Giro D’Italia Cycling Camp 2020 Memories

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It has been a crazy year for us. When we started planning the Giro Camp for spring possibly the Covid was already “cycling” around the world but we could never ever expect our life would change in such a crazy way.

The Giro Camp was planned for May. We already had several friends who had decided to register for the Camp but then for different reasons (quarantine, fear of the virus and so on) the group became smaller. Some friends will come in 2021. We have offered them to refund their deposit but some said… “No way! we will return next year!”

We had guests from Uk, Australia, Switzerland and Italy (yes this is the first time we have Italian guests).

The Hotel we have chosen is the Casale Romano Resort right in front of “The Alcantara Gorge” entrance. Saro and Sabina with all the girls that work for them have been fantastic hosts for us. They took care of every single request, managed to feed vegan, celiac and “regular” people at the same time. We had a new authentic Sicilian menu every night, we had fruit and extra-virgin olive oil from their land. Most of all, they made us feel at home. The breakfast and aperitivo time with Saro after the rides were great! We could talk for hours about everything and you really feel his love for this land.

 
 
THE INITIATION

The first day we didn’t know each other but, as we always say, connecting people on a bike is always easy. We had time to dress in our new SCC clothes (yes we are cool!) and after 10 mins we were already friends. After 15 mins we started with the dirty jokes (yes Sicilian do this sometimes!). We climbed up to Motta Camastra (in The Godfather Movie the town is called Corleone but it is not!). After the first hours, our new friends understood that they had to forget about flat roads in Sicily.

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THE GIRO ON ETNA ONCE AGAIN

Today Giro was headed to Etna. We know that when Giro arrives in Sicily timing is always “the problem”. You know the rules or you end up not watching the stage. We had already parked our car at the top of the climb with food and clothes the night before. This year the shops and cafes on Etna were all closed because of the virus but we had enough food and cold beer to stay at the top for a couple of days! One of our guests had also his “portable office” with him and, believe or not, he had an important meeting right when Caceido was soloing to the finish line. We also experienced the Sicilian rules. Police stopped us at the bottom of etna climb… 15km to the top. No problem. “Guys you cannot ride up there! Just walk… then, if after the corner you jump on the bike and I cannot see, well is not my problem!” 
The stage itself was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Etna is tough but the last 3Km of this climb are really hard. You could see the Corridori fighting and this was only the 3rd stage of the Giro.

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SAVOCA AND THE GODFATHER

The Savoca Godfather day started with some technical problems with the brake of one of our guests. We are still trying to understand why some bike companies decided to hide brakes inside the frame. Yes, it is nice to have an aero bike but when you have a problem you must always order new spare parts. If you are on holiday it is not nice. BTW we have many bikes available so the problem was solved… except that we had to “park” our friend Rad at a restaurant in Taormina in front of the Isola Bella with the best view! He texted us… “Guys don’t worry!!! the good thing is that I had a good lunch, a beer and a couple of glasses of wine! The bad thing is that I already had a beer and a couple of glasses of wine!”
The rest of the group instead continued to Savoca and Forza d’Agrò with our guide Aldo. The view from up there is really stunning.

SICILIAN STONEHENGE

Megaliti dell’Argimusco. If you don’t know this place you have to go there, it is a hidden gemstone in Sicily! You first climb from a small road in the middle of nowhere, reach Roccella Valdemone and have a coffee with old local hunters. We also had a nice Business meeting with “Mamma Lucia”. She said next time we ride up there she will cook pasta for us!
After the climb, you reach the beautiful Forest of Malabotta and the Megaliti dell’Argimusco. This is what we call the Sicilian Stonehenge. You are surrounded by green hills with sheep, cows and windmills and after an easy gravel road, you can see these rocks sculptured by the wind. The downhill to the hotel through the Gothic Town of Randazzo is always nice. Great tarmac, easy corners and great fun!

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NOVARA DI SICILIA AND THE GHOST TOWNS

Novara and the Ghost towns. Today our group size increased with the presence of the strong rower Harrison and a “less strong” Italian guy. The climb was part of the Giro d’Italia and before going down to Novara di Sicilia we could stop in Sella Mandrazzi to give a look at the Aeolian Islands. They are 1hr away on the ferryboat but they really look close from 1175mt! The stop in Novara, before the visit to the Ghost Town of Borgo Morfia, was really nice. Bruschette and beer were more than enough and let us return to the hotel with the tank almost full.

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THE SECRET ROAD, THE PERFECT DAY

The secret road. Last day we had more friends with us from northern Italy (but surprisingly they are nice). This road is what we call the secret road and is really a ride that you will never forget in your life. We start along the Alcantara river and then we stop in the small village of Graniti. From there, things start getting hard with a climb of about 500mt and almost 20%! The rest is just, climbing, climbing and more climbing on a gravel road untill we don’t stop in Monte Kalfa. The view and the history behind this place are unique! Everyone loves this area and this ride. Then it’s time for a stop at the Cafe where they know us very well so we improvise, with good results, as waiters because Mrs Pina, the owner, was busy preparing our Bruschette. Now it’s time for the long descent and another climb to Taormina and finally to Castelmola followed by an authentic Sicilian Granita.
Last but not least… we found out that most of the guys at the Camp love triathlon and swimming of course. So before leaving the island it was time to complete our trip with a nice swim at sunset at the world-famous Isola Bella of Taormina.

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It was a great week for all of us. All our guests said they are going to return here to Sicily for more cycling, more food, more fun, new stories. We also know that when the Covid crisis is over and we can travel freely around the world we will have new friends who will be happy to show us the most amazing rides also in their country too. We live in a beautiful world. We should just learn to respect it. Well, Sicily is way better!!!

Kidding!
tommaso

p.s. Thanks to all Sicily Cycling Club crew. Aldo, Damiana, Danilo, Guglielmo, Valerio, Alberto and to all our sicilian friends.