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A byproduct of getting lost on our way out of Trento, we accidentally drive into the center of Rovereto, yesterday’s finish, which we never actually made it to yesterday, which explains maybe why I erroneously referred to the town as Rivendell, which if you’ve read the books and seen the movies and have had the good fortune to tour the area in and around Rovereto, which I haven’t, having only seen photographs of the town in question on the internet in addition to passing by it on the autostrada two days earlier, you’d know was an honest mistake.

From the north, five kilometers before you’re there, you whizz through a notch, make a sweeping left turn and basically dive rather suddenly into an entire world you had no idea existed until that very moment. That world is called “Lake World” on account of it being 97% a giant blue alpine-ish lake. The other 3% is sheer mountains and German tourists. The lake is called Lago di Garda and the town, today’s start, on the northern tip of the lake, is called Riva del Garda. Riva del Garda looks a lot like the inside of an Italian Summer Wedding-themed Vegas hotel, only it’s outside, and everything that’s meant to look like something not only looks like something, it actually is something. The ducks are real, they’re not facsimiles of ducks, they’re real ducks. They can fly, kinda, and do everything actual ducks do. The castles are real. The cobbled streets are real. The old guys with canes, the jet ski policia escort and parade, the canals, the young lovers (earnest and fumbling and full of future), the pink balloons, the fresh flowers, the steeples, the church on an island, the garlands and ivy, the trumpets, red carpets, gold capes, white gowns, folk dancing, opera music, airborne rice, rose petals, candles, tears of joy, sobs and mid-air bouquet, ALL REAL. Only it wasn’t a wedding, it was the start of a bike race.

 


 

We had a plan: drive up the course ahead of the race, shoot the race 10k in, drive back to the wedding town, get on the freeway, loop around the mountains, and meet the race at the finish, time and luck permitting. At the sign-in the plan changed when it was suggested that we could drive the course all the way to the categorized climb, which was bigger and presumably better than the bump 10k in, and then surf the back of the pelican all the way into the finish town—not the funnest driving experience but whatever, at that point it would only be another 30k and this way you see better shit and are guaranteed the finish. It was the perfect plan but we fucked it up when we drove past the marginally-well spectated switchbacks with okay light and some halfway-decent vantages in the hopes that the top, five kilometers further up the road, would be as good, if not better.

“It wasn’t.”

The problem is conflicting truisms:

  1. Never leave a shot to get a shot. The shot you got is probs the best shot.
  2. Switchbacks on the front of the mountain are more interesting than the top because the top is just the top.
  3. Go to the top. The top is the top for a reason. Glaciers aren’t halfway up a mountain, they’re at the top. The best churches, gondolas, cabins, castles, helicopter pads, etc., aren’t near the top, they’re on the fucking top. Every time.
  4. The light will always get better at the top. The views are always better at the top.
  5. The action is on the slopes.
  6. You never know, keeping going, you’ll know it when you see it.

It’s cool, the cloudy concrete wall is perfect. The universe is perfect. This is where I am, shooting a cloudy concrete wall on top of a boring flat hill, talking to an Italian police officer and avid British football fan about why Steve, who lives in Manchester, is for neither Man City nor Man United but rather Tottenham because he’s from the South and you don’t switch teams when you change where you live in England, unlike America where that’s common enough. I accept this with open arms and mind. The light in me recognizes the light in you, bla bla bla bla, I’m sure the switchback photographs would have been better but is that what I need in my life right now?, is that what you the reader need in your life right now?, or are we better for the knowledge that Steve’s continued loyalty to the Tater Tots was fascinating to a Police officer from the town of Lodrino. I hope the answer is Tater Tots and cloudy concrete wall because…

 


 

High speed surfing the back of the Pelican down a mountain in the midst of an impassioned merv exodus. Parting the swarm with the front of our car and the horn of our car. Mad Dogging. Four-wheel drifting. Downshifting. The smell of rental car brakes. Chaos. Some lady in a Panda Suit on the course. A dude in a tractor hard-salmoning up the mountain. Passing scooters, motorcycles and cyclists on the inside, the outside, the middle, in a ditch, through a ravine. James Bonding the fall line, skipping turns. Pink Panther-ing the roundabouts. Keystone Copping the lights and intersections. We make it with time to spare before the first lap through the finish, we park, there is a giant upside down Viking boat made of aluminum and a basketball hoop in the field by where we leave our car.

Steve finds a pee bush. Jim, who gave us this great day, also told us about a cobble section that we never find. There is a brass band. The pelican WHOOSHes through a roundabout. Twenty minutes later it’s raining biblically. Lightning, thunder, it’s dark basically. Thanks tent. Sorry Steve that you can’t get in the tent cause you only got one icon. I didn’t know!!! Next time. On cue, it stops raining with exactly one kilometer to go. Thanks God. Lols. I mean thanks Universe. Lols. Thanks random-but-well-timed meteorological event.

    High Points
  • Thomas Dekker stopping to high-five AND bro hug me on his way to the podium zone. I could pretend I didn't notice but I did notice, so why pretend? He had sweat pants on, I had sweatpants on. His sweatpants had pedigree, my sweatpants had pedigree. He was wearing a Stone Island jacket, I was wearing a Mission Workshop t-shirt. It’s been two years but we picked-up right where we left off like no time had passed at all. #twins.
    Low Points
  • Steve lost his ancient iPhone. Fuckedy-fuck-fuck. He felt horrible, I felt horrible. I bought him a grande Americano at the Autogrill, but shit like this takes time.
  • The Hotel Eur along with the surrounding area of the Hotel Eur. First of all you can see Russia from our balcony. Second of all, anybody up for a walking tour of the Apocalypse? Stray dogs, smoking vents, abandoned tanks, abandoned Penguin zoo exhibits, empty flag poles, piles of cheap jeans, sneakers and styrofoam cups, etc.
Dear [email protected]:

For years now I’ve been following professional bike racing throughout continental Europe and America. Day after day, hotel after hotel, wifi login after wifi login. And I’m ashamed to admit that it only occurred to me right this minute that you and your email might actually exist, and if you did, by this time you would have gotten so much spam email from thousands of various hotels around the world as a result of my callous disregard for your privacy. I sincerely apologize.

Riva del Garda

Lodrino

Iseo

Part 01

Iseo

Part 02
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