As many of you know, we’re in the middle of the olive harvest here in Tuscany. The seasons are changing and it’s getting colder and colder every day. Not much daylight to hang on to for those long rides anymore. That’s why Nicola Vezzaro and the enthusiasts from Petit Velo got together for their year-end gathering and group ride at Poggio alla Sala, an incredible hotel in the countryside not too far away from my place. Considering that the group consists primarily of Roman residents, they chose Montepulciano as their site of choice to say goodbye to the summer. When I got the invite, I knew I couldn’t refuse.
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Petit Velo may be based in Rome, but they have supporters and members throughout Italy. Noted names like Cippolini, Bettini, Gimondi and various partners like Rai Sport and Garmin have been involved in the initiatives of Petit Velo for years because they aren’t just a bunch of guys and gals riding bikes. They are truly a different breed of cyclists. Their underlying goals aren’t just to ride in the FIVE STARS LEAGUE (grand fondo participation in the Maratona Dles Dolomites, Nove Colli, Sportful, Gimondi e Pinarello) every year, but to also provide medical support and volunteer time and effort to such non-profit organizations as Operation Smile. The team consists of cyclists who are at the top of their game in the medical field as well. These doctors and the other organizers of the squad use these events to raise capital for helping out the less fortunate and getting help to others when in need. Truly a caring group of people.
This event was also a benefit to raise money for the non-profit group Oncologia Per L’Africa’s project CANCER DOESN’T DESCRIMINATE (www.afron.org) . After a great dinner at the restaurant, bidders took to their wallets to see who would take home the magnificent custom work of Dario Pegoretti’s custom road frame and Marco Ricci’s prized carbon Parkpre mtb frame. Needless to say, there were some very happy donors.
After the bidding was done and our plates were cleared, I took off to get a few hours of sleep back home before they boys took me out Sunday morning for a workout. Due to work, I was only able to make the Sunday morning ride, but the PV team was there since Friday evening to pack in as much riding as possible. As it turns out, I was fortunate to only make the Sunday ride because it took me to the cleaners. My friend Mauro Zanca had to hold my hand for the remaining 10 or so km as my tongue, which was dragging behind me on the asphalt at that point, was really slowing me down. Was it too much Limoncello after the huge dinner? Not enough? Was it the mega- portion of pici al cinghiale that was still rolling around somewhere in the lower extremities? Or was it just my beer-based fitness program that had me on the ropes coming home? Hell if I know, but I was sure glad to get back to the Poggio as I was starting to see little green men in front of my bars coming back in. Bonking aside, we had a great time and I send a heart-felt THANK YOU to the Petit Velo team for including me in their event and for the wonderful time I had. It was a great weekend.
A special thanks also to David Panichi for the photos and lengthy discussion while fielding my flurry of questions regarding diabetes awareness and the photos from the PV archive. See you all at the Pegoretti Raduno in Caldonazzo!