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May 29, 2009 Stage – 19
Last big climb of the Giro today for the riders and us. We had a nice time in Pompei, with the exception of Angie’s minor panic about all the homeless in the area – homeless dogs. So when we went to breakfast, she also packed a bag of goodies for the dogs we were about to go visit in the park where they all seemed to live. Levi and his wife would be proud since they are dog rescue hero’s! Angie packed more food to go than we both ate and we were off to feed the homeless. Can’t remember how many we saw, but let’s just say there was a variety. All good except Angie wasn’t able to find one dog we had seen the night before.
We drove towards MonteVesuvio, with the plan of parking and riding up the climb until we found a good place to set up Camp LiveStrong. About 5K from the finish, the trees were fairly scarce and it was hot. Knowing we’re about to spend several hours there and having done this a lot, we rode back down about 1K and setup in a steep section with a nice tree overhang to keep things cool.
As has happened every day we setup the giant Hope Rides Again banner, people were stopping to take pictures before we even had it secured. A British family that was sitting just down the climb, walked up to speak with us. We gave them wristbands, which the young girl really liked. A bit later, she walked back up and gave us a $5 Euro to give to Lance for the Foundation. Very nice! The granddad, walked back and forth from their spot to ours to give us updates because they had a portable television.
We had a constant flow of people taking pictures with the banner. Some would have us take their picture with the banner if they were alone or if they wanted their entire group in the picture.
This time Dory went with his Longhorn look for Lance
Longhorn Dory walked up shortly before the riders arrived and stopped to chat with us. Several people wanted their picture with him, also in front of the banner. We heard LiveStrong pronounced in a wide variety of languages. Not sure how it translates or if they really understand it. Many people would see LiveStrong and Lance’s face and asked us for yellow wristbands, which we gave away until we ran out.
Around 5:00 the riders reached us. Carlos Sastre and Ivan Basso were a few seconds ahead of the group Lance was in. He looked over at us and stuck out his tongue indicating how tired he was or how tough the climb was.
Lance and Levi pass Camp LiveStrong on Vesuvio
As soon as the last rider passed, we wrapped up and packed everything on the bike. It doesn’t take us long to get back down the mountain. We passed the area where the team busses were parked, which was a huge mess. Too many people, busses, cars, motorcycles and bikes in one place. We squeezed through and cruised on down the mountain to our car. I broke the bike down and we tossed everything in the car and sped away, ahead of the mass confusion that would soon be making its way down the mountain.
We drove on to Rome tonight and found our hotel, relatively easy, which is always a pleasant surprise. We’re located just about 5 blocks from the Coliseum, so it should be convenient for Sunday’s final day. All done for today. Tomorrow finishes about an hour from us, so we’ll decide tomorrow what our plans are.
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