Frequent updates from the Giro at: https://www.facebook.com/KickItaly2017/
Kick Italy / Giro stages info:
Three years ago we have kicked through the 100 th edition of the Tour de France. Every stage just one day ahead of cyclists. Under the Arc de Triumph we said to ourselves: “Done, and never more…” Unfortunately there are three Grand Tour races, big three week cycling stage races. In 2017 it would be 100 th edition of the second oldest one … and also the hardest one … Giro d´Italia. In May 2017 the KICK FRANCE 2013 team comes back to roads as team KICK ITALY 2017 – Giro d´Italia by Footbike. Around 3500km divided into 21 stages up to 250km each and vertical drop of 6000 height meters wait for us in Italy. Up to 20 hours of hard work on footbike every day. And next waking up again early in the morning to go on… We are back, because 100 th Giro is big challenge. Tour de France is the oldest and may be most famous stage race. Giro is the toughest one. Unpredictable and usually cold and rainy weather, meters of snow up in the mountains, steep and long Alpine and Dolomite climbs. The question stands – Is that really possible? We believe it is. We go for it…
Frequent updates from the Giro at: https://www.facebook.com/KickItaly2017/
Daily blog right here by Alpo Kuusisto:
Day 15 (Valdengo - Bergamo) 20.5.
Maria Turra, a scooter dealer from Milano region, joined us today with her husband. And Matteo with his friend from Bologna too. Few Czechs left yesterday so we are now rough twelwe. It was sometimes hard to count to seven to ensure everyone is in the group. Now it's about impossible.
We are approaching the high Alps. Around Stelvio on monday there are 3500m peaks. All snowy of course. It's May. Through the day we could enjoy mountain views on the left. Monte Rosa especially. Just like on Etna and Blockhaus days they make us circle the mountains during the approach. Search for a weak spot like a hunter before launching the attack.
In the evening we enjoyed a great dinner with some wine and whiskey. And an unfortunate but somehow expected incident that left one car locked with keys inside. Another crew member showed he's not only wizard with bikes but can also improvise his way into cars without leaving a mark. The insiders can guess the players of the act.
Later we had half an hour of real rain. Water flowing on streets and people avoiding walking outside. That was relieving. After two weeks of only sunshine I was nervous of how we would do in the rain. Like getting few blisters, chafing and flu right away. But it was only water. It was fun to kick in puddles. We were warm enough. And dry in half an hour after rain ceased. Of course a full rainy day or two in colder mountain stages is tough. But this was a nice test.
It's so easy to get used to comforts. Warm showers, fridges, king size beds, buses running on time, toilets, elevators.
Support car being always available. And quick to find out you can well do without. If you just take that step and try. We had cold shower today as well. And it was unpleasant thought and nothing really bad when we just had to go there.
Oh yes, also Rene (kicked with us le Tour 2013) and Elisa visited us today. This starts to be like a scooter sport festival.
Day 14 (Tortona - Oropa) 19.5.
How refreshing to ride on 15 degrees cloudy day! Mechanic team assembled fenders for all scooters. A rear fender really is a must if you want to ride more than one day in rain.
Three more musketeers arrived: Guido, David and Jurek. That makes total 17. Plus four support cars. We split the group again in two.
Day 13 (Reggio nell' Emilia - Tortona) 18.5.
Again a main roads day for Giro. We chose our own ways to approximate finishline direction and agreed to stop when official stage length 170km was done. It's a good idea to stay alive if you want to kick full Giro.
A super good sign is that body starts relaxing after the first week shock. It's getting used to being all day on footboard. Repeating same movement over and over. Physiotherapist confirmed the muscles feel better each time. Both Czech and Finland had late springs so we all started a bit unprepared.
Tomorrow it's gonna rain all day. Interesting to see how that affects us. Vaseline for the groin, plastic bags for the hands and neoprene socks for the feet if necessary.
We were today ten. It was better to split the group in two for maneuvering in city traffic and busier roads. Vincent and Niklas have joined the pack yesterday for a week and are alternating driving/kicking so of them is always with us. Honza B and David joined today (they have their own supporter). Four more Czechs will join us tomorrow and Milan is coming back for the king stage on monday. Kick Forrest kick!
Day 12 (Forli - Reggio nell' Emilia) 17.5.
Today the Giro is proud to take the A1 motorway through Apennines. High bridges and tunnels. We are not proud, or rich enough, to take the motorway. So we faced two options:
Be puritan, ride Giro route until the motorway, find alternative road and return to Giro track as soon as possible. This would have given us 10km extra distance and 500m extra climbing.
Take some shortcuts to get equal length and climbing to Giro stage.
We are already wise (worn) enough to choose the latter. Very nice valleys, once again.
Some bikers we met were even less puritan. They just jumped into their support car and rode the motorway part. Good solution. No complaints.
Later we rode down to Bologna into a heavy urban traffic. The last 75km there was a 50cm wide space for us between roadside bushes on the right and continuous carflow on the left. Riding was fast (draft from passing traffic) but not especially relaxing. Tomorrow Giro will continue on this strada statale for the whole 160km. We are trying to find another route again.
What I thought today:
In the morning we had the same main road for 30km but that was before 6am and quite different. We'we ridden here through many towns before sunrise. The lovely Italian old town centers have a special charm when they are asleep.
Visiting Venice in November or Faenza at 5am. Yes. Heck, I haven't even ridden in Helsinki (my hometown) at 5am.
Day 11 (Firenze - Bagno di Romagna) 16.5.
Well relaxed after two rest days we started a shortish but very hilly stage in the heart of Apennines. Today we had Yedoo team with us. Practically all workers of this scooter company had a five day holiday in Italy. And that included kicking the aforementioned 160km of ups&downs. No better way to learn to know your products. Some stayed with us 50km or more, some took their own pace. Kuba Bostl (the head engineer) rode down the first hill with me so fast I almost shoot out of one corner :) He has a motorsports background I recall... Just shame the scenery was quite similar to Krkonosze mountains in Czech-Polish border. To drive all the way to Italy only to ride in home terrain. No, this was a perfect stage really. Roads were small and quiet. Highway side with a twenty people group is no fun.
Since this is a Kickbike company blog I mention that also Kickbike company workers have ridden total 1700km of this Giro. And probably over 4000km before this is done.
Just as we rode to the finish a small accident happened right beside us. A young boy crashed with his bike to an elderly lady. Blood on asphalt, bike here, shoe there, both boy and lady a bit panicked. None of the team was confused in any way. Couple of people were enough for taking care of the victims. Others quite calmly packed our boxes and the car. When ambulance came we were ready to head to camp. I'd love to crash with this team.
What I thought today:
Now that Etapak, the one and only stage race in scooter sport has died, there would be a call for something similar. This riding day before a grand tour is fun and a great idea. Plenty of atmosphere with some fans lining the roads and a really well marked track. We should go to ride, not complete stages, but best parts of some stages in le Tour de France.
As an uncompetitive group ride of course. But if someone would take times it wouldn't hurt would it?
Etapak basic recipe was good. 4-5 days. 10-70km per day. Flat and hills. Add
Europes most fabulous roads with legendary names. Cheering fans, bikers to tease, just great atmosphere. Plus some publicity.
Stage 10/21 (15th May) - 39,8km time trial
Foligno - Montefalco
Sunday 14th May - no kicking, a well deserved day for recovery
Day 10 (Foligno - Montefalco) 15.5.
Yesterday we had a rest day, like every Sunday. It was quite full of gear shuffling, map work and of course sleeping. We also had a lunch in a restaurant. 18 persons total, kick and support teams.
Five of the support team leave home and three come to replace them. One fysiotherapist instead of three now but this coming week should not be very hard. It seems we all will continue to the Alps if we avoid accidents and infections. After that nothing is sure yet. Passo dello Stelvio isn't yet even opened after winter. Lots of snow and avalanche risk I suppose.
Today there was a 40km time trial which is equal to a rest day. Our everyday friend on the road, Laurent Lanfranchi, told he had also been on le Tour 2013 like us. But did not promise to meet us on Vuelta 2045. We still have many days to convince him.
What i thought yesterday:
Death actually. Nearly every kilometre of roadside in the south is decorated with crosses, flowers, candles and photos of young people. Compared to Finland there is of course more people and more traffic. Also driving habits are a bit more reliant on destiny. Passing in blind corners is the normal standard. And then graveyards seem to be really well maintained and often visited. Maybe also roadside shrines live longer than in Finland. I did not think there would be a better or a worse way, just different ways. Get driven to death or bored to death?
What i thought roday:
Lighter subjects. It always seems to be a perfect time of the year here. Giro rides south to north in eternal spring. Or late spring, just turning to full summer. My personal favourite season is actually early spring, when first snowfree patches appear abs rivers are full of snowmelt water. But this ain't bad either. Easy, easy like Sunday morning.
Stage 9/21 (13th May) - 149km
Montenero di Bisaccia - Blockhaus
Day 9 (don't remember the start village - Blockhaus) 13.5.
Today we switched southern Italy suddenly to Tuscanian landscape. Stage ends on the famous biking climb of Blockhaus della Maiella. Snow capped Maiella Mountains have been visible the whole day. We like circled this fortress looking for a weak spot to attack from. And found it at Roccamorice.
Right now we have a break by a small chapel 1/3 of the climb done. Crew doctor is taking care of Jarda's blisters. We hope they dont get as bad as in Tour de France four years ago.
Ok, finally in the camp close to the 10th stage (it's 2:30 local time). We will spend here two nights. The final climb to Blockhaus was really really beautiful. Honza said the sunset was best he's seen on scooter. He's also surfing and I suppose you get to see lots of nice sunsets in that sport. Road was blocked from cars which is nice for us. Especially when our camera team got a permission to enter to shoot some film for RAI.
There's been seacoast every day so far. We left the sea now for good. Bye bye. Rest of Giro will be landbound.
Stage 8/21 (12th. May) - 189 km
Molfetta - Peschici
We decided to sleep late, half past six, because of a long yesterday's evening and soon coming rest day. Really flat, straight, boring roads for the first half. Bikers might ride fast here but we were falling asleep. From halfway on, again a most beautiful coast and road. Hilly of course like most of Italy. Don't know how others think but I feel our team found it's rhythm of climbing hills today. A pace we can keep up as long as necessary and fast enough that walking is seldom necessary. Excellent!
For the night hours (we finished two-three hours after sunset) RAI reporters came to shoot some video of us. Let's see if that makes some people on the route recognise us.
Stage 7/21 (11th. May) - 224km
Day 8 (Castrovillari - Alberobello)
After more than 17hours and 230km stage 7 done. Tough fight, higways, brutal wind, big crisis. We have to go through 2 more stages to reach a free day. But it would be really tough...
About 5pm we decided to drop speed and aim for something like 11pm finish.
Rest day coming on Sunday so we can afford to finish later and sleep longer in the morning.
This Puglia, the Italian heel, was a strange land for me. Roads were lined with stonewalls and hedges, open green meadows and low forests. All around you saw stupa-like round stony buildings, the Trulli. Maybe in scorching sunny weather this had been closer to my image of Mediterranean area but now huge wind and fast flying fog around us made me think we are in Normandy or Brittany.
Diverse land this Italy.
We had some fun practicing echelon, or terezin, in heavy sidewind. Otherwise moods are quite tired.
Giro takes a motorway today. So do some bikers who ride ahead of Giro like us. We go for 'safety' and find sideroads and sometimes jump over motorway fences. It's easy (tailwind for the first time!) and flat but long stage. We hope to finish at 10pm.
Finally I caught us in the blog = I'm not one or more days late in writing.
Woke up today at 4:27 when cars were supposed to start 4:30. I was not the only one using all three hours of sleep so we were a bit late. Breakfast in the car.
Stage 6/21 (10th. May) - 217km
Day 7 (Reggio Calabria - Terme Luigiane) 10.5.
It's so good to start at 5. Roads are quiet. No other reason is needed. We also get to see the sunrise. And like today, the sunset too. There's just much more cars at the sunset time. Today was highlighted by once again classic coastal road (first 50km), a very boring Kansas-style straight roads (100-150km) and Jardas unexpected but handsome somersault between those. Two seveths of Giro done and two of the seven injured but still going strong. Lets keep this rhythm and we all finish in Milan bruised.
Vasek was also going strong this evening. 217km seems to be OK if it"s not too mountainous.
What I thought today:
It's visible southern Italy is one of the European frontiers. Try, hope, despair. People taking roads they would not if given a better chance. Some of these ways can be criminalized but what will that help? We in the team are just rich tourists who can afford to come here for fun.
Stage 5/21 (Pedara-Messina) 9th. May - 159km
Pedara area is one big bunch of together grown villages. As there is no signposting when we start early in the morning we tried to navigate by map and GPS. In principle it's easy but in practice it's not possible to take actual Giro route with support cars. Bikers often ride wrong way on senso unicos and do other moves only possible on closed streets. We also had turn-right-to-st-vigilio-in-850m-type instructions but only few streets were named in the corners.
With few stops and U-turns we made it out of this first 20km village. I was pleased to note that while official signposters usually pass us around lunch brake, they never reached us today.
Physically the day was quite easy. Last 50km along flat beach boulevards of Sicily east coast. We got to camping and sleep around sunset at eight. A new record!
What I thought today:
There were many places with asphalt work going on. It's good timing to get money for road improvement when Giro is coming. But ain't one day before race a bit risky late? Stereotypically this is the Italian or southern way.
Another Italian way is to be flexible in traffic. If we shoot some photos in the middle of a street the traffic stops to wait. And we are not the only ones blocking roads here. Drivers stop, find a way around and move on without thinking wasting twenty seconds of their time was certainly illegal and probably punishable.
Stereotypical Finnish and northern way would be to have the roads taken care of well before race and frown upon anyone making you wait for more than two seconds.
But is it possible to combine these two worlds? To get things done in time, relax and not to mind unexpected delays. (Or be always late and stress about people behaving wrong if you prefer that.)
Stage 4/21 (8th May) - 181km
Days 4&5 (rest day and Cefalu-Etna) 7.-8.5.
Rest day was used for traveling from Sardegna to Sicily. Both support and kick team had some last minute changes that called for quick reactions. Support team because they found out that there after all was a direct ferry - instead of a Rome ferry plus 1000km drive. Kick team because we noticed the flight was at 10 not 11. In Palermo we met main part of the support team. In Sardegna only four person team to cut the costs, now about ten. Physiotherapists too. And Milan Jelinek who had traveled from Czech just to kick with us the Cefalu-Etna stage.
That stage is most memorable for me for the small wonder that Giro had found still one more beutiful route than previous days. No descriptions, just check our instagram & facebook photos. I think Tour de France really was pretty but there's no contest to these first days. Let's see the end result after three weeks. Seems May is the right time of the year to visit Sicily. Blossoming and very green. Remains of winter snow on Etna.
First 60km along sea coast with tailwind. It felt like we'd done nothing before starting the climbs. Lots of bikers today. Some locals, some doing the same as we. Giro one stage before the race. We didn't see many of them in Sardegna despite using full days from dark to dark so maybe some groups skipped the island to cut costs.
There was French guy Laurent Lanfranchi who had crossed the sea in same ferry with our team. And Geoff Thomas three tour challenge.
Day turned to hot 30 degree full sunshine. Both Czech and Finland have suffered a long winter leaving us quite unprepared. Lots of walking on the last climb to Etna. Except for Milan Jelinek who rushed for a breakaway and got freezed for half an hour on the top waiting for us and the support cars.
We reached the finishline on lava fields right after sunset. Very tired indeed.
Stage 3/21 (6th. May) - 148km
Easy flat windless morning. Good advancing brings good mood on this kind of trip. Maybe enough sleep next night? Even better classic scenery road today. A twisty high cliffed coast. Route delle poetto if I remember right. If that brings up nothing then google Amalfi road. It's not much different. Maybe these coasts are geologically same stuff.
In the evening we had a restaurant dinner in Cagliari. We planned to order pastas and pizzas but the cook was proud of local cuisine and brought several plates of mussels before we ordered anything. Or maybe he had too much mussels getting old. However, food was good and none of us got sick. Not badly anyway.
Stage 2/21 (5th. May) - 206km
As second day, third day plus rest day have long gone I'll cover them shortly:
Team is getting better into rhythm, rest stops are more organized and we are quite fluent in highway tunnels.
Stage 2: Olbia-Tortoli
Mountains and 221km. Quiet and beautiful. Much more than le Tour. From Dorgali south the road was one of the finest l've ridden so far. We high on a cliffside, green 'hidden' valley with wineyards way below us. Deep canyon in one end of it. Sunset behind the mountains.
Final descent begun way above the clouds. Soon we found ourselves diving into the dense haze that was colored intense yellow by the last light of sunset. Visibility was at most two hundred meters. There was no world around. Just us, short stretch of asphalt and the cliffside on left. To the right nothing. I hope someone has captured this well to kickitaly instagram. Color of the haze darkened fast and our world shrinked to the range of headlights. As we rode the twisty mountain road down quite fast objects appeared and disappeared in just few seconds. Scene moved fast, actors stayed. Tough to describe the surreal setting here. Better experience that yourself.
From Palermo: Stage 1/21 (4th May) - 221km
Sardegna was much harder than Corsica four years ago on le Tour. Longer and hillier. Hot at times. We had wake up at 3:30 each day and finished at 8, 10 & 5 pm. That's for excuses of not writing.
We just landed in clear weather and I must say Sicily looks very steep and mountainous from air. Also in the flat parts.
To the past days:
Day 1 (Alghero-Olbia) 4.5.
Early wakeup at 3:30 like every day in Sardegna. Some first day confusion with packing and roadworks. 160km drive to the start. On the road from 6:30. We got pretty soon to rhythm with breaks and navigation. Breaks are still a bit too long. Palec has GPS and I have paper maps. No-one has stage profiles. At halfway we have a nice surprise when Giro route markers pass us and we notice la corsa is clearly marked this year. Vacek starts talks and they hand us small info booklets with profiles for each day. Giro does not often come to Sardegna so villages are excited and welcoming the race. Lots of pink. New asphalts. Ciao ragazzi's.
North Sardegna is scattered with Henry Mooresque rocks. It's windy and when we turn so does the wind. This continues all three days through Sardegna. If it's not calm it's headwind. We push to the finish. First day with still some extra energy. We tease bikers. Young gun Kuba takes a roundabout too fast to get some sexy road rash in various parts of his body.
What I thought today:
Not much. Stomach was upset of sudden change in daily routine and protested all day. First tour day combined with physical agony don't encourage deeper thoughts. We shortly talked with Kuba about what's new in Finnish politics. He mentioned the passive income trial had made news in Czech R.
I'm fan of this idea for it's simplicity and hope it would turn out to work. On this tour - or on wilderness hikes - the source of happiness is simple life. Kick, eat, sleep. Repeat. Quite many people seem to favor simplicity even with a bit less wealth. My utopia society has a minimal set of complexity: flat tax, basic income but not much other socialism, no subsidies. Basketball has simple rules that are clearly not fair - they favor tall folks. But cause not much complaints. The inequality is accepted. Society will unavoidably also favor some qualities. It's useless to try to tune everything equal. Strength used to be an advantage. Now it's multitasking brains. I trust this inequality is also taken as given. But complex rules one does not fully understand cause feeling that your not in charge yourself. That some others get benefits you don't. =Unhappiness. Basic income would be one step towards more simple society. So I hope it would be a successful trial.
What we did today, 3rd. May, a day before the start
Sleep late. Organize gear, take photos, check maps, load routes to gps, check phone numbers, tighten all bolts and spokes, charge lights and navigation, make interviews, tighten all bolts and spokes again, pack for tomorrow and label all gear. Eat, go for a test ride, swim, socialize. Enjoy some slivovice.
What I thought today:
This scent tells it's south europe. Something you never find in Finland. It tells me about a beginning adventure. But this traffic. Intense. The downside of being here.
In amateur sports events, and maybe in real professional sports -I don't know- one has time to perfect the lesser details. 25 or 28mm tire, citrus or black currant drink taste, test ride or stretching? At this level one needs to focus on the most relevant and skip the rest. Take the gear you are given, just ensure it works. Don't be picky - be a professional and do the job. Eat enough and feel fine.
My rule of thumb to pick the relevant: soft things first. Mood and mind are more important than body. Body in turn goes before gear. Of gear the clothing is above the bike. Tires, grips and brake pads make more difference than metal parts. The last thing to concentrate is perhaps the wheel bearing.
Or as a kick race preparation & packing list, in the order of importance:
Like what you are doing
Do the right trainings
Know where you are going
Rest of the gear
Let's sleep. Wakeup is 3:30. Car starts 4:00. Breakfast in the car. 160km to the start. Early bird gets the quiet roads.