Thankfully I have been able to avoid using the awful cliche of naming this post the ‘Italian Job’ or referring to Stallions etc, and I will continue to uphold this Italian cliche avoidance as much as I can over the next week.

Right, its on to Leg Two of the Dirty Nomad world cycling tour and with maximum excitement its off to Italy Friday night, SQ368 direct to Milan no less… Why the extra excitement? Well, Italy is a new country for me and has been on the list for some time, so quite stoked to be finally getting the chance to get involved in its goodness (and not just watching it on the Giro).

Yes, I may be one of the only cyclists going to Italy and not France in July, but this time I am not alone! Waiting for me at the airport will be this ‘Man’, Clarso:

"Real men do recovery rides on Alpe d'Huez"

“Real men do recovery rides on Alpe d’Huez”

I use the term ‘Man’ as a more correct description would be a science experiment by a deranged vet contracted to a defence company who is looking to develop the ultimate cycling weapon… Taking the DNA from a selection of beasts to produce what you see above. Chassis of a malnourished mountain goat, speed of a cheetah thats been direct injected with nitro, balls from a blue whale and finished off with the cunning of a coyote that has taught to play chess, all rolled into one formidable package. To add to the considerable palmares, also happens to be an expert in redecorating hotels.

My general expectation (much like the last time I rode with Clarso) is that I will see a lot of him riding up the road when the gradient gets anywhere over 6% (if I am lucky), if Contador dances on the pedals then that would make Clarso a cycling Fred Astaire.

We head north from the go to Trento, where we get set for my debut Italian race, the Charly Gaul Gran Fondo. Seems Charly was pretty handy on the climbs, to the point where he picked up the nickname ‘The Angel of the Mountain’, apparently also copes well with the cold and became an epic legend in 1956 when he took everyone to pieces by 8 minutes on the climb we will finish on this Sunday. Thanks to Charly’s fever for climbing, this is what lies in wait as a tribute to the man:

There's something out there... And it ain't no man...

There’s something out there… And it ain’t no man…

Faaaaaaark! 142km’s with about 4000m of climbing?! Hmmmm… Usually the distance wouldn’t be a problem, but I suspect the elevation will be and with my Whistler training camp doing the opposite of what I needed to be doing to take on this course, it will be quite an interesting experiment (of the Alien probe variety I presume).

The next few days will see some awesome riding around Trento, taking in some BIG climbs… I don’t have the whole itinerary yet, but I know Monsieur Clarsen will have it wired and it will be laced with that odd combo of suffering, insane scenery and the buzz you get from riding cycling history and folklore. The highlight for me I presume at this point will be the Stelvio, which is a SERIOUS climb, the pics should be gold. Although it appears I have been beaten to the punch (this is why I am running a compact crankset):

A few switchbacks then... 13.5kph on the horizon...

A few switchbacks then… 13.5kph on the horizon…

Then its back down to Varese and to spend some time catching up with George at his place in Como, I blew the accom budget in Whistler, so always happy to have a free place to crash, decent pool as well:

"When you come for the BBQ Jimmy, bring some of that L&P cuz, its golden shit"

“When you come for the BBQ Jimmy, bring some of that L&P cuz, its golden shit”

Thank fuck I have a new Rapha top to be able to fit in around those parts.

I will then be bringing you daily riding and exploring updates from the Varese/Como area… This time I promise to get more than 3.5km’s outside of the secured compound. Unfortunately there won’t be any Gnar shredding on this occasion (unless shit goes SERIOUSLY wrong on an alpine descent) and the videos will be a bit more sedate, but I can smell there are a lot of good times to be had over the next week…

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