May 27: Abano Terme
I was convinced after yesterday that our good riding days were over, now that we were further southeast. But thankfully, I was wrong!
This morning was beautiful, but it promised again to be a hot day. Kurt and I wanted to ride a bit faster today, so after leading our usual group out of the city, Kurt and I took off and started hammering.
We rode very hard, with Kurt and I trading off now and then. The countryside was beautiful. We got to the base of the Euganean hills, started to climb Teolo pass.
There were tons of cyclists riding. We rode hard up the climb, passing many cyclists and being passed by others. As we reached the top, we were reminded of Skylonda where we live, only instead of there being tons of motorcyclists at the top, there were tons of cyclists, all decked out in their club garb. It was a very colorful site!
We started to climb Mt Madonna, which starts at the top of Teolo pass, and then thought better of it. So we turned around and started in on the descent. Again, we still were riding hard, passing random cyclists on the hairy descent (lots of hairpin turns).
As we got to the bottom, I espied a group of cyclists ahead. I thought it would be fun to ride with them to get practice with my Italian. So we hammered to bridge up to the group. Once we caught them, I tried talking with one of them, but was mostly ignored. Because they weren't riding that fast, I decided we'd just continue on, so I continued up to the front of the group, with Kurt on my wheel.
We were still riding hard, and looking back, I found the group on my wheel. After a while, I pulled off, and Kurt took over. We traded places again, and this time when I pulled off, one of the guys from the group pulled through. As I faded back, one of the guys (in his 50s) smiled at me and enthused "Brava!".
There were four of us trading pace in the front of the back. Kurt was stuck behind someone who didn't want to pull through. So we continued to ride hard until for a while. Along the way, the guys had decided I was worth talking to, so I was able to have a small conversation with a couple of the cyclists.
I should make a note here. We have seen very few serious women cyclists on the road. Even fewer than in the Bay Area. So I think perhaps the cycling clubs dismiss women as serious athletes. It's also interesting that folks are always surprised when you tell them you're American. Most of the foreigners here are German, so they typically will assume you're German if you're not Italian.
Back to our story... Since we had been pacelining, we hadn't been paying much attention to where we were in relation to the cue sheet. I asked one of the guys where Abano Terme was, and he pointed back to the way we came. So we said our goodbyes, and had to reorient ourselves and find our way to our hotel.
I stopped a person on the street to find out what city we were in. "Mi scusi, dove siamo?" But she didn't speak Italian! It turned out she was German, so Kurt asked her and we found out we were in fact in Abano Terme. Phew!
We wove our way into the town center, and fumbled around for a few minutes, until we espied the van trying to squeeze between a fountain and a post. This was somewhat like trying to thread a camel through the eye of a needle. Kurt and I stopped to try and help, but all we could do was watch helplessly as Alan tried to direct Marty through this small space. They had already folded the side-view mirrors back. In the midst of the maneuvering, a cafe owner came out and started yelling at them in Italian. It was quite funny, really, although I'm sure that neither Marty nor Alan found it funny at the time.
We found the hotel together (just around the corner). It was 10:45, and we were the first folks in (despite having been the last to leave as usual), met almost simultaneously by John and Birdie.
We got a convenient 1st-floor room because we were there so early. The elevators in most of the hotels are very small, and in the mornings, there is always a big delay trying to get on the elevator. So although there's not much of a view from the 1st floor, it's nice to be close to the bottom!
After freshening up, John, Birdie, Kurt and I went to an outdoor cafe along the road. We sat in the shade and consumed a nice lunch, while we watched many from our group come in, and some join us for lunch.
By this time it was starting to get hot. We all went for a walk, looking for a bike shop that someone had told us about. We walked and walked and walked, but the shop was not to be found. We returned to the hotel empty handed.
Kurt rested until dinner, and I found Faye and Mary and walked around town some more, again trying to stay out of the sun.
We discovered our air conditioning didn't work. Someone from the hotel had to enable it with a key. It turned out that almost everyone had the same issue. Some lived with it (and didn't sleep), and others did as we did and called the hotel. It was really hot, so air conditioning was definitely a must!
The hotel we're staying in, the Hotel Ariston Molino Terme, is a spa hotel filled with elderly Germans. The hotel is known for its mudbath treatments, for which you must have a doctor's notice of approval before you can have a mudbath.
I arranged to have a massage tomorrow morning before breakfast, because my back has been bothering me in the mornings. I figured it couldn't hurt!
Tomorrow is a rest day, and we may go to Rovigo to watch the end of a stage of the Giro. Or we may do something entirely different. It depends whether I can get someone to go with me. Kurt is not feeling well, so he'll just stay at the hotel to rest.