Grappa Di Pez: Busy In Brescia

The PEZ is in the Building! Well, ‘at the Giro’ is more accurate, but I’m still happy to be here and a successful day 1 of the final Giro week is underway. Here’s a snapshot scrapbook of how today went down, from our ride on Lake Garda to catching the finishline action in Brescia…

It’s been quite a trip, and I only just arrived yesterday… But already I’ve endured an embarrassing bout with bad airline food, my buddy (and driver’s) lost bike, and missing bike part that I forgot to pack (… no probs – I jury-rigged a quick fix), a towed car, and a variety of Italian-isms.

The key is to put the “Factor X’s” behind and get on with the spectacle that is the Giro… so what better way to share the day than with some snapshot hilights? Check this out…


• Best to shake out the jet-lag with a shake-down ride that’s not too taxing… This morning, after parting with 109 euros to retrieve our car from the tow lot for an ill-advised parking choice last night… we popped from Brescia over to Lago di Garda for a 60 km up and back on the east side of the lake. First stop was the ‘shi-shi’ point of Sirmione for a look at how rich Italians pick up their morning coffee… “I think I’ll take the red speed boat today, darling”.


• No sojourn to a Grand Tour would be complete without a fancy way to enjoy it. In the case of this Giro, my rig-o-choice is a new all Ti ‘Aerios’ by custom builders SEVEN, kitted out with American Classic super-light Sprint 350 wheels, Ritchey WCS Carbon seatpost and new 4-Cross stem, FSA compact K-Force cranks and new Ceramic bearing Mega-EXO bb, Fizik Arione saddle and bar tape, Zero Gravity barkes, and Zipp’s new ultra-light 165 gram SL bars. Stay tuned for the full review after I get this baby into the mountains…


• Apparently wearing a pink sportsjacket entitles one to really bust the vendor’s balls when doing the wife’s vegetable shopping. Either that or it just plain pisses you off so that no amount of produce selection will satisfy.


• Stopping at the turn-around point of your ride and NOT enjoying a cafй and the view is considered rude by many Italians. We mustn’t be rude to our hosts now…


• Even in Italy you can still find things to hate… like their fascination with making western icons… how to say… ‘Euro-ized’. No worries, the savvy cyclist instantly interprets this restaurant name meaning as “Stay away”.


• As many of you know – neither man (nor Pez) can live on bike racing alone. That’s why it’s important to fuel up with a healthy Italian lunch of ravioli alla bresciani, insalata rucola i pomodori, and a beverage of your choice – oddly no local beers were on offer at today’s trattoria…


• Only at the Giro do you find the press room in a magnificent old building like this. And only at the Giro is it located over a kilometer from the finish line… Try walking a kilometer 4 times on a hot afternoon… it’s even farther than riding a km atop a Dolimite climb.


• Getting press creds is a typically Italian affair, including several offers of ‘knowledgeable’ advice on the who, when and where to find the creds office from well-meaning paesani; but after 3 trips up the very tall two-story staircase only to ascertain that the creds officer is on his lunch break… well the shine comes off the glamour just a bit. But when the paperwork is finally filed, it’s down to the photo-room for that all-important mug shot. Here’s Greg Scott – the official PEZ ‘driver’ getting printed and booked.


• Not what you think… In spite of these two grown men wearing pink and being a little too close for comfort (by our standards at least…) these two guys were just clownin’ around. Honest… Italians take clowns very seriously. Honest. They do.


• When you finish checking out that hot coug in back, please take a minute to note the two cats in the foreground. That’s Bevin and Clyde (real names!) – notable for being the first PEZ-Fans to offer a shout-out in Italy, and for traveling all the way from South Africa to catch the race… impressive dedication fellas…!


• The press corps get a special fenced in area just meters past the finish line, complete with tvs and tents that seem placed to create shade for the folks gawking over the fence. The actual view of the finish line is sketchy, but there is actual jostling against the fence as we fight out our own scrum to snap digi-pics like this… Bettini seconds after his win. Hmm…not too shabby, eh?

Or this one of Jan cruising in with the bunch…

• dang that Panaria guy screwing up my shot… This one had ‘money’ written all over it.


• Soon after the stage finish, the photogs gather in an orderly manner directly in front of the podium, waiting patiently for….

… The Podium Girls to appear!

• YEAH Baby! Actually – this year’s crop of presenters are noticeably TALL – standing eye-to-eye with stage winner Il Grillo while he was on the podium, and they stood on the stage.


• The Giro podium show is going hi-tech, as the smoke machine puffed out wisps of theatrics, but didn’t do nearly the job that the cigarette-puffing Italian journos could have…

Tomorrow’s adventure finds us at the stage start in Rovato – and then it’s on to ride the final switchbacked climb to Monte Bondone – word around the press room is it’s tough… which segues perfectly into my finalitem for today:

Attenzione: GRAPPA LOVERS! Tonite I’ll be picking up wear I left off last year, on my quest to completely pickle my liver in ‘eau de left over grape pumice’ known as ‘grappa’. Stay tuned for more…

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