Riding in Tuscany

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. Mike Ryder

    Mike Ryder Kriegerkuh Supporter

    Oct 11, 2003
    Peachland B.C. Canada
    As always a wealth of questions with few small answers. Your acute sense of the present is a gift to all who race to the morrow.
    I sit now smelling the untasted mug of cawfee.

    I thank you
  2. nichloasjerry1

    nichloasjerry1 Adventurer

    Dec 3, 2014
    Dallas, TX
    subscribed and have a lot to read up so I better hurry and catch up :clap
  3. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

    Jul 13, 2004
    Happy New Year!

    You mentioned The Dragon...
    Deals Gap is only 11 miles... And 318 curves.
    Having ridden it, and ridden in Europe, I'd choose Europe every time!

    Still planning for 2015, don't run off to work again!
  4. Joyseeker

    Joyseeker a biking sweetie

    Dec 10, 2004
    Surrey, UK

    now you have an X100 you must make it sing more than a mere 'point and shoot'.... the best so far and Happy New Year :rilla
  5. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Sep 26, 2008
    north vancouver bc
    I cannot believe it.
    I had given up.
    Welcome back. You have been missed, I assure you.
  6. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

    Jan 14, 2011
    New Haven, Ct.
    Sir! Welcome back, I was afraid we had lost you to the Trolls in the north. Your essay on coffee sums up my thoughts exactly & in better form than I could ever manage to do. To my chagrin, you've done it in my own language. My only consolation is that you did rely heavily on a quote from one of my countrymen. Once again, welcome back & show us what you can do with your new camera. The Norse waterscape was certainly a promising start.
  7. DrSmooth

    DrSmooth I am third

    Feb 16, 2008
    It's so good to get an update from you! Your writing, photography and stories have been very entertaining and I have enjoyed each of your posts. Thanks for updating us!

    I have a Fujifilm X100S and it is the best digital camera I've ever owned! It takes fantastic people pictures, and is and excellent vacation/travel camera. It has virtually replaced my EOS 5D as my primary camera. However, it is not a camera for the casual shooter. The original X100 was not very user friendly but did improve some with the firmware updates. The X100S is much easier to use and is also much more simple for the novice to use, with a better sensor and much improved focusing. It is the only camera I have taken on our last vacations to Hawaii and the National Parks in Utah. Here's a link to our Flickr photostream if you'd like to see the pictures you can get with the X100S.

  8. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

    Nov 25, 2003
    Welcome back!
  9. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic Supporter

    Aug 19, 2005
    Western NY, further from NYC than 6 entire states
    What he said, there are thousands of Deals Gaps over there.

    I too am still contemplating Europe again this year, It would be our 10th trip in 15 years, so damn addicting!
  10. 2eddies

    2eddies I'm not here.

    Apr 16, 2010
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rocky Mountains, USA
    Welcome back! You were missed...and so was Tuscany.:clap
  11. TonyZA

    TonyZA Adventurer

    Aug 20, 2007
    Jo.burg, South Africa
  12. BrentST

    BrentST Adventurer

    Oct 7, 2014
    Roberts Ferry, CA
    I'm only a recent subscriber to "Adventure Rider", and find myself digging through countless accounts of great adventure, and expected the same when I turned to "Riding In Tuscany" but instead found a treasure of thoughtful contemplations linked by photos and descriptions of beautiful places. This is a thread worth reading from the beginning, and patiently waiting for more.
  13. IDScarecrow

    IDScarecrow Long timer

    Mar 9, 2006
    PNW Inland Empire
    Welcome back! Thank you for the not-owed explanation; it resonates with me for personal reasons. I love your paraphrasing of Shakespeare: "You're better off being happy than you are being important."
  14. Marcus I.

    Marcus I. The virtual world can't compete

    Oct 2, 2013

    As I head rapidly towards my 2nd year of leaving my job's nutty demands, I often think what will be my next "pursuit of purpose". Thanks for your thoughts on the many possible meanings of "life". I'm contemplating selling my '06 GSA-SE; you sound happy about leaving Norway's money for Sardegna's love. Are you happy about moving on to the 1200 GSAW as well? I know they're just machine's . . .:norton
  15. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    Okay, I did it. I read this latest installment. I wanted to, very much, but I also did not want to, because it felt to me like a very nicely wrapped present under my childhood Christmas tree. The anticipation of what is inside brings nearly as much pleasure as that which is within. Now, the reading is finished, but the thinking...? Not so much. To say these posts are food for thought is like saying the menu gastronomique of a 3 star Michelin chef is a "snack." These are not fluffy carbs of ideas, to be digested in a trice; no, there is thick protein here that demands time to ingest and digest. Brain food.

    A ride to all the nuraghe would be epic - I think there are still very many of them. To attempt such might indeed require the bike to be renamed "The Flying Norseman."

    A life open to "possibilities" that can become actualities presents it's owner with myriad choices. How to choose, what to choose...these are problems for the open life. Perhaps a lifetime is itself the work, and at the end of the "day" one hopes to feel that the "work" had gone well and was very satisfying. Sorry for wandering - brain taste buds at work.

    Nice to see you back.
  16. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    This is the fourth part of seven parts in eight installments. I recommend you to start with the first part.


    One thing is certain: There are more than one way to approach old age! The problem, as we all think
    we understand but evidence indicates we don't internalise, is that we are getting old every single day.
    Dealing with getting old is not (!) something you can postpone to some other day. Like, when you get old.

    The Swedish author Stig Johansen (I am loath to laud a Swede, but what he says is very, very well said):
    If your Swedish isn't quite up to it, let me try:

    How many acquaintances do we have, you know, one of those who are in their late forties and between
    the lines say "I'm content, don't expect anything unexpected from me"? You suggst "Let's go for a ride"
    and they replay "But, it hasn't been planned" in some variation. They say "Now?". Or "Why?".

    Two things to say: If recall you could "just do it" when you were 20 why not when you're 50? Second,
    to cite Churchill: "Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential." I love that one! Learn to
    plan as you go!

    Over the years I've become rather proficient in planning. In fact, when I work (see third installment on
    that one!), planning is what I am paid to do. But I have learned that Churchill was right: Make sure you're
    good at planning and use it to avoid making too many plans (in advance). Or, if you like: Don't
    let the lack of plans be an obstacle, plan for it and learn to conduct planning when needed.

    The fine Gentleman show in the photo above is in his primes. That is, somewhat above his 30s. But
    there he is, having a (very) dry Martini under the lemon trees, in my garden, in Toscana. Even though
    he doesn't live in Toscana at all. In fact, as I understand it, he doesn't live Over Here at all but rather
    Over There, in one of the New Colonies. An approach to old age I think I can subscribe to!

    The story is here (part of Riding in Tuscany).
    My point is: Never, never, never give up! And as a corollary: I (still) promise to serve any ADVrider
    lunch or dinner (as convinient). Make sure I am at home or your desires might go unfulfilled!

    But, back to Sardegna: It is Thursday 23. May (2013). The party At Large consist of one man and
    his motorcycle (guess who) and some ladies. None of them act as if there were as old as theirs bodies
    are. Edel, who has a full set of riding gear at my house, really wants to go riding with me. She
    burrows Capa's gear, and we're all set.

    I love, love, love Humans of New York. Todays quote from there is this one:
    Think about it! Understanding the ramifications of what he says is prudent! Edel is seventy.

    I, on my side of the equation, am quite proud of the fact that I am regarded as such a safe and reliable
    rider that an "old" lady wants to explore Sardegna with me. Or, I might be mistaken: for all I
    know she regards me as a reckless, hell-bent delinquent, and she likes the thrill of riding with me.

    On the other hand, thinking about it, I don't know, really, which if these I prefer.

    Every single time she visits, she want to go fir a ride with me. Who am I to complain? I say "When do
    you want to depart?" and I do some "instant planning!

    Edel, as opposed to Capa Superiore di Famiglia, does not question my judgement. Thus we get to see a
    lone tower down by the sea. At the end of a 3km long gravel road of questionable quality. We agree
    that it probably was easy to be rich and powerful and point to this cliff and say "there" than actually
    build it here.

    I read Morgenbladet every week; it is Norway's oldest newspaper (funded 1819). I read it for the
    simple reason that I have a mentor in Norway. Or, at least, I suspect it is in Norway. Every single
    week a copy of Morgenbladet arrives on my stdoorstep. And it is not because someone has made a
    subscription in my name. No, someone purchases the newspaper, puts it an envelope, and sends it to
    me! And I don't know who it is! A mentor probably, who, according to Wikipedia, "meaning someone who
    imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague".

    Anyhow, I read in Morgenbladet the other day how Marius Lien discussed the new CD issued by
    Kristoffer Lo. He wrote (translated by me as I believe far to few in ADVrider read Norwegian):
    If you're native English and wants to offer a better translation the original is
    Feel free to assist!

    Edel and I neither discuss Lo's new Cd nor playing tuba in more general terms.


    Instead we start to worry about lunch. An integral part of The Italian Experience is to worry about
    lunch. You'll always obtain one, but unless you worry about the quality you're not "into it".

    We start searching. From Tresnhyraghes we ride down to the ocean; the village is Porto Alabe. We
    had expected "a porto" with a trattoria serving seafood, but there is no harbour, and the waves hit the
    beaches. Well, regardless of the waves today, the Mediterranean is a toy-ocean. The houses are but a
    few meters from the water. Visit the North Atlantic and you will not find a house within 100 meters of
    the sea. The North Atlantic is a real ocean. For men, so to speak :-)


    We stroll around for a while, but there is nothing to be found. Move on! The sun is shining.


    This isn't a yet another self portrait, it is a semi self-portrait; Edel took it. Now consider this: If you
    don your Superman costume (because that is who you feel you are) and ask someone to take a
    portrait, would you not notice some sniggering? Or if you pose in front of a Ferrari in your Ray Ban sun
    glasses (embarrassing yourself for knowing that Ray Ban is made Over There and not Over Here, as the
    Ferrari). But Edel doesn't flinch when I tell her to wait while I pose, considering both if it looks as if I
    pose, and if I actually so pose or just stand.

    Oh well, she takes the photo. What that proves is still to be decided. But here I am, so there you are.


    We continue to ride north on the west coast. Bosa is a nice and attractive town. Maybe a city, even.
    No, a town. We find a small alimentari and stock up on what is required for an Italian lunch in
    the open. We are graced with sun and we ride down to the sea. Still some wind but we find a secluded
    spot behind a rock. Prociutto toscano, pecorino, dolce e stagionata, fresh bread, fruit, water
    and a (small--tiny, in fact) bottle of wine. Life in the jungle.


    I sit and look at Tryggve. He is waiting for us, standing next to a camper (mobile home?, or whatever
    it is called). Because I am "young", on a bike ride with a "young" lady, we're on Sardegna and
    all is well, because of all this I feel superior. Riding a bike not humping along in a camper.

    Completely unfounded, naturally. Not only is it politically incorrect, it also conceals that I am a great
    fan of the freedom it offers. It is, I must admit, probably more of a coincidence that I sit here on the
    gravel while they are properly seated. I am entertained by the waves while they have Händel, Haydn
    or Bach to accompany them. It is, I am sorry to say, in fact not certain that I am better off.

    I took my family around in Scandinavia a few times, with a caravan trailing behind the car. It was
    outstanding vacations. I look at the photos we took and I see happy parents with happy children.
    Trailing a caravan isn't very practical Over Here, so if we could have afforded it, I would have been the
    proud owner of a camper. Or, if you like: To brag that I don't own one is not at all honest
    Who doesn't want to be honest? I feel superior and, well, small, at the same time. I look away.

    In addition: My accommodation here on Sardegna is an apartment. On the beach, but still an
    apartment. They, in stark contrast, roam the land. They are free, while I am stuck. Yes, I ride my
    bike, but neither can I have wine for lunch nor can I decide to stay here until tomorrow. I am grateful
    for, as Kahneman points out in Thinking
    fast and slow
    , that we have a mechanism in us that makes us appreciate our own choices merely
    because we made them. That is, we tend to like something we decided to do not only because we like
    to do whatever it is, we like it [strong]because[/strong] we decided to do it. Thus, I am happy that I
    don't sit in a chair sipping wine because I choose to sit here on the gravel; do not for a moment fail to
    understand that I would have appreciated wine with pranzo. Not much, but significantly more
    than I can allow myself when riding. With Edel trusting me to ride with care.

    I sit in the sun; my thought wander.

    Part of our duty to Memento Mori is to reflect on what makes us happy. Except having sex and
    winning the lottery, obviously. The thing is:
    Or, if you like: What can I do to shy away from all those shameful ways to spend my time? My life has
    lasted somewhat more than one hour; has it been wasted? Facing Santo Pietro I think we'll be
    able to work something out. Not that I believe anything supernatural, but I do believe in trying to
    conceal those part of life that do not contribute. And: Compensate for failing by trying to contribute.

    But after having helped the poor by paying my taxes in full, raised children, what can I do? Pay more taxes?

    When I taught, I did it not to fill their heads with the theories of Alan Turing (who, inter alia, might win
    the Oscar tomorrow, of all things!), no I did it because from time to time I got to see flashes of
    inspiration. We all know what it feels like: To suddenly "see" something.

    Here is Sriram Krishnan in 2006 on programming in Lisp:
    Teachers get to watch a student hear that 'plop', every now and then. It is a marvellous thing to
    experience. In fact, my what drew me to science was just that: Hearing that 'plop'. In my own brain,
    and watch it happen in others'. If you like, you can say I like to watch. Oh well.

    Anyway, a milder form of 'plop' is to inspire someone.

    Now, with that in mind, please go back 800 posts in this thread and read post 226 (link provided for your convenience,
    it should open in a new tab. I'll wait while you're gone).
    At the time I found it very cool (as it were) that I had managed to inspire a stranger. You see, I firmly
    believe the dictum "It is the thought that counts" is fundamentally false. It is the action that
    counts! Talk is cheap, which isn't at all a new discovery:
    The story with the painting didn't end at post 226, however. After a while it arrived "in person" at my
    doorstep. Holding in my hand a physical representation of inspiration was awesome.

    The world is full of alternatives, which path to choose? Part of what I do for a living is to inspire
    decision makers. Make them 'grok' my vision of what the world should look like. Inspire them to take
    action, to decide. Send my memos to the Ministry. Adopt the policy I propose. Send resources my
    way, as it were. Again, prattle (in Shakespearean parlance) won't do. I need to make them act.

    Not only had a photo of mine in some curious way found resonance in a stranger. He had acted.
    Painted. And then physically sent the painting across the ocean from Over There to Over Here. I
    realize that he didn't paint it for me; he did it for himself. But he did send it. Which was very, very

    I did the only thing I could do in return: I hung the painting on the wall in my office. Every day I see
    the painting, and it talks to me: Less prattle, more practice.

    And, Lo and Behold, we're not done yet!

    Six years pass by, but this kind man (well, I actually don't know if it is a man; "On the Internet no one
    knows you're a dog") did not forget me. He send me an email. A warm and gentle reminder from the
    past. I will return to that email in a moment.

    What have I just told you? In case you didn't get it: Try to inspire someone. Not to do something that
    pleases you but that brings joy to him. The challenge is: Inspire someone to do
    something. Energize someone. The reward can not be described.


    Edel is dozing and I do what I do: Take another self portrait. I'm happy to tell you the mobile home
    had vanished. If it had still been there, I would probably had taken some stupid posture to show my
    (non-existing) superiority. Making me feel even more stupid now Post Festum. I am, however,
    true to myself: I do not smile on self portraits, but I do not know why.

    You are not fussy if your first thought is "Besides demonstrating an appalling lack of style, what is he
    trying to convey here?". I don't know. Watch this space for more info :-)

    We mount, and continue north along the coast. A visit to a nuraghe fail to inspire;the remains of
    the village at it's base it is simply too old. We continue, turn east, then south, and head towards our
    base, at Villa del Mare (yes, that was a word from our sponsor :-).

    While we ride I try to reflect (to the best of my abilities) upon the implications of having a 70 year old
    lady as pillion. The trust she places in my aside, her presence demonstrates beyond any reasonable
    doubt the formative ability we have inside. To shape ourselves. She's told me that she wasn't always
    like this, far from it. She holds on, and I feeel how she enjoys the thrill as we dart out on the highway
    and zoom towards aperitivo. Yes, It is never too late" is a cliché, but it is nevertheless true. I
    want to remember twenty years from now. To keep moving! Physically and emotionally.

    To that end, what can be done?

    In Norwegian we have the word to-somhet (dash added for emphasis). It is coined from en-
    (ditto) which means lonely, where to obviously translates to 'two' and en to
    'one'. So we have a word for "two being lonely together". A great word!

    Norwegians "see" something deeply human when they first hear it. Ian McEwan described tosomhet well in his book The Comfort of Strangers:
    Children have by there mere existence a power to enforce tosomhet on the parents. In our
    modern lives, with children, life is split between work and family. But family isn't, for the most part,
    the larger family with many different people. Family is to adults and children in an apartment, walking
    in the park, or shopping for the weekend. Claustrophobic, is the word.

    I was fortunate, with children arriving very, very early in my life. Fortunate, because when in my mid
    forties, when couples split up to break free from the tosomhet that has engulfed them, the
    children had already moved on into their own lives. I was free to re-develop my own sphere. Just as
    Capa Superiore della Famiglia was free to develop her. A 50-odd years old man do have quite a
    few interests that do not make his wife hot (so to speak). And Vice Versa. Happiness is found
    not in sharing everything, but finding delight in sharing the things we have in common. As long as the
    things we share is a non-trivial part of life, the stage is set for a fulfilling life.

    Or, in other words: I think your relationship becomes more robust if you realize that being together
    does not mean that you give up your private sphere, but you merely shirk it somewhat. OK, two
    children in diapers and there is simply no time for hobbies. But later, there is. In fact, I think that
    feeling of guilt when pursuing non-shared activities is the seed of separation.

    Concrete example: Should a man shelve his riding? Ja, Ja, Ja, or woman!
    No, you shouldn't. The first evening you sit in front of the TV, not even watching but merely looking,
    not because there is something you really want to see, but because you are afraid to say "Honey,
    instead of sitting here, I'll go for a ride", then you know what tosomhet is. When you refrain
    from saying "Love, we've had all day together and we'll be in bed (hopefully) having sex in a few
    hours, do you want to visit some friends now? I'll watch the baby, and tomorrow I'll go for a ride." you
    know what you have waiting.

    If you can't say it now, what are you going to say in five years? Or twenty?

    My friend, you can't ride every evening. Not even every week. But just as she wants to visit friends
    you can't stand, you want to ride. Make sure you do.
    But also make sure you don't end up with a bike in the garage that never ever gets used. It will throw
    this sad look at you, you will feel it deep down that you are getting old. And that is when couples split


    A mere 190 km during (yet) another day with wind. Garmin makes super GPS'es, but their maps and
    software is nothing short of awful. I've indicated the three largest cities on Sardegna as there is
    no way on the maps to spot the difference between a city and a hamlet.
    I promise that the day Google makes a GPS I'll never talk to Garmin again.

    I am very grateful for the attention you bestow on me!

  17. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

    Jul 13, 2004
    thought provoking & inspirational.
    My reply of course, in "over here" speak (or to you "over there") is been there, done that

    it is no way to live.
    I am happy today because in the language of sailors "I tacked and split with the fleet".

    eagerly awaiting the next installment
  18. lefteris

    lefteris fat daddy

    Sep 1, 2004
    Athens, Hellas (Greece)
    Welcome back Tage!

    Very inspiring writing, thanks for sharing you thoughts with us.

    I'm in the "changing diapers" phase of growing a family right now, but I'm quite sure that some time in the future I'll be knocking your door for dinner with a bottle of greek wine (not "wine") in my hand.

    Glad to have you back with us...

  19. Pippeis

    Pippeis n00b

    Jan 27, 2015
  20. RatBikeRod

    RatBikeRod Intrepid Adventurer

    Oct 15, 2009
    Dallas, Texas
    I am working my way through this thread and would be lying if I did not say I was more than a bit jealous.

    You sir are living the dream!

    I really am enjoying reading and looking at the pictures. Riding Tuscany (and Europe in general) is a huge dream (bucket list) item for me.

    I have been considering spending this year doing a proper tour of Texas since I have been here all my life and still only seen a fraction of it.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work!