Not dropped = winning

11 Jul

Our first day of riding was hotter than hades. Luckily, I chose to ride with a mid-pack group, which went much, much slower than I would’ve liked under normal circumstances, but in the heat, it was perfect — no danger of me blowing up and having my brain or other systems go off line again like they did in Hawaii.

We have 5 ride groups, A-E (fast to slow). I went with C, nickname: Coffee Club. It was true to its name. We enjoyed a couple espresso stops on our way to Verona. Coffee Club had about 20 “official R2R” members + we were joined by a ~dozen “day riders” — active duty troops from the U.S. Army Garrison at Vicenza. The day riders clearly did not do much training before undertaking this outing.

Av exerienced 2 significant mechanical issues during the ride (malfunctioning deraileur and leaky, ultimately flat, tubeless tire). These glitches normally would have caused me to be dropped by the group, but “thanks” to our day riders, these mechanicals didn’t hamper me at all — that’s how slow we were going.

Upon reaching our hotel, Av had to visit the “bike doctor.” The deraileur issue was easily fixed, but the tire troubles proved much more challenging. I had a team of 5 mechanics working to save her Hutchinsons. Alas, in the end, we had to go for a full tire transplant. She’s now rocking tubes and Kendas. They’re much heavier than my Hutchinsons, but at least they’ll hold air! Because the Coffee Club group leaders both spent 2+ hours with me and Av while she was undergoing her services, I promised them that I wouldn’t abandon them for a faster group today.  So, we’ll see how it goes now that Av has working parts and the Coffee Club is devoid of day riders.

Today’s ride will be much more challenging — nearly twice the distance and 4x as much climbing. We should get lucky with the weather though, a huge storm came through last night and cooled things down and we’re staring 2 hours earlier. Should make for a good day.

A couple quick notes before my 30 minutes of computer time expires: It’s been REALLY interesting to reconnect with some of the TBI vets from last year’s ride. Seeing how much they (and I) have progressed in terms of social and physiological symptoms has been really enlightening and wonderful … more details will follow when I am not time-constrained.

Verona is a beautiful town and it’s a shame that we are here for such a short time and that our hotel is so far from the center. My aunt will likely strangle me when she learns that I chose not to join the R2R group that went to the Opera held at the outdoor arena, but the 3-part Opera *started* at 9:30pm and I’m still pretty much a sleep whore, so that option was out. I did, however, join 7 other ladies for a “girls’ night out” — much to the surprise of the boys who couldn’t quite fathom us all being in dresses. We enjoyed a couple gorgeous bottles of wine in an alleyway just off the main Arena square and I was in bed by 10:15pm. A perfect evening.  Images will follow once I get that kind of internet access again.

The food at our current hotel is OFF THE HOOK. And the coffee is even better. The bacon is flabby, but flavorful.

The best part of the day was when 4 of the 5 ride groups regrouped at the Arena square in order to head to the hotel together (the 5th, slow, group was really, REALLY slow … we waited well over 90 minutes for them before we bailed). We bid adieu to the untrained day riders in their multicolored jerseys and set up a stunning 2-by-2 yellow-clad cycling parade, ~110 members strong, to head under the old clock tower bridge. I was about 1/4 way back, so I got to see a nice bit of our train cut under the bridge tunnel with a longer portion trailing out the back — our silent precision and harmony on the cobbled streets was really something to behold. It didn’t quite bring tears to my eyes, but it did bring a lump to my throat.

And that’s a close as it gets to giving you something to drink to today.

6 minutes to go, time to log off so I can check email — the fact that I prioritize writing to y’all before I take stock of my own incoming messages should tell you how much it means to me to be able to share these stories with you. I know that my writing is not at artful as usual — time constraints are a bitch. But you’re getting the raw unfiltered truth and that’s its own kind of beauty, right?

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