Photo: At the finish. The Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica (AISLA)
Stage 15 Replay Gabicce Monte – Fano, Sunday 4th Oct
The law of unintended consequences. When the UCI decided to move the World Cycling Championships from Switzerland to Italy they didn’t think to consult with the Giro di Muscoli. The Championships were scheduled for the same weekend as the last two days of our Giro. This meant many of the local cyclists would be in Imola, not Fano.
The Committee of my club came up with an idea. What about the Giro di Muscoli Replay? A re-ride of the final Stage from Gabicce Monte to Fano one week after finishing the Giro. Physically it was easy, but it did mean a one week delay for the emotional end of the Giro.
As I would be riding the Giro for the next two weeks, they promised they would organise everything, I just had to turn up and ride. They kept their promise.
The night before, Lorenzo, the club President confirmed the great news. 130 riders, from 9 clubs (Centinarolese, Bike Station, Calcinelli, Fanese, Fano Bike, Marottese, Mattioli, Pantere Rosa, Snam Progetti) had subscribed.
At the start I experienced a little of what it’s like to be famous. All the clubs wanted their photo taken with me. I had my 15 minutes of fame. Seeing so many cyclists around me, the owner of the Bar La Piazzetta came out and donated €30. This was in addition to the €20 he gave me the previous week. Grazie Domenico, molto gentile.
The ride itself was glorious. Warm, but not hot, and along my favourite ride in the area. The Panoramica between Gabbice Monte and Pesaro. The Adriatic to the left, the Apennines to the right followed by the flat, sea side road from Pesaro to Fano. Just like in the Netherlands three weeks previously I started at the front and dropped back to chat and thank as many riders as I could. By the time we got to Fano I was in the last group.
Near the finish, more star treatment. The police stopped the traffic for our arrival. All the other riders were waiting for me. I was invited to ride to the front to lead them home. Our Covid protocol for the day meant we all had to put on our face masks for the final few hundred metres through the old streets of Fano to the Piazza XX Settembre. It was just as well it was only a short distance. At the stop, I noticed I had a slow puncture. I decided it wasn’t a good idea to keep 130 cyclists waiting so I just progressed slowly whilst the air in my rear tyre did the same.
As we turned into the piazza applause rang out from those in the square. I’m sure those people who just happened to be there had no idea why they were clapping but it was still a great welcome.
Then came the hard bit. The emotional end to the Giro di Muscoli.
Before I was asked to make a speech, my club mate Sabrina introduced me to her cousin who has MND. It really brought it home to me why I’d ridden 2,320km, climbed 19,468m and burnt 70,059 calories during the Giro. All for patients of MND (UK), ALS (The Netherlands) and SLA (Italy).
I admit to having struggled a bit during my speech when telling the story about the friendship between me, Gerben, Jan and Jeanne and why we were all gathered together in solidarity with MND patients. Jan was on stand by to take over if I fell apart but fortunately she wasn’t needed. Doing that in my second language was harder than some of the climbs.
Then my Italian friends did what they always do. Have a party. One of the reasons we love living here. A short party in the square to celebrate the Giro.
“Forza il Giro di Muscoli”
There was one final duty to perform before closing this chapter of the Giro. Loris counted the money raised on the day.
A big thank you to my fellow Committee members for organising the day; to all the riders who paid to ride with me; to the Comune of Fano for supporting the event; to all those who made donations on the day and online; and of course to Jan for supporting me and the Giro for the last 3 years.
£ donations (GiftAid please if you can): https://justgiving.com/fundraising/girodimuscoli
€ donations: https://www.girodimuscoli.com/actie/colin-fisher