italy-part one

where to begin?

the food, the riding, the traveling troubles and the giro. we arrived in roma and were picked up by brian after waiting for our bags and bikes to arrive after our flight. right from the start, we felt right at home in italy. rachel and i spent the first couple days in ascoli just adjusting from jet lag and exploring the small town and the roads around it. we rode through the narrow cobbled streets and discovered the best gelateria’s and cafe’s in town before riding for a couple hours up to some mid-evil walled city where we would fill up our bottles at the fountain in the center of town. hilltop water stop

the fact that some of these small roads and cobbles have been used for 2000 years is hard to imagine coming from the land of disposable everything. the town is 400 years older than rome and the road that connects ascoli and rome is the fourth road built in the roman empire to transport salt from the adriatic sea to rome. every road leading into and out of the valley town is full of hairpin turns and climbs. italy 2009 087

before i left for this inaugural trip abroad, everyone kept telling me how much my mind was going to be blown but i insisted that i was approaching this trip with no expectations and an open mind. from the first day until we left my mind continued to be blown from the riding and the situations we found ourselves in. traveling is hard sometimes but it all works out eventually. the region around ascoli is less populated than the rest of italy and we ended up riding in or around some of the biggest national parks in central italy. i mean it’s not the dolomites but……..

brian and his wife, tiziana’s, shop in ascoli is top notch. the only pro mechanic in ascoli to be able to work on mountain bikes with suspension and disc brakes. some of the most beautiful and epic mountain biking exists around this area. brian has races la ruta, two trans iowa’s and countless mountain bike and road races since he was a junior in iowa. on top of this he was a welder at moots, spot and rewel in italy. in the pal mares of pro bike mechanics, he has it all. if you are in ascoli, stop by the bike lab for a espresso and some good old fashion english language.italy 2009 096

our friend dan sharp from portland was also in italy to photograph the giro so we headed north to meet up with him for a couple days and catch some giro action. pro bike racing is such a spectacle and over the top with merchandising and commercial caravans long before the racers flash by. to be honest, it was hard to chase the giro everyday in a car with all the crazed italian fans getting drunk especially from the perspective of a cyclists wanting to ride those amazing roads.
got a photo of cavendish in pink in stage 3. even 7km into the long days ride, they were flying along. maybe there IS something to riding 7 hours a day. the real great stuff started in the mountains stages of northern italy. watching the break of three fly up the steepest pitches of the pass to croce d’aune gave me goosebumps. the crowd erupts as they ride by with the roar of 2 helicopters in the background. AMAZING! even with all the traffic and drunk fans. italy 2009 065

to it’s credit, the italian cycling fans are what makes a sport like cycing so great in this small country. it is no different than seeing a baseball fan in america. cycling is a vital thread to the national fabric. a strong sense of pride about coppi, gimondi, tafi, pantani, di luca and petacchi to name a few is what gets people into riding here. i can only dream that someday america might have something close to this but it is hard to see this mixing with nascar and the nfl. italy 2009 097

until then, i will think italy with a fondness and raise my glass of red.

ciao.

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3 Responses to “italy-part one”

  1. Ian Says:

    I don’t know why more people don’t show their pinky power when drinking.

  2. Paula Reeves Says:

    Dear Ira;

    Not with it enough to have my own website yet. In truth, with the line of work I”m in massage and bodywork…maybe I just want to stay specialized and let folks find me.

    I LOVE the photos from Italy. WOW! And I do agree with you~ there is something so very “Zen” about showing pinkie power while drinking a special warm beverage…..be it espresso or high tea at my Great Aunts!

    Gosh this is fun reading about you and Rachel’s trip. I love you! And I have to find your number so I can call and get a hat! I’ll wear it when I’m printing images!
    With much Love and Laughter….still doing it in the dark,
    Paula Reeves

  3. Amelia Says:

    There’s a secret about your post. ICYITTTHBKY

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