Two for one. Doubleheader. Wonderful combination. However you want to describe it, another chapter in living the dream!
Above: Larry posing ready to ride the GIOS bike so graciously loaned to him for the event. Not a GIOS jersey, but at least the color's right!
As most of you know, anybody in Italy still making bicycles with steel tubes brazed into lugs is a hero in our book. None more than the guys at GIOS, so close (an hour?) to us at Hotel Ariotto it's embarrassing to note how few times we've visited them. Recently, Heather decided she would like a new bike. In a way, she needed another bike and has always admired the famous blue machines from Torino. We've seen Aldo and son Marco at plenty of bici d'epoca events and they're always smiling and happy to see us despite the fact we're riding bicycles with other names on their downtubes.
Above: the group gets ready to ride under threatening skies
We went over there a few weeks ago, Heather's current bike in the back of the van to talk about her new bike. During the measuring and general discussions about exactly what she wanted, Marco mentioned a 100 year celebration coming up soon and invited us. Heather was going to be busy with academic projects and Larry didn't have a GIOS to ride in this event limited to riders on the famous bicycles, so we said grazie and figured that was that.
When Marco heard that I would be in the area, he insisted that I join them, even offering me a bike he said was the last one his grandfather had ever ridden! This was one of those offers you can't refuse so "I'll be there!" came out pretty fast.
Above: Uh, it was wet...and got wetter...all the way to the end.
So Sunday morning Larry was up early and on his way to Volpiano under drizzly skies. He packed all his epoca clothing since this was an epoca bike, including the rain jackets we bought at Eroica Primavera earlier in May. Just-in-case. As you can see, the jacket was needed. No big rain until after our ristoro stop - one stocked by Aldo's wife/Marco's mom with pizza, focaccia, salami, vino, acqua, frutta, etc. No mylar-wrapped energy foods here! BRAVA MAMMA!
A 10% climb greeted (or surprised, depending on how much you ate) us soon after, as did the rain, lots of it. I waited for my new friend Marco whose GIOS was having some chain skipping issues when he put the power down and somehow we ended up in the front of the whole ride when the others made a detour. Marco Gios was leading the ride in a vintage VW Beetle complete with rooftop signs exactly like the ones we'd see in the
Giro later that day.
Riding side-by-side was just fine in these conditions, lots less spray from a rear wheel in front of you, but soon enough we were back with the group and eating our share as my shoes began to fill with water and my socks turned black. It wasn't cold, just WET.
Above: Pretty much everyone got some sort of cool prize
Everyone made it safely back to the GIOS showroom where we'd started, dried off and changed into dry clothes for the prize ceremony, followed by the "pasta party" which was instead a real meal enjoyed at a place next-door. Languages from all over were heard amid plenty of lively banter and laughter - just like an epoca event! People who would come all the way out to Volpiano to ride in the rain to celebrate the 100th birthday of the GIOS founder, Tolmino, are pretty nice folks! As are the GIOS people themselves!
Above: My prize was a bottle of wine celebrating Tolmino Gios' birth in 1916.
But things were far from over! After lunch and the prizes we loaded up on a bus for a ride into Torino to see the Giro d'Italia finale. One of the biggest headaches of doing things like this is the parking - but this way it was easy and fun.
Above: memorial to Fausto Coppi in Torino
We piled out of the bus, everyone wearing the famous blue cycling caps we were given as part of our pacco gara (race pack) and headed off to the race circuit, one a bit more demanding than the usual flat celebratory laps. This had a pretty decent hill! But first we popped into the old velodrome to a look around.
Above: posing for photos in front of the STEEP banking.
Paul and Shelly from the UK were "the" GIOS couple.
We teased Paul about having GIOS underwear!
From there it was off to the course for the afternoon as the racers arrived.
Above: Easy to see our group, everyone has something BLUE on!
Larry ran into a few Italian bike industry friends, causing some of the Italians in the group to say to Marco Gios, "You said this guy's from the USA, but he knows more people here than WE do!" which just means the bike industry world is pretty small and everybody who's anybody is going to be at the Giro finale.
Above: The Shark in pink
We hung around until the race ended and then retired to a local bar to wait for the bus back to Volpiano. It was a long but fun day.
Grazie mille to Marco, Aldo and Mamma Gios + all the other volunteers! I met some great people who I'm sure we'll see again. Meanwhile GIOS is busy working on Heather's new bike, which should be ready by the end of June.
Above: Damiano Cunego, winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2004 poses with some crazy man.