. . . and so it begins

. . . although I have yet to turn a pedal.

I left Connecticut on Wednesday,  at 9:30 am. It is now 11:00 pm on Thursday in Mestre, Italy but we are six hours ahead of CT.  Not counting the one hour of sleep on the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Venice, I have now been awake for about 34 hours.

It is difficult assembling a bicycle ( or doing any task for that matter) when you are over-tired. I dropped a critical washer and it took me 15 minutes to locate it under the bed, dead center. I’m glad the room I’m in is clean, a load of dust bunnies would have been disgusting and I probably would have given up on the washer.

It is legal and accepted practice to share your bed with your bicycle in Italy.
It is legal and accepted practice to share your bed with your bicycle in Italy.

I finished the bike at 9:00 pm, went for a walk to scope out a meeting place tomorrow, purchased a couple of Peroni’s, and now I’m working on the blog.

And then, realizing that it was early evening back home, and that no one was going to be looking for a post from me for hours, I turned off the light. Now I am continuing, coffee in hand, and much happier. It is 8:00 am local time.

Ginny and Tom are on their way from Washington and will arrive at the airport around 4:30. Their daughter Mari arrives about an hour later and then they all pile onto the bus. Ginny’s friend Agnese meets us all at the train/bus station and then we take the bus across the lagoon into Venice. Then we meet the owner of our rented apartment and we all go out to dinner with Volker and Antonio.

I am retired fire fighter. I used to tell my students that if the plan they are following is too complicated to explain, it is probably not going to work. Check back tomorrow.

Volker Schmidt and Neal work on logistics.
Volker Schmidt and Neal work on logistics.

If the plan does work, a good amount of the credit will go to Volker Schmidt. Somehow, while Ginny was arranging meetings all over Europe (she is working on this trip), she crossed e-mails with Volker. He certainly helped me.  Volker picked me up at the airport saving me the slog of carrying my bike box and baggage across, around, and through town. He has helped me find a method to ship my empty bike box to Amsterdam (so that I can get my bicycle back to the USA). He has provided me with instruction on how to use my Garmin (yes, I am still struggling with that), and he will ride with us for a few days.

Volker is an interesting guy. He is a retired physicist, computer expert,  and Garmin mapping genius (he is the local go-to person and teaches classes on Garmin use and navigation, a class I desperately need but won’t have time to take). Volker has worked on Internet protocols, fusion generation facilities, and gravitational wavelength  theory across the globe, in England, California, and Europe. He was born in Saarbruken, Germany and, without moving, has changed nationalities three times (his grandfather never moved and his nationality changed five times!). Volker speaks Italian, English, German, and a little French. He now lives 30 kilometers from Venice and he rides a bike.

Volker and Antonio Della Venezia, past president of FIAB.
Volker and Antonio Dalla Venezia, past president of FIAB.

The FIAB is the Federazione Italiana Amici della Bicicletta (that’s the hat Volker is wearing). Next to him is Antonio, the past president and current Cycle Tourism Director of FIAB, similar to what Ginny does for Adventure Cycling.  He will be Ginny’s first interview. He is a long-time local, and cyclist, and knows the restaurants. He asked me about dietary requirements for our group and I suggested Italian.  We are going to have a huge group for dinner at an Italian  restaurant tonight. Hopefully. If all goes according to plan.



7 thoughts on “. . . and so it begins”

    1. I hope you picked up on the very obscure reference to The Hitchhikers Guide To the Universe. Specifically, the second, improved version of the improbability-drive hyperspace ship. If you haven’t read all five books of this trilogy, and you enjoy British humor, check it out.

  1. WOW Neal… for sure you are ready for a brand new experience… Happy cycling though Italy and ???? and don’t forget the next Tour de France starting June 2015… Keep well and enjoy your ride…. Thinking of you! Francoise

  2. How many miles/Kms are you planning to do on that trip, and from where to where in how many days… I admire that you take the time to post pictures and write texts… you are unbelievable dear friend. Wishing you the best of a trip! Happy pedalling. Francoise

    1. Approximately 800 miles. We plan to climb the Stelvio from the east and descend the north. I know we are stopping in Chur, Switzerland. We will follow bike paths along rivers through Germany, Luxembourg, mad the Netherlands, arriving in Amsterdam in late June.

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