It seemed like a great plan: Bill Speckman, owner of Your Cycling Italia, two of his clients, my new riding buddy Anna, and I would meet in Solagna, at the entrance to the Valbrenta, take our bikes with us on the train to Levico Terme, where we’d have a bite to eat and see the start of Stage 18, then ride back down the valley on the wonderful bike path.
We enjoyed the picturesque train ride, arrived in Levico, hopped on our bikes and rode to the center. I’d only been there once before and hadn’t had the chance to explore this picturesque, classy old town. We walked our bikes down the lovely old streets, impressed by the 18th century Belle Epoque palaces.
Anna, too, had a pass for the start village, and we happily munched and drank our way through the stands, savoring everything from bread, cheese and salami to cake, beer, and coffee, all the while filling our backpacks with excellent schwag as we moseyed from stand to stand.
I’m an old hand at going to Giro stages, yet every so often I get stymied. Each start or finish is laid out differently, according to whatever areas are available and suitable for the start village, podium, and race caravan lineup area. There are fences to delineate these areas and keep spectators out of the way, and though having a pass lets you pass through the gates from one area to another, the gates are few and far between, and it isn’t always possible to get to where you want to go because of the crowds. Anna and I went to one side of the aisle that the riders took to the podium to sign in, but weren’t able to get back to the village on the other side, where many of them go after to sit down and drink a coffee while awaiting the start. Bill and his clients, instead, wisely made their way to where the riders and vehicles were lining up, and got better views and photos of the riders than I did.
After the race departed we headed for the bike path, anticipating a pleasant ride back to Solagna. But it was not to be: after less than a kilometer the sky opened up, and it was obvious that this was not just a passing shower. It made no sense to get wet and cold for nothing, so we rode to the station and got on the next train heading south. When we arrived in Solagna, Anna graciously invited us all to her lovely home for a glass of wine. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, a perfect end to our day at the Giro.