Gran Sasso cycling trip – So happy to see you!

Under normal circumstances, I would simply call this post “bude j*bať” but thinking about it once again, let´s just call it: So happy to see you!

I fell asleep quite late, so even though waking up at 6:30 was never meant to be fun, it was quite painful. Reading last instructions from Alessandro. Take bus to Paganica, from there let´s reach Campo Imperatore. Walking the cocker, pasta breakfast (motto: carbs and some sugars), quickly making sandwiches. Leaving to catch the bus 15 minutes after the agreed time, sounds like me.

Cycling up the hill to the main bus station, because in L´Aquila you don´t know where or even whether they will stop (and that´s on a working day, Sundays somehow are even worse) took us a surprisingly short time.

If the bus doesn´t take bikes, we are cycling. Very fortunately for me, it did! After being part of a Giro de Abruzzo (understand: Ama visit of every hidden place between L´Aquila and Gran Sasso) we exited the bus at the last bus stop. Nice mini square, with a ski rental place, restaurant, three big friendly white sheep dogs, mountains all around and TONS of PROFESH looking cyclists.

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After the opening ceremony, taking pictures and praying all together (..) the event had officially started! We let all those profesh people cycle off and have fun there.


Everything was okay, we were rolling up as expected, 6.7km/h, had several “ideme cikať” and one “let´s have lunch” breaks. We were .. enjoying the view

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You can imagine it: two people in pink shirts, one angry desperate and slow, the other one extremely patient and semi bored. Somewhere around half way we started to meet some of the hyper profesh cycle people coming back.

By the look on their faces we knew what they were thinking: “See that guy there? That´s why I didn´t bring my girlfriend!”

6 km to go! WOW, perfect! The biggest hill in front of us.. hell yeah, it doesn´t matter!


Lightening on the left side, thunder. 2 minutes after, lightening on the right side, thunder. Two pink people in the middle of the valley. Our destination 5 km away was surrounded by clouds.

What to do? 24 km back, 5 to go. Where is this thunderstorm going? Staying? Passing by?

Let´s continue for a bit, see what happens.

Lightening and thunder just in front of us.

I nearly died.

We both immediately turned the bikes to the right to the grass. “F*ck the bikes” was the answer for my question about what to do with them.

My heart rate monitor was showing 173.

Yes, a funny statistic says that you are more likely to get hit by a falling piano and then eaten by a shark than to get struck by lightening, but what the hell is it meant to do with me when I am in the middle of this?!! I have never heard of anyone being struck before. Oh wait. Yes I have. My great-grandfather, on my dads side.

A few more lightening strikes came and went.

Good point: I don´t think there will be another occasion when I could make my boyfriend to lay next to me in the grass, cover me with his jacket and just watch the sky.

That noise is A CAR! Jumped up running up the hill as never before.

A nice lady, scared by the weather the same as us, 2 children, 2 places in the car. Us with my “Me be Tarzan” Italian and 2 bikes. Apparently, situation on the top – where we were meant to cycle – is terrible but she can drive us back down if we leave the bikes here. We locked both Jons bikes somewhere next to the road and jumped in the car.

“Me be Tarzan” part 2 and 3

After explaining that this is actually a planed action and there have to be some organization crew on the way down soon, we stopped at the nearest cross road.

4 people, 2 in the car, 3 of them very nice, 1 very angry (think about the Math once again!) Unfortunately for us, the very angry one, was the one with the car that could fit our bikes.

Imagine Italians talking their usual way, when if you don’t understand what are they on about, they just seem like the angriest unfriendliest people on the planet. (Like our canteen ladies, they are a very prime example)

The rain wasn’t leaving but at least the lightening was slowly moving somewhere. At the end of the valley, we still didn’t know what exactly will be happening. After 3 people failed to talk him into driving us back to the bikes and then to the top, I decided to try my luck. He didn’t open the window, door, didn’t even look at me. I hate when things are not happening but even more I hate when you don’t get chance to explain. Just at the moment that I thought I had had enough and I was starting to turn red closing my eyes, one of the guys left the car, telling us to get in. A very happy moment.

We both, soaking wet, entered the ,initially, dry car and instead of buongiorno we were given information that he had driven up 3 times before already!

Jedným uchom dnu a druhým von. Let’s get the bikes. Now, where did we actually leave them? I heard another “shit, someone’s nicked them” and boyfriend trying to run somewhere with his funny bikie shoes (btw, they survived with all the gripping).

Another 5-10 minutes of crazy me, running next to the road hopelessly trying to find the bikes to find out that boyfriend has found them already about 500 meters the other direction and is waiting in the heavy rain, shaking.

On the way up we saw horses from the car!! (When I came back again they’ve been replaced by cows, hmm ) and our unfriendly driver dropped us in a very friendly-just-next-to-the-lift-entrance place.

He turned up to be quite nice. However, still very angry! Angry people are eighter scary or very funny. He was the scary one. Anyway, because we couldn’t find the last Horalka (one of the things I really miss when being abroad) I had in Italy, I left him an Italian cookie. (Left, because as a proper brucoun he refused to take it).

A bunch of people up there, no one knew where to buy lift tickets, when does it come and it was fricking cold (plus we were wet, premočení do poslednej nitky). The idea of having a hot tea in a nearby hotel did sound just right, especially after we had two teas one hot chocolate and nice baileys to go with. Plus, I got a chance to finally eat my last Horalka! (Sounds like the time of me going back to Slovakia for a visit is getting close )

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Looking around the place, it was getting more and more crowded every minute, I had decided that it is time to use my special “Me be Tarzan” skills. Nice people. Those next to us. Ski lift doesn’t work, because there is no electricity, but they will be sending buses. When? Vediamo. (“We’ll see” in Italian sounds extremely dangerous)

Waiting on the hotel floor all wet probably doesn’t seem like a dream place to stay but, believe me or not, after what was happening outside (currently heavily hailing) I was one of the happiest people ever.


Let’s have another tea. Let’s try to sleep.

Let’s .. wait.

Let’s try to find a hand dryer in the toilet. Okay, so, the hand dryer is finally free. Let’s try to find an algorithm about how to change and dry at least bits in this public place and not looking like a complete freak. Must admit, quite difficult task. I decided to go back to see Jon and leave some stuff with him.

I came there and – Alessandrooo!!!

Alessandro, with car keys!

So happy to see you!!!

I was jumping like crazy. But I guess everyone understood me at that moment (not like usually :p ).

Just to complete the epic moment, Alessandro was wearing a Croce rosa jacket that someone gave him because all his stuff was wet, and looked so important that crowd was making a corridor for him with out asking. The car was the cycling van of his racing team.

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He collected a few other, as happy as us, people and while I was taking pictures of them in what was, for that day, quite nice not rainy weather, they loaded bikes on the van and we left this magical place. By van. Completely wet, completely happy.

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Checking bus for the way back, we got semi lucky. Lucky – because we had to wait only 10 minutes. Semi – because it was not enough time to say ciao a tutti and to enjoy pasta party that was there, ready for everyone that made it

I felt sorry for all those people that stayed up there, stuck, waiting for an Italian bus to come and pick them up, especially for those nice ones, sitting next to us. Hope everyone made it back and possible flu was the worst thing that happened.

Well, sorry for the poor picture evidence. I did plan to write article about this since the very beginning (in fact, it was one of my motivations to enter this event, as I enjoy writing a blog ) but when things started to go /not necessarily wrong; but/ different from what we planed, there was no time for pictures.

At the end of the day, it was all just great. Thanks Silvia, for the initial idea. A big thanks to boyfriendosh, for ‘trainings’ and for not leaving me somewhere there and keeping up my speed and actually making me do this! Thanks Pepe and Iris, you know for what. And big thanks to Alessandro, for everything!!

So that’s about it.

Remember, how I told you last week that life begins at the end of your comfort zone? Well, go out there, because it does!

Having any similar experience? Share it with us! And thanks for reading part of my life in foreign language ;-)



A crazy happy hard-working passionate traveller, mathematician, yoga fan and cocker lover. Welcome to my world of a lame blogger, that didn't hire anyone to help to start with and is now going through all this fails and bails.. And as well welcome to this public piece of myself, where I keep my updates about travelling through living a happy life - mostly in a foreign language.

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About Mel

A crazy happy hard-working passionate traveller, mathematician, yoga fan and cocker lover. Welcome to my world of a lame blogger, that didn't hire anyone to help to start with and is now going through all this fails and bails.. And as well welcome to this public piece of myself, where I keep my updates about travelling through living a happy life - mostly in a foreign language.

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