Category: Uncategorized

Borgo Tossignano, Women’s ITT

After breakfast we walked to the nearest cafe and had a cappuccino, then took a long walk around the town.

It’s a lovely place right on the Santerno river and has very distinctive geography – the area used to be a provider of gypsum.

As we were walking on a path next to the river a lady on a bike stopped and chatted with us for a bit – she was very friendly and told us about her dog – a staffie named Cesare that she said was very gentle and friendly.

Just a short while later we passed her house and sure enough Cesare ran up to his gate – no barking or fuss, just looked like he wanted a pat on the head or something.

Back at the campervan we put the flags up and waited for the first racer – today was the women’s individual time trial.

Last year’s winner – Chloe Dygert from the US – was setting a blistering pace when not far from the finish she braked on a corner and went into/over the barrier.  She was taken to hospital in Imola for surgery for a bad laceration on her leg, and a dutch rider – Anna van der Breggen – won the day.

Good news is that the American should be ok, and hopefully will recover and be back to form and racing again next year.

TA Stage 7 – near Recanati, Bailing on the ITT

Yet another beautiful morning for the second last stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.  We re-confirmed that the race will pass our spot three times before the finish in Loreto.

This stage is called the ‘Muri’ because of the many small but brutal climbs.  We’re between Loreto and Recanati just near the top of one of the climbs.

There’s a cemetery just below us and Mo and I walked down to look around – it wasn’t exactly what I expected.  

There was part of one wall that had the usual small internments with plaques with flowers, etc, but the majority of the place was large individual ‘houses’, some of which were quite ornate and beautiful.

I got my bidon collection together and I’m not missing too many – maybe I’ll complete it today or tomorrow.

At one point in the morning, before we’d opened all the shades, Colin noticed someone outside about to put a piece of paper on our windshield.  I opened the side door to investigate – it was a policewoman who was going to leave a notice that we were going to get ‘locked in’ around noon when the road would be closed.  I assured her we wouldn’t be moving as we took photos of the race and she thought that was great.

For the first pass of the riders I went a bit down from where we were parked in the churchyard – I could see a ways down the road as they came up the hill.

Froome and Nibali were both near the front of the peloton.

For the second pass I stayed closer to where we were parked – I could see Loreto in the distance where they will finish the stage.

After the breakaway had passed all of the team cars pulled to the right-hand side of the road – the peloton was within two minutes of the break so the cars all got the order to pull over and get out of the way.

Yates was once again staying safe near the front of the peloton.

On the final pass a young Bora rider was alone in front, followed by several others including Mathieu van der Poel. 

At the end of the day Van der Poel won the stage, and Yates held on to the overall lead.  Our Belgian friends with the large motorhome had been in the churchyard parking area with us and came to say goodbye – they’re leaving right away to drive up to France and catch part of the Tour.

They gave us two gifts – a small box of Belgian chocolates, and maybe even better, a card with their home address, etc on it.  They live near Zwalm, which was our ‘base’ last year for all of the Spring Classics – nice to have some fellow fans to get together with!

We stayed another night in the church parking area, then headed south to San Benedetto del Tronto for the final stage – the individual time trial. 

We abandoned our plan once we arrived in the city – even more streets than usual were already closed and we realized we wouldn’t be able to take the dogs.  It was starting to get pretty hot and we felt we couldn’t leave them alone in the campervan for hours and hours.  After driving fruitlessly around the narrow, very busy streets I suggested zipping home to watch the stage on tv – this was a good decision.

It was only a few hours before we were in the comfort of the house with the air-con on cheering as Yates managed to hold onto the overall lead – even Geraint Thomas couldn’t pick up enough time to beat him.  

Another great Tirreno-Adriatico – getting to see seven out of the eight stages was pretty satisfying.  Next – on to the World’s in Imola!

TA Stage 4 – near Castelluccio

Up nice and early we headed for Castelluccio to find a spot to watch the next stage from.  The drive was thru very beautiful countryside and we even saw the trees that form the map of Italy on the hillside.

On the flat plain there were folks parked that were landing after para-gliding.  There weren’t any planes taking them up that we could see, so we assume they take off from one on the nearby mountains and catch the updrafts.

We were parked in a fairly large flat area and several team cars joined us to hand out bidons.

Michael Woods, wearing the overall leader’s blue jersey and his team’s distinctive pink helmut was safely near the front of the peloton, along with Nibali.

Since it was a large area near the end of a climb many riders were ditching their bidons – I ended up with my largest haul yet – nine!  I actually don’t know what I’m going to do with them all, but I really enjoy collecting them.

After the race had passed we backtracked to the town of Visso where we turned north and picked up the route for the next day’s stage.  Visso is one of many towns and villages in the area that were severely damaged in the earthquake of 2016.

We followed the route markers until a bit past the town of Tolentino where we pulled into a nice little flat space on the side of the quiet road – good place to spend the night.

TA Stage 2 – Canneto

When taking Mo for a walk in the morning I came across an old man that tried to warn me about something.  I understood that there was a danger to the little dog, but didn’t think it was wolf or wild boar – I know the words for those in Italian and this was something different.  I did understand that I should not take Mo into the field, so hustled back to the campervan along the road.

Colin googled dangerous animals in Italy and it’s the porcupine!  They’re usually active at night and tend to sleep in the bushes at the edges of the fields but they can be very fierce, especially when taken by surprise.

After breakfast we went back into Canneto and had a cappuccino, then went for a walk around the older part of the village.  

It was quite lovely with beautiful potted plants and flowers, as well as a couple of fountains and sculptures.

We backtracked about 1 km to find a roadside spot – it was nice and wide as well as flat, although it did get pretty hot.

A breakaway of three riders arrived at 2:57, followed about two minutes later by the entire peloton, and they were moving pretty fast.

I finally spied Froome in one of my photos, and he didn’t look too great – although it’s almost a miracle he can even ride again after his horrific crash at the Dauphine last year. 

Once again I scored some bidons – this time AG2R and Lotto Soudal.

We packed up quickly as we had a slightly longer drive south to our next stop.  A very large bright green grasshopper tried to hitch a ride on our table leg.

We’re still in Toscana (Tuscany) and have been travelling through very beautiful countryside and some lovely villages.  We drove as far south as Poggio Murella, a village on the next day’s route.  We had a nice drink with complimentary appies at a bar and spent the night at a pullout right in the village.

Finally Off to Tirreno-Adriatico

One morning I took my longest ride yet – almost 40 km, which isn’t bad for me – to one of the highest points around.

There’s a tower near the top, and you can see down to the next valley, with wonderful views in all directions.

We got going Sunday morning right on time – just after 9:00.  It was a bit of a drive north to where we’d chosen to watch the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico from so we went most of the way on the peage.

We found the perfect place to park for the night for the following day’s race – right next to a cemetery in a church’s large parking area.  

There’s a war memorial, and also a nice water tap for free use.  

At one side of the church there’s an excellent view of the plain below, and the town of Camiore right in the Sea.

Around dinner time the parking area started to fill up – there was a special service of some kind happening in the church, and folks were very dressed up.

I asked a fellow that was outside with his little girl if it was a ‘matrimonial’ and he said ‘no – baby’ so I realized it was a christening.  The ceremony went on for quite awhile, with the priest doing a lot of talking and praying.

Day Trip to Spoleto, and Sunset from the Ridge

We had a couple of very stormy days, including a severe lightning and thunder display.  Every time we thought the storm was passing the thunder came again from another direction – just rolling around and around the hills.

I ventured a bit further on another ride, taking a gravel road part of the way – it wasn’t too up or down, which was good, and had an interesting shrine part way along.

Every time we go down into the village I look over the stone wall for the tortoises – sometimes I see them, sometimes I don’t.

One day I saw at least six of them, including one of the babies – unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the little one.

A couple of days ago we took a day-trip to the town of Spoleto.  It’s not really that far from here and was well worth the trip.  

The old town is, of couse, built on a very steep hill, but very fortunately there is a series of escalators that take you right to the fortress at the top.

There’s a well preserved roman bridge, as well as more than one lovely church and other roman ruins.

We’re going to have to make another visit as there was just so much to see – we settled for having burgers for lunch, then headed home.

Later that evening I went up onto the back ridge to try to get some full-moon photos.  

I never did get the moon – there was a bit of a haze – but I did get some decent sunset pics so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

J&J BBQ and a Slimmer Trimmer Chairman Meow

90FD2100-750E-4D84-96A4-7637E870F1C6I’ve started going for slightly longer rides, mostly to the west/southwest and to some different villages. The terrain is still hilly, but a bit less cultivated, with more forests.
The geese across the way have all disappeared – one day they were there, the next time we looked they were all gone. A bit early for christmas goose, so we’re not sure what’s happened to them.
Henry got another haircut and looks adorable – I think he knows he’s looking quite stylish and seems to have a bit more swagger in his step.
The brits, Janet and John, had a little pool party and dinner last Saturday, and it was just lovely. The pool isn’t heated, but really doesn’t need to be.
Their property is near the top of the hill across from us and has fabulous views of the surrounding hills and medieval village.
We knew some of the other guests already, and also met some new folks. Dinner was ‘BBQ’ and was much more than we expected.
We started with several antipastos, including prosciutto and other cold meats, melon, olives, cheeses, etc., all of which were delicious.
Then there was the main course – various meat skewers, sausages, etc., as well as a lovely salad. After that there was an abundance of delicious looking desserts, but as usual I passed on that course.
It was a very lovely afternoon and evening, and we walked back home fairly late – I think it was around midnight, which was much later than usual for us.
Chairman Meow has lost some weight, which is good since he had become a bit chubby – although we do wonder if we should now get him some worm tablets as it seems that he gets fed by at least two or three people daily so him losing so much weight seems a bit strange.
He’s still very friendly – especially if he thinks you’re going to feed him – but we still need to be wary of his teeth and claws that can come out quickly and unexpectedly.
My longest ride so far has been about 33 km, and today’s foray was supposed to be fairly short. I left a bit late in the morning and stopped at the pharmacy in San Valentino della Collina for a couple of things.
I planned on making a short circuit around to the Conad that has the good butcher, but it turned out not to be such a short way.

I’d used google maps to plan my route and had simply done a screen-shot of the map – no problem! Unfortunately on google maps you can’t always tell the difference between a small paved road, a gravel road, or a goat track – and I ended up on the latter.

After coming to a creek I could see the track continue on the other side, but alas – there was no way to get across so I had to backtrack some distance and go down another track.
Luckily this path went thru to a proper road and I actually knew where I was. A short while later I was in the Conad store asking the butcher for some prosciutto. When I told him it was to go with melon as an antipasto he sent me to the cheese ladies next to him.

After calling for a colleague that spoke english I got what I wanted. I’m experimenting with several new things to serve at a small gathering we hope to host next week. As we weren’t able to properly celebrate Colin’s b-day back in April we’re planning a belated get together.

Another Festa at the Bar, and Louis Vuitton Hiding in the Cellar

FF4160FA-393D-4D75-B01F-A7BBC7C9F047We left The Poggio and our beautiful view early in the morning the day after the race. Deciding to drive all the way home in one day we took to the peage. As we passed thru – or over – Genova we got to go on the rebuilt viaduct. It only opened four days prior to replace the old one that tragically collapsed two years ago, killing 43 people.
The trip took us past Carrara….
…as well as Trasimeno…
…we made good time and arrived safely back to Papiano in late afternoon.
I’ve been for a few nice rides, the longest of which was 28 km. I finally actually stopped in Olmeto, which I’ve ridden thru many times before – there is a nice shrine as well as a small war memorial outside the church.
The weather’s been mostly sunny and hot, but we did have a bit of a storm yesterday evening.
We took a day-trip to Trasimeno, intending to try out the other restaurant in Monte Buono, but they don’t allow dogs, even outside, so we went on to our usual – Il Ristoro – and had a lovely meal under the trees.
Last Friday Antonio had another dinner at the bar and this one was even more well attended than the pig-roast last month.
We started with a pasta dish, followed by roast pork in a bun, then roasted corn-on-the cob all washed down, of course, with vino rosso.
It was especially nice that many of the younger folks attended, and in addition to the live singer the crowd got into the dancing – a good time was had by all.
A couple of days ago we got the cellar cleared out by some local fellows. As usual we’d asked Antonio if he knew anyone who could do it, and of course he did.

They arrived right around 9 in the morning and it was a good three and a half hours or more work for them. There was so much junk just stuffed in there – old cupboards, bags of crap, loads of old boards, a couple of sinks and a broken sewing machine – years and years of garbage.
One of the only ‘keepers’ is what seems to be a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag – might be good to tote something in if I’m feeling snobbish.
The worst part of the cleanout was five barrels that were buried under the layers of boards – turned out they were full of sand. It took a very long time to empty them one wheelbarrow at a time, as they were crumbling at the bottom and couldn’t be moved while full.
We felt bad, as we hadn’t known about the sand, and offered an additional 50 euros for the extra time and effort – the fellows seemed very appreciative. When they were done they even swept the floor – an excellent job! It would have taken Colin and I forever to clear the space, and we are so grateful to have it done.CDF747DC-D1C9-4614-8057-E23160A09749

Santo Stefano al Mare and….Milano-Sanremo from The Poggio!!

We found out as we left Cavour that we weren’t actually at the Sosta site, but other than the noise no one had bothered us or asked us to move.

F70BDBF1-7A2E-4FE4-9A86-2D640E74B3CCWe again took the paege, making our way south to the coast then west along to Santo Stefano al Mare and to a campground that we’ve stayed at before.  I can’t say how lovely it was to have a nice hot shower, and on top of that – clean laundry!

1634C19F-49FE-4BC6-BB55-E2244986EA8EThere are several resident kittens that quickly became my dear little friends since I just had to feed them – doesn’t make up for how much I miss my own Sly guy back home, but helps a bit.

6C0EC53A-B5EC-4BFC-9359-BEDFFDE280BFI had wi-fi for the first time in a week so tried to catch up on emails, etc, and even posted a blog, but it seems to not have worked.

008862D2-C0CD-405C-AE13-2E0E0A8A09B0After giving the kitties a large breakfast the next morning we were on our way to the Poggio.

F1246B11-EF85-4DE2-8D11-F684E1A0964FWe got a perfect spot in the parking lot above the race course right in a corner overlooking the Sea.  (Note about photo:  this was taken through a chain-link fence, so the blurry lines are part of the fence, but this was our actual view)

55EDE91E-8AF0-4B76-950C-9DD84909CDDB38F7F3C5-66D4-477F-B239-00C2CB18046AWe had a delicious cappuccino at the cafe/bar on the corner, and chatted a bit with one of the older gentlemen we’d met here last year.  He asked if we were german – he worked in Germany for two years and speaks a little german, but we managed to have a short conversation with my italian.

A0532A39-A84A-4D98-A7F9-D4D2CCBF38BDReturning to the bar later in the afternoon we had a drink and enjoyed a small complimentary plate of appies before going back to the campervan for a salmon and rice dinner.

5EF89C63-AE94-4956-AC13-82A1F991B693It had been a fairly hot day, but the almost constant breeze from the sea helped a bit and my solo walk in the evening was very pleasant.

D1858227-9CE7-40F3-ACC1-69471036A9A2Race day came with sunshine and blue skies.  We’re somewhat surprised that there is only one other campervan in the parking area – it’s been recently resurfaced, which is great, and it is pretty full, but cars, not campers.  Last year – end of March, of course – there were dozens of campervans.

61F238F9-0365-4841-85AA-E845981C1F98We had our cappuccino at a different cafe/bar, then took a little walk around the village before visiting the wine shop – the one with the hoses in the wall – then the other cafe.

DF21207F-23CB-4BFA-864E-08B8AD9F4240There are some other fans here, but nothing like last year, and we’re all pretty good about the face masks and/or distancing, etc.  To compare I’ve included a photo from last year taken at a similar time race-wise to this year:

As we were testing our camera angles one of the race cops came down to speak with us about Colin using the flash on his camera.  We tried to explain that it really wouldn’t bother the riders, but he went away and down came a cop that spoke rather good english.

4017018E-9896-445D-B724-16162FDE616DHe was very polite and apologetic, but we weren’t allowed to use flashes.  Colin re-located further down and around the corner, but I stayed where I was, just around and down a bit from the crest of the Poggio.

A06E913E-3E6B-46CD-BC94-ED733EE0551FThe tv heli appeared about five minutes before the first racer – Alaphilippe! – followed closely by Wout van Aert (winner of Strade Bianche).

1A7F35B7-3A39-46C4-B397-1016ECEEAC0750867110-C698-453A-BC45-161A21AB4D10There were only a few seconds before more and more riders passed – and I finally got a shot of Nibali.

82B67A62-9CA3-4F6D-A3E0-EB399E44B8A8I also got decent shots of Michael Matthews – who had a torn shoulder – as well as Belgian champion Naesen.

E9775952-D012-454B-8A62-FE8C72165291B38ED702-D032-4034-B9BD-629C1A1591B4After many of the racers had passed I got ready to sneak across the road to watch the end of the race on tv in the bar – just then Colin came up the hill to do the same thing.  The Poggio is just 4 km from the finish, and it’s all hairpin turns downhill then a bit of flat road to the end in Sanremo.

We got into the bar and cheered loudly along with the other fans – again I noticed the difference from last year when we squished in like sardines, while this year we had elbow room to spare.

The finale was thrilling – a sprint between Alaphilippe and van Aert, with van Aert taking it on the line.  Michael Matthews – with the torn shoulder – came in third.

We ended up waiting quite a while before we were allowed to disperse – one rider, who must have had a mechanical or a fall – had yet to go by.  He got rousing applause and cheers as he passed, then the barriers started to come down.

CE76D7D9-2308-4EE4-8ECE-92C378960264Another wonderful race day!

Milano-Torino and La Posta

FA7E4D0A-DC99-4669-BCB7-58FD3E8DEA3CBefore leaving Montemagno we took a couple of short walks up and down the road. 

F16B5C89-A4FF-4086-B2F3-36824CCF8543There are several large homes with great views, and most of them have guard dogs, or at least signs for them.

We left mid-morning to follow part of the route again to pick the best place to watch from.

00068901-A5EA-4D22-9551-0B899278CDE0This year’s Milano-Torino is much flatter than most previous years and we’re near one of the few minor climbs.

6B3D07C1-DE98-4F9C-AE0C-BD6E9719B839We parked at a nice wide spot right on the road with a good view below us, as well as along to the town of Grana.

74C3E7A4-4B22-4D8D-B637-B102E373A63DDCE69076-7091-4CF8-8E47-6804B22B73BCAs usual the racers were preceeded by motocops.

EB3318D8-D974-4C26-AF56-68B530BC2300There was a breakaway of six riders who passed our spot at 4:24, with about a three minute lead.

2FAFC37D-2916-4901-B5FE-8F615153347DThe peloton blew by in one single group – I think it’s the fastest race passing I’ve seen yet – first rider in the breakaway to last of all about three minutes total.

3D57FAAA-FA64-4204-8DE0-0628B358CEC9B1B1BEEA-20C6-49CD-AC80-709B5D457AA99740E375-05E8-4FA0-AFB1-590181937B3AThere was one single rider a little bit behind who must have had a mechanical or something, then they were gone.

6D632642-3ABF-485C-AEF0-2EE10B3EAABEWe were able to hit the road very quickly, having little to pack up, and took the paege towards Torino.  Because we were on the motorway we managed to bypass the end of the race and made it to Cavour in a couple of hours, stopping in Pinerolo for groceries.

Unfortunately the fruit-farm we usually stay at was closed, as was the excellent restaurant next door – Cascina Mombello is usually closed in the summer so we weren’t surprised, but the restaurant next door might be due to covid.  We continued on into the town and stopped for the night at a large park that we thought was the local Sosta (free camping place).

667705D0-F827-48C1-B9CD-2FE89EACC6A0Feeling hungry we decided to go out for dinner – I did remember some of the roads and paths so we were able to make our way easily on foot with the doggies to the town centre.  My favourite cafe was closed so we went next to a restaurant that had been recommended to me three years ago, but I’d never actually gone to.

E5957A8A-F043-47F1-807C-F3A213F7B35F‘Ristorante La Posta’ was worth the three year wait – it was excellent.  We had a lovely table outside, surrounded by beautiful flowering shrubs.  We started with a shared antipasti of salmon tartare on shredded apple, then for my main course I enjoyed the gnocchi with cheese sauce – very delicious, with enough leftover for tomorrow’s lunch.

740AFF65-F6C5-4262-979A-1D93006C6154La Posta has been in existence since the 1700s and has at least one Michelin star, so it’s not surprising it was so enjoyable.

All in all it was a very satisfying day, despite the children playing – ie:  screaming – in the park until well past bedtime – Lady give me patience!C2501C91-A9E5-4A72-A4DC-0C536703FDDE