WOW! What a whirlwind 2 weeks. We left on May 19th, and after lunch at TGI Fridays in Atlanta, and flying all night, arrived in Rome on May 20th with Brian (Harz) Roberts from Phoenix in tow. We proceeded to pick up “il monstro”, the giant Fiat rental van. I quick 2-hour trip to IKEA in Rome and we were off to pick up the first of 3 rental bikes, at the bike shop, La Maglia Rosa, in the beach town of Francavilla al Mare. Once we got the bike, it was off to the grocery store than up to the house. Running a bit late to get a quick ride in and we hade some cleaning of the house to do after it was closed up all Winter. Thursday I took Brian out for a 3 hour spin of the neighboring towns and up to the local cross-country ski area. Friday we got in another great 2-hour ride including the “Montazolli short-cut” which is only about 1km long, but hits 22% in spots. We then headed up to our favorite bed & breakfast in Tuscany, Villa di Sotto. Saturday we headed out for wine tasting and a tour of the Volpaia Winery. Then a tour of Brolio Castle. In the afternoon I took Brian out for 3 hours of some of my favorite Tuscany roads. We spent Sunday morning in Sienna where as most of you already know, I finally put a ring on Kristine’s finger.
Monday we drove down to Rome to pick up Scott and Katherine Elliot from Ohio. We picked up their 2 rental bikes at the bike shop and made it up to the my house in Roio del Sangro in time for a quick spin ride before dinner. Tuesday we got in a solid 4 hours of riding then heading down the valley to see the pre-Roman castle in Roccascalenga.
Wednesday we were off to go watch the Giro stage 17 in Pretoro. Pretoro is where the final 15km climb starts and we heading off to ride the climb before having a picnic back in town to watch the race come by. The stage finish was moved down the climb about 5km from the actual summit where I eventually made it up to. Several patches of deep snow and mud to contend with but I made it. Once back down to our picnic spot, the helicopters hovering just above hinting at the building drama. Once the promotional caravan was past, the race came flying by with all the favorites still bar to bar. Pellizotti eventually solo’d for the win. Lance put in a good effort to chase him down but ended up back in the field. Di Luca attacked endlessly but could never shake Menchov. We had perfect sunny skies when we rode the climb but thick fog moved over the finish area for the racers. We also saw an entire family of Cinghiale (wild bore) crossing the road just outside of Roio. 2 very-large adults with several babies in tow. There are extremely rare and not seen very often. Thursday we had a mishap with the rental van a had to spend a few hours getting a new vehicle. The new, and much smaller, rental vehicle made for an interesting ride back to Rome on Friday. Me and Kristine combined our 2 suitcases into one and left a lot of stuff at the house. We took Scott, Katherine, and Brian out for a quick sight-seeing tour of rome, including the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain before a great dinner outside in the Campo de Fiori. Saturday we heading out for the big 3: Collesium, Palitine Hill, and the Roman Forum. A quick rest and it was back out to walk over to the Vatican before dinner. Sunday we got an early start to stake out our spot near the start chute for the time trial. Easy at first, but it got harder to hold your ground once the thousands of tifosi moved in. Got great shots off everybody going off plus pics of Di Luca, Pellizotti, and Menchov coming into the final couple of KM’s. Menchov had his now-famous crash shortly thereafter. We had our last dinner Sunday night in the Piazza Navona before heading home on Monday. Endless memories, hundreds of pics, and met some amazing people.