Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Giro 2022 Avola-Etna

 The circus comes to town!

La Corsa Rosa came back to home soil on Monday to be greeted by rain! Yep, sunny Sicily, where some journalist remarked they'd need an acclimation-day to get used to the searing heat of Italy's deep south after the first three stages, saw a few teams ride on trainers under their bus' awning rather than hit the road.

It was the same for us, though instead of riding on rollers we rode off to LIDL during a break in the weather.


We weren't the only ones as you can see above - the Wolf Pack staff had come directly from Belgium and were stocking up. It's not just a sponsorship for them, they actually shop there. Turns out teams were at hotels not just up in Catania but all around us, including the swanky golf resort Nibali and Co. used a few years ago. Seemed like the RCS bigwigs were there too?

As we rode out towards Avola Tuesday morning we saw team vehicles heading out from hotels all along the coast. Too bad the previous day was so wet, we would have loved to see all these guys out stretching their legs on the "rest" day!

The roads were still wet Tuesday morning...our bikes need a bath now, but the sun was out as were the crowds in Avola, barely 30 kms from our front door.


We did the fan thing at Lollo Caffe from Napoli, even scoring an espresso.



And thought about Eddy Merckx at Faema. Note Zio Lorenzo's garb here - far from searing heat today!

A sharp-eyed fan spotted newly-retired Sicilian Giovanni Visconti (the linked-to piece needs updating) despite all his incognito clothing and bike! Still the same brands but all understated now as nobody's paying him to look like a billboard. But he's still out there riding a bike!


We weren't too far from the stage, close enough to see various riders go towards the presentations.


Including Arnaud Demare


The smiling Biniam Girmay


Sicily's hero Vincenzo Nibali


And Maglia Rosa, MVdP

After MVdP was presented to the crowd, we headed out onto the course to fly our "W Magro" banner but didn't manage to get on TV (again), then set off for home. We got back to flip on the TV to see they'd covered 67 kilometers, while we'd covered barely 30 in the same time.

W Il Giro!




Saturday, May 7, 2022

Drink up!

 A proper victory celebration!
Amazingly in the land of Champagne (where the leader of that big race in July wears a yellow shirt) it is no longer legal to celebrate winning a bike (or any other) race with an alcoholic drink. Yep, no more spraying sparkling wine around there, but not here in Italy, grazie Dio!!

They say the first to spray was Dan Gurney at LeMans 1967 and La Corsa Rosa has Astoria as their official bubbly. Of course this is Prosecco but it sprays just the same.

Last year we ordered some of the officially-branded bottles from Astoria and before La Corsa Rosa was over we'd enjoyed them all and ordered more! We enjoyed one of the last of those during the Giro d'Italia team presentation earlier this week, so it was time to re-order. We keep at least one for a souvenir of course. It might still contain wine...or maybe not.


Some friends of ours saved us a bottle from 2019, one of the big ones with Astoria decals on the side, just like the ones sprayed on the podium. As you can see above it looks good with a matching lampshade in our living room.

One way or another, enjoy some Prosecco over the next three weeks, OK? We keep a bottle in our fridge at all times...you never know when it's time to celebrate!



Thursday, May 5, 2022

It's GIRO time!

 Giro d'Italia 2022


It's that time again! For Zio Lorenzo it's like Xmas and his birthday all-in-one!
You can watch (as in stream) from anywhere if you like. Just click HERE. A month costs about as much as two coffee milkshakes at $4bucks and heck, you can cancel once La Corsa Rosa is over, right?

We've got our copy of La Guida del Giro after not being able to find any copies last year, so we're set to enjoy coverage every day along with seeing some of the action live, starting when they come to Sicily next week.

Meanwhile, some of the cycling blogs Larry T comments on have had "What happened to Larry T?" comments. Some are happy Zio Lorenzo has not been posting comments while others seem to miss them. The bottom-line is why waste time arguing with people who don't appreciate or understand La Corsa Rosa? They seem to constantly whine that it's not LeTour. It's not! It's better! Read more about that HERE. But Zio will not waste any time arguing with them.

Buon divertimento - W il Giro - FORZA NIBALI!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Dear UCI

 Dear UCI: Time to update your number plates

Above: current number plate designed for a different era.

BikeRaceInfo has the rest, just click HERE.

Grazie Bill & Carol!


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Giro di Sicilia 2022

 Another chapter in the "living the dream" series


This race once showed a route that featured Siracusa with starts and finishes but somehow that never happened, so when 2022's official route was announced we were kind-of lukewarm on seeing it live, especially when we noted the price of rental cars post (well, sort-of) pandemic. No starts or finishes anywhere near us vs the "front-door" access promised before but when both Damiano Caruso (on the Italian National Team since his Bahrain squad did not enter) and Vincenzo Nibali were announced as entrants Zio Lorenzo perked up a bit.

The final stage on ETNA was the one to see, maybe we could score a last-minute deal on a car? Four days before the race we began shopping and soon scored a fully-electric Renault Zoe that included the juice, so Friday morning we hopped in and zoomed off to ETNA. The car showed a range of 300+ kilometers on a 99% charge when we left. The rental agency gave us a charging cable and card to pay for any extra jolts so we figured what's the worst that could happen? We'd have to stop and charge the thing somewhere along the way back - maybe enjoying an aperitivo for an hour, just to get enough juice to get back home?

There was a nice "Garabaldi-like" program with an amazing amount of details on the race. This was downloadable from the race website, but it's always nice to have a souvenir, especially a free one!

We got up there easily enough, there wasn't much going on this long before the race' arrival so the obligatory finish-line photo was easy. The car showed just under 50% of the battery left as we parked just off the race course, not too far from a ristorante. This ain't our first BBQ!


We weren't VIPS, Zio's only been one one time with our friend Celeste Milani at the Giro, so we could only think about the VIP's enjoying the free prosecco from Astoria.


We're not sure whose car this was, but families of the Sicilian riders were all over the finish area. We checked out (and bought) some great photos of the volcano from Dario Lo Scavo.

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We'd already scoped out the ristorante and tried to reserve a table, thinking plenty of others, maybe including the race organizers would take this place over at pranzo time, but we were almost the only ones there!


They had their TV on the RAI channel so we knew we'd be able to watch the race as it came closer so we asked for a table with a good view and sat down. You can see our antipasto plate here. All the good Sicilian specialties, as it should be.


But we weren't the ONLY folks with this idea! There were some VIP's here doing the same thing. Zio recognized the ever-green Torinese boss of the team most know as Androni, now sponsored by Drone Hopper, Gianni Savio right away. We have some mutual friends as one of ours worked for his ZG team back-in-the-day, so Zio started talking with Savio, complementing him on keeping his team going through thick and thin and congratulations on his team stage win at the Tour of Turkey.


By now the race had come on live and we laughed as Savio got race updates on his telephone from the team car in the race and the other guy at the table tuned-in Eurosport coverage on his phone. When we heard Riccardo Magrini talk about Paolo Alberati, it dawned on us that it was Alberati himself tuning-in Eurosport! We knew him from years ago, so of course Zio then butted-in to say CIAO, show him our W Magro banner and catch up a bit. He writes for various magazines, has written a book on Gino Bartali and has friends and colleagues in Heather's world of philosophy as well. He also runs Parco Ciclistico ETNA (photo of car above) as well. If we're not VIP's at least we can talk to some!


The race was now coming close so it was time to say arrivederci and get out there! Above you see stage and race-winner Damiano Caruso getting ready to cross the finish line.


The Shark of the Straits was behind, losing a couple seconds too many to remain on the podium, but looking like his form is coming back, perhaps just-in-time for the Giro, which also has some stages here in Sicily?


With small crowds at the finish and no way to get into the VIP area, we soon hit the road, with one eye on the car's range-estimator (how far we could go before the battery's charge was exhausted) and the other on the GPS showing how many kilometers it was back to the rental car office.

As we headed down the mountain with a battery charge level under 50% and more kilometers on the GPS unit than the car's estimator said we could go, we hoped the regenerative-braking system could somehow make up the difference? We'd used the ECO mode the entire time and now Zio played around with braking vs just letting the car roll down the hill. If the slope wasn't too steep the re-gen's resistance would almost stop the car if you didn't have a foot on the brake or accelerator.

It didn't seem to make much sense to go around the corners any faster than needed, better to brake and get extra battery charging? As we descended it was interesting to watch the battery charge level rise along with the estimated distance we could go vs the actual distance we had to travel. Before we hit the coast the car showed more than 150 kms left in the battery while we had only 100 kms left to travel - we turned the car in with 25% of the battery's charge remaining!

BRAVI to Damiano Caruso and the Italian National Team!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Yet another April Fool's joke?

 This is just insane...2.0?

We thought April Fool's jokes were over but no...

The "Scope Atmoz – Tire pressure control system" has been announced and claims are being made it'll be used in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. As they say "You can't make s__t like this up!" and they're right! Some part of this contraption must be electronically-controlled even if the pressurizing of the air is not - otherwise the UCI would not allow it? 

Zio Lorenzo would suggest it be banned anyway, just like electronic shifting. Back when Zio penned this in 2009 (scroll down about halfway) he warned that allowing battery power to do ANYTHING would be a slippery-slope to gawd-knows-what...and this is an example of gawd-knows-what, in addition to the hidden motors not discovered until 2015.


C'mon...$4K for a gizmo so you can raise and lower the pressure in your bike's tires simply by pushing a button? Zio doubts this contraption's gonna even be used on the cobbled roads of Paris-Roubaix*. It'll be more like the Rockshox suspension fork mounted on the winning bike back in 1992. While lots of hype went around from that win, only years later did we find out the rider, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle had the fork lockout activated during the entire race, making it little more than a much bulkier version of the fork used on the rest of the competitor's machines....but of course garnering a lot of marketing-mojo in the process. 


The bike industry tried hard however, but in the end the gizmos never caught-on in a big-profit way. Check back a few years from now to see if Zio's prediction this tire-pressure thing will go the way of Rockshox at Paris-Roubaix came true. 


Meanwhile, set your tire pressure before you ride. Check HERE for some guidelines and then read THIS to understand most of the so-called advantages are theoretical vs real.

*Update: This gizmo wasn't even mounted on the team's bikes in the race after all. Despite all the hype about road tubeless, many observers thought there were more flat tires than normal in the race. The race winner rode what looked like the same make/model bike he rides in most races with maybe the wider-than-usual 30mm tires run at a relatively low pressure (and an extra wrap of bar tape) the only real changes for the Queen of the Classics, though he and others on his team still had punctures.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Two Buck Chuck in Sicilia

 Cheap everyday wine


We haven't had any "Two Buck Chuck" in years, but the idea of a low-cost everyday wine must be universal, no?

We did a blind-tasting with some other Trader Joe's low-cost bottles, including some from Italia, during a visit to Santa Barbara years ago when the TBC craze was going strong - but Chuckie's vino didn't fare well. But the old "Hey, what do you expect for $2?" question is still valid.

Here in Sicily our answer is the two wines shown above. Puglisi's 5-liter boxes costs us less than $17 (15 euros here) fairly close to the price of TBC, but we can say both the white and red are pretty good. We'll get our hands on some Puglisi rosato* soon to complete our daily wine selection. Having fewer glass bottles to recycle each week is a bonus!

*Update: We got some rosato and it's good, so now we have three boxes on our shelf and use far less glass.