Life after work and the trips of a lifetime

"We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start." - Anonymous

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo hoo! What a ride!..attributed in this form to either Maxine Cartoon or anon

Monday, June 28, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting

Birth notice:
please welcome into the world my new road baby baum, brother to track baby baum -  already patiently waiting to be made up and set up....check out the classy work.

It looks double plus super good and now I just have to recover and attempt to justify its existence(!)  I went out for a cruisy 45km ride yesterday and had to have a sleep afterwards, so I'll just have to pamper myself a few more days before putting in some real efforts, by which time BB should be ready to roll.. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Brief rest until I fly out again

I'm into a  brief "no-blog" phase so there's no need to check up here until I hit Europe again  which is on July 15th, when I land in Geneva and pick up our leased Renault car a Megane station wagon. 

We need a car that can take 3 bikes and 3 people but having seen the narrowness of the streets in Italy, I think I might have to steer clear of driving in villages! (I'm still suffering from shock from getting lost in Agrigento in Sicily and having to drive along the ancient narrow and very very steep streets..27% downhill hair pin bend to be exact)

The plan for the next stage of 2010 travels is as follows:

Firstly with Alex, 
  • 1 week in Bourg D'Oisans (and our apartment is actually at the bottom of Alpe d'Huez), so the French alps..we plan on driving over to Como one of the days to see the cycling museum and  Madonna d'Ghisalla church.

  • then 1 week in the Pyrenees.

  • then we are joined by my sister for 1 week in Tuscany and 
 Firenze, Siena, Pisa and Lucca are all on the menu and we're staying at Palaia which is the top one of the two red flags
  • 1 week near Venice.  
 we're staying somewhere between Venice and Padova and plan on seeing not only Venice but also the ice man in Bolzano, the Pinarello factory in Treviso and if Alex is up for it, he will ride (and I will drive!) the Passo del Stelvio
  • Alex then flies home 
  • and my sister and I then have1 week in Slovenia ..nothing planned yet and
  • 1 week in Austria (St Johann for the world road champs) after which she returns home 

  • I fly to Manchester for 2 days then to 
  • USA (San Diego) for 1 week and then home again
 finally one more thing I learned...and that is if you are 65 yrs or over it pays to have your Seniors card (and photo ID with birth date on) with  you in Italy 'cos you get into tourist places free!...grey hair and wrinkles rule... yeah!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Back home in freezing Melbourne..reflections and musings

Home again and for the first time I ended up in a seat from Singapore to Melb next to someone who overflowed her seat onto mine...not happy Jan.    So back home to winter and I'm wearing as much as I did in the Dolomiti when it was snowing!  so ..tell me...HOW can I show off MY sun tan in this weather?

..doesn't look like any of these

More like this one!

  • Something I forgot to add in "things I learned" ......we discovered that the very best place for coffee in any village or town was always where the old men were sitting, solving the problems of the world.  100% guaranteed
  • Phil and Paul isms did feature in my mind.....not much "dancing on the pedals" but lots of "turning myself inside out" and Jens' "Shuttup legs" got quite an airing in the last few days 
  • the big question...would I do it again?..yes definitely but if I did I would take a break from Rome to Venice..which is where we crossed a part of Italy that is very flat, great for crops and very very like where I lived the first 18 years of my life, the fens of Lincolnshire with ditches, canals, raised roads, dykes , locks etc etc and so it held no interest for me.  Others liked the area,(no hills) but really I felt my physical condition went downhill around this time with overwhelming fatigue becoming a major feature.  So a week away from the bike would have, in retrospect, been a wise move.
  • Of my electronic woes...the phone just needed a charge from the mains and the Garmin has finally decided to download the last 14 rides.  I guess for both of them there just wasn't enough oomph in the computer to nudge them into life, but , sniff, gulp, the iPod remains dead.

So..the last day...Latsch to Como..along a valley, mostly on a meandering bike path which occasionally took us into the narrow cobbled streets of very small villages...just like in the south. For a while we kept passing  signs with the word pericoloso (danger) on them, but cheerfully ignored them until we came upon quite a steep drop off...which we negotiated very well, although the back markers of the bigger group had a few felt like mountain biking all over again.

Our small group of 4 eventually decided to stop for coffee and discovered the rest of the group already coincidence.....the poor women doing the coffees freaked out big time....far too many people all at once for her to cope..ran out of cups and brain.

and then it was a ride en masse to our last lunch:

after which we rode to Lake Como and waited for a ferry

and this is where we came from...was it still snowing up in those clouds?

the crew posing for last pix at Como

the last meal together in Como..just standard sized pizzas!!!


Saturday, June 19, 2010


Day 34- Latsch to Como ...122km, 1272m climbing
Day 35- recover in Como
Day 36- fly out of Milan

so sad but what a buzz...we've just ridden the length of Italy...too shattered to write..will post later

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Dolomiti and especially the Passo del Stelvio

Well we’ve finally had everything….sun, sea,hills mountains, villages, towns, great name it…

We’ve also had all, humid, warm, cold with rain, thunderstorms, hail and finally sleet and snow!

A coupla days ago we sat in our tents while outside raged THE most scary storm about a son e lumiere show and the wind… was just as well we were in our tents..else they might have flown away. 

That was our introduction to the Dolomites and we’ve not really been dry since.

So today was Stelvio day..a hard day in anyone’s language but we just chose a day when the word hard just doesn’t go far enough:

650  and yes that’s snow!647 649

these guys have chipped the snow off their saddles and are about to go on down…some of us opted not to!  I managed to get to the top but was distraught with cold when I arrived..I guess I don’t DO cold very well.

Anyhow the T shirt!  Only 1 day’s ride left…sooooo sad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things I have learned over the past month....

  • Baby wipes are great, chain, hands..the works.  Makes you wonder about the poor baby does it not!!!
  • Some Italian camping grounds (?the cheaper ones) dont provide toilet paper..strictly BYO..a fact one only forgets once.
  • Totally unexpectedly.... squat toilets abound.
  • Consideration to cyclists moves closer to an "Australian level" when near a big city..although still far better than what we're used to.
  • For some unfathomable reason some ski hotels dont have drying rooms

  • Extended climbs of up to about 12% are now within my grasp 
  • Short bursts of steeper are doable 
  • however when faced with 19% 5 hours into a ride, I tend to throw in the towel
  • I still can't resist snaffling ALL the soap and shampoo freebies when staying in a hotel..even when I really dont need them...and I can't now pretend they're for the kids to play shop with!!


Day 32- Canazei to Latsch...107km, 1212m climbing
Day 33- Latsch to Tirano ...110km, 2482m climbing

 Disappointing Dolomiti so far with cold, wet weather, white outs and generally not what we'd hoped for.

Me...I got back ache..too much climbing and had to sit out an afternoon's ride and then the next day the wet weather made the downhills too dangerous for those of us struggling with 20 km of downhill braking.

The weather tomorrow is destined to be as bad if not worse, so maybe a trip to see the ice man at Bolzano might well be the better option.  Sad but.  The EFI award (see previous post) has now been whittled down to just a handful...although protests, rule revisions and bribes are in the air(!)

Today the ride passed over the Portoi pass, the location of the Coppi memorial statue

so here i am wearing my coppi t shirt and my new highly expensive Craft bib nix..comfy as, but I might have to mortgage the house to pay for them.  we finally found a bike shop worthy of the name and I bought the place out...starvation for a year at least.....!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Day 27- Chioggia to Venezia...25km, 0m climbing
Day 28-  Rest day
Day 29- Venezia to Tramonte di Sotto...140km, 525m climbing
Day 30- Tramonte di Sotto to Cortina d'Ampezzo...121km, 3255m climbing
Day 31- Cortina d'Ampezzo to Canazei...71km, 2134m climbing

weather widget    


 gondolas gondola


no bikes or vehicles allowed in all goods seem to be manhandled in trolleys of a variety of sizes and shapesforbidden plenty of rules


cost and times of opening……nothing more guaranteed to make you totally continent

Venice..first we had to get there

The ride into Venice was to be an easy tootle of a coupla kms and 3 ferry rides.  However…a transport strike intervened and the day stretched out for at least half the group as they had to wait and wait and wait for the very irregular ferries.  10 of us were lucky and didn’t have to wait too long

cippo  getting a relatively easy run through, but having got to the camp site were reluctant to go into the Venice itself in case we couldn’t get back.

So for the lucky ones a really great lunch was waiting..

Decisions were difficult

foodmore food

but in the end there was little left


Friday, June 11, 2010

NeopoliTAN arm

two fold reason for to show you my wasp sting redness..the other to show off my tan!

Out of Florence and towards Venice

What  with "rest" days in Rome and Florence and relatively easy riding in between, the heave out of Florence came as a bit of a shock to the system.  At a steady 9-10-11% it was actually a bit steeper than what we've been getting used to. 

The reward was not only great downhill hoons, but also a night in a hotel.

This morning the announcement was "good morning you have the first of the flat days..virtually no climbing.....its also pretty well the last  flat day also......."

So today we had 152km of flat, flat flat land, with the only rises in the road being over canals, rivers (including the Po) railway lines and other roads.  it reminded me very much of where I grew up in the UK ...the Lincolnshire fens.  We rode it the only way you big groups with strong motoring legs on the front and the rest of us sucking the wheel in front...... 

No pix..

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Day 26- Castel San Pietro Terme to Chioggia...153km, 373m climbing..tomorrow and we're not looking forward to days.  We're having brekky at 6 to get an early start....with lashings of factor 30 on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seen on the road again..Tuscany

One of the value added aspects of the ride has been the wild flowers all along the road. Most of them we’ve been able to identify, but these have us all stumped.

red field I’m not sure this following pix will help, but…any ideas?..def NOT poppies..we’ve got those pegged…


veggie shop

even the veggie shops are special

post box

and although the hills aren’t as soul destroyingly long as in the south (or maybe we’re just alot fitter now)we still have this situation, where the road ahead is NOT the one we want to have to ride up…the road we hope isn't ours


Well, I guess I’d better post a coupla arty farty pix to please the more civilised amongst us….florence in am 


ok, that’s enough…. back to normal..

transport and 2 wheeled rules:

bike line




parker and car parking remains much the same as in the south:-

parkingat lights AND on a pedestrian crossing!!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No idea of the date or day, but we're in Florence!

 Great riding here in Tuscany..we've moved out of the 15+km uphill slogs followed by downhills in sketchy road surfaces to shorter, sharper uphills one after the other followed by GREAT dowhhills on smooth, well cambered roads.  Yahoo/yeeha! worthy.

With the 2 Kiwis gone  the awesome threesome have had to pickup the navigational duties and have  managed to stay focussed and on course with a high level of skill (unlike our revered leader and organisor who managed to get lost the other day leading his usual string of cyclists, who once they were with him, stopped bothering to navigate ;-) We''ve also managed to arrive in first into lunch and have beaten the so-called "A team" a number of times..nothing competitive about us of course and no comments please about the fact that we set off  straight after brekkywell before the official start time!

Sienna was great,well worth a visit and very steep..walking anywhere is an added challenge after days and days on the bike

  and we were lucky enough to catch the Giraffe group doing their flag waving thing.

 but in the end ..walking gets to be a bit tiring. 

Bad things come in threes

First up yesterday was the realisation that my tent had was fine when I packed it away in the morning, but 2 poles where totally cactus when I unpacked it at night.  Wilbert and Richard put in alot of time in  and jury rigged it, but sadly there’s no way I'm going to take it home with me as planned..the upside being that’s 4 kgs less luggage to worry about.
The second bad thing happened yesterday morning in Siena…. I dropped my iPod in the toilet..luckily while it was still clean(!)..but now it’s playing up a bit…and is more than likely officially dead.
And the third thing? Samsung aussie phone has decided to reason given, just turned up its toes …….
I think I can hear an iPhone coming my way….

but wait there's more..I managed to leave my Garmin chest strap in the showers…but hours later, when I realised the omission I shot back like a bullet out of a gun …it was still there…..phew!  think fatigue is setting in...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The name tells us all......Capodimonte to Castel del Piano

any Italian town with the word "castel" or "monte" in it tells us we have an uphill heave to get there...that is over and above the standard uphill heave that is part and parcel of any ride here in Italy. If you really don't want to climb or descend then Italy is not for you.

Yesterday's ride from Rome started off with a 4km peleton to get us out of the confusimg and busy area and after that we were yet again climbing and descending, skills all of us have improved over the past week or so.

Lunch was at a very nice spot and gave me the chance to take pix of the 2 following signs both of which made me smile



memo to self..must stop molesting animals!!!

Later on I plan on doing a post on our campsites and the facilities in each, but today we had a shower block that contained multiple the toilet, basin and  shower were in one very small cubicle.  Since we're lucky to score a seat on the toilet, there is never in a million years going to be  a lid on it which meant that I spent the entire shower trime  making double sure I didn't drop the soap into the toilet!!!