Wednesday, April 25, 2018

L-B-L 2018 We Ride

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2018

Larry's been trying to complete in-person viewing of the Five Monuments of Cycling for a few years now. He saw his 4th, the Tour of Flanders back in 2013 (more details on that HERE) but it's taken awhile to add La Doyenne, the oldest of them all.

Again like in 2013 Zio Lorenzo was the guest of our friends at Velo Classic Tours. Peter  and the ever-charming Lisa Easton share our philosophy of "passion before profit" so it was a simple idea to see L-B-L with them, as Heather (after Paris-Roubaix) decided she's no longer interested in visiting northern Europe.

While Larry's mostly content to simply view the race action, he gets talked into riding some of the course before the big event. And to be honest, this does help one understand the immense challenge these monuments of cycling throw at the pros.

You quickly are reminded that these guys are a different breed when you see them seemingly "just riding along" (as above, with VCT guest Jeff in the foreground) up a climb you had to stop on a couple of times to get your tongue out of the front wheel spokes! This Liberte climb was new for this race and Zio Lorenzo thought it the toughest by far.

Peter (above) likes to zoom along at a pace Larry can only match going downhill, but he can ride with Lisa while VCT's ever-helpful Asier gets stuck waiting for him so he doesn't get lost when the others jet up the steep climbs. This course seems the world's longest interval workout on the bike - endless, super-steep climbing with (sadly) more gradual descents where you kind of just sit there at 50-60 kph.

Earlier in the day, we were passed on a steep climb (why is it always this chance to take a photo?) by the Bahrain-Merida squad out to check out the course. Check out the photo below of Vicenzo Nibali pushing VCT guest Jennifer up this climb! Yep, one of the biggest stars of the sport gave a push to someone just out riding. As the lady I met in our local cheese shop not too long ago said, "Despite his fame and fortune, Enzo remains a nice boy!"

We finished the ride with Le Redoute (above) which was tough, but Larry thinks it's as much about where it is on the race route as anything. But no matter what, some of these things exceed 20% gradients and their 1-2 km length can seem like forever!

VCT put us up in some swanky digs. Think of a Belgian version of Villa Sparina near Gavi. The race TV coverage even featured some nice helicopter shots of the place. As you can see above, some well-heeled folks with good taste in cars also stay here.

Next post - we watch the pros RACE!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cycling in Sicily and...

Getting in shape?

 Above: Heather poses part way up one of our favorite climbs in Sicily

We're trying! The students have returned to the USA, Larry's (pretty much) over his bronchitis and it's warm enough to ride in shorts.

So we (finally) have all the time we need to spend on the bikes. Yesterday's was the first 3+ hour ride with any real climbing we've done all year. Better late than never, though we hear some of you back in the USA are still buried in snow.

And Larry really needs some shape! He's off to see the last of his five monuments of cycling next weekend - Liege-Bastogne-Liege

You might be wondering "what does that matter?" but he's going with our friends at Velo Classic Tours who are going to make him ride some of these famous climbs, same as he did back in 2013 at the Tour of Flanders.

So he needs enough condition to survive the challenge. Like last time he's hoping they take it easy on him,  but he'll have to wait and see.

Full report to follow. Meanwhile, reservations for Piedmont Cycling Resort are coming in, have you made yours yet?

Just click HERE.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spring has sprung 2018

Primavera 2018

Yes, spring has sprung here in Sicily. The swallows have come back, the clocks have been changed and the tourists have begun to arrive.

Above: Nice place to take your coffee, eh?

Above: Spring's always a good time for a bike wash and what a nice place to dry!

Meanwhile, reservations are coming in for the summer at Piedmont Cycling Resort. Why not make yours now?

Just click HERE

Monday, March 26, 2018

Electric bicycles - our take

Electric bicycles - our take

In case anyone might be wondering if e-bikes will be available at Piedmont Cycling Resort, here's our response:

This advertisement appeared in the most recent issue of Italy's BICISPORT Magazine. We understand Pinarello's (and RCS, the Giro race promoter who happily takes what we'd guess is a pile of sponsorship money from Pinarello) business goal. MONEY. 
Nothing wrong with this, you need to pay us some to enjoy Piedmont Cycling Resort after all. We don't work for free.

Our position on e-bikes is if they replace a motor vehicle, especially one that runs on fossil fuel, they're WONDERFUL! If you can get to work, school, shopping or wherever using an e-bike instead of a car, you are a hero in our book.

We don't think anybody is going to use a Pinarello Nytro for any of those purposes, it's $7K+ price tag being a big reason. So it would seem to be a motorized toy that replaces a bike you pedal. 
A bike that consumes energy that you supply via electric charging. Charge yours using solar panels and you're pretty green, but still, what is the point?

We've heard claims that these things will let less fit or older cyclists keep up with the faster riders. Same for a spouse that's not as fit as their avid cyclist. We guess "riding" one of these is better than sitting home pouting, but why not go for a ride with those more your speed?

Above is the big ride on offer - it appears to be a Giro stage route. Four lucky winners will get to "ride" one of these things over this challenging course. Our question is once you've completed this course, what exactly have you done? You will NOT have ridden it as a cyclist, but more like a motorcyclist.

If that's your thing, why not ditch the pretense and enjoy this instead?

They use REAL motorcycles rather than disguised electric battery-powered bicycles.

Pinarello's in a tough spot. They sold out to the same company that owns Louis Vuitton luggage and now sell what is pretty much a "designer" product, no longer even made in Italy. They sponsor the SKY Team which with its current issues might be hurting their sales as much as helping them. Where can they find more customers for their products?

How about those who really don't want to much ride a bicycle, but they love the idea of owning a trendy, expensive one?

But "ride" one of these and you'll miss out entirely on -

"The beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest”*

We don't doubt that some of our competitors will be offering options like these but we're not planning on dropping the "pedala forte" part of our slogan, so you won't find 'em here.

**"Vogliamo far riscoprire la bellezza della fatica e il gusto dell’impresa." 
GIANCARLO BROCCI, Ideatore de L'Eroica 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Arrivederci Facebook!

Arrivederci Facebook!

Another nice day around Ortigia

At the risk of vanishing from the face of the earth or cyberspace, we've deleted our Facebook account.

More and more it was obvious that Mr. Zuckerberg might be a marketing genius and computer wizard but his creation has turned into a frankenstein and he's lost control of it or he just doesn't care as long as the money keeps pouring in. Either way, he'll get nothing more from us.

But of course we'll still be here on the blog and at and

Now we can hope Facebook will soon become the next MySpace!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Carciofi = Artichokes

It may have choked Artie but....

Are you old enough to remember this?

from the old "Our Gang" comedies?

Zio Lorenzo used to think pretty much the same thing as peeling the leaves off these things seemed to be little more than a vehicle to put butter or mayo into your mouth!  But in Italy, things are different....and much, much better.

Above: the "before" photo

Above: the "after" photo

Carciofi or artichokes are cheap in Sicily these days. Uncle Larry bought a case of 'em the other day for the equivalent of $5. We don't even buy them in the USA as the price seems ridiculous, but we LOVE to eat 'em!

Especially when prepared like this-

These are great! Even better fried, but that's the kind of mess we try to avoid by buying our fried treats from experts who do it for a living!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Schiticchio - pizza done right


I guess one says "Skee-teek-e-oh"? But whatever you call it, the pizza is the real thing!

The tourist season here in Ortigia is just getting going and our favorite place, Tempio di Athena has yet to open. We've had a few pizze already but none as good as the ones Albertino makes at Athena. That is, until now.

This place is just across from the SCIE we pass by every day, but until last night when Heather returned from the student trip ready for something quick and simple we'd never been there. So, off we went. Above you see her in front of what was a basic Margherita - red sauce, white cheese and green basil.

Above you see what Zio Lorenzo ordered, the "Bufalina" with fresh cherry tomatoes, real buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil.

These made our top 10 best pizza list easily! Perhaps as high as number 3?

Wonderful crust, just like the best of Napoli with enough pomodorini and cheese to be tasty but not a gooey, watery mess as is often the case.

Based on the mob of people outside waiting for tables when we left, this place is no secret but we'll be back...but we'll return to Tempio Athena first.