Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21: Hands Full of Mountain

At noon today the owner of the house was coming to receive our key and the rest of our rent money. Dan got up and went on a ride, I got up and began leisurely packing and sorting things out, and the kids rambled about. We knew we were going to spend a night in a hotel in Cesenatica so Dan can do the Nove Colli, so we had to sort our big bags into little bags that we could more easily tote into the hotel. There was a fair amount of stress accompanying this sorting, since we also had to cope with the bike in its bike box, needing to be put together, uncertainty about hotel parking, uncertainty about whether I’d have to check us out of the hotel while Dan was still riding, uncertainty over a whole bunch of other things – it’s the usual thing when you do something for the first time.

Finally in the car and headed west, we managed to shove a Dramamino down Benny, but Sadie refused. Somewhere in the wilds of Umbria, we entered a region of absolutely insane mountain roads. There’s a mountain range that goes down the middle of Italy like a spine, and we had to go over it, see? But instead of finding some sort of flat part to go through, the Italians just build their roads right up over the top. There were switchbacks in the switchbacks, and the children began to look green. First to fall was Benny, who switched into the front seat after heaving into the ditch, and then professed to feel better. We were racing motorcycles all the way to the summit of this crazyass mountain, and at the top there was a giant congregation of racing motorcycles and speedy looking people in leather jackets. Clearly the cyclists own this road.

Up and over, and down the other side. Dan was having so much fun that I knew an eruption was imminent.

“Sadie, do you have to vomit?”


“Do you?”



“I don’t!”

But she did. Dan stopped the car, I grabbed the nearest plastic bag, which happened to have a couple of biscuits in the bottom of it, and attempted to get her to aim for it – which – she – refused! She explained later that she didn’t like the smell of the cookies. Which Dan said he could understand. Uh, you are vomiting. You have a choice of slopping it down your front, destroying another outfit, your carseat (again) and the car (again), or you can stick your head in this bag which may not smell appetizing at the moment but may I remind you – you are VOMITING. Does stuff have to be perfect?

Anyway, she puked partly in the bag, partly on her shirt, and we carried on. Minutes later, her face went grey, her lip trembled, and more puke. This time there was no way to stop the car, since there’s only a shoulder on the road every few kilometers, so I valiantly caught the expulsion in my cupped hands, and on we drove down the hill back and forth, back and forth, precipice on the right, sheer cliff on the left. Oh, it was a golden moment in my life as a mother, I can tell you right now. Dan gave a big lecture on the importants of Dramamino, and eventually we got stopped, Benny managed to find the hand wipes, we cleaned up, and carried on.

Then it was all flat. We found Cesenatico huddled near the ocean, found our hotel. There were cyclists everywhere milling about, drifting here and there, floating around the roads Oceanside. The hotel parking lot was a grassy field that was padlocked, and you had to check out the padlock from the desk and then lock it up and take back the key. Strange! The hotel itself is pretty fancy, and the children and I went immediately to the pool while Dan rode down to the main headquarters of the gran fondo to pick up his race number and packet and whatnot. The pool was just perfect, with a small pool the right size for Sadie and a big pool that Benny could dive in. They had a great time swimming, and when Dan came back he called to us from the balcony and we came up. The kids got showered and dressed and we went out to find sustenance. We also had to find food for Dan’s breakfast tomorrow, because he’s going to have to get up at 4:30 and eat something, then go ride for 8 hours.

After following multiple sets of directions (One set came from a woman who managed to sell us a German chapstick! Huzzah! My lips are saved!) we finally found the little market, which had a very strange selection. We bought unrefrigerated milk, cereal, packaged croissants, canned fruit, nutella, and a sort of rectangular pie pan to eat the cereal in. Weird but functional, all of it. Thus armed, we made for the oceanfront and found a ristorante by the seaside. The kids had pizzas, I had gnocchi, and Dan had tortellini. We left well fed and sleepy, rolled up home to the hotel. We had decided to take one of our rooms for a second night, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about checking out during the race. While we were getting this straightened out, Benny asked very politely if he could play the piano. The desk clerk was completely charmed by his “perfect Italian” and gave him permission. He played his Verdi with great enthusiasm, then pronounced the piano too far out of tune, and said he felt hesitant to play any more.

We came upstairs, reveled in the WIFI a bit, marveled at the fold-away bidets a bit, obsessed about setting an alarm a bit, and then went to bed. Tomorrow is an early morning!

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