This short essay sent in by David Sauer is the 2nd of 5 finalists picked for Road Holland's Cycling Shorts Essay Contest. All finalists and the grand prize winner will receive some incredible cycling gear! Enjoy.
I met my host Angelo on a warm summer evening at his lovely home in Citta Sant'angelo, three hours east of Rome. A mutual friend had connected us, I extended my vacation, and was pleasantly surprised that he offered to ride the next day. We agreed to ride 100k and leave early due to the heat.
We departed in early sunshine. The roads were smooth and welcoming. Cars passed with care. Angelo explained the saying “car back” doesn’t exist as Italian drivers share the road. Multo bene!
We met his friend Gio at a coffee shop and enjoyed a cappuccino. We continued on and rode in spectacular scenery, climbing from one ancient walled city to another, and making a loop towards the Gran Sasso. We found coffee shops amongst the cobble-stoned streets, drank more cappuccino and refilled our water bottles. It was epic. La Dolce Vita!
Along the way I learned Angelo owned a cycling touring company but was off that week. What great fortune to have a professional as my personal guide! He explained that the Province of Pescara is a well kept secret, that tourists go elsewhere when visiting Italy. We talked about his love for America, the NBA, and how he met his wife. It was a lovely conversation with two great cyclists in a spectacular part of the world. The climbing was fantastic and the switchback descents were thrilling. Being with a professional guide gave me the courage to descend as aggressively as he did. Fantastico!
Midway, Angelo’s wife called and invited me to lunch - he was pleased as she would serve his favorite - pasta fagioli. As we reached 90k I started to feel the effects of the heat. He told me the temperature in C and I struggled to do the metric conversion in my head. 99F. And, I frequently checked my computer to watch each kilometer trickle by.
As we approached the round trip to Citta Sant'angelo, a roadblock added an additional 15k! I suffered and looked longingly at their white cleats and felt myself bonking. Angelo received another phone call and spoke Italian. No doubt a concerned Annamaria. I slowed our pace and Angelo stopped to pump water onto my black shoes - which felt great. We rested and I noted his gesture, sitting patiently. We finally arrived and Annamaria greeted us warmly. The pasta fagioli was spectacular and conversation lovely.
However I continued to sweat during the meal. They cleared the plates, disappeared to the kitchen and suddenly my legs were gripped with pain - both hamstrings terribly cramped. I pushed away from the table and fell to the floor!
And that is how they found me. Annamaria scolded Angelo for placing me on the “bad” chair while Angelo massaged my legs, always the consummate host! I embarrassingly rejoined them at the table for dessert (watermelon), thanked Annamaria profusely and retreated to my room for a deep nap.
The next morning, I sheepishly acknowledged the incident. Angelo grinned, saying he jokingly scolded Annamaria: “I took our guest to ride in the Italian sun, rode through the mountains and brought him back, but it was your pasta fagioli that finally broke him!” We laughed and laughed as we set off for another ride, this time along the Adriatic. Viva Italia!
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