Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lugano - Stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse

Saturday was our first day back on the road following European bike racing, and, as always, we all had quite an adventure! The whole family went along for the trip. We were up early and loaded bikes, changes of clothes, food, and camera into our mini van. Espy as we call her is a 1997 Renault Espace van with about 280 thousand kilometers. Espy has been running fine since we arrived, however, yesterday's adventure included 7 and a half hours of driving! It was a good test for both ourselves and the car before we head of to France at the end of the month.

Front row seat with Team Radio Shack

The drive from Hunibach to Lugano is a few hundred miles by way of the Gotthard tunnel. The tunnel is a 17km engineering feat which takes you into Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, by way of the Alps. As soon as you enter Ticino all the road signs change into Italian and everything and everyone seem to take on an Italian flair! In this region the Alps run straight down into beautiful lakes. Lugano is a lake side town located in this sublime part of the world. It was the perfect back drop for the 2010 Tour of Switzerland.

Alice and Ivano from Pellio Intelvi

As soon as we arrived, Liam and I got the bikes together and headed out on the fantastic bike course. The 5 mile hilly course was closed to traffic and we were able to get in an excellent ride and preview the course. We came off the course and met Tavi and the boys for a lakeside lunch. After lunch, we met up with a great Italian family. Alice, Ivano, and Davide were in Lugano to see the Tour de Suisse, and as it happens they had seen our blog last year during the Tour de France. Alice and Ivano invited us to stay with them at their Bed and Breakfast just outside of Como in Pellio Intelvi. Our friend Steve Bartolucci just returned from climbing to La Madona del Ghisallo a couple of weeks ago. Steve gives a great account through the Cyclists Combating Cancer (CCC-Net) of a wonderful climb outside of Bellagio to this chapel and Museo di Cyclismo. We will definitely try to take Alice and Ivano up on their offer later in the summer and will report on the Italian adventure.

Father and Sons Tour!

We headed over to the team buses and had a front row seat at the Team Radio Shack bus. The Tour de Suisse is a relatively relaxed low key race compared to the Tour de France. At the Team bus there was a friendly family like atmosphere. We were able to see the riders warm up and return from the course. It was awesome! As the last Radio Shack riders were about to go it started to rain which made the Lugano descent really hairy. After watching Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer warm up Liam and I wished the team luck and climbed the hill for a second time. This time we stopped halfway up the climb at an excellent location to see the riders come by!

After the race, we headed back into town along the lake. For a Saturday evening at 9, Lugano was very peaceful and quiet. It was amazing because I had been to Lugano a few years before, and I remember it as being fairly loud and boisterious city. Perhaps everyone was indoors watching the World Cup! We wanted to stay for the evening, but unfortunately had to make the long drive back to Hunibach. Lots of future biking to do for Liam and me in the Como/Lugano area for sure!

A quiet evening on the Lake front

Monday afternoon we head up for some great riding near Scharzenburg which is about a 30 minute drive from our house. From this little mountain hamlet, we will watch the finish of Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse! The train rolls on and so do we!

Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well!

Bill and Liam signing out!

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