STAGE 03
SORRENTO / MARINA DI ASCEA
222km

Team: Daniel Wakefield Pasley & Ian Marshall
Course Overview: From Sorrento the course moves east along the coast to Salerno (65,8k), then south along the coast (124,2k) to Marina Di Ascea. Towards the end the course leaves the coast twice; once at 141k to climb 551 meters to the top of Mercato Cilento, and again at 184k to climb 587 meters to the top of Sella Di Catona.

Weather: Warm bottoms. Chilly tops. Wind. Moving Clouds. Sunshine.

Objective(s): Skip start (Sorrento is chaos incarnate and parking is a Problem), leave in time to get well ahead of the lead cars and rolling enclosure, stay ahead of race until the last and largest climb of the day (Sella Di Catona), photoshoot, jump in caravan and coast to finish.

MFS Overview:

It all depends on one’s perspective.

Perspective A) I was unable to photograph the start. I only saw the race once. I got sunburned (again).

Perspective B) The government of Italy closed down the Amalfi Coast and two rather spectacular Coastal Mountain Passes so that I could drive a 6-speed rental car the entire 222k as fast and as recklessly as I wanted. To ensure I enjoyed myself they chose a spectacular spring day and lined the course with thousands of shouting fans, all of them in matching pink tee-shirts. To ensure I was safe they cleared my route of cars, trucks, animals, debris, etc. They also blocked and/or barricaded every inch of my route. Additionally they lined the course with several hundred Police Officers, Military Personnel, Civilian Militia, etc., to manually remove any unforeseeable impediments and to wave me along with one arm as the other was invariably working to physically hold back my air horn blowing fans. In a number of sections they escorted me for a kilometer or so before waving me past at well beyond the posted speed limit. They instructed me to honk/beep my way past/thru anything they couldn't get to first. They were unconcerned about seat belt laws, speed limits or any other restrictions or limitations.

Towards the end, when Tokyo Drifting through Your Eyes Only was starting to bore, the government of Italy arranged for Ryder Hesjedal and 206 others to ride past me in the middle of an ancient mountain-top village last visited by the outside world in the 13th Century when Hannibal and his elephants stopped to re-up on Mozzarella.

Today’s Tunnel Count: 16 (13 coastal, 3 inland)
Today’s iPad-as-camera Count: 8

High Points:

  1. Learning about the hashtag: #YELLOWFLUO (or #GIALLOFLUO) from Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, aka the Bubble Butts, aka a UK Pro Continental Team and Wildcard Selection.
  2. Kiss Kiss Radio
  3. Skidding to a stop (mid-course) in front of Café Bars - once in Salerno, once in Agropoli (approx. 112km) - for Latte Cafes and Cappuccinos for take-away (in general, Italian Café bars are not prepared to facilitate take-away as evidenced by the practice of custom, ad-hoc aluminum foil lids), parked half on the sidewalk, car running, music popping, etc.
  4. Leap-frogging any and all of the many Giro Merchandise Sprinter Vans working the gathering crowds in advance of the Peloton.
  5. Listening to the GMSV (Giro Merchandise Sprinter Vans) PA-born Pinocchio-Maglia-Rosa soundtrack.
  6. Rolling tires, squealing tires, wind-wind, driving-friction-wind, the noise seagulls make.
  7. Driving underhand-style, elbow braced against my thigh. Phone in the palm of my shifter hand.
  8. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team car that buzzed me with a drive-by laser noise while I was peeing on the side of the road in the fog.
  9. I heard/learned a new Eastern European House lyric: “Check my pulse it’s stupid/Somebody curb this cupid.”
  10. I saw my first English Bull Dog in a pink Giro tee-shirt, it was Official (the Bull Dog’s owner was also wearing an official Giro tee-shirt).
  11. Listening to Toto's Rosanna, L O U D, windows down, at 30-70k an hour through Santa Barbara’s hairpin turns and switchbacks, the crowd parting last minute-style and only when 100% required. An old man slowly but forcefully shaking the pinched fingers of his left hand in my direction as I passed him, tires rolling a bit.
  12. Watching fireworks and helicopters over the top of one mountain, from the top of another slightly taller mountain, across a wide, deep valley.
  13. Reading “Be faster, play cotton tires” on a bumper sticker on the back of a Vittoria Team Car.
  14. Eating a slice of French Fries and Hot Dogs pizza.
  15. Waiting for Ryder and the rest from the top of Catona with two dudes in hi-vis vests with Protezione Civile/Gruppo Lucano written across the back, listening to the race on their walkie-talkies, understanding some of it.

Low Points:

  1. TIM 3G (Italian Cellular Network) is unreliable and mercurial.
  2. Scrambling (VERY last minute) to get onto a narrow ledge-of-a-curb to get out of Ryder’s way, accidentally popping a pink balloon taped to the wall with my ass, scaring myself in the process, almost falling on Ryder.
  3. Eating a slice of French Fries and Hot Dogs pizza.

KISS KISS RADIO’S UNOFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK TO STAGE 03