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Entries from May 8, 2011 - May 14, 2011

Guest Blog: The Webber’s in Italy Day’s 1 & 2

Hey bike fans!

Our first two days of riding in Italy are complete, and they've been amazing! We arrived in florence without any travel snafus and amazingly our tandem box fit inside the first taxi we tried. It was a tight squeeze! Soon after I was unboxing and building bikes on the sidewalk outside our hotel. Our plan is to leave the bike boxes here and retrieve them before flying out again next week. Pizza and beer at a sidewalk cafe and we hit the sack to catch up on the jet lag.

webber italy 1

The next morning we rode thru the center of the the city to meet John Weissenreider at his workshop. John is an old mountain bike racer from Boulder who now lives in Florence and makes his living as a Luthier, a master guitar maker. John went over the maps with us and highlighted some routes for the week ahead. He's ridden and guided on these roads for years, so his advice was key. Best of all, he jumped on his city bike and joined us for the first 10k of our ride, leading us on a twisty escape to the countryside south of the city. We followed him up cobbled alleys and secret roads we could have never found by ourselves. We pedaled thru Batoli's home village and John pointed out faded graffiti that read " viva Bartoli" from decades before. He finally turned us loose and we headed into the famed Chiante region. The next 2 hours of riding were amazing, both scenic and difficult. John had sent us off the main roads, and that meant incredible climbs, narrow lanes, and few cars. After climbing for over 30 minutes in the granny gear, I no longer doubted all the warnings about the steep Tuscan hills!

webber italy 2

Soon we arrived in Panzano in Chianti, home for the night. A small B&B with home-cooked dinner was our reward for a hard day on the bikes.

Day 2 we kept riding south on some of the best roads I've ever enjoyed. No traffic, great pavement, awesome scenery, and plenty of steep climbs. We passed thru Radda, and rode portions of L' Eroica, an epic course and tribute to the riders of the last era. Tomorrow we ride more of the course and some famous strada bianca dirt roads.

Tonight was mixed emotions, we watched the sad Giro tribute stage, and felt very grateful for our families and many special days on the bike. We'll ride tomorrow with more appreciation for life.

Til then, Pete


wouterweylandtIn 1993, I had just begun to truly dive into mountain bike racing. It was obsessive for me. It surfaced all of the emotions I had racing BMX as a kid. It gave me goose bumps to dive back in. I looked at myself year after year becoming stronger. Leaner. Understanding that the attention I was applying on to myself and my health, made me feel better. Balanced. Happy. I rode. And rode. And rode.

Around that time I started following the exploits of Jason McRoy. A former BMX’er. An up-and-coming dual slalom and downhill rider. He was doing stuff that only a handful of folks at the time would even dare do on the primitive equipment being ridden at the time. Launching himself so gracefully. No footers. Flowing through corners. Floating. He was, and I say this unabashedly, beautiful. You couldn’t help but see this young life and smile. He radiated. You emulated his look, his moves, his style.

Jason died in 1995 riding the first cool thing he got as a sponsored rider for Specialized: a Harley.

The feeling I had was very surreal. I did not know him, but the image of him…of me…dying so tragically deeply saddened me. it was the first time in my life literally, that I could see how I could be stopped…as I felt unstoppable. How could that specimen of fitness, of life, just evaporate and stop existing? How could we never again be allowed to see his moves and flow on the mountain?

Today these feelings happened again.

Wouter Weylandts died tragically at the Giro d’Italia. Looking at this young boy, he just oozed pro cyclist. A sprinter. A prototypical Belgian powerhouse. Another example who likely was inspiring a new generation of riders with his panache as McRoy did for me. I could not bear to see the images of him on the tarmac with paramedics working frantically to try and save him. I saw myself for a moment lying there. I saw one of my friends for a moment lying there. It drove such a deep pain through me to see this life who moments before was flying, his tubulars gripping the corners of a typical Giro descent. His legs spinning. His hands in the drops. Suffering but he was suffering in a Grand Tour so the pain had to be sweeter…or so fans like us dream as we watch our heroes like Wouter do what we simply can not.

And now he is motionless here on earth.

I pray that Wouter experienced nothing when it happened. That he simply transitioned from this life to another…continuing to fly down the descent, reaching the finish line with arms up in victory. Like we all dream. I pray for his family and friends. I pray that they can harbor the feeling of his beauty and the excitement he gave us fans and not the the unspeakable fear Wouter experienced today. A fear that we all tuck into the recesses of our brains as cyclists. I pray for us, that we…our families, our teammates, ourselves…never experience this.

My sincerest thoughts are with you Wouter. Rest peacefully.