What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro di Pez: Like Batman Says…

Roadside St.19: That’s one of my favorite lines from that original Batman movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward… The Caped Crusader was running up and down a pier with a bowling ball shaped bomb – lit fuse and all. At every turn, something foiled his efforts to dispose of the dangerous device… Sorta like my day.

By now you’ve seen plenty of shots of Contador as he wins this Giro. What you haven’t seen, is decent shot of Bert himself taken by your’s truly.

The Pez Crew will attest, that days on the Grand Tours fall into one of these categories:
1. Some days go as planned,
2. Some even better,
3. Some worse
4. Some make you wonder what past life transgression the gods are making you pay for now.

With threathening skies behind Bergamo’s Citta Alta, the first two riders take the line. The rain started just minutes after they rolled.

It’s just after 6:00 PM in Pinerolo and I’ve just cracked the laptop. For the last several hours – well before I got lost in the center of Torino (don’t even ask… I was just following the signs) I’ve been wondering how I’d spin up my day as yet another awesome Roadside Adventure.

For some reason the word “buttkiss” just keeps coming to mind. As in, that’s all I got. Okay, that’s only one side of the coin, but maybe the lesson here today is how to roll with the punches, or something like that.

Just as the race rolled out, this guy threw a perfectly timed shot-block.

The day started well enough – although I knew the transfer from Bergamo to the foot of the Alps would take about 3 hours – that’s no big deal. The stage started just outside my hotel in Bergamo – so catching the start was a no brainer, and then I figured I could beeline it for here.

Then I thought –maybe I could take a page from Ed’s book and drive the stage – that’s always good for some cool stuff. The stage finish up to Macugnaga is in a dead end horseshoe in the northwest corner of the Italy, and would be too far from my bed tonight, but I figured I could at least catch the race on the Mottarone climb across the lake from Varese.

So there I am, plunking around the start, looking for a few good shots, quotes, etc., when Matteo Cavazzuti – the Giro’s head press officer – asks if I’d like to ride the moto for tomorrow’s stage.

Here’s as good as I got of the break coming through Sesto Calende.

Um. Duh. My heart did in fact skip a beat – this is like winning the lottery – as both Gord and Ed can attest from memorable days at Le Tour. I calm down long enough to start considering the logistics I’d need to sort out.

1. Find a new hotel in Verbania so I can be at the start early. Doable.
2. Cancel hotel in Pinerolo. No biggie – maybe lose a deposit.
3. Get car from Verbania to finish at Sestriere – about 200km. Need to find a driver – short notice but not impossible – there are lots of people transferring from the start to finish each day, I just don’t know any of them yet.
– Ale suggests sucking it up and take train back to start if needed – this is once in a lifetime! Hmm – that could take hours.
4. Weather – calls for rain Saturday. I have no rain gear, and a day on the moto will be a soaker, and cold in the Alps – not to mention a beater on the camera. Risky – no idea on this one.
5. Cancel planned ride over Finestre. No brainer, given the trade off.

Bert swings his lunch just like the rest of us.

Quite frankly all this sorting of the plan was too damned confounding. I could not come up with a plan, so pointed my car in the direction of the Mottarone, in hopes one would come to me while driving.

Big rain storm in Milan slowed progress somewhat, but I figured it would slow the race too. I should have known something was up when the carabinieri had blocked my exit off the autostrada – .

Sure enough all traffic was blocked at the next one too – and I couldn’t talk my way past the traffic cop – the race was due in a couple of minutes – ! Damn.

Can you say ‘feed zone jackpot’?

Here you go – just past the feed – I see the break come through – about 8 minutes ahead of the bunch.

After the pass I lose more time chasing some team cars to the next turn off – even piss off one of them at a toll station when I don’t pay my fee fast enough – I can hear the guy in the car behind yelling “Vai Vai Vai!”

By now it’s 3:00ish – I’m not sure where I am or even where I’m going, since I’ve missed the race. I’ve done enough of these to know that some times you gotta cut your losses, or the hours can just evaporate.

Each of my issues for tomorrow was solvable, but after a bunch of days of being more tired than I can remember, I just could not get a grip on the big stick, especially with the weather such a crap shoot. I could roll the dice and score big time, or lose out and lose the day.

I decide to stick with Plan A – ride the Finestre. Even if the day is crap, I’ll find a way up there to hang with the fans.

My heart sinks. I feel like I’m not only letting myself down, but also PEZ fans everywhere.

So I turn the car around, having only wasted about an hour I guess, and point ‘er at the Alps. Later I follow the wrong direction into Torino, and sit hopelessly at a zillion traffic lights as my day disappears, and all I have to report is this story.

Like Batman said: “some days…”

Right now the sun is shining in Pinerolo – where I arrive two hours after I had guessed from my latest estimates… So I’m hopeful tomorrow will bring rideable skies and a great day on the mountain.

I’ll grab that shower and dinner after I get a few photos edited here, and that should be a wrap on a day I’ll be happy to forget.

Anyway – I’m pretty sure this is nothing a negroni won’t fix.

Ciao a domani –

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