Forza Toro!

The rain that forced us to stay on for another day in Golden also allowed to make the acquaintance of Robert. In short, Roberto is a Torinista from Turin. Olmo, who was the first to speak to him, got the immediate response, stated as fact, “You’re not a Juventino.” Fortunately, Olmo is partly a Bolognista, following his Grandfather, and partly a Milanista, following his Uncle. I’m still wondering how Roberto would have reacted if the facts had gone against him.

Roberto has lived in Canada since the early eighties when his parents decided it was time for a change. For the last nine years he has been in British Columbia where he has already climbed around 350 mountains , mostly of medium difficulty. In fact his dog often accompanies him to the top, or, if he cannot  make it, waits for him at the foot of the rockface. Roberto is a geologist and explained to me how the Dolomites are, in fact, similar to the Canadian Rockies, made of sedimentary rock.

His true passion is still Turin football club, which he continues to follow closely, and for this reason he remains in contact with many Italian friends and has long telephone conversations about the team with his father who lives in Montreal. After nine years in Golden, he would like now to return to Quebec, but he he is prevented from leaving by two horses of which he is very fond – they are another of his passions. It has been a real pleasure, two months after we left Toronto, to meet a compatriot in the part of Canada where I least expected it. Roberto’s brother lives in Dublin and he hopes to be able to visit soon,  perhaps with a little jaunt to Edinburgh.

Forza Toro!

Angelo

 

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La pioggia che ci  ha costretti ad un giorno in piu’ di sosta a Golden ci ha pero’ pure consentito di fare la conoscenza di Roberto . In poche parole Roberto e’ un torinese torinista. Olmo ,che e’ stato il primo a parlargli si e’ sentito subito dire, come una constatazione di fatto, “tu non sei juventino!”. Olmo fortunatamente e’ bolognista, per il nonno e un po’ milanista per lo zio. Mi sto chiedendo ancora quale sarebbe stata la reazione di Roberto se i fatti gli fossero stati contrari.

Roberto vive in Canada dai primi anni ottanta quando i genitori decisero che era ora di cambiare. Da nove anni sta nella Columbia Britannica dove ha gia’ scalato circa 350 montagne, la maggior parta di difficolta’ media, infatti il suo cane lo accompagna spesso fino alla cima, se non ce la fa lo aspetta  ai piedi della parete. Roberto e’ geologo e mi ha spiegato come le Dolomiti siano infatti simili alle Montagne Rocciose Canadesi, sono roccia sedimentaria. La vera passione rimane sempre il Torino che lui segue assiduamente ed a proposito del quale rimane in contatto con molti amici italiani ed ha lunghe conversazioni telefoniche col padre che vive a Montreal.

Dopo nove anni a Golden vorrebbe ora  tornare nel Quebec, ma lo trattengono due cavalli ai quali e’ molto affezzionato che sono un’altra delle sue passioni. E’ stato un vero piacere dopo due mesi da Toronto, potere incontrare un connazionale in una parte del Canada dove meno me lo aspettavo. Il fratello di Roberto vive a Dublino e lui spera di poterlo visitare presto, e magari con un salto ad Edimburgo

Forza Toro!

Angelo

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Nearly there

We are coming up to Vancouver now and I cannot believe we are so near. It truly is a bewildering thought as looking back over the trip the days, weeks and months have just mixed into one great big blur, as if we crossed Canada on a roller-coaster. I believe that it is down to the amount of fun I continue to have and the ever changing landscape that brings new and exciting sights.

Also the new faces that the road throws up. At the moment we are riding with a Dutch man by the name of Jordi who has proved to be an excellent travelling companion We hope to go on future cycling trips with him, even if he is on a rather odd bike on which you sit upright. It’s a hard prospect for me to grasp but you know each to their own. 

The thought of looking out over the sea on the far coast soon brings me both a sense of sadness and pride. Sadness as I do not want this to end. I feel great cycling every day. The days we do not cycle I get restless and do not sleep well at night. I am exceedingly proud of my dad and brother as well as  myself. I can only hope to be as fit and strong as my Dad at age 57, crossing the second largest country in the world as well as putting up with his two sons who are eager to conquer the world.

For my brother I do not think I have seen such tenacity in anyone before. Even though we still have some distance to go he has come this far without even as much as a week’s training before we set off. Overall I feel we have grown closer and I am looking forward to what the last push will bring us, and to seeing the rest of this vast, beautiful and ever full of surprises country that is Canada.

Olmo

It’s not about the bike

Avremmo dovuto percorrere il tratto da Golden a Revelstoke in due tappe, ma a causa della pioggia incessante che ci ha bloccati per un giorno siamo stati costretti ad una unica lunga ed estenuante tappa di 150 km con una salita di 14 km nel mezzo ed un dislivello di 600 m. Era nostra intenzione partire presto, non dopo le 8, invece per le solite ragioni non siamo riusciti a partire prima delle ore 10.

Al nostro arrivo a Revelstoke abbiamo trovato il primo campeggio al completo, 3 km fuori dal paese. Siamo tornati verso il centro e ci siamo diretti verso l’altro campeggio 2 km nella direzione opposta, dove fortunatamente abbiamo trovato posto per la tenda.
Per evitare pesi eccessivi sulla salita non avevamo nessuna provvista e l’unica soluzione era montare la tenda e trovare poi un ristorante in paese. La stanchezza era tale che non eravamo certo allettati neanche da questa idea. Non si puo dire che stessimo discutendo su cosa fare dato che le parole erano poche a quel punto quando da dietro ci sentiamo dire: ” do you guys need any shopping?” o ” avete bisogno di fare la spesa?”

Ci siamo voltati e ci siamo trovati davanti una donna alta e attraente, sui trentanni. I ragazzi non hanno risposto essendo io il responsabile del cibo, io non avevo capito. Di fronte al nostro mutismo ci siamo sentiti ripetere: “io e la mia amica siamo appena arrivate non abbiamo niente da mangiare e andiamo in paese in macchina sperando di trovare un negozio aperto, se avete bisogno di qualcosa vi facciamo noi la spesa. Mi sembrate molto stanchi” . La stanchezza mi rende sensibile a tal punto che avevo le lacrime agli occhi, inoltre il mio inglese si deteriora. Ho pronunciato qualche suono incoerente tale da imbarazzare i miei figli che richiamandomi alla realta’ sono poi riusciti a farmi dire le poche parole necessarie: “pasta, un vasetto di sugo ed un pacchetto di formaggio grattugiato”. Che cena deliziosa!

Mi serve solo a reiterare come insieme al fare questo viaggio con i miei figli cio’ che lo ha reso davvero unico siano questi incontri con gente che sembra aver fatto del mettersi nei panni altrui un costume nazionale. La curiosita’ nei nostri confronti ne e’pure prova, giorno dopo giorno.

Non avrei mai pensato di trovarmi un giorno daccordo con Lance Armstrong, che ha intitolato la sua autobiografia: “It Is Not About The Bike”, ma devo dire che questo viaggio, mi ha fatto cambiare idea. Yes Lance, it is about the people.

Angelo

 

We were supposed to cover the stretch from Golden to Revelstoke in two stages, but due to the incessant rain that had held us up for a whole day, we were forced to attempt a single long and exhausting stage of 150 km with a climb of 14 km in the middle and a drop of 600 m. Our intention was to leave early, not after 8am, but for the usual reasons we could not leave before 10am. Upon our arrival we found the first campsite, 3 km outside the town of Revelstoke, was full. We went back through the centre and headed towards the other campsite, 2 km in the opposite direction, where, luckily, we found a place for our tent.

 To avoid excessive weight on the climb we had no provisions and the only solution was to put up the tent and then look for a restaurant in the village. The fatigue was such that not even this plan seemed very enticing. You could not say that we were acutally discussing what to do, given we had barely any words at this stage, when we heard someone behind us say, “Do you guys need any shopping?”

We turned and found ourselves in front of a tall, attractive woman, about thirty years old. The boys did not respond since I am responsible for the food, but I did not understand what she said. Faced with our silence she repeated: “My friend and I have just arrived and we have nothing to eat, so we are going into town in the car, hoping there’s a shop open. If you need something there we’ll do the shopping for you. You seem very tired.” Such was my exhaustion that I had tears in my eyes, but my English had deteriorated. I uttered some incoherent sounds that embarrassed my sons who brought me back to reality and finally got me to say the few necessary words: “Pasta, a jar of sauce and a packet of grated cheese.” We never had a more delicious dinner.

 As so often before on this trip, what has made it unique, along with the opportunity to spend time with my sons, are these meetings with people who seem to have made stepping into the shoes of others a national trait. Their curiosity towards us is the proof, day after day.

 I never thought that one day I would agree with Lance Armstrong, who entitled his autobiography: “It’s Not About The Bike”, but I must say that this trip has made me change my mind. Yes Lance, it is about the people.

Angelo

From another era/ Da un’ altra epoca

The first morning in Golden, we had just got up and the water was still on the stove to make coffee when we saw a stringy guy with a grey beard and pipe in his hand coming towards us with an easy gait. He started asking about the type of trailer we use, in an accent that was clearly Germanic.

Radical Design, going against the trend, produces a  two-wheeled trailer which in reality is less of a challenge to the balance of the bike than a one-wheeled trailer or saddlebags.  Olmo’s bike, with two saddle bags is actually wider than a bike with a trailer. The drawbacks are that the trailer (unloaded) already weighs 4.5 kg while saddle bags are lighter, and  you also have to lug around a tyre and a spare inner tubes. In any case, the debate amongst cyclists whether trailers or saddle bags are better  will remain forever unsolved.

Jurg  listened and seemed to be in full agreement, confirming that in the past he had had problems with one-wheeled trailers and did not like saddlebags. Now it was my turn to ask questions, and thus I learnt that Jurg had left Switzerland in the 1960s and settled in the Yukon where he works as a trapper for three seasons ofthe year. During the summer, he collects wild mushrooms in Saskatchewan and then sells them. Looking at Jurg you can tell that he spends a lot of time outdoors in all weather conditions. He must be somewhere between sixty-five and seventy-five years old, but that is clear only after having heard when he arrived in Canada. His easy walk, that of someone who has spent a lifetime in the forests, makes him seem much younger. When he has the chance, he goes on cycling trips. The conversation could not continue for long, as Jurg had to set off for the Yukon, leaving me with so many unasked questions and so many answers supplied by my imagination, fired up by chance meetings of this kind.

 

Angelo

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‪La prima mattina a Golden c’eravamo alzati da poco e l’acqua non  era ancora sul fornellino per fare il caffe’ quando abbiamo visto un tipo asciutto, barba grigia e pipa in mano avvicinarsi verso noi con camminata agile. L’accento era chiaramente germanico quando ha cominciato a farci domande a proposito del tipo di rimorchino che io ed Alcide usiamo.

Radical Design andando contro corrente producono un rimorchino a due ruote che in effetti compromette meno l’equilibrio della bici sia dei modelli ad una ruota che delle borse. La bici di Olmo con borse e’ infatti piu’ larga delle due con rimorchino, l’unico inconveniente sarebbe che quest’ultimo pesa gia’ 4,5 kg mentre le borse sono piu’ leggere, in aggiunta bisogna portarsi dietro un copertone ed una camere d’aria di scorta. Per il resto il dibattito tra i cicloturisti a proposito di quale e’ meglio rimorchino o borse rimarra’ sempre irrisolto.

Jurg mi ascoltava e sembrava essere in pieno accordo, confermando appunto che in passato aveva avuto problemi con rimorchini ad una ruota e non gradiva le borse.A questo punto era il mio turno a fare domande, cosi’ ho saputo che Jurg aveva lasciato la Svizzera negli anni sessanta per stabilirsi nello Yukon dove fa il “trapper” tre stagioni all’anno, durante l’estate raccoglie funghi selvatici nel Saskatchewan che poi vende. Dall’aspetto si capisce bene che Jurg passa molto tempo all’aria aperta in tutte le condizioni di tempo, gli si darebbe fra i sessantacinque ed i settantacinque, ma solo dopo avergli sentito dire da quando era in Canada, tale e’ l’andatura con la quale sembra muoversi, quella di chi ha passato una vita nelle foreste. Quando puo’ fa viaggi in bicicletta.  La conversazione non poteva continuare a lungo, Jurg doveva partire per lo Yukon, lasciandomi in tal modo con tante domande non fatte e tante risposte abbandonate alla mia immaginazione risvegliata da incontri come questo.

 

Angelo

The Rockies and their Beauty

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Lake Louise

I thought nothing could match the beauty of the landscape around Banff but I was totally wrong. Lake Louise, only a wee ride away by bike has tremendous beauty with countless eye gouging views and secret spots, if you have the time to discover, that you can make your own.

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Hoodoos

We walked past Lake Louise, up and up to a stunning view over the lake with its stunning green/blue colour.

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How blue?

If only there was not the horrible looking hotel at the far end, this would have been my favourite spot. However against the disappointment of the scarring hotel, there is a no electricity tea house on top of the mountian, previously used for a base camp for past explorers, offering delicious organic sandwiches, cakes and hot chocolate, the perfect way to regain your energy for the long walk down.

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Tea House

There is a saviour, Lake Moraine. Only 11km from Lake Louise, Lake Moraine is far less touristy and a sign provides extra excitement as it indicates that you have to travel in a group of four or more, as protection from bears. It seems that they do not attack groups of four or more people together. So we joined up with two girls, called Katherine and Natalie (sorry if I have got it wrong), who are working over in BC but had taken a few weeks off for travelling. We scaled the Sentinel Pass where we saw breathtaking views and felt even more attached to the Rockies than before.

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 Sentinel Pass

Olmo

Where we leave our Hearts?

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My Dad has left his heart in Saskatchewan as he has always dreamt since a wee boy to ride through the prairies feeling like a bad ass cowboy standing up for the weak and fighting the wicked! However the extent of his fighting was to determine the route we take through the country. Standing up for the weak? Well we ride a Tyrion Lannister of a bike so in a sense we are standing up for recumbent cyclists all round the world, showing that even lying down you can still conquer.

However I disagree with my Dad in terms of where I leave my heart. We enjoyed Saskatchewan after a month going up and down in Ontario and it felt good to go flat out. I saw it as a welcome change more than a future home or a place to take your wife. (Hint for where Dad might take you soon Mum so be prepared.)

 

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For me Banff is where it is at!  I had heard from a friend, who tries to spend as much time as he can there, that it was beautiful. But no-one can prepare you for what lies behind the massive wall of rock that is the Rockies. They can be seen from three days away and are truely something to marvel at. As I’m writing this blog entry I sit in a small cafe with a cliff face to my left and the Banff’s wooden architecture, something that sticks out when you first enter the city from the mountain passes. It is ideal for sports all year round. In summer, you can explore the high mountain passes off the road but also see brave you are: a wee error and you are down the side of the mountain with your bike. It’s a short trip to Lake Louise for water sports. In the winter you cannot guess the amount of snowboarding goes on, as the city built on a mountainside. I have a feeling that my heart will be left here, which means I will have to come back to reclaim it.

Olmo