My first 2000 kms and why I love cyling.

(versione in italiano)

2000KM

Last Saturday I reached my goal and from Aprile, I have ridden  2000 km  . I am satisfied and happy.
If someone had told me fiftenn years ago that one day I would love cycling , I would have not believed them.
The first time I went on a bike ride it was a decade ago.

My boyfriend, who is now my husband, had parked his super professional bike in my garage and I, without thinking of the possible consequences , in order to park two cars instead of one, I had left the door open and saying OPEN I mean WIDE OPEN.
It goes without saying that within a couple of days ( yes , I left it like that for two days) , the bike was gone. Forever . I remember it was a Cannondale, but at the time I had no idea of a bike’s value, nor from the money point of view neither from the emotional one. today I can understand what it would mean to lose a bike.

 If he hasn’t killed me , I think it was only because we were still just engaged. Today , most likely, he would not, but  he surely would think about it.
He had recently come to live in this town and, apart from me, the bike was his only point of reference . It was gone, and it was my fault.

Despite this,  we then got married. During the party that followed our wedding’s ceremony, my husband came to me and said, ” Tomorrow morning … surprise ! Some friends bought us a super present! two mountain bikes! I have already loaded  them into our car and tomorrow we will be riding them across Tuscany”

What a  joy …

I distinctly remember every speck of the so called “white roads” in Montalcino that seemed to never have an end , the way to  the Abbey of St. Antimo … it was  June and the sun was shining over the green hills and I still remember, after a 26 km- ride, that my bum was so sore!

montalcino-2004

I honestly thought that my riding experience , even if it was pleasant ( a part from the sore bottom)  began and ended there.

A year later my husband didn’t give up and asked me to go riding with him, but with a road bike.  I still felt guilty about the Cannondale that they had stolen a few months before (I live with a guilt-feeling for everything, anyway ) and shortly after I went , as I did years before , to work in Rome , leaving him here alone during the week. So , needless to say , it was time for a new guilt felling!
Perhaps, it is due to the guilt-feeling if today I love cycling…

To be honest at the time I was insanely jealous of my husband’s bike, or rather “this fuc. .. bike! ,” as I used to call it . I did not understand how it could be was so nice to cycle around, make so much effort and go home again. Sometimes , when I was driving my car, I would have liked to hit all cyclists in the middle of the road !

However this time I could not say no to the invitation to go cycling with him. . I still remember what I was wearing the day of the test on the saddle, I remember how it seemed difficult to even think about cycling on a road bike. And I will never forget the day when I went for the first time on my new bike , a total black Colnago.
At the shop, they kept asking me : “Are you sure that you know how to clip into and then disingage your pedals?” . I answered “Super sure .”
Would you like to try to cycle on the sidewalk before hitting the road? “” No , don’t worry , now I’m going straight on the road  ” I said .

 So I left the store , riding , and behind me, but on foot, my husband and the owners of the store. I cycled for a meter , two, three , then there was the descent to the street . A 5, maximum 10 cm descent. I do not know how, but I fell off . I fell off the bike, with my bike on me. I was covered in blood for a mega scratch on a knee and an arm . All those who were there to see my ” going on the road ” ran towards me to check. Then, while I was still trying to stand up again, my husband arrived and yelled, ” Noooooooooooooo ! You ruined the brake handle ! Noooooooooo ! ” .

There, I realized that the road would be an uphill battle.

That summer, I worked in Rome during the week , and I was home only on weekends ,  but from June to September I cycled 800 kilometers. But today I can say this: it was without passion.

My mom , whenever I complained about the fact that my husband was always out cycling kept asking me “Why don’t you go with him?” This time I followed her advice. I started cycling as I wanted to stay next to him, who, by the way, would have never given up his week-end rides for me. At the time I said that I liked it , but now I realize that  was not true, or maybe at that time it seemed to me it was, but it is incomparable to what riding  means to me now.

Today I NEED my bike . And I really believe that if a person does not cycle or if there is no passion in it , they can’t understand what it means to ride a bicycle and enjoy every moment of it.I do not know how and when I fell in love with cycling. I know it’s been a long path.

Actually, over the past 10 years I have never stopped riding, a part from when I was pregnant and all periods of time related to the births of my daughters.

 I had short rides during the weekends with my husband to Lake Garda and back, a few times I tried to go uphill, on the Maddalena hill, in the town center, here in Brescia. The third time I tried to get to the top, I did it,  without crying ( already happened ) , without sending my husband to hell ( this, too, happened), without turning the bike and back home ( well this ) , without all three previous conditions put together, and then many ascents in the mountains in summer.

I was a “by chance- cyclist”

While I was riding across my town towards the cycling path which leads to the  Garda Lake, my only thought was: “Please God, let me find the traffic lights green!! ” I was terrified about getting my feet off the clipless pedals without crashing to the ground.

Then there were ( and still are ) my husband’s strict rules… I remember that he used to tell me a thousand times to stay focused. Once, we were riding on the Gavardina cycling path and I suddenly said,: “Look, love, it’s full of poppies ! “I said, pointing to a beautiful field . He said ” Stay focused ! We are not here to admire the landscape! ” Fu.. !

Then , last year , for my fortieth birthday my husband bought me a bike ( big surprise … ) . Bike that I have absolutely ignored for more than a year, but for a ride  in Austria . Since then, my bike has been resting in my garage waiting for better times that, frankly , I thought would never arrive .

Autumn and winter passed by and then came this year spring.

 The morning of April 19th , my husband asked me, for the billionth time , if I wanted to go and have a ride with him. I do not know why I said yes , just do not know . Maybe I thought about my mom telling me ” go and ride with him,” or  perhaps because since our daughters were born, we don’t have a second for us alone , or maybe just because I love him…but I said yes.

I borrowed a cycling jacket from him , because I didn’t even remember where I had put mine . I rode only 16 km and I got the impression of being in the movie The Shining. I was so frightened! The slightest breath of wind made ​​my  bike    swing, or at least so it seemed so to me , I was so scared and the Clipless pedals nightmare had come back again!

 But back home , I said to myself that it was very pleasant. I even went to cycle two days later , the same location , just a bit  faster, or I’d rather say, less slow .

Then , as I wrote here on the blog , a few days later , I had a bright idea and  asked a mother of my daughter’s school , a sort of a wonder woman , who attends super competitions such as  the Half Iron woman and other marathons or similar non-human things , if she could train me . We established 10 training sessions , two hours each . And Cristina made ​​me realize that cycling could be fun . With my husband , I always felt not up to the task , because it’s true , I’m not up to it, of course, but it’s useless to underline it every single times. Maybe he doesn’t even stress it, but that’s how I used to feel. With Cristina and her very “casual” way of training me, it was different. As soon as she saw me slowing down, she would scream at me ” Ride ! pedal , Ari , fu..k! ” , I would blush, afraid that people on the road could hear her and then I would pedal so fast! I pedaled and laughed , laughed and pedaled !I remember our fist ride to the Montenetto , south of our town…sShe asked me ” Can you see all these beautiful colors around us ? ” And I could not see anything because I was focused on my bike and at that stage of my cycling life , I was not able to do two things at the same time. After a steep, super steep, ride on the San-Gallo Serle road  (I had already cycled 500 since the beginning of the season)  then Cristina told me” Now you’re ready to ride on the Maddalena” It was a dream come true.

  And the next week I got to the top. ( 10 kilometers uphill with an average 6,3% gradient ) Cri was shocked by the fact that I occasionally stop to take pictures to report my enterprise, because it really was an enterprise for me ! I reached the top and I liked it so much that two days later I went there once again.

Maddalena hill is not the Everest, but , as I wrote on my Facebook page , it was MY personal Everest . The second time I cycled to the top of it , it was a Thursday in June this year.

The day before, I had gone to see an endocrinologist and out of the blue, he looked at me and  he said ” there is a chance that you have a thyroid cancer .” As simple as that, just when you don’t expect to hear such a thing! The next day , riding on the Maddalena, I thought about life, MY life, my daughters , and about fear, as I had never done before  in my life . I, who have never been afraid of death, certain that the one we are living now is only a trial for a next one,  found myself suddenly attached to life, and with an incredible fear of losing it. Climbing to the top , bend after bend , pedaling as hard as possible, has meant to me something I will never forget . Getting to the top was a challenge with myself , that I won and I won again many times since then,  even after the danger of a cancer was , thankfully, gone.

 I won and won again when in the morning , even after I returned from vacation, without not so much continuous training , I took my bike and alone , slowly, until I arrived to the top or again, when one day at sunset, with my husband , lulled by the light of the sunset and the lengthening shadows on the already dark roads.

my husband and I at the top of the Maddalena hill

my husband and I at the top of the Maddalena hill

During these six months I’ve found that you can cycle and in the meantime you can have a look at the landscape around you, but my husband was right , you must first become familiar with your  bike and now  I add that you have to respect and love it .

Concentration is everything. I don’t have an athletic body, probably I have the farthest shape compared to a cyclist’s one. And If I can do it, everybody else could.  I got to the conclusion that everything is just inside your  head: strength, desire and passion.

I still ride with my husband and now it’s beautiful. Sure, there are times when I still get pissed off because he tells me to stay in the slipstream , and I don’t. Then he goes forward without checking if I’m still alive and well, times when I call him and he cannot hear  me , and then I look like a crazy hysterical woman screaming his name in the middle of nowhere and then when he finally hears me, I have already forgotten what I wanted to tell him.

Every now and then I still do not feel up to it, but I live for the moments when , seized by I know not what kind of rapture , on a the flat road,  I ” fly ” at thirty five km per hour and then at the traffic lights my husband reaches me and asks me if someone had put some hot chili on my bottom …

I know he has his rules , I now learned them by heart and respect them. I have my own , which is that first of all cycling is a pleasure, not a duty , so if I do not feel like going , I don’t . This rule is very often broken because if it was for my laziness , 90 % of the time , I’d stay  home. I am grateful to my husband because , knowing me well , he insists on this and then I go out of my pajamas on Saturday mornings and I ride my bike. Happily. Thanks to this common passion , together, we are treading new paths , we are discovering new, wonderful places around here. Together.

 Mine is no more A bike , but it is MY bike , my wonderful and irreplaceable bike .

My beautiful Pinarello Dogma 2

My beautiful Pinarello Dogma 2

These 2000 km on my road bike , which unfortunately is now going to rest in the garage until next spring to now leave room to the mountain bike,  were 2000 kilometers of discovery of nature all around me, 2000 km during which I felt part of a sort of a parallel world which welcomed and cuddled me  , but above all, these have been  2000 kilometers of travel inside myself.

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Autumn clothing for cycling

Choosing the right clothing is the secret of a good bike  ride in autumn. If then you also have quality clothing , it helps and quality does not necessarily mean the thickest clothes. Dress in layers is the  smartest option.  The more layers you have, the easier it will be for you to adjust to your changing body temperature.  So Don’t get caught out by the changing weather this autumn!

FEET

When your feet are warm, you’re warm all over. So let’s choose the proper socks!
In my closet I have two kinds of socks that I use at the beginning of spring and in autumn.

spring-fall-assos socksThese spring/autumn socks by Assos are very soft thanks to 70% Coolmax , a performance fabric that allows perspiration and evaporation of the sweat of the feet through the fabric , 21% polyamide and 9% elastane.
They are very thin and comfortable .

assos-socks

But  my favourite ones are these: slightly higher than the previous ones, so you’re sure not to have cold ankles , even when you are wearing ¾ shorts . They are the new Assos socks , which are fantastic. They are slightly thicker than those above, but still are very thin and comfortable with no wrinkles inside your shoes.  The fibres perform proper moisture management to keep your feet dry.

LIGHTWEIGHT BASE LAYER

A base layerith with good wicking properties is the best way to keep warm, drawing sweat away from your body.
My husband uses a horrible white base layer. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t stop laughing But it seems to work .
Personally, I refuse to wear this! I find it too thick , too long and really unwatchable.
I use an ODLO  short-sleeved t-shirt  that I also use for skiing. It helps me from getting cold, by wicking moisture away from the body  and it is very comfortable.

In any case, don’t use a tight fitting cotton t-shirt as a base – it’ll make you damp and cold.

A LONG SLEEVE SHIRT OR JERSEY

You don’t want to be too hot while you are cycling, so, in autumn just wear a long sleeve shirt or a lightweight windproof  jersey, with a full-length zip on the front. If you are cold, you could complement with a gilet or a lightweight windbreaker .

My husband who is NEVER cold, continues wearing his short sleeved shirts, even in autumn, and when it gets colder, he uses a pair of arm warmers, which he always keeps in his back pocket.

SHORTS

In autumn I  always use my Zero RH plus three-quarters pants , which I  find very comfortable. I’m not a fan of bibknickers, but in autumn I use them as I don’t like the fresh air coming in on the back!

My husband, who is never cold, uses short bib knicker bib, and eventually a  pair of  leg warmers.

 ARM AND LEG WARMERS

These warmers are perfect for autumn days. Last week I cycled around  Franciacorta, Northen Italy wearing three-quarter pants and a long-sleeved shirt. In the morning it was cold, but then suddenly it  was  27 degrees!  And this ruined my ride, as I was too hot.

Arm and leg warmers are the best solution. If it suddenly  warms up they can be easily folded up and put in the back pocket of your shirt or jacket. These below are the ones that I use, which are not very professional ( they had been given as gifts to my husband when he joined the Triptych of Ticino race) , but I like them and they are comfortable.

warmers

assos-leg-warmers

These, are my husband’s, who is a big fan of Assos and he love them. I found a very interesting review about them here: http://www.cxmagazine.com/clothing-review-assos-legwarmers-armwarmers

GLOVES

First of all, even if you don’t like gloves, as I do,  at the end of autumn (if temperature drops –  around 10 degrees) it should be advisable to wear proper gloves  to keep my  hands protected from the cold and rain. I only have one pair of lightweight  gloves, by  North Wave.

gloves

SKULL CAP

One thing that bothers me when I cycle is the mosquitoes which land on my head through my helmet…. To avoid this, and to keep my head warm, in autumn I usually wear a skull cap.  I bought this Zero RH and I find it very comfortable, keeping me warm and dry .

sottocasco

NECK WARMER
Personally, I have some neck problems and when I cycle in autumn I want to keep it warm and I always wear a neck warmer.

neck-warmer

I am sure I forgot something. If so, please feel free to add a comment. It could be helpful for me too! 😉 Thank-you!

From Brescia to Lake Garda. 92 kilometers, cycling with Virginia Woolf and others.

(Versione in italiano)

Saturday 19th October

Bike track- Brescia - Desenzano - Sirmione

Cycling track from Brescia to Desenzano, Sirmione, San Martino e Solferino and back. Lake Garda, Italy

I am tired. As usual. My little child doesn’t let me sleep much. It’s been like this since she was born. And now she is almost 3. I got to the  conclusion that she thinks sleeping is a waste of time! But at 41, I do need some rest.

My husband is already ready to cycle. I get ready too, but, to be honest I am still sleeping.

As soon as we leave home,  I think “I am so not making it today! I am tired, I am sleepy, it’s cold. I wish I was still in my pajamas….”.  the sky is grey and so are the clouds.

In order to get straight to Salò, on Lake Garda, and back, we don’t take the cycling path, as we would usually do.  I’d love to cycle about 50 kms, no more than that. I am too sleepy.

Along Viale Venezia , leaving the city center of Brescia, I spot two cars ( always the same two , every single day I go cycling) parked ahead of me on the cycling path . And every single time I feel I’d love  to destroy them and their owners.
My morning hasn’t started in the best way ever.  However …. in Pontenove we then take the cycling path, which runs through the countryside, heading to the lake Garda.

Cycling path towards the lake of Garda

Cycling path towards the lake of Garda, from Brescia to Desenzano

Despite the grey sky, the landscape is beautiful. Alongside the path runs a blanket of yellow leaves. I suddenly find myself thinking about Mrs. Dalloway. I don’t even know why. I was a huge fan of Virginia Wolf when I was younger and I haven’t thought about her and her works for years. And now, out of the blue, in the middle of nowhere, I am thinking about Mrs. Dalloway’s character.

For those who haven’t read it , Mrs. Dalloway is the protagonist of a book, which takes the title from her name, by Virginia Woolf.

It has been ages since I last read a book by V. Woolf and  yet, suddenly,  it is as if Mrs. Dalloway in person was here with me and with her, some other characters of this and other books by Virginia Woolf.

And then, as I cycle on the yellow leaves-covered-path surrounded by green fields and hills with white horses , I think of how much I’ve loved Virginia Woolf and how much I was fascinated by her and by the  Bloomsbury Group, which she created together with her brother.

I remember that when I read about it , I thought of those writers, poets, thinkers, artists, all joined together, who once a week would meet and discuss about Aesthetics, Philosophy and Literature .

I still clearly remember my own feeling, which was a kind of envy (I know, it sounds crazy , but maybe in fact , I am a bit crazy ) towards them. Envy seasoned , however, with affection, and of course great, great respect and immeasurable admiration. I would have liked to live during the Victorian era , too , even only in order to be able to criticize it.

I wonder how it would have been if only I could have had the opportunity to meet Virginia Woolf  and the others from the Bloomsbury Group. I would have loved to savor every single word, spoken or written, during those meetings , I would have listened carefully and learnt.

To me, Mrs Dalloway was an epiphany. Before then I had never read a novel that took place in a single day . I loved and appreciated not only the plot itself , but the unusual way by which Woolf tells a story exclusively from the inner perspective of the protagonist; I loved the sudden time travel, through the thoughts and emotions of Clarissa Dalloway , her monologues and soliloquies as if time and space were melted , the past, the present and the future flowed on the same level , driven by a memory born from an object, a sentence , a thought.

I was really fascinated by this reading, even if , frankly, until this morning , I thought I had forgotten everything about it.  As soon as I think of Clarissa’s stream of consciousness, while I am still riding my bike, I think about James Joyce.

There was a time, in my life, when I was madly in love with Joyce. I see myself as a young woman ( well…let’s say youngER which sounds better ” ) reading Ulysse , without being able to get to the last page and without having the ability to understand it in depth , but still involved and fascinated by the characters’ stream of consciousness. Now my memories go the easier-to-be-read-and-understood “The Dubliners”, which made my personal interest for Ireland grow, despite Joyce’s  point of view of the moral history of his country when both Ireland  in general and Dublin in particular seemed to be centers of paralysis.

I remember that my favorite story , or perhaps , the only one I distinctly remember was ” The Dead .” Again, I do not know how and I do not know why, but suddenly I remember the sense of loss of the protagonist and his first awareness of the dilemma of whether it is better to die when you are young or when your are old , when mistakes are growing dramatically. And living this dilemma was like to taking his mask off , unlike all the other protagonists of the Dubliners , who never called into question , and while I was reading , I was wondering if, later on, the Irish, had changed their attitude … if something had changed in their soul. And it was , perhaps, from that moment that I began to deeply love Ireland, from every point of view , from literature to history, from poetry to the origins, Celtic myths and legends linked to St. Patrick, from Oscar Wilde to the poets , from WB Yeats , whom I love the most, to Séamus Heaney .. and so on.

When I was immersed in these readings I could not even imagine, then, many years later, I would have lived in Dublin and that I would have walked on the same streets where my favorite writers / poets and protagonists of their stories, had walked before me.

cycling path towards Desenzano, Lake garda, Italy

cycling path towards Desenzano, Lake garda, Italy

While I am cycling towards the lake, time flies and I am not tired anymore, immense , in my personal stream of consciousness … I go back to the Bloomsbury Group, and I think of TS Eliot. I think about how much, at University, I hated studying The Waste Land, and how much, on the contrary, I have loved ” The Hollow Men”. I remember reading somewhere that Virginia Woolf wrote a letter to TS Eliot to tell him that the group collected some money to allow him to quit his job and devote himself exclusively to literature.

I would have wanted to know them so much!

Every now and then my husband turns to check if I am still there and there I am, just behind his wheel.  Today I am in good shape! I’m riding with many writers!  But I am not going to tell him about this…

We then  get to where the track splits: to the left to Salò , Desenzano to the right .

Here, the first change in plans. I ask my husband if he has ever been to Desenzano and I find out, with surprise, that he has not. So we decide not to follow , as we normally would,  the Valtenesi cycling path , but to go to Desenzano . After a couple of kilometers, following the main road , we enter the town.

desenzano little harbour

desenzano little harbour

The clouds are still there . The sun is pale , but the light is wonderful. There are many people strolling on this Saturday morning . We cycle through the narrow roads of the town center and then  stop to take a few pictures of the harbor. Looking at the lake, in front of us, I spot a lighthouse . And I can’t avoid thinking again of Virginia Woolf and her ” To the lighthouse .” But it is time to go.

My bike and myself in Desenzano

My bike and myself in Desenzano

Desenzano small harbour, cycling on Garda lake

Desenzano small harbour, cycling on Garda lake

Looking at the lake, I see the amazing peninsula of Sirmione and find out that my husband has never been there either. And then, we definitely change our program , and we are now cycling to Sirmione.

Sirmione castle - lake Garda - italy

Sirmione castle – lake Garda – italy

And it is wonderful. It’s crowded of foreign tourists, as if it was Venice in the summer time. They all standing and wandering around the main entrance to the castle, which is actually  the only point of access to the village . Inside, among the narrow alleys, a couple of traffic agents are trying , in vain , to drain the crowd and let the cars pass through. (only residents and hotels guests can circulate in here) . It ‘s impossible , however, not to stop and look up at the walls and towers with dovetail battlements, home for seagulls in search of rest .

sirmione - lake Garda

Sirmione castle – lake Garda – italy

We cycle through the crowd, trying hard not to fall off our bikes and we stop to take some pictures. This castle is fascinating. I think that it has a sinister look . When I get home in the afternoon , I find a legend associated with it : ” In the castle a long time ago there lived a happy married couple : the beautiful Arice and Ebengardo . During a dark and stormy night , a man knocked at the door of the castle in search of shelter . The young lovers welcomed him to spend the night there . It was Elalberto , Marquis of Feltre . Enchanted by the beauty of Arice , during the same night, Elalberto snuck into her bedroom with the intent to take advantage of her . Arice strenuously tried to defend herself and her desperate cries attracted the attention of her husband Ebengardo . But when he arrived to her bedroom, he found her dead , stabbed by the fury of Elalberto . After a violent scuffle , Elalberto died pierced by his own dagger, and from that day the ghost of Ebengardo wanders the castle , condemned to remain among the living , separated from her. “

Sirmione - Lake Garda - the Castle

Sirmione castle – lake Garda – italy – with a ghost

We continue to cycle uphill to the ancient caves of Catullus , but we don’t manage to get to the entrance gate because it’s a gravel road and it would be dangerous for our bike wheels .

I remember the last time I was in Sirmione, I was studying in France for Erasmus and I came to Italy with some friends, as a tourist. It’s amazing! It has been nearly 20 years ago! Time really flies ! Talking about time… it’s noon already and we have to go back home! We have already cycled  nearly 50 kilometers! On the way back , just left behind Sirmione , I see the tower of San Martino and Solferino and since the signs say only 3 km away…let’s pay a visit!  But soon, we get lost. My husband, like all men , doesn’t want to ask for directions as a principle! Since I don’t have this silly principle, I ask for directions and we soon get to the tower.  While we are getting there , I tell my husband that there is an ossuary, on the right hand side of the road , but as soon as I start explaining what an ossuary is, as soon as hears the words ” skulls ” and ” skeletons ” , his facial exprssion changes and he says, ” Let’s go! Let’s move on!”

We stop for a moment to take some photos of the tower and then look for the way back. The treasure hunt for the way back takes us ages .

Tower of San Martino e Solferino

Tower of San Martino e Solferino

San Martino e Solferino

San Martino e Solferino

We are lost, again, so I rely on Google maps , but after 5 minutes, my phone is dead. We then cycle on the moraine hills . Beautiful landscape , but if you only had a cup of coffee at 9 am , you’ve cycled 60 km, you are cold and hungry, the climb is not exactly what you want to deal with. Eventually we find the Leone shopping mall on our left and then understand that we are cycling in the right direction , towards Brescia. In the center of this town we meet an old lady who, seeing us in trouble asks us “whe-re are you go-ing?” Slowly , enunciating each syllable well , as if we where foreigners, and couldn’t understand her Italian. My husband pretends not to notice , as you know , this is one of the pillars of bike wisdom according to my husband. . .I obviously appreciate her help and reply ” to Brescia .” Then the lady’s attitude change , and she gives me direction not even in Italian but in this village’s old dialect. I thank her, while my husband just nods. I’m starving and I have bad foot cramps . I am cycling very very fast  because I cannot wait to get home . I leave my husband far behind me. When he finally reaches me, with his British aplomb, he asks me : “Sorry love, but …  have they put some hot chili on your ars? “

I can’t stop laughing.

We pass through   Mazzano , Rezzato and after another 15 kilometers we finally get home. I get off my bike , take my empty water bottle, I save my track and take the Garmin device with me. We cycled 92 kilometers . I’m really dead.

As soon as I open my home door, my children run towards me with open arms and ask me ” Mom , you’re finally here! Are you going to play with us now?” . 🙂

My bike track - lake Garda

My bike track – lake Garda

60 kilometers of joy and a PS for my husband

percorso-171013

(Verione in italiano qui)

The other night I went to sleep with a unstoppable desire to go cycling. When that happens, the next morning, usually, with the same intensity, I find any possible excuse to do something else. Instead, yesterday morning, at 10 to 7am, I woke up full of energy ,despite my little girl, as usual, had kept us awake all night long.
I got my big girl ready for school and we left home for school. She walked next to me while I was rode my Pinarello Dogma 2 with her Winx school backpack on my shoulders.
Once we got to the school , my daughter wanted me to stand at the doorway waiting for her and her class mates to go to class. So I waiting for the school bell to ring,  with my bike at the main school entrance door,  wearing my very tight cycling outfit, my helmet and sunglassed… I felt “slightly” uncomfortable , among other parents, who were, of course, dressed with appropriate clothes, but then I thought “who cares?” I waited for my daughter to go upstairs, I sent her a kiss and then I left  for a solo ride and it was beautiful .

watermill
I realize that I seem repetitive. In the sense that whenever I write about my bike rides , I say that it was beautiful. But it really  is! There have been non super interesting cycling rides, like the one on the Lake Iseo , but generally speaking, I could cycle on the same path 100 times and every single time I would find and appreciate something new , not necessarily around me, maybe even inside myself.

fiume

And while I am pedaling, I often smile . Then if I realize that I’m smiling …I laugh. Yes, I admit, I sound crazy, but if you don’t cycle maybe you can’t understand…

 As I ride on the Gavardina cycling path, I greet the trees , the river , and so on and, as I have already had occasion to write, I get the impression they greet me back.

gavardina

I always meet different kinds of morning cyclists … elderly who, despite their age, are still riding their road bikes and who, as a rule, get furious if you overtake them and do everything possible on earth, even risking a heart attack, to overtake you back to prove themselves they can still make it… grandparents who stroll their grandchildren in a pushchair and who stop every three steps to check if the child is well … middle-aged ladies who are there for the morning jogging who can’t stop chatting… foreign couples who are cycling as tourists on their super equipped, and super heavy bike, with the luggage tied to the bike, who despite that, look always super happy and satisfied … and everyone greets the others…with a nod , a formal ” good morning ” or , more often, with a basic “hello “. It ‘ a greeting that does not cost anything, and that makes you happy . Or at least I am very pleased . Whenever that happens to me, I get the feeling of being in a parallel world, where everyone is kind , where, even if for a nanosecond only, all are friends.
As I wrote on my Facebook page , the bike is good for the heart and the soul.

 PS for my husband only: check my average speed on the way back. I went very fast! Maybe in five year time…but ONE DAY, I AM GOING TO RIDE AS FAST AS YOU DO!laps

Bike Anatomy

( Italian version: here)

The other night in bed I read  ” Bicycle” magazine , and this sounds unbelieveble for two main reasons: the first one is because it is usually impossible for me to be able to find the time to read at night as, in general, while I’m trying  to make my daughters sleep, I fall asleep before them. And then because I have so many books next to my bed waiting to be read. But that night I chose and I repeat , I  CHOSE to read a bike magazine .

Every three words , however, I found myself asking my husband, who was reading a history book, that I wouldn’t read even if I was obliged under torture, to explain the meaning of what I was reading.
“Sorry … what’s the sprocket ?”
” What do they  mean  with Gran Fondo ? “
” So if our bikes are not suitable for Grand Fund and not even for racing , what are they for? “

And so on …

Usually  my husband , the second time I interrupt his reading gets quiet annoyed and starts pretending not to hear me.  ( in his defense I must admit that all the possible questions I want to ask him come to my mind always and only when we go to sleep and he is reading … )

But this time it’s different.  Since we aren’t  dealing with family matters , but with his first and true  (and probably only) love, and by that I mean, of course,  the cycling world,  I notice that he is listening to me and I keep on asking him many questions. And he gives me very accurate and, apparently,  very clear  answers.
I pretend to understand nodding.

I do not know whether he believes be or not, but this allows him to go ahead reading  , which is great.

But since that night I decided that I would study. And I have . Oh … yes I have ! I looked at a dozen of Italian and foreign websites and then, with my own hands, I created this image using a new Pinarello bike , that would be my dream, but it would be super surely too professional for me.And here’s the result. I hope it will be useful for  those who, like me, have only recently started bike riding and the ones who have fallen in love with it.

 bike-components

PS : I then removed the names of the bike compoments and add numbers instead.  I made a list from 1 to 35 and checked ho many of them I could remember: the result was that I remembered as many as did before making the picture. ( ie : handlebar brakes, pedals , wheels and little else )
I feel like when I took the General Linguistics . I studied a lot. I got a good grade.  I walked out of the classroom exam and I had already forgotten everything .

Basically, it really is a mission impossible to me!

Hope you’ll have a better result!  You can have a try! Good luck!

Here the bike with the numbers, followed by the list of numers and then, below the solution. Don’t cheat!!! 🙂

Bicycle parts

1 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
2 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
3 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
4 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
5 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
6 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
7 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
8 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
9 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
11 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
12 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
13 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
14 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
15 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
16 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
17 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
18 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
19 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
20 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
21 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
22 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
23 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
24 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
25 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
26 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
27 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
28 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
29 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
30 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
31 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
32 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
33 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
34 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _
35 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _

 The solution is below….

I said below….

don’t cheat!

ok, it’s coming…

here it is!

bike-components-with-number

Below you will find the solution

I said below

Don’t cheat!

Here it comes

Second ride with Monica – Brescia – Middle of nowhere and back

Second ride with my friend Monica .
at 8 am I call her to be sure he has not changed her mind and , to be honest I hope she has. Last thing I would do right now is to ride a bike, but I promised her . This morning I am having an hangover. Last night I went out to dinner with two friends of mine and  we had an excellent Franciacorta white wine and now I have a terrible headache. I forgot to buy the contact lenses and I am, therefore, going to wear my sunglasses and I hope that the weather will not get worse otherwise I will not be able to see much. On top of that I found out I have absolutely no winter cycling clothes. So I decide to steal something from my husband’s closet, who unlike me , is 1 meter 90 centimeter tall . I take a long-sleeved shirt and I realize that it has a dual function : to protect me from the cold but above all , I have the illusion of having lost weight !
Monica and I are going to meet in Sant’Eufemia. She is coming by car and I am going there with by bike.

I text Monica ” I’m leaving now.” Monica is still home and says she has loaded the bike into her car and we will meet at the usual place . ( “Usual” …this is the second time ever than we ride togetherwe go, but now everything has already become a ritual ) .

Before leaving, I check everything, as my usual rite ( really “usual” ) : wheels: inflated , Garmin: turned on and synchronized , helmet: fastened. Finally I place the phone in the back pocket , under my handkerchief , and I get on my bike , I start the Garmin and….the phone rings .
It’s Monica ” Ari … I forgot to inflate the wheels . Will you bring me a pump, please ? ”
I can’t believe I am hearing this!
” Monica, I ‘m coming with my bike ! ” that’s right ” she replays , Silence. “But  would you be so kind to bring it to me pleaser ? ”
“Look Monica, if you want I can google and find someone near you who sells bikes, but I doubt I could ride my bike for 8 km with a pump in my hand! ”
I’m leaving for my ride with a smile  on my  lips, Monica makes me smile . I wonder if one day she will ever put  the ” bike concentration” setting on .
I meet her while she is riding her bike on the pavement, on the wrong side of the road.
(I have to explain to Monica that bicycles follow the rules of the European law!)
Monica has already managed to get the whells inflated . Her petrol station tender, not only has inflated the wheel , but , belongs to the omniscient category …! Therefore , as required by the rule , he knows all of her bike and he is more than pleased to give her some advice. The fist thing Monica tells me as soon as we meet, as if she was revealing me the third secret of Fatima: “my petrol vendor told me that my bike is a hybrid!. ” Ah well , then!
The good news is that MONICA DOES NOT HAVE THE DORA’S BACKPACK anymore! The bad one is that she is still riding the very old-fashioned bike. A very old-fashioned hybrid bike.

We will naver make it.
We leave St. Euphemia towards Gavardo . We cross Botticino and I congratulate her for having left the backpack  home . Then I look at the bike and ask, ” excuse me, Monica, have you also left your high-mountain water bottle?” “Yes, I have. But I forgot to bring with me a regular one and I am already thirsty.” Very well.

We cross Rezzato and while she goes to the bar to get a bottle of water , I stop to greet a friend of mine who has a shop there . Monica returns and we are really ready to go. ” I must confess that I also had a coffee ,” she says, almost with a sense of guilt. ” Well done, Moni. but now , let’s not stop anymore.”
In Virle take the Gavardina and the average speed is really low , but in fact we are focusing on something else….we have turned completely crazy!

I , in fact , am trying to make a video while I’m riding ,holding my cell phone in one hand and with the other one  on the handlebars! Monica struggles to join me to get back in the frame and almost ends up in the cornfield , then turns and  we almost crash to the ground!
VIDEO
In Mazzano the path splits into two : straight to Salò and right towards Desenzano .

2
We take the right.

3

Here the cycling path is alongside the road. We go straight up to Pontenove , where, n the cobblestone street of the old bridge , where every time I have the fear of puncturing , suddenly Monica’s brand new bottle of water flies down from the bike and a nanosecond later, as in the worst movies, the only one car in the neighborhood, passed over it . Monica is sooooooooooo angry ! She picks up the destroyed bottle, and places it under the cargo rack. (yes, Monica’s bike also has a cargo rack … )

5

Fiume Chiese visto da Pontenove

The bottle, by the way, will stay with us for about 10 miles, until Monica finds a bin for plastic . You can not say that does not take about the environment.
I’m thinking that maybe I would do the tour today , that is, from there to Padenghe , Puegnago Gavardo , Botticino is a bit ‘ too much like the second exit. That would be about 60 kilometers. Then I see , by chance, a sign indicating a bike path to Montichiari . Then we turn right.
PHOTO INFORMATION
The first surprise are some wonderful bluebells that I hadn’t seen in ages, probably the last time was when I attended my kindergarten. What an emotion ! Going on I must say that the road is not among the best I’ve ever seen.

9

then we take a beautiful road , which seems to be a tunnel of leaves and branches.

10

We ride throut the countryside, then after Ponte San Marco we pass an industrial area  and then  we take a cycling  path, with a small wooden bridge and , just after the bend , I find it another surprise. Planted in front of a corn field I see a sign . I believe I have read that right, but I’m curious . I stop , ride the bike and I’m going to see better.

Attensione Rispettate Granoturco

Attensione Rispettate Granoturco

This sign , in its simplicity, gives me many beautiful emotions. I imagined the farmer who built it with a pair of aces , who planted it and that, with chalk , slowly, undertook to write ” be careful, respect the corn ” , seeing the hesitation in writing, and attention to the message to give . I found it touching.

12

The path continues in a sudden insignificant , next to the fields , even a little ‘ boring. At some point, however, boredom is interrupted by panic. In the middle of nowhere , with Monica next to me , I distinctly feel a bell, very close , I fear and disarray convinced that someone is arriving from behind. But what do I find out ? ? IT’S MONICA’S !
” BUT YOU ! YOUR BIKE HAS A BELL ! ” I say, almost shocked. . Monica, naïve as usual , “sure ! Because your do not have it ? ” Monica , no ….
Then I ask : ” why on earth are you ringing this bell in my ears ? ” “You never know who you could meet on the roads….” I swear I could not stop laughing.
A few kilometers later, in the middle of nowhere,  I get the impression of being the protagonist of the “Secret garden” . On my left there is a wonderful, unexpected vegetable garden .

Vegetable garden in the middle of nowhere
I know you must think I am crazy, but I was moved . I got off the bike and with the cleats that sank into the mud , I went to have a look closely at each row of vegetables. I had never seen the fennel plants before, which from a distance , I mistook for carrots! But where have I been living for the last 41 years ? It ‘s wonderful .
Monica and I continue to pedal through the field, following the small paths, with not so many direction boards  and we are very proud of our ability to avoid getting lost. We pass through the Park CA ‘ Del Bes, with very picturesque views . I do not recommend to come here with a road bike, has a few roads are made of gravel.
At a junction the pole sign id bend on the ground. We do not know how to interpret it , then, we get off our bikes and we face the board as if we were Agent Scully of X-Files. We solve the case and we understand that we have to go left. We are very proud of ourselves . We’re going straight on, when I uddendly spot a semi- hidden board indicating ” Montichiari ” on the right. We ride for about two meters and: deep despair!: a big, enormous sign says ROAD CLOSED FOR WORK . WTF!!!

13

14
I say to Monica: ” Monica, could you please take my bike for a second? I’d like to take a picture to the sign. ” .
And here,  Monica says what you ‘d NEVER expect :

( next step : to explain Monica that road bikes and mountain bikes DO NOT HAVE THE STAND , DO NOT HAVE THE BELL AND DO NOT HAVE THE RACK )

At this point, where are we going ? Panic!
Idea! Google maps , can rescue us ! No panic!
I pull out the phone , I am on google maps and begin to turn it on upside down to figure out where we are. I have never and I say never I really mean NEVER  been able to read maps . I do not know whether it is because they are dyslexic or stupid , but I have strong feeling that the reason is the latter.
The backpack , but especially the map of Dora the Explorer would be very useful now!
Sure of myself I say to Monica ” no problem , Monica ! I have everything under control, let’s go . At the bottom there should be a village ” ( which village I don’t have a clue, but never mind… ) .
We continue down the road and turn right , where we find the directions, indicating Calcinato and we follow the signs.
We cross the main square and, for a gust of wind , we are ” attacked ” by a shower of chestnut curls. Picturesque, but that harmfull!

Finally we get rid of the bottle, as soon as Monica reaches a plastic recycle bin.

We arrive at the end of the village and we are at a crossroad. To the right it says Verona and to the left :Montichiari .
Monica , very sure of herself says, ” definitely left! ” I have doubts and once again I turn to the Holy Google maps and we go to the right . We make two flyovers on the highway and on the ring road and head towards Mazzano . The roads are not the best , including trucks, cars and coaches , is a succession of moments of panic .  A the end , we pass through Virle and Rezzato , where I note with pleasure that in these days they repainted the lines that delimit the bike path in the town center . At the hospice we turn right , and. After the long pleasant road with high trees, we turn right again. I want to show Monica the small village , which looks straight out of a fairy tale. We end in  Caionvico . Not entirely satisfied with this morning ride , I propose to Monica to go around to the top in Botticino and she agrees . The thing I like most about Monica is that she never says no to new adventures. The thing I like least is when , bike, take initiatives … like taking a roundabout on the other side of the road  or when she cuts the road to cars.

We  get to the starting point. Monica, off her bike , is taking something from her pocket. It’s a chestnut . “I’ve taken directly from the plant, while I was going to throw the bottle . If you keep it in your pocket , it prevents colds . ” I do not know whether to be more surprised by her super kind gesture or that she  believes in this popular tradition . Monica is really special person. And then, at his second ride ever she has gone for 50 kilometers ! I am very proud of her !

mappa