How about 893 vintage cyclists heading off for a ride thru the Tuscan countryside, definately an experience I will always remember. The real thrill was being out on the road with people who shared the same enthusiasm as I do but not the same language. Memorable moments were many, riding out of Gaiole in a mass of bikes, being out on the road one minute with a group ,then suddenly alone with your thoughts the next, fantastic views of the countryside and stone buildings and bridges. The real memories will be the people, on a tough climb on an unpaved road(white roads they are called and are the reason we are all here,this event was founded to not only celebrate the riders of the past but also to decry the paving over of these historic routes)........a wheel appears to my right,slowly coming up next to me is a rider in his 70s , on board a ancient single speed bike (actually a coasterbrake bike ) he comments on my San Francisco Wheelmen jersey.......I try a few words in spanish...he smiles and says something about a visit to SF or maybe it was a wished for visit...then off he goes slowly pulling away...slowing to talk to other riders the same dusty hill.....I watched him pass 10 or 12 riders all the age of his son or grandson before disappearing over the crest of the hill. The San Francisco jersey became the subject of a number of exchanges , sometimes in Italian ,sometimes with an interpreter (or 2 or 3) once it produced a full rendition of "When you come to San Francisco wear flowers in your hair" or "San Francisco.........San Francisco" (but with an accent) I pause at a hilltop crossroads to enjoy the panoramic view and am joined by 2 riders who stop and proceed to introduce themselves, we talk about our bikes (one is riding a 1959 Masi Special) and the ride up the long hill, my broken spanish no match for their Italian. The long solo pull back towards the town square, the official in the dark blue suit shouting something that was drowned out by a band playing Toscano music ......the finish line flashes past ....and then it was over.................my only regret not riding a longer route to have more of the comraderie to enjoy.
BOB FREITAS finally adjusting to the 9 hour time difference in MILL VALLEY,CA
PS Anton (the fellow with the Masi ) comes up and motions me to come eat some Pasta (sounded like "Pasta Party") we go to the tent across the street and shovel a plate down ,the whole time he is talking enthusiastically and I am only picking up every second or third word. I have got to do this again!