2023 Ride Calendar, Grappa Report, How we lost Tony
Topbike Euro Diary 2022
Grappa Report, How we lost Tony.
It’s lovely to be back working in Europe again, after a couple of years off. It hasn’t been a huge year, but it’s still been a lot of fun. We’re just starting our final tour for the year on Corsica, now*. It’s an absolute fave, and we’re planning three Corsica tours tours next year.
*Update, Corsica is done, and we are home next week.
Cucinare (Grappa) Report
This is more of a Grappa report. In late August we were touring Sicily, and as is our wont, we visit a town that is so far off the tourist route there are no hotels, and even less BnB’s. (The town is Cattolica Eraclea, if you’re interested, and we rode there from Agrigento). No one blinks as a bunch of ‘lycra clads’ ride into town, but everyone within earshot stops, and stares, the moment you start to speak. I placed the coffee order for our group in a bar, with a side order of Grappa for myself. Once the order was close to complete, I took a tray outside, returning for my drinks. The coffee was there, but no grappa. The bar was getting busier as the morning’s crowd bustled in, and I had to work hard to get the barista’s attention once more. I asked again for my grappa. The barista (also the owner, I suspect) was mortified. He grabbed a bottle from the fridge (it was a hot day) and quickly poured my shot. He then held up his hand for me, and everyone else at the counter to halt, while he reached for another glass. He quickly poured again before raising his glass to clink against mine, yelled ‘Salute!’, and we drank together. It made me giggle.
‘How we lost Tony’ or ‘The holes in the cheese’
On Corsica, the one tour we love to tout that we ‘never lose anyone’ as there’s not enough roads… (unlike Sicily, where there’s a gazillion Gazetted roads, narrower than goat tracks, but wide enough for you and your donkey, or bike).
Tony and Sue were riding together, as always, usually with Tony on the front. The following is all four accounts of ‘the innocente’.
MBW (my beautiful wife):
I waited on the ONE corner of the day, until you arrived. I had correctly counted everyone through, while waiting for Sue & Tony, and when Sue arrived, I knew you would have had to have passed Tony, and would accordingly wait on the corner for him, before proceeding. Then we’d all be together. I moved on, towards the front of the group, to ensure all was well, and get to the café, before the front riders.
I had stopped for a ‘nature break’ well before the junction, and Tony had continued on, to give me a bit of space. Shortly before the junction, I passed Tony (who had, himself, then stopped for a nature break). At the junction, I was directed around the corner by Emma, who rocketed ahead. I figured as I could see you were arriving at the corner behind me, you would direct Tony at the junction, and all was well. It was not until you passed me, further up the road, and I looked behind to see NO TONY, did it occur to me that you may have missed directing him at the turn. When you stopped ahead of me, I thought it better to mention the lack of Tony, at that moment.
What! No Tony? But he was in front of you? He stopped for a leak? Where? I didn’t see him! Off the road, out of sight? FFS!
I accelerate ahead, searching for a place to U turn on the narrow winding road. Find a space, complete that, before narrowly missing running Sue down on the way back to the crossroads. At the junction I realise there’s two choices besides the one we’re on, roads lead east or west, both downhill – which, of course, are both very tempting to bike riders. I choose the road west, as that is the logical one.
I gas it.
He hasn’t got too much of a start, I figure. Maybe 8-10 minutes at most. How far can he get? On a downhill run? On an Ebike? The power cuts out at 25kmh. He can’t get far.
I’ll catch him in no time. I chase the four winding kilometres to the main road junction. No Tony. Why didn’t he wait? Which way here? Right is east, and we’re heading west. West is downhill. Away we go!
90 kmh speed limit, but I’m doing a 100.
(I’ve always been a rebel)
I speed past a hotel we used in 2015, before passing the Calvi hospital turn off – glad that I have yet to visit it on this tour.
It’s all familiar ground, but still a complete absence of Tony.
Further on the road flattens out…I can see a long way ahead. It becomes clear, I’ve lost him.
He went east at the first junction.
Or the second.
I’ve lost him, for sure. It’s now obvious.
I ring Emma, telling her I’ve lost him, and to let Sue know she needs to ring him. I’d tried to call him, but figured he didn’t want to answer my Italian number in France (?).
I cursed that I didn’t force him to take a Garmin that morning, with the course map. Today he’d eschewed the offer of the Garmin, siting that he couldn’t follow it, through his dark glasses.
I look for a spot to pull over, and turn, and contemplate where he could have gone….? If he’d turned east, I’ll never find him. He’ll be back in Bastia tonight, on the east coast, before I know it. He could be halfway there by now.
But there, on the road, in the distance, ahead. Could that be a ‘wintermint’ jersey, on a bike rider? We’re almost in Calvi! I plant the foot and speed ahead, over taking the bike rider, tooting the horn, whilst careering to a halt, off the road, raising a cloud of dust.
Am I lost?
I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a donkey in Australia, let alone a working one, and while I’ve only occasionally heard of Donkeys in service, in Europe, we regularly find them on our rides. This one is up the hill from us – in fact you can see our place from here. He has a view of course, and also an electric fence (see top right corner of photo)
Above – Row 1:
Left: An Ass with a view
Right: The last SUP’er (Lake Iseo)
Above Row 2:
Left: My Steel Casati with a random Fiat 500, by the roadside, Sella Ronda
Right: Roadsign, Lipari (I reckon they could have got a few more ‘i’s and ‘s’s in here, and cracked 10 syllables)
(Images: David Olle)
RETURN TO EUROPE 2023.
We Return to Europe in 2023 and running our famous cycling tours in France (Corsica, French Climbs), Italy (Sicily, Tuscany, Piedmonte, South of Rome, Italian Climbs, Giro) and Spain (Spanish Climbs)
Ebikes available on all tours, even the climbs tours – bring along your bestie…
More than Ebikes…
We are continuing to update our complete hire fleet, with new Wilier Triestina electric bikes (Triestina Hybrid model). Find out more about riding one of our electric bikes on tour here. Better still, come and ride one.