Sunday, May 26, 2019

Giro d’ Italia 2019 – Day 0

Sunrise as my plane descends to NYC's JFK airport
I’m just starting what should be an amazing week of cycling. I will be cycling in the mountains of north-eastern Italy on a Trek Travel trip. I’ll be riding with a group of 20 people during the last week of the Giro d’Italia, or Giro. The Giro is one of the three annual Grand Tours of professional cycling, the most famous of which is the Tour de France. Each is a 3-week long professional bike race covering over 2,000 miles. 

We will be riding some of the same mountains and roads as the professionals, though not at the same time! We will also be staying in the same towns and get to see some of the actual race. The Trek Travel folks take care of all of the logistics, including the bikes, and will be there to help if we have mechanical problems or just can't finish the day's riding. 

Milan's duomo, the third largest cathedral in Europe
I’ve long wanted to do a trip like this and a cycling buddy of mine, Rick, convinced me this was the year to do it. Or maybe, I begged him to let me come with him. I don't really remember. 

I’ve been trying to get ready for the ride for the last four months since I decided to go, but travel has made it hard to be as ready as I’d like. Still, I've been riding well. And, I got close to meeting my weight loss goal—after all, every two pounds less I weigh is 1% less work I need to do to climb a mountain! Regardless of whether I think I'm ready or not, the time has come and I'm excited to get started. 

The impressive interior of the duomo
The climbing on the route is somewhat intimidating. We may not be riding as far (or anywhere near as fast), but we will be riding on the same mountains and roads that cause the professionals' faces to look in agony during race coverage. Pretty much each of the six days is the sort of mountain ride that I normally would spend a couple months training for. We’ll see how I’m doing by the end!

The other intimidating thing is the weather forecast. I’m never sure what to believe when it comes to weather predictions, but they say to expect highs in the 50s and rain every day. There was some talk about one of the mountain passes on the race being closed due to snow. Oh boy!  

 arrived early this morning (Sunday) on a flight from JFK that left yesterday afternoon. I had to wake up before 4:00am yesterday to get to the Raleigh airport so I could fly to JFK and spend a 9-hour layover there. 

Rick photobombing my gelato picture
I checked into my hotel early and grabbed a couple hours sleep. Rick arrived later in the day. We walked around Milan and saw some of the sites in the old part of the city including the duomo (cathedral). 

We also enjoyed some good Italian food. Of course, that included some dulce de leche gelato. I promised to try and eat gelato every day I'm here. Hopefully, I will be up to that task! 

Tomorrow we'll take a train to Bergamo to meet the rest of the riders in our group and our tour guides, get properly fitted for our bikes, and ride about 30 miles (with about 4,000 feet of climb) to our hotel in Ponte di Legno. We are ready to ride! 

My goal is to post at the end of each day the output of my Garmin showing where I went (and how slowly), a few photos, and some highlights of the day. I expect to be pretty tired, so we'll see how that goes!  

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