Saturday, May 26, 2018

Giro d'Italia Stage 20 CERVINIA

Karl and Laurie wanted to see the Giro so off we went this morning to Cervinia. It's barely an hour (to the base of the climb) from Piedmont Cycling Resort so we departed around 9 AM with the idea of riding to the top, finding some lunch and waiting for the race. Why didn't you join us?


Larry decided to join in the fun and ride the climb himself since the plan was not to try to drive through road closures on the course. He's way short of cycling fitness but decided to prove "gearing and attitude" are more important. Above you see the iconic switchbacks which to us define this climb,


Zio Lorenzo was glad he had low gears as this climb was a struggle, but knowing the climb from countless rides up here helped a lot. Above is another shot of Larry's favorite part.


The ristorante Larry hoped to get a table at was full and no amount of pleading would make a table available, so it was time for Plan B. Why not pop over to the place we dined at last week with our other group? It will certainly be open and since the guy will likely remember me from last week scoring a table here should be easy. It was and soon enough Karl and Laurie arrived to enjoy a tasty Valdostana pranzo. 

And who should walk in? None other than RAI Sport's own cycling historian and main man with the cycling gossip, BEPPE CONTI. He was nice enough to pose for this photo and to chat a bit about this year's Giro and other cycling subjects. He's even got a new book out, "Mangiare, Bere e Pedalare" so he's well aware of our idea of "pedala forte, mangia bene) But we needed to get back to the road to see the race!


Above you can see the contenders coming around the iconic switchbacks around 5 kms from the finish line.


And the RAI TV camera moto,


From our spot one could look down on scenes like this.


And this.


But still run across the road to get shots like this.

Unlike many, we waited until the broom wagon came past before making our way back down to the Piedmont Cycling Resort car. But rain clouds were coming in and we wanted to avoid wet roads - we just made it!

So Chris Froome wins the Giro d'Italia (barring any mishaps tomorrow in Rome) 2018. As regular blog readers know we're not big fans of Froome or SKY, but rather than go on about that, you can read an opinion piece HERE that pretty much sums up our opinion.

As Heather said, "I enjoyed the play, I just wish the actors had been cast better." Now we wait to see what the authorities do with Froome's doping case. Beppe Conti told us that he thinks Froome will lose the Vuelta title where he gave the tainted urine sample, but barring any positive dope tests here at the GIro his victory will stand.

We think La Corsa Rosa deserves better and Conti seemed to agree,

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wash Day

Wash Day


Above you see bikes lined up to dry in the sun. We had two groups this week who just headed home..time to wash and service the bikes they rode to get 'em ready for the next guests.

Each bike gets washed and inspected with details noted in our logbook before it's prepared for the next client.

Bikes are ready for you - classic steel, standard aluminum/carbon or full-carbon...reserve your place HERE.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

COPPI DAY

A Pilgrimage to Castellania


The Aversa family joined us at Piedmont Cycling Resort this first week. The GS Bernardo excursion they booked had to be cancelled due to snow on the pass, so we proposed a visit to Castellania instead. Above you see them posing at the ride's starting point, the La Suissa caffe and chocolate shop in Serravalle Scrivia.

Suitably fueled by chocolate and caffe they set out over the famous Strade Coppi towards Castellania.


We were enthusiastically met (as usual) by former mayor and first-cousin of the famous cycling brothers, Piero Coppi himself. Despite being a bit under-the-weather and his favorite osteria being closed on Monday, Piero provided a suitable repast on his own apartment terrace! What a nice man!

After some lively banter and stories about the famous cousins we took a look at the tombs and racing records of the famous Coppi brothers before bidding Piero arrivederci and heading off to the Museum of Champions in nearby Novi Ligure. We're lucky they like us as the museum is usually open only on weekends these days, but they kindly opened it just for us.

Grazie tutti!!!

PS-you can book your own similar excursion during your visit to Piedmont Cycling Resort, just ask!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Piedmont Cycing Resort 2018 - Open for fun!

CycleItalia's 
PIEDMONT CYCLING RESORT 
presented by Albabici

We're now open! It's not too late to reserve your place(s) through mid-August. Enjoy the great cycling, cucina piemontese, some of the best and rarest wines in the world...it's all here.


You'll be supported on-the-road in style in 2018



Click HERE to join us!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Caltinessetta-Etna WE ARE THERE!

We didn't get to Sortino on Tuesday for a variety of reasons, which made us even more determined to see Thursday's first big stage.
We rented a car for the day and blasted off around 9 AM after a stop to pick up some panini from our local alimentari. Grazie Corrado!


We joined La Corsa Rosa with about 50 kms to go until the finish line atop Mt. Etna. Unless you drove up to the checkpoint before 7 AM or had race credentials, you were stopped about 5 kms before the finish line. No worries, we had our backpack so we parked the car in a spot off the road and started walking. At the checkpoint the road reared up to what seemed like 15% on a very irregular climb. We continued to around 400 meters-to-go where the fences made it tough going. They weren't letting folks in the road so we decided to turn around and head back to a steeper place to await the race.


Oh, and to have some lunch! Since we were prepared with panini, a great ristorante option appeared about 2 kms from the finish line. 15 euros for antipasto, primo, secondo, vino e acqua! Count us in!


Antipasto - a slice of mortadella, some caponata, fresh pecorino cheese and a baked melanzane/prosciutto plate got us started. Then came the first plate - a baked pasta with meat and cheese that yours truly couldn't finish! The secondo was a roast pork very much like porchetta. Mmmm! The house vino rosso wasn't bad either.


We couldn't resist dolci, a pistacchio cake. They had the race going on a big screen TV in the ristorante so it was easy to keep track of the race. This is why race-watching in Italy is so great! Real civilization. But now it was time to see what we came for...


We walked back (much easier, but it did make the quads hurt much more than coasting down on a bike) down to just before the 3 km marker where there were some nasty-looking switchbacks. Soon enough we started to hear about Chaves and Ciccone attacking and getting away. Didn't take long for Chaves to come zooming past as you can see above. He's going fast enough the background is blurry!


The rest chased as you can see above. This was a tough spot on this climb.


You either walked up here or rode a bike though it did seem they let plenty of folks on motor scooters through the road block, quite likely because there was space to park them vs automobiles. As you can see the road was fenced off most of the way up.


We began to make our way down as the pack was very strung out after the contenders went past. Now we saw what you don't see on TV..the guys who have either already done their work for the day or their assignment was just to get the finish before the cutoff time.


This is when Larry laughs when he thinks of all the times he's heard club-level racing cyclists or just enthusiasts act like "they coulda won the Giro if they'd only had the time" Every one of the guys at the Giro is good enough to be a pro and get a decent paycheck. Thousands of great riders never get this far. Even the last one on the road today could wipe the floor with every single one who has made that comment over the decades!


In some ways we think the gregari have a tougher job than the stars. Sure the stars have all the pressure to deliver after their teammates bust their a__ all day to put them in position to win. But the star gives his all only at the end...and then he's done. Guys like Luis Leon Sanchez or Vasil Kiryienka killed themselves today for their leaders, but when they could give no more, they STILL had to keep riding to the finish and make sure they didn't get eliminated. You don't get to see how dead these guys look on TV...but they get up the next day and do it all again.

The Sicily stages were a great contrast to the earlier Israel "racing". Velonews' Andrew Hood has a great piece - read it by clicking HERE.

Larry's off to Piedmont Cycling Resort on Monday, have you reserved your place yet?

Monday, May 7, 2018

La Corsa Rosa is here!

Giro d'Italia 2018


Finally, after the Israel (mis)adventure, which to us was little more than a money-grab by RCS, La Corsa Rosa returns to home soil.

The riders and staff flew from Israel to Sicily (Catania, less than an hour from us here in Siracusa) this morning. Where they are shaking their legs out on the bikes in or near Catania is an interesting question, but they leave there tomorrow headed for Caltigirone.

The race passes close to us in Sortino, the lunch stop for our 2017 Sublime Sicily Tour. We'll ride the same route out there ourselves tomorrow to see the race, so the next blog post should have photos and details of the Giro's return to La Bella Italia.

Thursday's the stage finish atop Mt. Etna. We have a car rented to go up and see that one!

Forza Aru!            Forza Pozzovivo!

Friday, April 27, 2018

L-B-L 2018 The Race

L-B-L 2018 THE RACE


Up and at 'em Sunday morning with Peter Easton amped up and ready to chase the race. First stop was rather appropriate - the Stan Ockers monument in Sprimont as you can see above. The guy won Fleche Wallone and L-B-L...on the same weekend in 1955!


The race passed by soon enough though they were pretty much JRA at this point.


We zoomed ahead to the next spot where our hosts handed out some tasty sandwiches. All we needed now was beer! This was not just Zio Lorenzo's idea and it turned out some folks atop the wall on the right were enjoying a backyard picnic complete with ice cold bottles of Jupiler. Lorenzo pulled out his best Pepe LePew French and asked if he could buy a couple of them. The nice folks would take no money but they did pass over a couple of cold ones! Merci beaucoup!!


We barely had time to savor them before the race arrived.


The race was heating up now and so were the temperatures.


We zoomed ahead to the last climb we'd watch live where this artsy photo was accidentally snapped.


And then the race arrived, but not before the small publicity caravan (this is an ASO race so they squeeze every euro out of it) passed by. Someone was throwing out samples of jam and of course one ended up in the road where it was soon run over by another vehicle.


And of course Ol' Zio was right in the line of fire! He's been hit in the head with a sample can of Coke back-in-the-day at LeTour and now this! Lucky there were no armies of ants on this climb or he might be nothing but a stripped carcass in Belgium now!

From there it was back to the swanky hotel and a big screen TV with more beer and snacks. The climbs just don't look very hard on TV just like at most races. That's why Larry so often suggests seeing them live, in-person. Even if you don't ride them, you can see how steep they are by being there. TV has a very tough time conveying the challenge. And if you want to see any of the Northern European classics yourself make sure and take a look at VCT!


Monday was back to the Brussels airport as Peter headed to his "service course" to put his bikes and equipment away and fly back to NY. Check out this "sports bar" in the airport. No baseball here! Ya gotta love a place where cycling's on the walls!



And for Zio Lorenzo it seemed perfect to wind up his 5 Monuments of Cycling with one of Belgium's great beers before flying back to Italy.