Since our ugly split in 18th century, there’s been something of an intellectual and emotional gap between Europe and the United States: it’s history and tradition on one side of the Atlantic, progress and the future on the other. Take cycling, for instance. While the nearly 100-year-old Giro d’Italia whips and spins through 2,100 miles of Italy, the 9-year-old Tour of California — which was in February until 2010 — tasks riders with 710 miles of California terrain, from Sacramento to Thousand Oaks. Both races vie for the world’s top cyclists and both serve as preparation for Le Tour in July. As Americans who appreciate espresso and Parmigiano, we caught the Giro on television and showed up in person for the Tour of California, where we decided to rack our bikes and ride along in a Volvo support car. This GP Short details the experience.