Photo: Pronto. 05:21, Cartoceto, Italy.
Saturday 20th June
“Ring ring, ring ring”. It wasn’t even 6am and panic set in. Who is ringing me at this hour? It must be Jan. She was asleep when I left so she couldn’t have spotted something that I’ve left behind. Something serious must have happened, after all, who else would be calling me at this hour? All these thoughts went through my mind as I reached for my phone in my rear pocket. The number began with a +39 so it couldn’t be her.
The call was from Domenico, one of my fellow Italian club mates, wanting to know if I fancied some company for the first part of the Giretto di Muscoli Part 2. We had past each other on the road a few minutes before, we both waved but didn’t recognise each other. Domenico recognised my bike, but not me, then he called. We rode side by side chatting away. I’d been away for 7 months. We had a lot to catch up on.
Two weeks previously I had ridden both Stages 1 and ‘2’ of the Giro di Muscoli (London – Harwich and ‘Hook of Holland – Arnhem’ (but was in fact Harwich – London)). 305km. The Giretto di Muscoli Part 1. The challenge then was the wind and the rain. The challenge today would be a big climb and the heat.
Having completed the opening Stages in the UK, the French opened their borders so we had an opportunity to get to Italy to ride the final two stages on the original dates, before the Giro di Muscoli was postponed to September.
Getting to Italy by car meant a 22 hour drive. No hotels. Hardly the best preparation for a 200km climbing ride a few days later, but thanks to Jan we could share the driving.
Stage 14 is Cattolica – Il Cippo – Cattolica (110km, 1,842m climbing). The slight snag is that we live nearly 50km from Cattolica so it meant a 200km day. Thanks to Domenico the ride to Cattolica past really quickly. Using no imagination whatsoever, we used the most obvious way of showing that we’d got to the start of the Stage:
The next task was to buy Domenico breakfast, the least I could do before he headed home:
I was humbled by Domenico getting up so early to ride with me, just as Gino, Jyde and Scott had done two weeks previously. Thank you guys.
Now on my own I began the climb to get to the climb. Carpegna was 46km away and 750m higher. Half the climbing is done in the last 12km, just to get you used to pointing upwards. The temperature was beginning to rise into the high 20ºs.
Once in Carpegna there is just the Cippo left to climb. It is famous in cycling circles for being the training hill for Marco Pantani (The Pirate). The climb is 6km long, rising 600m, a 10% incline the whole way. Here’s what it looks like as part of a 200km ride.
Here’s what it looks like on it’s own. 10% all the way with no respite.
I’d already decided that I’d stop on the way up to take photos. What I didn’t forecast was getting a stitch. I’ve never experienced that before. I couldn’t go much slower as I’d fall back down the hill so only one thing to do. Keep climbing. By now it was in the 30ºs in the sunshine, but at least it was cooler in the trees. The stitch accompanied me all the way up until just before the summit. I suspect my body was saying that climbing in the heat after disrupted sleep wasn’t my best idea.
I was exhausted and 101km from the finish. The good news was that it was down hill for virtually the whole way back. Just as well as I needed a breeze to counter the 36º. Dehydration was now the threat. The good news is that our region is blessed with water fountains, so lots of stops on the way home.
My lack of imagination reared it’s head again when I completed the Stage in Cattolica. A quick roadside lunch (Olive Ascolana – think mini Scotch egg but with an olive in the middle) before heading off to the 200km finish line.
A couple of hours later I turned into the piazza for the end of the ride with 200.6km on the clock. I couldn’t resist a few laps to finish on 201km for the day.
Why that piazza? It has gelataria called “Campo di Fragole” (Strawberry Fields). Ice cream, the recovery food of champions!
Quite a contrast with the finish of Stages 1 and ‘2’ two weeks before.
Sunday 21st June. Global MND Awareness Day.
It was supposed to be the finale of a two week Tour. The C word means that we will have to wait until September to ride the full distance. Four of my wonderful Centinarolese club mates turned up for the ride to the start of Stage 15 Gabicce Monte – Fano.
By the time we got to the start in Gabicce Monte the 4 had grown to 8:
Along the magnificent Via Panoramica another two Pansèrs (the nickname of La Centinarolese) joined us. We were now 11. I’d show you pictures of the ride but a bump in the road saw me drop my iPhone. I went back for it and picked up the two pieces. At least I would make the finish in one piece, my phone didn’t.
At the finish in Piazza XX Settembre in Fano Rodolfo saved the day by taking these fantastic photos. Grazie Rodo, tu sei molto gentile.
I got a little tearful talking about Gerben and thanking my wonderful club mates for riding with me.
During the global pandemic, Motor Neurone Disease patients need our help more than ever. At least I was able to safely ride Stages 1, ‘2’, 14 and 15 and raise £1,300 in the process.
Today, the Giro di Muscoli received it’s 50th rider registration for the event 12th – 27th September when we hope we will be able to ride.
If any of this has inspired you then please make a donation.
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or register to ride the Giro di Muscoli in September.
Thank you / Dank u / Grazie