountain environments have a curious effect on people. In these austere and immediate places, clutter disappears. We are challenged to do more, to do better and to really push ourselves. Ordinary people accomplish great things.

For many participants this is a first experience of wild. Set above the town site of Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, there are warning signs posted on pathways to avoid elk during rutting and calving season. In terms of location for an international arts centre, this setting is the equivalent of a rustic backcountry hut. Total darkness at night, secluded forested pathways, no evening street life. It's not cosmopolitan.

But it jolts people out of their usual habits. Mark Wold, Managing Director, Music and Sound: "Being here highlights the body for many musicians. Fresh air, safety, the power and scale of the geography – it's humbling and yet it makes people playful and very aware of their breath."

Like bare feet on grass, jazz musicians who have never seen snow venture out into a landscape where quiet is the loudest sound. New concepts are bound to break through.


Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM, COMPOSER

What do production designer K.K. Barrett, scratch DJ artist Kid Koala (aka Eric San), Afiara String Quartet and Clea Minaker, puppeteer, have in common? Nufonia Must Fall, a live performance of a graphic novel. Kid Koala calls the concept "the 2014 version of silent film." Set on stage, all the mechanics of each performance are visible to live audiences. It's dangerous, fearless and enchanting. Free solo climbs have more consequence, but this requires the same degree of boldness. And it could only come together in a place like the Banff Centre.

"We work together, we go for lunch together and we come back. In a city, the energy would scatter." Eric isn't an athlete but he has the look of someone closing in on his objective. "This is where impossible happens."

From rehearsals of Kid Koala's Nufonia Must Fall Live


Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.

BARBARA JANUSZKIEWICZ, PAINTER

The multi-disciplinary arts model is being used to develop leadership programs and curated conferences hosted at the Centre. Aboriginal programs are feeding holistic strategies back into business models. There is also the Banff International Research Station, (BIRS), a joint Canada-US-Mexico initiative that brings together a wide range of mathematical, scientific and industry specialists to exchange knowledge. With the stream of creative and imaginative people going through the Centre, BIRS is uniquely positioned to help mathematical culture access a wider community and promote understanding. BIRS wants to bridge the gap between the makers and the users of modern science/technology.

The mountains are the measure, for artists, thinkers and the Centre itself. "You can't be lazy. Some days it would easier to say it's impossible. But you have to meet the challenge of these dreams." Casey Prescott, Acting Director of Theatre Arts.

From rehearsals of Kid Koala's Nufonia Must Fall Live


If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.

ALFRED NOBEL, INVENTOR

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"Each time we return to The Surface, we have pushed deeper and further into the darkness, trying to make sense of it."

Photographer: Elliot Stahl

Location: The Scorpion Ledges in Pozo Los Arcos, Múzquiz, Mexico

Caver: Dan Green

Caving, Exploration  //  by Dan Green

FROM THE INSIDE OUT: PROJECT CAVING

Dan Green

DAN GREEN

Dan Green is the Director of Equipment Design at Arc'teryx and a specialized sketcher for significant cave explorations.

Although I have been part of some great exploration, I don't really enjoy being underground all that much. If going to the mountains offers an escape from zombies roaming the urban waste, then descending into caves is a deliberate effort to battle Middle Earth Orc. Caves can be dark, damp awful places. At times I wonder what other cavers like about it. But I think it's the purest form of exploration available to regular guys like me. Where else can you explore places that aren't easily viewed on Google Earth? The Moon and Mars are mapped, so are the ocean floors. One hundred years after British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott ran his legendary exploration trips to the South Pole, I have an appreciation for how the ostensible goal of reaching the actual Pole provided the necessary hook to endorse and fund years worth of research trips.

For me, Scott's story was never about the failed goal to reach the pole first or that he died on the return, it was his full commitment, in good style with a good crew. It's hugely satisfying to bring research results back from the field. We are usually the first to ever see these places and to leave behind footprints. We establish survey stations and record the distance, bearing and inclination between the stations using handheld precision instruments (digital rangefinders and pro Suuntos). In a forestry field book, sketchers record the survey data and use specially designed cave protractors to plot the survey points to scale so the passage detail can be drawn accurately. Cave exploring this way isn't like any other kind of recreation that I know. It's project caving.

Click map to view more stories.

Caves are wholly unknown until explorers physically traverse their depths. The black void of what might be becomes the solid existence of what is; the unknown becomes known. By foot, on ropes and through diving, we illuminate passages that existed only in our hopeful imagination. For over twenty years of project-based cave exploration, the allure of hope and discovery has held me in a systematic attempt to map the world from the inside out.


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Photographer: Angela Percival

Location: Arc'teryx Design Centre, North Vancouver, BC

Design  //  by Lisa Richardson, Photography by Angela Percival and Brian Goldstone

THE INVISIBLE MADE VISIBLE

Twenty-four year-old Isaac Newton, the father of gravity, calculus and the three laws of motion, was the first to discover that white light contains all the colours of the rainbow— by sticking a knife into his eye socket and wiggling it around.

It didn't prove anything to his exacting satisfaction – he just saw coloured spots in his vision – so he pulled the blinds closed and began the less tactile work of bouncing a beam of sunlight through a glass prism. What projected was a 22 foot rainbow of colour, proving that white light isn't white at all, but a composite of all the colours of the visible spectrum.

Newton also noticed that each colour was balanced by an opposing colour. Through the starkness of perfect contrast, an opposing colour is able to render its complement more beautiful, more essential, more luminous. His colour circle evolved into the colour wheel, revealing how blue complements orange, violet complements yellow and red complements green. Choosing which colours go together however, is not as easy as following a formula. At Arc'teryx, colour has its own department, a team of eight who, in their daily dedication to bringing richness and vibrancy to all products, dive deep into the collective unconscious of the colour underworld with nothing to guide them but their own insight.

"Colour preference is emotional and subjective," says colour designer Trina Thompson, "and that makes colour prediction an art. But it's also a science, because we need to balance and control each colour in each fabric." Part psychology, part sociology, and a big dose of mystery; but at least there are no knives involved.

Colour is energy— literally. It's a property of light, the radiant energy from the sun that streams towards earth at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second. The visible part of this light energy sits on the electromagnetic spectrum in between longer radio, microwave and infrared waves and shorter ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, these colours make up what Newton termed the visible light spectrum. White light. This is the toolbox for the Arc'teryx colour team. And their goal? Render the power of the sun, one bold colour at a time, onto the surface of a garment.

For every single collection, each and every product, the colour team works from scratch to make abstraction real. At the colour stage designs come in as samples first; although the fabrics are correct, they may be in odd colours and there is no direction toward where colour might play: in panels, trim or otherwise. An entire story has to be created, one that harmonizes colour with purpose, other selections and across the entire line.

For the aerobic Endorphin product collection, colourist Sybille Kissling honed in on bright, swift colours with pace and high visibility. Easy to spot against any background, the palette was chosen to convey energy. When completed, colour lights up a collection so it can catch the eye, transcend oblivion, stop us in our tracks, close the sale and get us all outside.

Up to 90% of decision-making is based on colour. In a crucial 90 second judgment-forming window, as one admires the effect of a dye and the way it illuminates, colour is actually bouncing into your eye to trigger a cascade of memories and associations and emotions. The surface is just the thinnest part of the story.

Dr I-Chant Chiang, a professor in cognitive psychology at Squamish's Quest University, is interested in the way the brain and the mind interconnect, and how language and culture affect the way humans think. She says that humans are visual creatures. A quarter of our brain is devoted to visual processing; the eye is just an outpost of brain neurons.

"When light hits an object, it bounces different length waves to your eyes which are processed by the rods and cones in the back of your eyes," explains Chiang. That "colour" information is then processed by the brain's occipital lobe via the ocular nerve. Barring dysfunction or disability, we all experience the same physical process of light transfer to signals in the brain. Or do we?

"Colour is extremely subjective," says Corey Bond, the colour team's administrator. "A big part of our job is to understand how people prefer colour and then compensating for that preference. Do they like their whites more blue than yellow? Do they prefer really saturated colours? " Bright clear colours best serve the Northern European blonde-haired, blue-eyed complexion, whereas North Americans favour more muddy tones. Yellow is risky because not many Caucasians wear it well. In Asia, red is so lucky it's used for wedding dresses. Gambling with a bright accent can score or it can scare.

Spinning the colour wheel becomes a game of roulette.

The colour team reference trend reports, global sales, feedback, colour theory and hard-won experience. They look to Nature. But mostly, to render the invisible visible, they go with their gut.

When even the least complex garment requires a cascade of colour decisions, a rigorous process is needed to keep the imagination in line. Main fabric, logo, zipper, zipper pulls, pull cords, patterns on the pull cords, sleeve binding, thread – nothing can be overlooked. Should the colours blend? Should they be tonal? Does the piece need some spice, an accent that pops out and draws everything together?

It's a Rubik's rainbow, a puzzle of garments and colourways and fabric quantities unraveling into infinity. The solution is colour boards. "Every single item we make requires a colourboard," explains Corey Bond. "The colourboard covers each dyed piece in a product. They can be anywhere from one page to six pages long."

Final colour selections are based on lab "dips", tiny pieces of sample fabrics custom-dyed to the team's specifications. Using what Kristi Birnie, Colour Design Manager, calls "projection," the colour designers mentally translate the tiny swatches up to full scale. "When I was newer to it," she says, "I'd see the piece in the end and think, Woah! That's not really how I envisioned it. It's wa-a-a-ay brighter. Or wa-a-a-ay green. But you get good at it. Now I can see the colour at the small scale, measure it with a spectrumometer, look at it under four different light sources, and project it up."

Ruthlessness and an eye-crossing attention to detail are required to finalize the colourboards. Typically, six out of eight lab dips are positive. From those six colours, perhaps only two can be used. Colour options are pared away, codes entered into spreadsheets. Series of numbers become jackets with eye-popping details and subtle harmonies. But when the difference between lemon zest and magma red is typing 535 instead of 553, the margin for error is no margin at all.

For an athlete, the basic performance applications of colour are to stand out or to blend in; provide protection through visibility or invisibility. Nature operates the same way, using colour as a strategy to either attract attention or avoid it. Sometimes, invisibility is the best line of defense.

For colourist Kavan Cronin, the focus of some of his colourboards is to create products that not only blend into their background environment, but where "as many external visible components as possible match each other so no 'targets' are left." When working with the LEAF division of Arc'teryx, (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) Kavan's aim is always to achieve near-perfect invisibility. "It takes extreme colour scrutiny and attention to detail."

For personnel needing urban camouflage, Cronin developed Wolf, a dark grey tone chosen from the grayscale that blends in with concrete, glass and steel. From distance or in situations of marginal light, the grayscale tone of most surfaces is dark grey. Wolf is an alternative uniform colour for environments where black stands out.

Black isn't always low profile and white isn't white at all. And colours are really just complex judgments rendered as sensations. The invisible made visible, colour is just one tangible way to joyfully interact with physics' most complex concepts - power, energy, frequency - just as skiing, climbing, hiking, running, are the ways we play with gravity, geology, momentum. We don't have to grasp the science intellectually, or poke out our eyes, to get it.

"All humans see colour, but when you really tune in and appreciate it in your surroundings, it gives you a whole new perspective," says Trina Thompson. "Viewing the world becomes much more of an emotional experience."

It's in this layer of emotion that colour is most impactful and mysterious. Once you attune to it, colour can be consciously harnessed, as a source of energy or serenity or power. For Kristi Birnie, the original Arc'teryx colourist, that's what her team serves up every day, as they immerse themselves in a sea of contrast, hue, saturation, luminance, theory and spreadsheets. Empowerment.

"If you feel protected, and are in a colour that gets you really amped up, in a place of true confidence, then you're at the top of your game."

And that's the goal.

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Photographer: Jeremy Koreski

An iconic symbol of strength lays soaked and abandoned. Without context, the viewer superimposes their own ideas of circumstance.

Photography  //  curated by Dano Pendygrasse

SELECTIONS

This is an age where most people have a camera of some sort in their pocket at any given time, which gives anyone the opportunity to accidentally bang out a gem on an iPhone. But the ability to consistently make stunning images takes original thinking and commitment of time and a unique worldview.

Photography IS darkness and light, arrested for eternity in pixels or on paper. In the hands of a master the camera is more than a documenter of moments; it is a creator of emotion and a sculptor of light. Understanding how to manipulate and craft black shadows or blinding glare into an image that holds power over the viewer is borne of experience, curiosity, and perseverance.

For this issue of Lithographica I asked some of these masters for a photo that spoke to the theme “Darkness and Light,” without giving them any constraint on what they could submit. These are their selections.

Vincent Skoglund

The first photographer I thought of when the theme was presented, Vincent has worked with light on a massive scale in many of his works. By selectively lighting forests, or masking backgrounds with giant black sheets, Vincent chooses what to show and what to hide in scenes that are familiar, but with a perspective that draws new conclusions.

Chris Brunkhart

It would be impossible for me to put together this group of photographers without Chris. Now based in New York, Chris finds the interesting places where the dark grinds against the light. He has a masterful sense of composition and his interpretations of urban landscapes are unique. As always, there is detail in the darkness that many miss.

Colin Adair

Colin collaborated with Art Director Daniel Curtis on a series of images using fireworks and other pyrotechnics. Making these exposures is a tricky business as the dynamically changing light and moving subject make for a challenging shooting scenario.

Paul Morrison

Paul’s knowledge of light is well known in the world of ski photography. He is a master of the mountain landscape, but he’s always finding new ways to interpret light. Here we find him exploring a smaller scene. When he removes the reference points the macro image attains an ambiguity of perspective, creating worlds instead of documenting them.

Blake Jorgenson

By always embracing the strong contrast of light and dark that happens in the mountains, Blake draws a unique view of his world. He is known for playing with the harshness that exists and using the strengths and weaknesses of the medium to his advantage. Making this photo of Dan Treadway and Seth Morrison he says: "We can get a new perspective on the world from the limitations of the camera in dark and bright light."

Jordan Manley

Always finding new ways to manipulate subjects in unexpected ways, Jordan creates images that are provocative, challenging, and often beautiful. I can’t pretend to not be in awe of his talent. Here he presents the ubiquitous Vancouver rain with a completely new and fascinating technique.

Mattias Fredriksson

The chaos of a city at night is ripe territory for photographers. In Japan with Mark Abma, Mattias recounts: "In downtown Tokyo we were waiting for a bus, excited to go to the mountains and totally relaxed. The people around us were stressing, as always in the big cities and it was such a contrast."

Trevor Graves

Trevor was an early innovator of artificial light in action sports. Always experimenting, he inspired much of the strobe work that came after him. Yet with his submission of a natural light image of the Matterhorn he sent this: “We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness".

Andy Wright

Andy may be at the height of his career in the snowboard world, but his street photography is an insight into his active mind and varied interests. This shot, from his limited run book "Incidental Contact", speaks to darkness and light on multiple levels, embracing whimsy and dejection simultaneously.

Ian Ruhter

When Ian set out to shift gears in his photo direction, he did it on a scale that nobody before him ever had. He combined the hands-on craftsmanship of wet plate photography, a technique from a century ago, with a camera the size of a truck. In fact, it is a truck. However, his journey in photography has been broader than just his wet plate work. He’s always had a keen insight into the people he shoots.

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Courage, Sport  //  by Jill Macdonald, Artwork by Ben Tour

NEVER SURRENDER

RECOMMENDED READING


ROAD TO VALOR

ROAD TO VALOUR
by AILI & ANDRES McCONNON

Gino's story is not well documented. He preferred to keep quiet about his actions in honour of the many that lost their lives in the same battle. Learn more about Gino in Road to Valour by Aili and Andres McConnon. The book reveals much of his life, his story and his bravery.

Sport is the instrument of hope and courage.

Recent events in professional athletics remind us not to overlook the power of sport to combat racism and oppression. The World Cup or the Olympics focus our attention, but in the mountains there is always an opportunity to take a stance for others. Athletes are champions of hopes and dreams, veterans of courage and loss; they encourage us to draw deeper from within. Snowboards, skis, climbing ropes, bicycles; these are tools for equality.

Going back to 1930 we find the story of Italian cyclist Gino Bartali, the only person to have won the Tour de France 10 years apart - a record that still stands and another victory over the intolerance behind it.

A devout Catholic, by his early twenties Bartali was a top Italian cyclist, winning nearly every race he entered including several Giro d'Italia. For a scrawny impoverished kid from Tuscany, Bartali's trajectory was rapid and turbulent. He smoked, drank coffee, overtrained and relentlessly drove the competition to their breaking point through the mountain passes; Gino was lethal uphill.

Expected to reign at the top, Bartali suffered interference from the Fascist regime. After winning the Tour de France in 1938, he was invited to dedicate his win to Mussolini. Gino refused. His silence was a grave insult, a great risk and professional suicide.

In 1943 Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa asked the deeply faithful Bartali to help the underground protect Italian Jews. Gino's decision to act, despite great fear for his own family, lead him to smuggle counterfeit identity documents inside the frame and saddle of his bicycle while on 'training runs' that ran hundreds of miles through the mountains at great personal risk. Evidence now shows that through his efforts he helped save the lives of up to 800 Jewish people. Bartali returned to the Tour in 1948 and won, the greatest gap between victories and a remarkable demonstration of physical and mental strength as he surpassed much younger men with his desire to win not only for himself, but for all his war-broken Italian countrymen.

"Everyone in their life has their way of expressing life's purpose – the lawyer has his eloquence, the painter his palette, the man of letters his pen...I have my bicycle."

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