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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Naples or Bust

Why in the world would I pack up my bike and other riding necessities then travel to southern Italy to ride? It's pretty simple, actually. Last year was a bit of a downer in terms of riding distance and I needed to get the numbers back up, at least a little. So, riding in Europe seemed to be the quickest way to that end. The theory behind this is a bit technical, but I have not seen it explained any better than in this dialog between Frazz and Caulfield:

Let me tell you, it worked like a charm for me. In the 12 days of riding, I got in right at 1,000 (kilometers). That's a much bigger number than the 621 (miles) that would have passed under my wheels had I made this same ride at home. And I confess, I tried to have my GPS record in furlongs, but never figured out how. A real bummer since I would have recorded 8,000 for my efforts. Now THAT would have been a good start to the season!

It was a long trip from La Crosse to Naples, the starting point for the tour, although not for the riding. As luck would have it, with all of the hours in planes and airports, we still had to negotiate a tight connection at Milan's Linate airport, the smaller of two serving this large city in northern Italy. Short by plan, it was further shortened by the delay in our arrival from London. We could have been stuck there save for the personal attention we received. Upon emerging from passport control, we were immediately greeted by a young lady who said she was there to guide us to our departure gate. Smaller though it may be, it would not have been easy for us to have found our way from the lower arrivals area to the gate on the main floor in time to make our connection. In addition, our guide arranged for us to move to the front of and quickly through the security check, getting us to the gate just as the last of the other passengers were boarding. We had made it and were on the ground in Naples about an hour later.

It could have been the effect of the fatigue and sleep deprivation of the long journey that led us to agree to take the taxi offered us by the driver in the terminal building. Or, it could have been stupidity. For talking purposes, we'll go with the first one. This driver had a van parked across the lot from the rest of the taxis. A sure sign... but, no, we went ahead and had him take us to the hotel anyway. Let's just say we paid for the privilege of riding with this gentleman. Of course, if we had had our bikes and luggage, we would have needed the van. Did I mention that our belongings did not, apparently, get the special treatment at Linate that we received? Oh well.

In the off chance that you know about Laurenz, our tour leader, you will not need to be told this, but our hotel was located on the highest hill around. I was thinking it was good we were in a motorized vehicle. It was (still is, I guess) a nice hotel overlooking the Gulf of Naples.

When we walked into the lobby, we met Bob and Pat. After getting settled in our rooms, not a big production when all you have to stow is your backpack, we set off for dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was a nice walk down the hill and a good meal, although Pat was not feeling at all well. Then, there was the walk back UP the hill. A motorized vehicle would have been more than welcome, but I just accepted it as part of the pre-ride training, something we would get a good dose of it in the few days we had in Naples before setting off on the cycling part of the tour.

No bikes, no luggage. But we were in Italy and ready for the tour. All-in-all, it was a "so far, so good" kind of a day. Or two. It was hard to tell.

1 comment:

Spiffer said...

Next time, I would like to go. I will be the one who sits on the veranda of hotels like the one in your picture and keeps your beer warm (in true European style) for your return.