This morning we woke up and had the first bad coffee in Italy, only it was in Hotel-Penzion Boka on the Boka river in the town of Bovec, Slovenia. From a machine (a Necta) not unlike the machines in Northern Europe and Southern Italy. The front of this machine featured 12 oval-shaped buttons each representing an option, each option was written in Slovenian, Italian and English. The eleven options (in English) were:
- Short Coffee
- Long Coffee
- Coffee with Milk
- Hot Chocolate
- Chocolate with Milk
- Barley Coffee
- Barley Coffe with Milk
- Hot Water
The breakfast bar included, among the Standard Continental Items (your yogurts, cereals, breads, etc.) a number of spreads like jam, honey, butter and lard, which lard basically acted and tasted like congealed bacon grease.
On the way to the start on the other side of a Dolomite, we passed through the center of Bovec, pop. 1613 (2012 census), for an espresso in a random Café Bar. While we waited for the sever to finish pouring several shots of Jagermeister (each with a squirt of fresh lemon) for the gentlemen in front of us, Ian and I discussed the sign above the espresso machine on the bar which read (in Cyrillic letters) Super Cok Espresso, as it was immediately relevant to us at that point.
- In 2007, part of the movie Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was shot close to Bovec.
- On 22 June 2012 the Bovec Local Tourist Organisation gained attention for having a pictogram “no homosexuals wanted” placed on their accommodation catalogue. It was a mistake, because the Bovec tourist organisation wanted to use the pictogram “homosexuals welcome”. The catalogue has been removed from the circulation and the pictogram blackened. It has also been removed from the organisation’s web page.
The 16 kilometer drive from Bovec to Tarvisio (Cave del Predil) took approximately 33 minutes. We gained three-thousand feet of vertical and lost three-thousand feet of vertical feet. We drank Super Cok and listened to Solvenian Talk Radio. Nobody was on the narrow & ancient path-like road twisting and snaking up the near-vertical dark & wooded hillside. We sped.
Near the sign-in in Cave del Predil a young man introduced himself to me. His name is Klemen Cepirlo, he is the owner operator of pici-bici.com, an online fixed gear bicycle retailer. He recognized me from a Castelli (our official and beloved underwriter and sponsor) Instagram photo in which I wore a Camouflage Poler Hat, the very same hat on my head this morning. He explained that he is a big fan of Manual for Speed, he also wished us luck with our Manual for Speed kit sales. In addition to being friendly and awesome, Klemen, who looks like any number of cyclists living and riding in Portland, Oregon on any given day, made my morning. Thank you Klemen for one of the nicest most spectacularly random events of my life. For some insight into to just how random that was here is some information about Cave del Predil:
“Cave del Predil (Raibl until 1918), pop. 390, famous from the Pre-Roman age, began to extract lead and zinc in the 1300’s. They were particularly successful between the two World Wars. The mines were finally closed down in 1919 to build a museum there.”FIGHT FOR PINK
That’s it, that’s all Cave del Predil has to say about itself.
After the start we drove the course to the top of Sella Ciampigotto. At the top of Sella Ciampigotto we had an two-hour-long Alpine Experience including high-centering the rental Ford C-Max in a meadow, public Oompahing and driving the World’s Most Technologically Advanced Switchbacks.
- The Toll Station-like booth at the border crossing between Italy and Slovenia (Prelaz Predil) is Out Of Business. Boarded up, empty, closed.
- We are 40k ahead of the peloton on a closed 4-lane wide freeway deep in the mountains. We are descending, coasting but still going over 140 kilometers an hour. We haven’t seen a car in over ten minutes. Every ¼ mile we pass a Pink Arrow stapled to a tree or taped to a sign, otherwise nothing, just wind. We round a corner and come upon a black Mercedes 500SL drifting (40-50 kilometers an hour) through lanes like a drunk or someone falling asleep. We slow and wait for the driver to notice us, so that we may safely pass. It never happens and so finally, giving the Mercedes as wide a berth as possible, we pass. The driver is an old man, texting or possibly playing a video game on his phone, in full Astana Directors Kits – Track Suit Bottoms and/or Cerruti Jeans, polo with Hard-Pop-Collar and Track Suit Top.
- Two shirtless manual labor-looking gentlemen on the side of the road, leaning on umbrellas.
- An old man on the side of the road in a lovely mountain village, wearing slacks, a pink button-up dress shirt, a sweater over his shoulders, carrying a 7-8 foot spear in his right hand.
- Three Mountain Bikers lying in the grass near the top of the first major climb today, Sella Ciampigotto (1,790m), listening to classical music on a portable cassette player, or “boom box.”
- In an Alpine Lodge near the top of Sella Ciampigotto, a minute or two before the lead group was expected to pass, the owner of the Lodge pulls a a large (18x8x5) proper, copper Alpine Cow Bell off the wall and hands it to two boys watching (playfully agitated, expectant) the Giro on a television mounted into the ceiling amongst a field of Jackalope trophies.
- In the same Alpine Lodge, ordering two cappuccinos and a panini con salsicca con fromaggio (fresh bread, a splayed, just grilled homemade sausage and quarter-inch thick slab of Brie-like cheese) a piece.
- In front of the same Alpine Lodge, waiting for the race, the sun breaking periodically, a light wind, Fantasia Tirolese (instrumental) by Oskar De Tomas Pinter on the radio, I experienced a Julie Andrews-type Rapture.
- In general, it would seem, the sight of a grown man urinating in public (i.e., on the side of the road, between two parked cars, against a building wall, etc.) does not frighten European women and children, and/or if it does, nobody is talking about it.