Colò: The Run to Lillooet

Colò: The Run to Lillooet

Late last night we were cruising south following AC on his ride towards Cache Creek and Lillooet. I drove first but knew my time would be short and after about 40 kilometers I handed over the wheel to Daniela who was ready for her shift.

First thing that happened was AC was tired and needed a ‘micro-sleep” of about 10 minutes but unfortunately this did not produce the desired result and AC again pulled off the road shortly after his unsuccessful reboot. Fortunately we were in  a great spot, protected from highway, on a grassy flat in a semi open area. Daniela parked the car, quickly got out and laid a blanket on the ground. She then directed AC to lay down as she then took two more blankets and tucked him in (face and all) so he looked like a mummy and from what I observed he wasn’t moving.

I observed some massaging and then when she was satisfied that she could do not do anything else she retired to the car asking that I wake her in no more than one hour.

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It was a beautiful night, almost warm under a cloudy sky that still displayed a bright, full moon and I wasn’t ready for sleep so I decided to perform a short walkabout and kill an hour and play night watchman.

I contemplated not waking anyone for 3 hours, it was clear to me AC was outside of his normal ultra-threshold and if he didn’t blow up the race was in the bag. I thought I could simply say that I fell asleep but in the end I opted to wake Daniela after 45 minutes and try to convince her to give AC more sleep. It was her call because clearly she was in charge. But before I even tried she was out of the car insisting AC get up and back on his bike which he wasn’t overly enamored with. Just getting him moving was a big enough chore, beyond breathing and “micro processing” he wasn’t keen for much.

Daniela repeatedly spoke to AC providing guidance and simple instructions and soon he was upright long enough to barge into the car and I started the engine for heat. I turned the heat up to full temperature and fan force, but Daniela reduced the temp to half and the fan to its lowest strength.

AC spoke only in Italian and I knew nothing of his words. He refused food, he wouldn’t lift his forehead off the steering wheel and he hugged himself indicating he was cold. Daniela kept speaking to him while she packed up his bed roll and selected nutrition for him. It reminded me of trying to convince a child Brussel sprouts were actually pudding.

When AC spoke it didn’t really give me any encouragement that he was capable to ride and I thought Daniela was rushing him. I asked him how many fingers he could see and he did not answer, but that could have easily been the language differences.

Daniela was on him constantly, asking him over and over what flavors he wanted, but he resisted as he drank some water. Daniela kept talking about getting back on the bike, I think reminding him of his sacrifices and what he had done so far; whatever it was it got him out of the car where he moved like a puppet person with uneven movements. She brought him his helmet and gloves and he worked to put them on without resistance. I walked away as his bike was several feet away and I was not going to get it for him. If he was able to ride he needed to get his own bike and he did, again without hesitation.

Then one leg lift over his bicycle and a click of the pedal cleat, some more complaints and then a slight wobble, then motion, he was up and riding. Daniela wasted no time as she was back in the driver’s seat, lights flashing and right behind AC. She pulled up several times and yelled things to him and responded like “okay”. She then found our lone radio station turned the volume up to 45 and played about 5 songs for AC to hear.

We drove alongside him about 5 feet separating us with him slightly ahead. With the music blaring and under the circumstances I just wanted to observe AC’s riding and did not try talking to him, he didn’t need to use any energy talking to me.

Suddenly, for a Canadian like me, Alessandro looked very Italian and he looked like he deserved to be out on his bike 10,000 kilometers from home 8 nights into an epic journey encased in mountains, challenge and the pursuit of dreams. Even though he didn’t bite down in determination AC looked like nothing would stop him. He didn’t look tired, he looked used, he didn’t look like he was in pain, he looked like deep down he was exactly where he wanted to be.

Everything I saw was blue collar, he was sporting at least a nine day growth. His bike which had been rock solid and used in other races seemed solid, built for reliability and function, his clothing which was fantastically decorated with Italian words and company trademarks shined with greens, blues, white and an orange head wrap flowing beneath his helmet. He did not look at us.

His pedal stroke was immaculate as I could not find flaw in it, his awkwardness had disappeared, now rolling in seemingly perfect circles; his cadence was smooth and strong. He rode a big 58 tooth gear ring and I estimate his stroke at about 1 per second. He had found a grove but he was intent on digging in and making it better. I watched him for 30 minutes or so and other than adjusting himself in the saddle all he did was ride. A couple times he exploded and shout up to 40clicks an hour and then coasted back down to about 30.

I couldn’t be happier that I kept my big mouth shut and watched Daniela work. Her plan was flawless and like AC she never gave up, everything she accomplished with him she would establish as his new plateau and immediately made him seek a more efficient one. Every one of her calls was correct, she put him to sleep, got him back up and back on his bike in a very short amount of time and she didn’t rush him or endanger him. I felt really honored to see such team work, clearly this was not their first rodeo.

Back on the bike Alessandro just kept spinning though pedals, turning those wheels and moving through valleys and over mountains and I was there to watch the whole beautiful thing. Bellisimo