Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spoleto Today, Motogiro next week!

Lorraine and I made it to Spoleto Wednesday. It was as easy as a long plane trip can be! It was hard to get off the flights after 14 hours arriving at 8AM and hop in a rental car to drive two hours to Spoleto. But Spoleto seems like a wonderful and sleepy town. There is a big festival here annually sometime in the summer, but it is quiet now.
Thursday I met with my friend Pirro and checked out my Mondial 175. I took it for a very short test ride and repacked all my spares and tools. I had brought many things to supplement my existing gear and to replace used up consumables. Everything looks good. Pirro will bring the bike to Roma for the giro. (Thank goodness I brought a new helmet. The one I had left here sat two years in its dark bag and smelled quite musty.)
Yesterday we visited Assisi, a really wonderful town. Its just beautiful. And the Cathedral of St Francis is stunning, especially the lower cathedral and the tomb. Giotto has great works all ofver the ceiling. You could spend a week there just studying the ceilings.
And last night we sat in a little cafe, only inches from the route of this years Mille Miglia. The 300 or so fantastic vintage cars streamed past as Lorraine and I sipped our drinks and cheered them on!
Tomorrow some friends are meeting us in Spoleto and we will spend the day socializing and checking out some sites. Then Monday we leave first thing in the morning for the Motogiro. At 2PM registration starts and the tech inspections for the bikes follow with rider briefings in the evening. We leave for Pescara on the first leg Tuesday.
As usual, with the hectic schedule of the race it may be impossible for me to post updates. If I cannot, I will be sure to provide full coverage after the event.
In bocca al lupo...

Friday, May 9, 2008


I've been wearing earplugs while riding and racing since the late 80s. (I also wear them when flying and sometimes when sleeping in hotels.) But the giro really puts some extra stress on the earplugs. I end up wearing them much of the day and then sometimes all night in the hotel! The problem is, the foam earplugs really seam to push out on your ear canal, and it can actually really hurt when you pull them out after a couple days of use. One solution I have found is to use smaller diameter ear plugs. You can get a sample kit of cheap disposable foam plugs of all different sizes from a place called the earplug store. I found the Mack's "Safe Sound Jr." to work best for me. They are soft and smaller diameter than most.
But this year, I've decided to try some custom made earplugs. Technically, they do not offer the same sound reduction as the disposable foam plugs, because the are made of a more solid silicone material. But they are cast to the shape of your ear and thus I hope will not be trying to expand my ear canal for hours like the foam ones do!
I made an appointment with Linda at EarPlugs USA. She made a set for myself and for Lorraine very quickly and professionally. She seems to be a pro at this, and that made us both more comfortable with the experience. In short, she puts a tiny cotton ball in your ear as a safeguard to prevent and of the silicone from going to far into your ear, and then fills your ear with silicone goop. You wait a bit while it hardens. Then she removes the plug and and the cotton ball. She does some cleanup work to the plug and you can get the plugs later. I was really happy with the attention and work Linda did to get our earplugs right.
I'll report on how they worked after the giro!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


It's time to get packing!
The one good feature of last year's pre-race incident is that I brought all my gear home untouched. I put all that Motogiro specific stuff in it's own cardboard box; so this year all I have to do is get out that box and it has all that stuff already organized.
After 5 trips to the giro and being an engineer, I'm pretty organized. I actually have a list of every item I need to bring. From a spark plug gapper to my riding shorts. So between my list, and the giro specific stuff being all ready, it shouldn't be too hard.
The problem remains, it is a mountain of gear. Helmet, boots, full leathers, tools plus all the regular stuff for two weeks holiday... it's just heavy and takes a lot of space! And managing multiple gear bags while running between hotels is a major drag. So what many of us do is get one giant bag. The "bag of choice" has been the gigantic Ogio 9800. Many of the riders use it. It swallows all the gear easily and is really tough. The problem is, it's technically too large to be allowed on the flights as checked baggage without paying a big baggage penalty. But so far I haven't had anyone measure it and complain. One year they almost stopped it at SFO, but the couldn't find a manager to check it, and they just let me through. If I encounter a problem, I intend to make it clear it's spoting equipment... most airlines let skis bicycles and golf bags on, even though they are too big. Also, the last couple years the weight limit has gone down, most airlines only allow each checked bag to be 50 pounds maximum (check your airline and bag, don't trust me!). And they stick to that rather vigorously. So I always weigh my bag before I head to the airport. And on the return trip, I always pack some heavy items in a separate bag inside the main one, so I can pull it out if it's too heavy.
At any rate, the problem for me has been weight, the Ogio 9800 is plenty big (9800 cu in) for 50 pounds of gear. This year I'm going to try a new bag because it's on sale at my sponsor, Cycle Gear. Its the Ogio 7900. This bag is significantly smaller, at 7900 cu in. Thats about 30 liters or 8 gal smaller, if that helps you visualize it. However, in the past my problem has been weight not volume. Another benefit is the 7900 is lighter by about 5 pounds. That's 5 pounds more gear you can bring, a big help. The 7900 is also narrower, which will help maneuvering.
The negatives of the 7900? While the 7900 is significantly less volume, its actually 2.5" BIGGER in L x W x H dimensions! It's actually a bit trapezoidal in shape, so it's volume is less while it's measurement is bigger. This could be a technical problem at the airport. But I'm betting since it looks smaller it will be easier to get through. And since a soft bag, you can always smush it some, I hope. ;-) Ther other negatives of the 7900 are that it has fewer pockets to organize stuff, but the ones on the 9800 were never that useful to me. And it's not built quite as robustly as the tank -like 9800.
But the positives of the 9800; lighter weight, narrower and looks smaller make it worth a try for me this year.
The Ogio 7900 has a nice compartment at one end for your helmet, and another for your boots at the other end. I put my helmet in a "Scorpion RaceCase Street", which is the only hard case I've found that offers some bump and bash protection and that whole case fits right in either Ogio bag. I plan to load all the Motogiro gear in the bottom of the bag, and then my regular stuff on top. That way the giro stiff just sits while I vacation the week before the giro starts.
(As an aside: I have never found a bag that fits the 62" maximum the airlines state that can hold my helmet and gear safely. The Ogio 7900 comes in at 67.5 inches, but as a soft trapezoidal bag, I'm betting it slides right by. )
That's more than enough about gear bags!