Teaching the old dog, new tricks!

Let’s go back in time – not that long ago – to May 2018.  I was in Europe having spent a week in the Czech Republic with my good friend Mirek and his family – then transferred to Bern in Switzerland for the wedding of my son Ben to Sharon.

In between I managed to break a couple of ribs and tried to keep that relatively quiet despite the ‘discomfort’.  I was often asked why – well, I did not want the travel insurance company telling me I could not keep riding!  I am a bit stubborn at times!

After Ben’s wedding, I caught a train to Zurich to meet up with Aussie riding buddy Geoff.  We then rode to Asolo in the Venetian region of northern Italy, to hook up with Italy Bike Tours “last 12 days” of the Giro d’Italia.

It was an incredible 12 days spent in a variety of regions of northern Italy – watching incredible racing – riding some beautiful areas.

Much to my astonishment, I was contacted by Clive Marshall, Italy Bike Tours owner a fortnight ago asking me if I would consider being a support leader and ambassador for the 2020 Giro – I was like “say what?”……I re-read the email, thinking I must have misunderstood – then I exhaled and said “Oh my goodness” to Tony!

One issue was that we were already committed (airfares paid) to fly to London in May – but it did not take much discussion to change airfares despite an additional $850 in charges to do so!  That is another story re airline price gouging!

So we are off to the Giro d’Italia 2020!!  Exciting – you bet!!

This time I will be in a different role…not as a guest, but a support rider-leader for the other guests. First time role for me, but I am confident that I can do this and delighted that Clive has that confidence in me, as I will be a week or two short of my 58th birthday by then. So guess I will be the old granny learning new tricks.

Fantastic that age is not seen as a barrier in this company, as I have had experiences more recently where age is perceived as a barrier to being an ambassador. I think it is an advantage in supporting a certain genre of riders.

The Giro is one big party of fist pumping, adrenaline surged fun, enjoyed by all ages!

So what happened in 2018 that makes me want to return? The easier and cheaper option would have been to undertake the self supported cycle tour planned.

Is it the fantastic support team?

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Daniele, the lead rider, former pro, winner of a stage of the Vuelta.
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Stephano, photographer
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Roberto and Clive
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John Lee Augustyn, former pro with Sky
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Alberto
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Marco, former tour director who takes good care of the non riders

Is it the food?

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Well this was en route to Italy…think this is in the Dolomites. Makes me laugh still! Could not resist throwing it in.
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The amazing aspect of this meal is that we are literally 10 metres from the criterium course.

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The gelato is very good! This is Erin enjoying hers, leaning on a tour, as you do! Looks like a big wine bottle on top, yes we visited a vineyard a few days before in the Franciacorta region. Prosecco tour 2020.

Is it the decorated villages and towns that the Giro passes through?

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Is it the people you bump into on Monte Zoncolon?

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This is Chris, fellow guest like myself, having a nap waiting for the race to arrive up Monte Zoncolon.
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Josie Dow, Tasmanian that I knew from my kids swimming days. Just happened to see her climbing up Monte Zoncolon and called out to her. Great place to catch up, but how amazing to see her, picking her out from the thousands heading up the mountain.
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This guy came prepared! This is about 6 km up Monte Zoncolon and he carried his painting gear up.

Is it the mountains?

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Dolomites
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Dolomites

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Lake Garda
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Lake Garda
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Yep I rode up there!
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Looking down from Colla della Finestre
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Colla della Finestre
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Bardonecchia
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Matterhorn, viewed from Cervinia. This was a magical town and climb, ending up in a valley with mountains on three sides.

Is it the people you meet?

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Luke ( ex pat Aussie living Singapore) and Peter (Australia)
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Geoff (Australia)
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Chris (USA)
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Another Tasmanian I bumped into that I knew….Kim
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Daniele’s son with his first bike
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Getting ready to roll
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Roberto
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Visiting a very old winery

Is it the people you watch?

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Missing some gear …jersey, helmet, gloves….steering interesting but he’s having fun.
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These two guys were waiting for the race and I loved watching them…they were animated and passionate.
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Passionate! This guy flew over from Colombia to watch the Giro. He knew all the Colombians on tour and shouted and cheered as they made their way to the top of the climb. We are sitting up under the trees with a birds eye view to our left and saw close hand Froome’s incredible victory.

Is it the rides we did including some personal challenges and achievements?

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Is it chillaxing?

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Rome
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Aperol spritz, Rome

Or is it that race?

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Looks to me like this rider smiled at my camera.
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This is Chris Froome, just metres from an extraordinary win, taking the Maglia Rosa from Simon Yates, setting himself up to win the Giro d’Italia 2018.
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Very forlorn Aussie team this day, waiting for a dejected Simon Yates.

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Well, it is a combination of all of the above!  The Italians are so passionate about the Giro d’Italia – they love cycling – and as the riders come into the towns, the hairs on your arm lift!

The undoubted highlight for me was successfully climbing to the top of Colla della Finestre which included 8 km of sludgy ‘gravel’ – and then watching Christopher Froome smash himself up there the next day, having made a solo break with 80 km to go – then we dashed out to secure prime viewing positions at the top of Bardonnechia waiting for him to arrive – and what an arrival it was!

Giro d’Italia 2020 promises to be a beauty – there are the lakes including Como and Garda.  Climbs including Passo Gavia and Passo Stelvio.  Towns including Milano.  The historical country of San Marino.

You want more?  Dolomites, Alps, Piemonte – prosecco, Pantani museum and me!

Memories are truly forever – well unless you get Alzheimer’s!

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4 thoughts on “Teaching the old dog, new tricks!

  1. Wow! Thats fantastic – congrats Shaz. …so you now have to drop the panniers (and the stinky clothes!!) and ride with the bunches – a bit of speed riding even!! Next thing you know you will be leader on one our Trek Travel trips!! Do you have to do one of the cycle leadership courses?… or don’t the Italians worry about that?

    Just back from doing L’Etape in the NSW snowies – great course broadly around Jindabyne then up Perisher – 3000 M of climbing over 170 k’s (beyond my training distance – so a bit of a plod up Perisher!! ….. just the sort of course you will be doing in Italy!! You better get the S-Works out!! Mark

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