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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Grandi Alpi 2015 Part 2

We wrap up posts about Grandi Alpi 2015 noting the heat wave engulfing all of Europe at present. Not snow, but record heat made this an extra challenging tour in many ways. But we enjoyed riding the wine roads of Aosta (as above) nonetheless.

As well as the "mangia bene" part as you can see above. Dining in a wine cellar has advantages on hot days!

Today's challenge was Colle St. Pantaleon, used in the Giro d'Italia just this year. Above you see Jack in action.

As well as Dee.

And Pam & Jerry,

And Bo.

Everyone poses atop the climb on one of the clearest (and hottest) days we can remember. Note how clearly you can see Cervino (Matterhorn) in the background.

Grazie mille to all who joined us. We're looking forward to 2016 already. Next posts from the first of our Legendary Climbs of the Giro tours.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grandi Alpi 2015 Part 1

Larry's having trouble keeping up with the blog on these tours...luckily Heather will be joining him soon!

Our first day in Valle d'Aosta had us climbing the Col di Joux. Here you see the group taking photos in the tiny hamlet of Brusson after lunch.

A quick posed shot before we started the climb to Gran San Bernardo the following day. (l-r) Bo, Carol, Dee, Ann, Jack, Jerry and Pam are ready to ride.

Once we made it to the border with Switzerland, pranzo was in order. Some hearty pasta or polenta was just the thing to replace all the energy burned on this epic climb.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

La Primavera (MSR) 2015 Part 2

Whew! Running these tours solo keeps one pretty busy. Catching up now. After a visit to Castellania and lunch with ex-Mayor Piero Coppi we visited the Museum of Champions before heading out to join up with the Milano-Sanremo route anew.

Above you see (l-r) Alan, Barbara and Joe (Beppe) posing at the monument to Costante Girardengo, the first Campionissimo. Sadly, this monument is hidden in a spot just before the old, single-lane tunnel that was for so many years an iconic symbol of La Primavera. With the opening of a new, two-lane tunnel just below, the road up to the old one has fallen into disuse and decay. RCS, the promoters of Milano-Sanremo should fund the works to construct a connection with a bike trail through this iconic tunnel AND run the race through it to preserve the tradition. The original Campionissmo deserves better than this!!!

Above you see Barbara and Alan checking their route sheets atop the Cipressa on today's ride. We spent the night before on the descent of Le Manie and enjoyed an unforgettable seafood dinner.

Which meant when we got to Sanremo a change-of-pace was the idea. We walked over to Spaccanapoli to sample authentic, Napoletano-style pizza and were NOT disappointed. A walk back to our hotel along the Lungomare with artigianale gelato completed a relaxing evening. Tomorrow the riders will enjoy a morning ride on the same route used for the team time-trial last month to start the Giro d'Italia before our transfer back to Monferrato.

Thanks to Barbara, Alan, Joe and Myron for joining our tour!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

La Primavera (MSR) 2015 Part 1

One tour ends, another begins...and sometimes they overlap! Above you see (l-r) Cindy, Barbara, Riccardo, Beppe, Don and Myron as we set out to Gavi. We bid arrivederci to Cindy, Riccardo and Don in Vignale and continued to Gavi with a serious tailwind. Our little group moved so fast we made it to Gavi in time for pranzo at our friend Gianni's trattoria/pizzeria.

After lunch it was a short, but steep climb to our lodging, Villa Sparina. Above is a shot from our hotel window this morning. After a sumptuous dinner and leisurely breakfast it was back on the bikes today...

...along the roads of Fausto and Serse Coppi. Above you see Alan, Barbara and Beppe posing at the top of a steep climb on our way to Castellania to pay our respects at the Coppi tomb. We were (as usual) treated to lunch by our friend and first-cousin of the famous racing  brothers (not to mention former mayor of Castellania) Piero Coppi. After a short ride back to the hotel for showers we're off for a private visit to the Museum of Champions followed by a return visit to Gianni's pizzeria. Tomorrow we're on the Milano-Sanremo route over the Passo Turchino

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vineyards to the Sea 2015 Part 2

Ciao from Liguria! We've made it from the vineyards to the sea, just as we promised. Above you see Cindy posing among some vines.

And here we are posing with tanks used for the production of wines using those grapes, at Marenco.

Here we pose for a farewell photo before continuting on our way to the Appennines and eventually to the sea.

Where today we found our favorite road (still) closed. Not so terrible in the end as the out-and-back ride is still gorgeous and we get back to Bonassola to enjoy lunch on the sea. We're hoping this major construction project, with formidable, locked gates means they will finally get the road to the Cinque Terre repaired...maybe by 2016?

Thanks to Steve, Cindy, Don, Jack and Richard for joining us!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vineyards to the Sea 2015 Part 1

Welcome to Vineyards to the Sea 2015. We're on the road through the Monferrato wine country.

But of course we MUST stop for espresso (or maybe prosecco?) along the way as above in Castagnole Monferrato, home of one of our favorite wines - RUCHE.

Then of course there's PRANZO on a sunny terrace in Montegrosso. Above you see (clockwise starting from the left) Steve, Jack, Cindy, Don, Heather and Richard at the end of a relaxing lunch.

Our final destination was La Corte and their peaceful swimming pool. We'll dine here tonight on Piedmont specialties, perhaps vitello tonnato?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Let the 2015 guided tour season begin!

We are ready to go! Above you can see our new support van. Thanks to Campagnolo, Vittoria, SMP, Bicisupport, Sci-Con, Hibros*, BikeRaceInfo and Dual Power Eyewear* for all the great support!

Long-time clients and friends Don & Cindy came a few days early to get over jet-lag and enjoy Monferrato before we depart on our Vineyards to the Sea tour. Ariotto's Ristorante della Villa has just reopened for the summer so we couldn't wait to dine on the beautiful terrace. Sadly, the risotto tartufo was eaten before we had a chance to take a photo. Grazie Chef Riccardo!

*Logos not shown in this photo as they are on the rear of the van