This is the end of my second week in Lucca, thanks to my improving health and the “chilling-out” factor, I’ve been able to enjoy myself just relaxing and that has added greatly to my cycling this week.
It started with a wonderful Monday afternoon ride to Pisa with Rudy and Simoni, two great cyclists who have great fun on the road and sweep you up their excitement. We scooted through the afternoon traffic at around 30-35 kph till we hit some low hills and entered a long tunnel that brought us out above Pisa. The view of the city of Pisa was brilliant and soon we switchbacked our way down till we reached the centre of the city, the centro. We rode through the crowds right up to that spectacle that is La Torre di Pisa. So beautiful, familiar but stunning.
After that expedition it was a ride back out to Rudy’s La Formica Pizzeria. I met his girlfriend Beatrix and checked out the Pizzeria. Then a spin up to Monte Carlo where Rudy won the Monte Carlo Gran Fondo in an uphill sprint finish. He demonstrated his talent to me, finishing 750 metres before me. It was then back home via some lively Strada Bianca.
Tuesday I got myself a ticket to a recital of Puccini’s arias in Lucca. A beautiful night of music in a small church near St Matin’s Square, topped off with an excellent late night dinner.
There was some more cycling including a return to Matraia, a full moon ride out to La Formica Pizzeria and a first attempt at Monte Serra.
I had an incident with a Land Rover 4 x 4 on Saturday when the driver overtook me while going through a village. He misjudged my speed and cut in too early hitting me on my hand which was around the left hood nearly knocking me into wall of a house. I stayed upright and survived despite thinking I was on the way to Ospedale Di Lucca for sure. It was one of those intense 5 second moments in time that everyone occasionally experiences. I survived if not a bit shaken. He turned at the next right turn oblivious to the drama he’d caused. 99.9% of the time I have no problems, although in Australia these events happen all too regularly and there they often with intent.
Saturday evening was wonderful. My Strava friends, Renata and Paolo picked me up and took me out to Vinci to see the house Leonardo was born and grew up. Incredible to walk on the ground he did and view the vistas he saw including Monte Serra, that mountain that imposingly watches over Lucca. I imagined looking at that mountain gave him the idea for bicicletta, the bike.
We drove down to Vinci and walked around the village that his name carries into eternity. A beautiful place set amongst fantastic rolling hills and olive groves.
Then we went to dinner and enjoyed a terrific dinner of pasta and fish and vegetables.
We came as Strava friends separated by thousands of kilometres but left as regular friends. It was beautiful and I look forward to a continuing friendship. This is an obvious benefit of social media.
The view of Monte Serra we witnessed from Leonardo’s birthplace inspired me to do the ride to the top of the 900 metre peak the next day. Thank you Renata and Paolo for sharing your climbs, countryside and the earth that you live on.
Finally late on Sunday I had the incredible experience of seeing Australia win the Gold Medal over the USA in Wheelchair Rugby at the Rio Paralympics. My workmate Ben Fawcett was on the winning team. When I say “watched” I mean I saw the score bounce around a point at a time on a phone app as it wasn’t broadcast here. Then a video of the winning point and photos on Twitter of Ben getting his medal presented. Jubilation across the seas. I went out to celebrate with a pizza and win. The water sat me next to a couple Louise and Kim and I was able to talk about the victory and Protect’s part in sponsoring Disability, Sport and Recreation.
What a night to cap off the week. Sorry this is a little late, I’ve been very relaxed!