Planes, Trains and Automobiles (no bikes)

I found myself stood in front of the breakfast buffet and didn’t know what to do. Last time I was in this position in a European hotel it was simple, eat, eat and eat. This time I am in Italy, not France, and there are no lyra clad Gannets competing for the spoils.

I am in Figline, 35km from Florence, visiting some relatives with my parents. My bike is 16,000km away in Sydney. This is the longest I have been seperate from one of my bikes since I started riding 6 years ago. I can cope with not being with my family, I can still see and talk to them, but not having a bike to ride is making me a little twitchy.

Snow whilst visiting my sister meant we had to abandon the car and catch the train to Gatwick to catch our flights

When I was back in England this summer I made a commitment to my folks that we would come to Italy to visit my uncle Franco and my cousin Giulia and her family. I decided not to bring my bike as I am only traveling for a couple of weeks and it makes the whole logistics a little easier.

Living so far away from my folks I am very conscious of making the time and effort to see my mum and dad as much as I can whilst they are in good health. They are in such good health that they could just about accomodate this trip in their otherwise busy schedule. There is also a certain degree of familiarity that comes with seeing them so regularly. It’s not like I am popping over for Sunday lunch and then heading home, when I turn up it’s for at least a week of “quality time” together. Without access to a bike I can struggle to spend a week with myself, so goodness knows how they are surviving being with me.

To even the ledger they have taken great delight in pointing out that given my age it could almost be considered a SAGA holiday. (A UK company that offers holidays for the over 50’s).

My folks with cousin Giulia in Florence

This has motivated me to visit the hotel gym and I have also taken great comfort in knowing I have made the right plans for 2018.

After completing the tour this year I struggled to find something that would motivate me as much as the thought of getting on a plane to ride my bike in France. So in 2018 I have signed up to ride stages 11 to 21 of “Le Loop”, as it is now called. This will take me to the fun parts, riiding through the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Having done the whole tour this year I didn’t feel the need to test myself to such a degree again, but I did want to make the most of a trip over, being a half-lifer is the perfect solution. This time I will be on my own, no Robyn to keep me company, so it will be a slightly different proposition.

My training will start the moment I am reunited with my bike next week. The impending Christmas break and then our summer holidays means I have plenty of time to make it up to my bike after our trial separation.

Look what the girls did to Stuart O’Grady whilst I was away!

The family know the routine, summer holidays have been booked to accomodate my need to ride. My parents visit to Australia in April will also coincide with a trip to the Victorian Alps for me to ride up some proper mountains. Yes more quality time with my folks! If they live to a ripe old age, as they are planning, I may be the only person who emigrated and ended up seeing more of their family than the relatives that stayed in the same country.

Normality will be restored and my universe will be back in balance. I can’t stop time but I can make the most of the time available to me, I’ll either be riding my bike, spending quality time with my family or working. Probably in that order.