Friday, November 15, 2019

New Shop

A tiny bike workshop at home.

And we mean tiny! 14 X 14 feet is all the floor space we have on the ground floor here. This limited us to a 1-meter workbench and a folding workstand from our friends at Bicisupport/Albabici (Grazie Gianluca & Co!) as we needed to keep a way through from the doors to the outside you can see in the photos across to the doorway that enters the stairwell leading up to the rest of the house.

The entire footprint of this house is small - Zio Lorenzo paced it off as roughly 20 X 25. That's it! Bikes on one wall, workbench and tool chest on the other with storage in the loft above.

The builders back in 1900 went UP instead of out with a bedroom on the first floor and a living room on the second. Our guess is animals probably lived on the ground floor where the bikes are now? Further up another loft has the kitchen and a final climb to the tiny terrace with view of the sea. 62 steps from the ground to the terrace will keep us in shape without ever leaving the house!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Raymond Poulidor

RIP Pou-Pou

Excellent obituary HERE

The stars of what might be the most recent "golden age of cycling" are leaving us. Is there another golden era after this?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

This is....November?

This is...November?

Yep, this is one of those "I hate you!" posts for anyone watching it snow outside while they grind away on a trainer in their basement, even if they have the newest-latest training gizmos advertised pretty much everywhere these days.

Back when Zio Lorenzo would be forced to do this the question always was "Which is worse? Going outside and freezing/crashing on ice or being bored to death for an hour inside?"

Being a wimp from California too often it was inside, watching an old cycling video while sweating like a pig. Perhaps these new online schemes make it less boring, but they will never equal riding a bicycle outside, where you not only pedal, but brake and turn as well as see the sights, smell the smells and all the rest.

Riding inside will never be FUN, I don't care how much you spend on video screens, training plans and online exercise schemes.

Today's ride was from Ortigia to Sortino, basically from sea level to around 1500 feet (438 meters) but with lots of ups and downs along the way.

Once on the other side of Solarino the road is almost "yours" unless you mind sharing it with a sleeping dog who was laying in the center of the road, only lifting its head up as it heard me coming before going back to sleep or a herd of sheep being moved by their tender.

35 kilometers out and pretty much the same back, again with plenty of ups and downs along the way. This road up to Sortino is relatively new, I was tempted to take the old way up, but wasn't so sure about enjoying the full length of this ride to start with, so chickened out on the really steep stuff. The new road is the only way to go down as far as I'm concerned.

They run an automotive hillclimb event on this road every year. One time we went up on a Sunday (via a different route) and found the road closed, but this time there was just a few skid marks and one or two cars along with a couple of trucks over 30+ kilometers.

For Zio Lorenzo the going back down is the fun part! Good pavement, not-too-steep grades and some interesting curves make a good "pay back" for the effort to get up there.

These days Zio's pretty slow on anything but a descent, so 70+ kms took 3 hours with a brief stop to fill bottles in Sortino, but it's not how fast you go - it's HOW MUCH FUN YOU HAVE!

Today was lots of fun.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Pista Ciclabile (pee-stah chee-kla-bee-lay)

It's a mouthful for non-Italian speakers but some of 'em here are pretty nice. We spent a lot of time on the one in Rome along the Tiber but we don't get out here too much.

This direction goes away from Siracusa

This one's an old railroad line with lights now strung up along the way, some of which is cut into the rocks to keep things more-or-less level as trains tend to like.

This is the way back into Siracusa with Ortigia in the background

The trail is unpaved in most places, kind of a sandy, crushed gravel type of surface. Yours truly rode out of Ortigia along a route we call "Dead-dog" because (honest to goodness) the first time we rode it we passed by a dead dog in the road about 10 kilometers out, but then turned towards the coast.

After a few kilometers of less-than-great riding you can access the end of this rail-trail, though with a road bike you're probably gonna have to walk a bit up a rutted incline, as I did today.

But from there you don't need a "gravel bike" as a normal road bike (even one from near the turn-of-the-century like mine) will do just fine.

On a Tuesday midday, there was nobody out here, so my little handlebar bell didn't get much use. The trail ends at the edge of Siracusa, just a short distance away from Ortigia. 

Heather likes to take her study-abroad students out here on rental bikes, which they always enjoy.

Friday, October 25, 2019

La Corsa Rosa 2020

See La Corsa Rosa 2020 with us!

The route for next year's Corsa Rosa was presented last night on Italian TV.

We think the Hungarian start is little more than a money-grab by organizer RCS, but the rest of the route is a hit, especially when it comes to viewing stages with day-trips from Piedmont Cycling Resort.

 You could join us for stage 19 a route that passes very close to PCR and finishes at Asti on May 29 (you could even ride there) and/or the following day's epic stage finish in Sestriere after the pros tackle Colle dell' Agnello, Col d'Izoard and the Montgenevre climbs. We may even go into Milano for the final time-trial if there's interest.

Since the route has just been announced we're working on how best to see these stages and share them with you.

We're happy they're going over the Passo Stelvio from the "proper" side for a change as well. The entire route seems to be a classic though we're not sure why so many think Peter Sagan will be there - he said nothing of the sort on the presentation broadcast. 

While we're working on the details, it's better to reserve your place for this final week of il Giro sooner rather than later.

PS-we're also working on ideas for the stages in Sicily May 12-15 so contact us for a separate itinerary.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Moving Day

Moving Day - finally comes!

We've been putting off moving furniture around in our new place for a couple of reasons: a) major items will NOT fit up or down the narrow stairwell, so must be put in or out via the double door/windows on the balconies b) we were stalling, waiting for our washing machine to be installed on the first floor (bedroom) in what used to be a sort of kitchen when the place was rented as a casa vacanza as they call 'em here.

But Monday we contacted the movers, tired of living more-or-less on the second floor with TV, bed and pretty much everything (except the ground floor bike shop and 1/2 floor-up kitchen) else taking up most of the floor space.

We were in luck! They could come over the very next morning! Who says nothing gets done here in Sicily? They showed up at 7 AM before I even had the morning cappuccino made! Just as Zio Lorenzo predicted, it took 'em longer to set up and take down their equipment than it did to actually move the furniture. But there's simply no other way to move big pieces like beds, sofas and dressers between floors.

It was only 9 AM and all the furniture was where we wanted it. Next we began to finally assemble new pieces that had been sitting in their boxes since there was no place to put them. 
By lunch time we had a functional living room with sofas, big-screen TV, coffee table and a small computer desk on the second floor with an actual bedroom with nightstands, dressers, etc. on the first!

This house really is beginning to feel like a home..FINALLY!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Man Pretends He is King of the World

Need to stay here all day waiting for a delivery man...but it's not really all-that-bad, as you can see.

Reservations are starting for Piedmont Cycling Resort for 2020 so it's not too early to start planning for cycling through vineyards in the sun.

Click HERE to start.

On the bicycle side of things, here's a great piece from our friends at BikeRaceInfo, click HERE