Another thing that is good for my soul is this story I heard the other day.
Gino Bartali was a well known Italian cyclist in the 30’s and 40’s, after turning professional at 21 he became the Italian champion within the year. He won the Giro twice and the Tour once – which is an impressive record for anyone of any era. Bartali’s nickname was Gino the Pious, for he held to a strong Catholic faith and had an extraordinary sense of justice.
During WWII, for good reason, they suspended all the grand tours and many of the smaller classics, but Bartali kept ‘training’. His training was a covet attempt to help the Italian Jews. Bartali would hide messages and documents for the Italian Resistance in his bike frame and then he would ride from Florence, where he lived, through Tuscany, Umbria and sometimes as far as Rome, while wearing his racing jersey. The Fascist police and the German army would not risk arresting him for fear of the fall out. How awfully clever and just and impressive and brave. There is also some evidence to suggest that he and his family hid Jews in their home during the war.
So it seems that the combination of cycling + Italian + sense of justice + sticking it to the Nazi’s and communists = good for my soul.