Got myself on the train out of Siena after a frustrating half hour looking for the stazione. Turns out I have ridden past the entrance several times without knowing.
Today I have three or four trains to catch, followed by 20kms riding in the dark from Milan to Saronno.
Tomorrow I could ride somewhere, but somehow I doubt it.
Fly Wednesday, home Friday.
Yesterday, l'Eroica was nearly perfect.
We started early to avoid the midday heat, rolling out of Gaiole about 5:30.
On the first climb, to Brolio, I got into a big bunch of riders, who were either pissed or over-caffienated. This was tolerable on the climb, but on the descent I took advantage of one of their periodic team meetings to slip off the front.
For the first hour it was dark, except for the full moon which hung over the horizon, lightening as I got to the outskirts of Siena, where I had a near-disastrous misinterpretation of the course signage.
Before the first ristoro I rode a bit with Steve, one of the Americans from my hotel, but his pace on the strada biancha was a bit sluggish.
At the ristoro I filled up on crostini di frutta, pocketed some bananas, then left on my own.
Soon passed a couple of riders, and then saw no one for 15-20kms, which, with the absence of superfluous course marking, caused me to be a bit fretful.
At about 70kms a this guy on a 50s Atala caught me, churning a low gear that might have been 46 x 28. He leapfrogged me repeatedly, stopping to take photos then jumping past.
Arrived at the second ristoro probably before 10, fed, divested any remaining warm kit and headed up the hill towards Mont St Marie.
This is the section that I recce'd on Wednesday, and it was certainly easier without a full saddlebag, and much cooler mid-morning.
There was a photographer on the first climb, and a smile from his very beautiful assistant briefly made the gradient a little flatter.
I permitted myself a quick breather in the shade at Mont St Marie, and rolled on.
In '06 I arrived at ristoro 3 a sweaty overheated mess, and took a long time to get myself cooled and functional.
This time I sauntered in to find that I was 20 minutes early, and that cards could not be stamped until 11am.
Just when I had got myself comfortable, the official remembered that he was Italian and started stamping anyway.
Got stamped , grabbed a couple of bits of Nutella-coated toast, and went in pursuit of anyone who had overtaken me at the ristoro.
Reeled them all in, I think, except for Atala guy, who was in a totally different league to me.
The return to Gaiole was via the strada biancha climb back to the castle at Brolio where I rounded up the last of the queue jumpers and watched Atala guy storm off into the distance.
Made an effort to keep the speed up on the descent, then tried to hammer the 4km uphill drag into Gaiole, which, unsurprisingly, was harder than it had felt earlier in the week. Arrived in Gaiole about 12:15, when the queue in the finishing chute was still pretty short.
Consumed, in the course of the afternoon, a panini, a sizeable plate of pasta with salami and prosciutto, some wine, two beers and two gelatos.
Roamed the swapmeet, tried to get my roommate Mark Micheletti to buy a nice early 50's Ortelli with Campagnolo Cambio Corsa shifter, schmoozed with a bunch of great new friends.