Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Castronno is a township in the province of Varese in Italy. It's about 40kms northwest of Milan, 10kms southwest of Varese and although only 4sq/kms it actually populates over 5000 people (with about 30 of them living in the AIS housing estate). The community consists of the almost compulsory pizzeria and gelataria, and is ridden with crazy Italian drivers and ‘to die for’ café’s. On arrival at the house (pictured below), Elsa (CA administrator, house manager, supervisor, cleaner, chef, mother, friend) was the only female to be seen, along with support staff and 16 male cyclists! There are thirteen cyclists; Zak, Johnnie, Simon, Wez, Trav, Cam, Matt, Hayden, Will, Leigh, Adam, Jack and Glenn, and three mountain bikers; Paul, Lachy and Dan. Most of the AIS girls are currently racing the Tour of Montreal, and the remainder are on holidays, but we shall all meet up within the coming three weeks.

When the girls arrive I will be rooming with Carla Ryan (22yrs, QLD) and Vicki Whitelaw (31yrs, ACT). Although I dare say that I may be rooming by myself soon, as both have recently had significant success and may be headed to professional teams before the year is up! Our room consists of a combined kitchen and lounge area, a bathroom, and a bedroom with two singels and a bunk…somehow I scored a single. I noticed two things on arrival. The first, that the fridge was empty, and the second, that the freezer was empty, which subsequently led to my worst supermarket experience ever! We headed down to ’Eurospin’, which was about as dodgy as it sounds. Everything was in bulk and the variety was poor, kind of like an Italian ‘Aldi’. My first meal was a disaster, my choice of meat less than impressive, and somehow I managed to drop a boiling carrot on my chest, resulting in a pretty little burn…(shakes head)

I had been awake for four hours when the bunch rolled out this morning, which I was forced to join for fear of getting lost. It was raining…as you would expect during the Italian summer right??…and I locked it up on the very first corner of the day. From then, I rode cautiously, but not cautiously enough obviously, because I ran up the arse of a car on the way back through Varese, resulting in a large bruise on my right arm to match the burn on my chest! Some of the boys randomly turned for time trial and hill efforts, instead, I found myself at a small café after 30 minutes with Will and Hayden called the ‘Chocolate Spoon’. So logically, a mocha (coffee flavoured hot chocolate) is accompanied by a spoon made of chocolate…quite sophisticated, and tasty! So let’s just say that the café’s are the ultimate, the scenery picturesque, the driver’s crazy, and the gelati amazing! The language barrier is certainly there to say the least, but that can only improve with time...