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Nobody told me and I’d never noticed on any of my previous visits but Milan is basically tucked into the Alps; when you fly in from, say, Schiphol, one minute you’re skipping across glacier-covered massifs and the next you’re standing at a bar eating cappuccino and insalata de tono while you wait for your luggage to show up. The drive to Trento is three hours long and utterly unremarkable. There’s a toll, maybe two. And the Autogrill signs, of which there are many, are so good because that ‘A’ is so good #graphicdesign. Someone I respect and appreciate but on this point utterly and absolutely disagree with so much so that I won’t name him here—it’s not Steve Hockett but his first name might also be Steve (it is, his first name is totally Steve)—remarked that Trento was in the bottom of a hole. Not true. Trento is nestled in the ample bosom of a nearly-Alpine valley and surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, peaks and buttes decorated with Game of Thrones-type structures and gondolas and a fast-moving river called Adige that you can run along should you be into that kind of thing.

Speaking of which, it would appear that everyone runs in this town and they run, not surprisingly, along the Adige. Today, after the Runway Race, which, have you ever noticed that Time Trials have as much in common with Runway Fashion shows as they do with racing? Anyway, after the Runway Race Steve and I went running along the river and it was great: there were babes of all varieties and for all interests/proclivities, wildly-poling walkers, tiny dogs, a selection of CrossFit equipment courts and stunning views. Of course we needed the exercise because Performance Journalism™ is real. Which reminds me, we ran yesterday evening as well but that run was more about checking out the start area, which we did, which was helpful but otherwise a totally boring story so let’s talk instead about the Hotel Everest.

That’s where we’re staying. It’s great, the rooms are small and the shower is stupid because Europe but they have parking and a restaurant serving, among many other things, pizza and filet of steak that you can order Tyrolean Style. This morning we had breakfast, also in the Hotel Everest, at nine o’clock and for eight euros a piece. Then we tried to do a chromakey-based PSA project extolling the virtues and nuances of our new website and brand concept called Mythical State Of in our room but failed, in large part because Steve thought, unreasonably, that I would show up to Italy with a roll of duct tape. I didn’t, I had about a foot of 1” gaff tape which was insufficient to properly rig our green screen.

We drove to the start which was just a mile-and-a-half away because we thought we were going to drive to the finish halfway through the day. We didn’t, we never left the start. A mistake?, maybe. I don’t know. Here’s the thing, Time Trials are stupid unless:

  1. They go uphill.
  2. They are, in fact, Team Time Trials.
  3. You only care about photographs in the “ramp zone,” those are great.
  4. You’ve never seen the fun helmets before, everyone has to see those helmets at least once.
  5. They’re done on regular bikes. Not aesthetically-challenged fake future bikes.
  6. What you mean by “Time Trial” is that you ride a freaky aero bike with a stupid seat and antlers through town in reg clothes and shoes to go to the bodega and/or to pick-up some takeaway kebabs. It’s a fact, 86% of humanity thinks Time Trial bikes look best with plastic bags hanging from the bars.
  7. They’re a hundred kilometers long.

We forgot to bring a towel to dry the windshield off so that we could properly apply our race caravan Stampa stickers to our Opal. I also forgot my umbrella and snacks. I brought them to Italy, they just didn’t make it to the race. I also forgot the rain jacket for my camera. Did I mention it rained for a bit at the start? Anyway, for 25 euros we bought an official Giro d’Italia Beach Towel, it’s pink #GirodItowelia. That one single purchase solved all of my various problems, that’s the power of a blanket, I mean towel. Let me explain:

  1. I used the towel to dry off my camera.
  2. I used the plastic bag the towel came in to make a makeshift rain jacket for my camera, #hobotech
  3. Had we needed to, we could have dried off the windshield before applying our Stampa stickers.
  4. I wore the towel over my head when the rain was strongest. Umbrella, canceled.
  5. I soaked each corner of the towel in a different calorie- and nutrient-rich substance—Coca-Cola, Marmite, coconut milk, and turkey gravy—to snack on as needed while wandering around for hours looking for something to photograph.

The rain stopped. Kristof Ramon tried to convince us that we could drive the course with our Stampa caravan stickers and that that was totally legal and allowed by the race. Encouraged, even. He was very certain. We asked him several times and in several different fashions. While the race was actually, literally happening? With riders on the course? In our car, with our Stampa sticker? A resolute yes. Cautiously, tentatively, we made plans to do that because if we drove the course we would know where best to stop and take photographs—otherwise we’d have to drive parallel roads and guess at what might look best. Plus this way parking in the finish town of Rivendell would be straightforward. Then we ran into Jered Gruber who told us, infactically, no. Nonononononono. Don’t do that, you will get in trouble and they will yell at you in a language you don’t speak. Also, it’s a TT, it’s not worth it. Then he casually mentioned he knew where he was going along the course because last night he did a Google Street View session and found a great spot. Steve and I tried to watch our respective stories on Netflix last night. Me, The Terror but while it was all the way Monday here it was only barely Monday there so I couldn’t watch it. Steve, Evil Genius but Italian internet.

Dear Kristof,

 

Dude, you know that as far as Italy is concerned I’m on probation right? Milan-San Remo ring a bell? You were there. Are you trying to get in my head bro? Is this because we’re competitors? Not cool. #thanksjered

 

Sincerely,
Daniel

So Steve and I walked around for hours. I went to the ramp. That was basically the highlight of my day. Maybe the accordion guy was a highlight too? And the “tex” truck in the caravan.

“But otherwise, because of the flat, unimaginative, bummer quality of the whole entire sky, the day looked and felt like a dirty sock. And dude, when you have that “dirty sock light” there’s really nothing you can do.”

That DSL light is so bad and has such a profound effect on your day and mood. It starts to be about more than just the shit quality of the light. It starts to feel like it’s on your head, the sock is. It starts to feel like you have a damp and dirty off-white tube sock draped across your forehead. Like someone’s drawn a Sharpie dick on your face—only three dimensional. Which is worse. It becomes a malaise. It’s Day One of the Giro, in Italy aka the best country in Europe, and I have dirty sock malaise forty minutes in. Steve couldn’t even get to the ramp because he has an insufficient number of icons on the pink badge hanging from the pink lanyard around his neck. He has one icon. My badge has two. Two will get you to the ramp. That means Steve had the same dirty sock malaise and only the accordion guy to keep him going. After we gave up on Kristof’s Cannonball Run caper we decided to walk the course from the start area in the direction of the finish area. Because the race was in kilometers we thought we might make it. We didn’t. We passed a grocery store, a park, some apartment buildings, a lot of pro-Palestine graffiti and a roundabout. Not a good haul but it’s only day one and it’s a TT. Plus it’s Italy and Steve and I are co-parenting a giant pink beach towel so shit’s not that bad.