Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From Greve-in-Chianti -- Day 2, Part 2

A good two months ago I Googled around and found Ramuzzi Cycles, right in nearby Greve. I emailed the general address and received a prompt, friendly reply from the owner Marco. Turns out they rent road and mountain bikes, and that Marco himself is a dedicated triathlete. I asked him to hold onto a few bikes for us and felt happy that I wouldn't need to ship my bike over, and hopeful that we'd enjoy a bit of cultural exchange, visiting the kind of bike shop you imagine finding in a little Tuscan town.

I wasn't disappointed, though as is often the case, the reality departed sharply from the imagined. I'd pictured a shop like a museum, with framed photos of Francesco Moser, maybe a shrine to Fausto Coppi, and vintage Colnago frames encased hermetically. Instead, Ramuzzi is dusty and cluttered. Bikes hang from the wall, a mix of brand new road racers and older touring bikes. Bunched into the front of the store, just allowing room to walk to the counter, and then to the mechanic's area in the back, are mountain bikes new and old, along with a brand new, top-of-the-line Felt, and another Felt, this one Marco's tri bike, replete with aero brake levers and custom-labeled Spinergy wheels. Jerseys and hats hang and sit piled in a display case that you can't reach without moving bikes. Hanging on the walls are photos of Marco competing in Xterras, and couple of shots of the local club, posing in Greve's piazza.

I imagined walking in and shouting to Marco, "It's me, Michael, from America!" He would hug me, and ask if I wanted to go for a ride with his club, and offer me a Pinarello for the day. But Marco is a soft-spoken guy, and he gave me a nod from the spot where he turns wrenches, below a couple of black-and-white photos of men in suits. I asked if he would have bikes to rent, and after looking around at the various racks and rows, he nodded, and said that yes, he thought he would have bikes for us.

Before leaving I asked if I could use a bathroom, and he sent me up a staircase into an apartment. A rack holding about 30 dust-enshrouded bottles sits at the base of the stairs, alongside a couple of helmets and pairs of cycling shoes. At the top of the stairs I found the bathroom; a yellow robe hangs on the inside of the door, and some personal effects sit on the sink counter, as well as degreasing hand soap. Had I wanted to, I could have used the toilet and washed up at the same time; a showerhead looms just above and across from the toilet, catty-corner from the bidet.

I descended the stairs, bid Marco ciao and told him I'd see him tomorrow.


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