STAGE 21
RIESE PIO X / BRESCIA
197km

Course Overview (according to FIGHT FOR PINK): Completely flat stage across the plains to the circuit, to be ridden 7 times.

Course Overview Side-note: This is (see above) the pithiest, boringest, shortest, curtest, most disinterested course overview to date. What has been a paragraph, sometimes more, is now one sentence. No details. No assessments. Just a completely monotone description. Not rude exactly, but definitely defeated. Reflecting the stage itself, this description basically reads: No Contest.1

Course Overview (according to MFS; Raoul, Klaus, Ian and Daniel): We can’t really say as we woke up late, went to a lake that’s a pretty big deal around here, drove to the halfway point, got on the course about two hours ahead of the race, drove the second half fast-as-fuck just for fun and because we could and because this was the last day with a sticker and half the Polizia in Italy blocking our way, arrived in Brescia with enough time to drive the 7-times circuit, parked, made a plan, and waited for this parade to end. Topo-geographically speaking the course went from East to West, skirting the whole time the edge of the Beginner Alps to the North.

Weather: It was warm, it was sunny, it almost rained.

My Notes from the Day (verbatim, unedited, rawdog style)

  1. Razzamataz. - english ladies, in the town past pedcheria, heard us speaking english and introduced herself, asked how long the race would be, we speak, she said she just enjoed the razzamatzz, the shit show hype up we just watched
  2. Wheres waldo with the wang in the white shorts with ian, yes.
  3. Lady asks me to deliver a waterbottte to her friend.
  4. Wind picks ups - something wicked this way comes
  5. Tommy d at finisj says this motherfuckign crazyy, talking about the crowd so thick cant make it back to the bus
  6. Klaus steals sticker from himself front and back
  7. Finally learned near last dau how to grab a bigglietto without stopping.
  8. Last day of the giro. I learned that italiand DO make a coffer to go. Its in a ceramic or glass cup. Its up to you to take it to go.
  9. Bigger the boobs. Bigger the discount

What My Notes Mean

[1] In the town of Peschiera del Garda (115.6km / 67m above sea level) where we got on the course, we were compelled to stop behind the Advance Caravan and watch the Advance Caravan Show—something which up until that point either didn’t exist, or did, but we never saw it because it happened so far ahead of the actual race. The Advance Caravan Show is basically a gang of super hot Italian boys and girls in fuzzy costumes and goggles and boots and short-shorts. All of them are armed with microphones and a PA system and a DJ (with Greatest Hits) and water pistols and balloons and chants and synchronized dances and all kinds of Sporting Halftime-like displays and feats and “acts” and shit: jumping, juggling and bouncing around, throwing cookies at the thousands of old ladies holding dogs and old men holding cigarettes and regular Italian folk holding pink gadgets. Basically they're getting the town P&Jed (Pumped & Jazzed) and generally psyched about the slow, bored bicycle spectacle soon to whizz by (at about 57,000 kilometers an hour nonetheless); meaning, the town and it’s inhabitants will have, should they wait around for another two hours, 30 very solid seconds of entertainment. Anyway, we watched that until it drove on to the next town, at which point we sat down to eat, next to, it turns out, two British ladies. One of whom engaged us about the Giro and it’s relationship to the recently ended “razzamatazz.”

[2] We waited for the peloton to make the first of its seven laps 2/3 of the way around on the inside of the outside edge. We were sat for about twenty minutes before they finally arrived. While we sat, I introduced myself to Graham Watson who graciously posed for a photograph with me, and we talked (amongst ourselves to be clear, not with Graham) about the dude across the way in super tight, threadbare silver bibshorts who (SUPER obviously) had a macropenis.2  We’re talking obscene. When Ian finally joined us (up until that point he had been walking around looking for his shot), we asked him to look at the crowd across from us (forty feet give or take) and point out the first remarkable spectator he saw, based on whatever criteria he fancied. He found Silver Shorts in four seconds flat.

[3] Sometimes when you walk the course past thousands of people lining the barricades on either side you, someone will get your attention and ask you to deliver something to someone on the other side. Like, for example, a water bottle.

[4] Right before the peloton finally made it to the finish circuit the wind started blowing, it seemed portentous or ominous or connected or something. Clearly, it was just windy.

[5] The end of the race was chaos. Thousands and thousands of people all walking and shoving their way along in hundreds, if not thousands, of different directions. Team Cars, buses, motorcycles. Horns, sirens, screaming and shouting. Racers trying to make it back to their buses. At some point I wind up walking beside Tom Danielson straddling his bike and shuffling along in the wake of a Garmin-Sharp Team Car trying to do a Moses on the crowd, and he looks at me—keep in mind, we’ve never really met, he’s never spoken with me, I haven't said a word to him—and says, “this is a gosh darn3 mess, right?”

Dear Tommy D: Yes, yes it was a mess. And dude, if I’d thought it would have helped, I would have blocked for you. I’m sorry you had to deal with that shit on the last day of what clearly was a really difficult race for you. Because you talked to me, I now like you. Thanks, I hope you’re doing well.

[6] Klaus stole a Galibier “special pass” sticker off a Team Car moments before stealing the Stampa (press) stickers off our car. Klaus is sentimental.

[7] After millions of tolls and thirty days practice, on the last day I flawlessly executed several rolling ticket-machine or “biglietto” grabs. I didn’t come to a complete stop and I didn’t ram into the gate before it completed raising.

[8] Italians aren't really prepared for “take away” requests/demands/needs. Yes, they can fake it—see aluminum foil lids. But really, the best thing to do is to simply leave (as in vacate, as in drive away) with your cappuccino in the ceramic mug or glass cup it came in. Yes they add up. Yes it’s a form of theft. But in the end, it’s the best way to affect a to-go order.

[9] On the way into Milano (after the race) we passed a lingerie store. In the window beside the front door was a large, full-color poster illustrating their pricing structure/scheme. Essentially, the larger the cup size, the deeper the discount: A = 5%, B=10%, C=20%, D=40% and so on and so forth.

In Summary

Halfway through the race I started acting like a child. I spent entire days vacillating, without ceremony or warning, between states of awe and wonder and temper tantrums. I met hundreds of wonderful people I will never forget. Slovenia is rad. Professional Road Racing at this level (the size!, the scope! the veracity! the virility! the vigor!) really is MORE than just bike racing, it’s more like a performance art, it’s more like the greatest show on Earth featuring the fastest human athlete animals in the world, on bikes, in the wilds of untamed Europe, or as we like to call it, Italy.

Dude, what words? There are no words. It’s colorful and epic and there is nothing like watching 207 dudes expertly destroying themselves 21 days essentially in a row in game-changing mountains and in mercurial weather. The faces. It’s all about the faces.

  1. I’d argue even for Mark Cavendish. I mean, who else was going to win? []
  2. It's a term. []
  3. Some words altered and/or omitted. []