My Tuscan Sun

I am home again in Wisconsin.  The past 10 days I spent in Tuscany and my soul has returned to a calm state once again. I highly recommend it.  I urge you. Beg you.  And ask you kindly.  Go into the Tuscan hills and find the peace and calm that resides there. Of course I rode my bicycle. I also ate some really great food and drank some of the best wines a man can partake in.  Most of all I rekindled that thought in my head and spirit in my soul that I have to travel to feel complete inside. It seems that I am somewhat of a wondering soul for lack of better words. It makes this planet I live on a little less intimidating and fills my psyche. I have always traveled.  Most of the time I forget to even tell my family that I am going.  It’s a natural part of me that I take for granted.  It makes me feel like I am going to a familiar home again.  A place I have never been to but instantly belong.


Catherine and I enjoying the epic view above Cortona

The roads I traveled at times were really hilly which also made for some of the best rides of my life.  Oh I did some flatter routes because I still hate climbing but in the hills is where the magic in your cycling heart happens. I rode by myself most of the time.  Once, I tagged along with a group of older Italian men who did not speak English and I do not speak Italian.  We all understood the universal language of taking your pull at the front though. I could hear them chatting away and it sounded as if they were lifelong friends catching up on the news of the day or what they did since the last time they rode together. I was just the uninvited guest who set the pace and blocked the wind. Pulling at the front it made me feel like I was contributing to the group and that somehow I was part of them and not just the new guy. I felt obligated to spend a few extra turns at the front because I may have been interrupting their weekly ride while they may have been trying to solve their world issues.

On my last day of riding I finally got to ride with Chip Camillo. We had talked about riding together for many months.  We would just go as far as we needed to. We headed high into the Tuscan hills.  We climbed far above Cortona.  Each of us spinning away at our own tempo.  Clearing our minds of the mundane thoughts and worries that we would have to pick up once again when we got back to the States. Catherine Carter and Ann Camillo joined us at top of the 15 km climb for a Panini lunch and a breathtaking view of the valley below. The air was cool.  The view from a movie I have never seen.  The ride was special and we knew it.  It is the kind of ride that makes you think “this is why I ride a bicycle”. After lunch Chip, Ann and I continued on until Ann decided to turn back and head down towards Cortona. Chip and I continued onward and upward. We had a breath taking descend into a small Etruscan walled city with cobble stone streets as wide as a small cart.  It was as though time had stood still for hundreds of years.  It gives me faith that there are still places in this world where you can go and feel the warmth and history of the people who live there.

Climbing with Chip in the big hills

I will come back to you Tuscany. Chip and Ann Camillo, Mary and Craig Wright, Curry Gibson and Dave McDorman, Richard and April Drucker, Tom and Susan Gallagher and my wife Catherine Carter. Thank you for the great memories, great wine, the great food, and epic rides. When I conceived this trip I wanted to see each of you find your own Tuscany.  Through your words, laughter, our shared experiences and your warm smiles you helped me once again find my Tuscany and in turn I hope you have found a special place in your heart for Tuscany.  Yes, I will return to you Tuscany and when I do, I will proclaim I am home again.

A fine evening with friends, lots of wine under the Tuscan sun

Three days of good training miles

Last week I took off from racing to catch up on some work around the house and get in three days of long miles on the roads of southern and western Wisconsin. For my chore I had a bicycle that someone gave me for a tune up that really had been left outside a bit too long, so that meant a lot of brushing rust off and plenty of oil to get it to shift and work properly. Safe to say I got it done just in time for the warmer weather.

Saturday 6:45am I was on the road. I was supposed to meet my friend Tim “Skinman” Skinner for a ride to New Glarus but we got our wires crossed and missed each other. I ended up making a big loop ending up in New Glarus so I could have a short run back to Verona after my coffee at the Fat Cat Coffee House. A medium sized cup of Cafe’ Mocha warmed me up and helped shake of the brutal wind that I had to fight for the previous 35 miles. After coffee it was only an 18 mile ride back to Verona with plenty of hills and wind to keep me company. Made it back home by 10:30 just in time to mow the lawn and clean out the garage.

Café Mocha at he Fat Cat Coffee House in New Glarus

Sunday I was at it again, this time with Chip Camillo and Tim. We headed towards Mount Horeb or Horrible as I call it, with the intent of doing the Ironman loop backwards. We got about 20 miles into the ride when click, click, click, my bike started to shift into harder gears.  I knew exactly what the problem was—my shift lever had worn out and would need to be rebuilt. So for the next 15 miles I had to manually hold the lever in the gear I wanted to ride in and limp back to Verona for repairs. $15.00 worth of springs, and $18 worth of bar tape later, I had all the goods I needed to rebuild the lever. So the rest of Sunday afternoon I spent rebuilding my shifting lever and putting the ole DeRosa back together again. A couple of Leinies Reds made short work of the job!

Monday finished up my three days of training and boy did I save the best for last! Chip and Tyler Byrnes worked me over something fierce. The wind had died down enough for them to drag me out to Dayton at 26-28 MPH! Now don’t get me wrong I love to go fast but if I have 17 miles of climbing after that? You can guess what happened next. Out the back and trying to chase back on was the work for the rest of the day. After I did manage to catch back on (they stopped and waited for me) I limped back home and fell asleep in the chair.

Next weekend I am planning on doing some more riding with friends. Looks like it could be another 3-4 days of training and mowing the lawn again.

See the Lose Big Winners!

Insanity is Coming!  


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