Author: sallymckenzieblog

Waiting for the ITT at Villa Lagarina

1AAD5A56-B6DC-4F6C-B014-7229A5B632FDHad a not-bad sleep – lots of dreams.  In one I was going by our old house on Lakeshore Rd and the door was open so I asked if I could have a peek inside.  All of the rooms were in the same place but there was the addition of a second floor. The heating stove in the living room was gone and the cooking stove in the kitchen was on the other side of the room.  In another dream I saw a ladies bike outside a store and decided to take it (!) then when I was riding it to another store thought that if the cops were waiting for me outside for stealing the bike it would be very embarrasing so I rode it back to the first store.  I decided to buy it since the tag said it was only $26.95 but when I went into the store it rang up as $6,295. I said ‘even my beautiful Cannondale only cost $1,850!’. I then thought to myself, still dreaming, ‘at least I didn’t steal it – if it cost $26.95 getting caught with that would have been bad enough, but if it was $6,295 that would be much more serious’!

0B98FE68-215D-47BA-8E85-A940A21E6DF2Back in the real world after a quick bite to eat got on the bike for a real ride.  Started down the hill to the village and rode around a bit – stopped at an open cafe and had an excellent cappuccino.  I was reading the sporting paper The Gazette, which is printed on pink paper, and wanted to write down the start order for the time trial tomorrow but my pen wouldn’t work.  The three older Italian fellows at the next table saw my dilema and one of them went up to the bar and got a pen for me. In addition to the start order I made note of where the 3 Cdns are in the overall – Michael Woods is currently 17th (he was 7th last year in the Vuelta), Boivin is 111th and Sven Tuft is 159th.  After leaving the cafe I took a ride around the village – it’s bigger than it looks from the road.

B4558D0D-25F0-4FC8-BCD7-69E8545652BBA little while later Colin, Mo and I, in addition to our neighbour Guido, walked down to the village, Colin got a couple of things from the co-op market then we all went to a cafe for some coffee.  Guido filled up his water bottle from the main village fountain.

4F57C867-CB77-4693-AB6B-CBEC08A5C510By the time we got back to the campervan it was almost time for lunch.  It ended up taking me quite a while to get things together as I kept running out to take photos as many of the racers were doing test runs of the ITT course.  Today’s a rest day for them and a lot of them did ride the route although I didn’t see the Froomester.

1BFD2045-713D-4206-A0FC-93907C2445A346496ED6-8502-48A1-8273-448675EB6E9BAfter I finished lunch I visited Guido for a bit as he ate his lunch, then Colin and I walked, with Mo of course, back to the village again. Tried for awhile to get hooked up to the free village wi-fi but was unsuccessful so continued on to the same cafe we’d been to earlier.  We were only there for a short bit when two guys started to install the air-conditioning unit on the ceiling. I couldn’t believe they were doing it with customers right below them and no coverings on the tables or anything. They were cutting metal and everything – using a piece of cardboard as protection from the sparks that were flying everywhere.  The smell was horrible – we moved out to the ‘outside area’ where the cigarette smoke was less noxious than the metal-cutting.

A3129E43-04CA-4042-8D97-DE780BEA63B5I went to say hello to Guido and he invited me in – he had his tv on and confirmed that he will get the ITT tomorrow so we’ll know who’s coming, etc.  He then put the moves on me ‘you have such beautiful eyes’, ‘your bed in the campervan must be so piccolo (small) and my bed here is very grande (large)’, ‘don’t you get cold?’.  I gulped down the last half of my wine and left.

8A4CBE0F-D1E0-4A03-B59E-EAD70376C096At last another campervan pulled in beside us – a man and his son, both with bikes.  Shortly thereafter a fourth one showed up – our little space is almost full, and our view of the village and mountains is blocked.


Out of the Dolomites and into the Alps

Had one of the hottest showers ever – there was no way to control the temperature so I just had to enter slowly.  Better than trying to get into a really cold shower bit by bit, and I did get used to it.

E481CAFB-6FE0-4BE2-9AA8-2A1CB593F1A1On the road by 10:30 and it’s not that far to Trento.  Stocked up on more food then got onto the route that the ITT will follow on Tuesday.  Drove for several miles then realized that the route went up into the hills a bit and we’d gotten off it so back-tracked to Piazzo and drove along until we found a great spot just at the edge of Villa Lagarina.  It’s a small pull-out just after the beginning of the one small climb of the day. There was already one campervan there with an Italian fellow, who ended up being very helpful. The older guy that lives in the house above where we were was out in his garden and had a lot to say about us being there.  Our fellow Giro fan had a fairly long conversation with him and in the end it was all good and we were allowed to stay there.

154B61AC-B82E-4D67-85FD-661363AD1E1BI went for a walk up the hill to see where it went – after about 1km there’s a turnoff left/down the hill to Nogaredo (where the ITT will go), and right/up the hill to another village.  It was so pretty – any direction I looked was another just beautiful vista.

CB9A4F47-4161-4D97-A28F-C9082402AEE4When I got back to the campervan Colin harnessed up Mo and we walked down into the village.  We stopped at a little bar and after we had ordered and sat down at a booth I asked (in Italian!) if they had tv and if the Giro was on.  He immediately led us to a larger back room and turned the tv on for us and tuned it to the Giro. We got to watch the last couple of hours or so – a very large steep climb, followed by several smaller ones.  Simon Yates was the star of the day and the Froome-bot lost over a minute – couldn’t have been better.

45E4833E-CAF1-4D47-A396-5F2869678333Walked thru the village a bit more then went back ‘home’ for dinner – very nice mashed potatoes and fried chicken breast.  Afterwards our Italian neighbour (Guido) came over and I fed him some wine and we all chatted for quite awhile in a combination of english and italian.  He, obviously, is also a cycling fan and we had a very nice time telling him where we’d been and where we’re going – we all agreed that we are all living the ‘dolce vita’.  He thought it was especially good that I have a husband at home in Canada while I’m over here with Colin!

A2FCCFD7-080B-45F5-8421-F60E17F41228It started spitting rain just as Guido left and was shortly pouring – I’m just as happy that I’m not in my tent but do look forward to finding out how/when I can get the poles/frame replaced.

Familiar route and camping club party

Had a nice hot shower followed by left-over pasta for breakfast.  We were on the road north by about 9:00 and followed the same route we did last year.  

North to Chioggia, then northwest toward Padova which we by-passed then north to Bassano which we also by-passed.  From there it was northwest through the mountains towards Trento.

59061558-8B8B-4937-B65F-D771C39189C2It started to rain sporadically as we approached our destination for the day – the campsite of Due Laghi just outside the town of Levico Terme.  We stayed here for two nights last year and liked the place so have returned.

EA434C8C-7179-40D1-A793-DEBDEAA2894CWe walked to the campground’s restaurant to try to watch today’s Giro stage but it doesn’t open until 4 so we tried the restaurant next door but it doesn’t have tv so we then popped into the office.  Mo once again got some of the attention she adores, and we were told that the campsite’s restaurant does have tv so we went back to the campervan to wait until 4. Today’s stage is very important – it’s a climb up The Zoncolan – one of the most feared climbs in all of cycling.  It will be do-or-die for some riders and we really want to see it.

471E963D-9240-49FE-A9A9-D24A67A166CFThere is a large party of older Italian folks in many campervans near us – they’re playing bottchi-ball in the rain and seem to be having lots of fun.  They belong to a camping club that has been meeting and going on trips for 50 years now.

69B0060D-63F5-402C-99FE-B0CC848387D8Went back to the restaurant at 4 only to see their tv sitting on a table and not hooked up – the waitress told us that hopefully in ½ hour it will be working.  Back at the campervan Colin tried for about 45 minutes to get the satellite dish to pick something up – he moved the van several times to no avail. There a just too many trees above us to get anything so we gave up.

Read a book for awhile, and went down to the corner of the campsite to see what the little tent/booth was that the camping club had put up.  It’s not a bar or snack stand – it’s a band tent for music they’re having tonight.

27C4FE2A-E8B3-4D6D-A633-F2962EF0E502Returned to the restaurant for a glass of wine – the guy was just finishing setting the tv up so he turned it onto the news for us to see if we could get any Giro highlights.  At least the wi-fi reception is pretty good.

Afterwards I wandered over to the Italian’s music area – they’ve all set up chairs in front of the band and I watched and listened for quite awhile.  The fellow on the harminica was pretty good and they had a clarinet player on some songs as well.

After awhile I went and sat outside the restaurant and face-time Dominic – he told me that the place where I got my tent told him that the maker has a lifetime warranty and he’s going to call them on Monday to find out how I go about getting the poles/frame replaced.

Walking the dog in the fog, and tent trouble

Took Mo out for a walk early as Colin and Neil were tearing out the kitchen counter and lower cabinets.  We took the small dirt road that goes up from just below the bell tower – it goes a bit southeast then comes to a T – took the right turn heading mostly west and still going up, although more gently.

5DDD0E2E-E991-44E2-A1D6-8FB38A8C138770558663-2535-418B-A9E1-C3F42AF53463It was a very foggy morning – couldn’t see any of the beautiful countryside I was overlooking, but it was peaceful, at least until we came upon the ‘dog house’.  I could hear at least two dogs barking as we approached and noticed that there wasn’t a fence. A large german-shepherd type dog was sounding very ferocious, but he stayed in the yard until we were almost even with the house, then he bounded off the terrace and came right at us.  Mo was now barking back fiercly so I scooped her up and stayed still hoping the shepherd would back off. He didn’t – just stood there about two feet away from me barking and growling and all puffed-up. I was screaming ‘no no!’ very loudly and trying to keep hold of Mo who was desperatly trying to get out of my arms – no one came.  I finally started slowly walking the way we’d been heading and hoping like hell that we wouldn’t be attacked – the big dog followed for a bit, still barking the whole time, then he finally went back into his yard although he was still barking.

I was shaking and sweating as I got further and further away – when I judged we were far enough and the dog wouldn’t follow us I let Mo down and we continued our walk.  We eventually came to where another small dirt road veered off to the right – I wondered if we should take it but Mo seemed to want to go straight on and I let her lead.  We ended up on the main road that runs from Marsciano to Perugia so had to follow it north for about 1 ½ km to the turnoff back to Papiano. We tried hitchiking and got lucky on the third car – a very nice lady who spoke no English but knew where to let me off.

We hiked up to the house and kitchen counter cutting was happening – neither Mo nor myself cared for the noise so back down the hill we went to the bar to watch the Giro.  I had to take Mo out twice for little walks, then when she got really antsy we went for a longer walk up the hill on the other side of the village. The fog had lifted by now and the views were, or course, stunning.96591121-BC6E-4F09-9C95-E231C757825E

Back to the bar to watch the end of the day’s stage, then up to the house to check on the progress.  The oven was hooked up so we had pizza for dinner and watched a bit of Italian basketball – it’s the playoffs so the announcers are all super excited.

Friday morning was an early one – had to pack up all my gear, and head down to the campervan to clean out the fridge and wash the floors.  I took Mo with me as the kitchen reno noises are ongoing. Got everything tidy while Colin and Neil went to the tipping place again, then wheeled and rode (!) my bike down and Colin got it onto the rack on the campervan and we were off.  Stopped to fill up the fridge and headed north before 1:00.

792AAFDE-C0F6-4F2A-80A4-5E71D940EEBDKeyed in our destination and ended up, once again, on the highway north that goes thru Bagno di Romagna.  More work being done on the highway – slight detour for a few miles but not bad.

Decided to stop just north of Ravenna and continue on to Trento tomorrow – checked into a very large but nice campgound at Lido di Spina.  

Went to setup my tent and the damn frame broke. The very end of one of the main connecting poles at the top cracked and broke – we tried to fix it but it just kept cracking off bits further and further down.  Luckily I did have the option of the campervan so lay out my sleeping bag inside, but I was very disappointed about the tent.

We went to the bar for a drink before dinner, then had to go to the office to get their wi-fi password.  At the restaurant I looked up about getting a new frame for the tent. I might have to order one from the store I bot it at and have it shipped over to France.  The campground has an awesome pool area, including a special one for kids, as well as an outside theatre and other activities.

088C30ED-1ECE-4C5A-B76B-193557536EE0Dinner was wonderful – Colin had pasta with shellfish and I had pasta al ragu – it was excellent.  Mo was very good and sat quietly on the floor the whole time. As we left the restaurant thru the exit that leads back to the bar we were met by a group of 4 of the staff – kind of a welcoming committee to the evening’s music, etc.  We weren’t staying for the festivities but still chatted with them for a bit – they all made a fuss over Mo, as usual. One of the young fellows is the archery instructor – like I said, lots of different activities here.

Back at the campervan went straight to bed – a kind of exciting day as the ‘travel’ part of my journey has now begun.


Race 1 – Giro/Assisi to Osimo

Up at seven, cup of tea and quick bite to eat, then on the road with Colin.  We were headed for the Giro stage that goes today from Assisi to Osimo and were planning on seeing it from somewhere up the Passo di Termine, the first climb of the day.  We stopped at the bar in the village for help with the maps and directions, then keyed our destination into the campervan’s GPS.


I tried to follow where we were but lost track – we ended up taking a more southerly route that led us right by Pian di Boccio (the campground where we originally met last year).  It looked rather full with many tents that all looked the same – figured it must be a large group of some sort. We certainly took the scenic route to Foligno!

Sailed right past the outskirts of Foligno and into the Appenines heading north.  Just a few km past the city we hit a bunch of very slow traffic – seems we were behind some cyclists that had support cars etc. with them.  It was very slow going, then we left the main highway to go thru Nocera Umbra, which was where the cyclists were also going. Colin thought they must be wealthy folks that pay big bucks to ride the Giro route and have all the support, including police and ambulance (as well as a black car that looked like a hearse!).

68638BA6-39DF-4AEE-8FD4-91A406C38E28Shortly after we passed thru one of the villages on the route there was no oncomig traffic so we pulled out to pass – they did not like that!  We got several very black looks and a couple of shouts thrown our way, then when we were almost past them we were forced to pull back and get behind them again – what a drag.  A 5 minute drive took what seemed like an hour. All of the towns and villages along the way were decorated to the nines – it seemed like every bike in each place was covered with pink bows and ribbons and setup on the side of the road.

We were now looking for a place to pull over and watch the race from as we were nearing the top of the pass – the cyclists and their entourage pulled in at the summit, which had a large parking area so we pulled in also and found a great place to park.  The German fellow in the campervan next to us told us the the cyclists were riding Pinerollo bikes with motors – wonder now why the one fellow was hanging onto the support van most of the way up the hill.

327DE95D-BCF1-4309-B4BE-A3BB07216FDDHad a walk around the area – the summit has a banner and barricades and everything – also lots of police and they just kept coming.  There are wonderful views in both directions from the top of the hill across the road from where we’re parked. Someone is flying a beautiful kite – actually it’s tied to a bush and didn’t need anyone to run it as it flew just fine by itself.

D0386169-37CB-4A3B-A53C-028990917C746F376B62-2E3E-4C2B-8EA3-202267438C17Coming back from the walk on the hill I heard a couple of ladies talking and looked at their license plate – it was Italian but they weren’t.  I asked where they were from and they both said Canada – I told them where I’m from and they both laughed and said they were from Calgary but one of them has a daughter that lives in Kelowna.

The caravan/cavalcade blew thru at high speed and didn’t throw out any goodies at all, although there were more of them than I remember from last year.

Colin and I each staked out our spots about an hour before the racers came by – I was about 5 or 6 feet from the summit line right under the banner and Colin was a bit further along nearer the bend.  I had two very nice older Italian fellows to my right and a man and woman to my left. I made sure I wouldn’t be in the men’s way and that I would have a clear view for taking photos to my left – no problems!

The racers were, as usual, preceeded by a heli in the air and a bunch of police cars and motos on the road.  There was at first 2 riders, then a bit later two more, followed by a single rider, then the peloton. They were going at a fair pace since it wasn’t that steep a climb.  We could feel the wash of the heli’s rotors it was so close – it seemed very warm compared to the rather chilly air.

59740C8A-E660-4547-8E58-3E77736AF277I got some really good photos and they’re almost all clear and in-focus.  Got decent shots of Dumoulin, Aru, and the Froomester.

Within 5 seconds of the last rider passing the barriers were being torn apart and the parking lot started to empty.  We were the only vehicle heading back down the way we’d come – all the other cars and vans followed the way the racers had gone.  We passed a few folks walking down and a few more guys on bikes but no other vehicles – it was kind of weird.

Stopped at Leroy & Merlin on the way home and Colin was finally able to pick up the kitchen counter.  It was still kind of early so we popped by Poppy’s before going up to the house. Neil was just cleaning up so we walked back down to Poppy’s until he finished up and came down to join us.

Had another roast chicken dinner – this time thighs, followed by early bed.


Village view

Had a really nice long walk with Mo-mo after breakfast and while Colin and Neil were at the tipping place.  We went down thru the village and up the hill on the other side. Walked past the big church and partway up the next hill.

There were great views back across the valley to the medieval village – we could clearly see Colin’s pinkish house not far below the bell tower.  

EF4B7495-0298-4317-AB81-9AD86C492C95On our way back down there were two older ladies on the back deck of the church so I waved to them.  One of them came over to the gate as I passed so we talked for a bit. I told her Mo’s name, then mine and that I was from Canada.  She said Mo was cute and a couple other things I couldn’t quite understand but that was ok.

541CA6D2-50BB-4D57-940D-DDB1572888D9Back in the village we were going to stop at the other bar but it was closed so, by default we ended up at Poppy’s for a brief time.  Back up the hill at home had a late lunch – no Giro today as it’s a rest day.

2CF69EDF-935C-4EE0-B7FF-4B7D1C3DAE1DThey finally delivered the pavers after Colin called again and again and finally reached someone who understood that they just had to deliver them today.  Colin and Neil were then busy and a guy came around to suss out the air conditioning setup so I took Mo back down to the bar for a while to keep her out of the way.

Had pizza for dinner again as we didn’t make it to the store today to stock up.  Early to bed, except I read again longer than I should have.

Tuesday/15th was a bit of a lazy day for me – kept Mo inside as Colin had gone once again to Perugia and Neil was busy in the courtyard.  I tried to do yoga with Mo upstairs with me to keep her out of Neil’s way but she wasn’t happy with that. I took her for a short walk, then settled in to watch Italian tv and read.  Mo was then very happy to cuddle down on my lap wrapped up in my black blankie.

It poured rain off and on so Neil didn’t get that much done outside, but what he did do with the pavers looks great.  After Colin got home we went into Marsciano for more food and had a delicious roast chicken-breast dinner. A bit earlier to bed as tomorrow will be up a bit earlier.


Cats and Dogs



After a quick chi-gong went with Colin into Marsciano for some food, then up to Perugia to the home-store to get kitchen lights, etc.  Took Mo into Leroy and Merlin (the home-store) with us – dogs are allowed almost everywhere here, even in the little grocery store in Papiano yesterday.  I did have to keep her behind a display at one point as there was another little jack russell at a nearby cashier, but it was all ok.

Had a bite to eat back at the house then Colin had to return to L&M as he’d gotten the wrong kind of lights for the kitchen.  He also picked up some more kitchen cabinet stuff that he’d ordered but is still waiting for delivery of the countertop as well as pavers for the courtyard.  While he was out I took Mo for a walk – we’ve gone down several different lanes in the medieval part of the village that Colin’s house is in and I’m starting to get to know the area better.

Went home and watched the end of the day’s Giro – Froome lost over a minute on the final climb – boo-hoo (I mean haha – oops I shouldn’y say that…).  After the race was over for the day we all walked down to the bar for a quick one – on the way home Mo stopped to say hello to one of the local dogs.

Most of the cats continue to ignor her so she pretends to ignore them.

The two guards in the yard of a house the next lane down bark like mad whenever anyone comes near – they seem pretty ferocious and I’m glad there’s a sturdy fence.

1582449C-8E76-4287-ABDD-AD5C38DFBA85Colin made some pasta bolognese for dinner that was delicious – headed to bed shortly after.  Started reading a ‘Jack Reacher’ book and it’s still hard to think of the character, who’s 6’5” being played by Tom Cruise in at least 2 (or maybe 3) films.  He must wear lifts in his shoes and perhaps stand on a small chair.