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.


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!

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