Strike, bike and mountain adventure

Riding at dawn...
Today I'm on strike. It's a general strike against a Goverment and Prime Minister who are devastating this country. Italy comes from a tweety years of wild liberalisation, workers lost power and are way poorer than before, 1 on 2 is unemplyed and just 1 woman on 3 works, there is a large number of youths who are not studying nor working, mafiosi get reacher and reacher while college teachers earn 1.400 euros for month
A lot of reach people don't pay taxes but poor people, often old ones, are stripped of everything and thrown in the street because they can't pay anymore. Public services are a disaster because public workers are few, and they work too much and for a miserable salary. Infrastructures are used by mafiosi as an easy way to make money so the old ones are a disaster and the new ones are never finished. 
...and back at dusk
Public school is a complete mess, something I have never seen before: we are at the end of October and teachers don't know their working place yet. Some classes still don't have all their teachers and all teachers still don't have their definitive job, not even their job for the year but are working with a temporary contract in a school they will probably leave. And so far teachers have been NOT payed. Last year teachers with a temporary job have been NOT payed until January. Yes, you got it right: teachers have been working for five months getting no salary. In the public school.
I think Italians have got good reasons to be on strike. Instead they actually don't strike, the most of Italians think it's useless or they are afraid or they just can't lose a day pay money. 
As I told you in a previous post, working as a teacher in Italy has become a nightmare. I should get a fix job as a teacher now, I'm the first one in the list, but I'm working with a temporary contract, waiting at least a contract for the year. I teach philosophy in six classes of a college for languages and I don't want to start it all again in another school. It takes time to get to know your students, to build a relationship, to explain how you work and what they are expected to do. Students are the last worry of our Goverment, workers come even later.
Pic from here 
Everyday I ride my bike to school before 8 am and I'm normally back at 1pm. Sometimes I have a meeting in the afternoon. Pedaling by the river in the early morning I enjoy the soft colours of the dawn. I have to climb some stairs in cyclocross style to get on the bridge and then to push up on a short climb, in the ancient narrow roads running in the country between high stone walls. It's a nice commute and I only give up on it when it's raining very hard.
I have five days of holyday at the end of the month and I'm NOT going to give up on a short adventure in the mountain. Refugees are closed in this period, a little snow already whitened the peack in the Alps but the skiing season has not started yet. It's the perfect moment to enjoy the silence in a fairy atmosphere. But it must be well organised... 


Procycling - Tour de France 2017 Route Unveiled... and more

When I saw it on the small dispay of my phone the map looked weird: empty and yellow like a desert on the left hand side, full of marks on the brownish line of the mountainous borders. 
I was at school. Yesterday I spent there 12 hours, 8 am - 8 pm. The same time I'm supposed to teach in one week. Indead I had 5 hours of lessons, 1 hour for lunch, then 5 hours of meetings. I was exhausted when I eventually collapsed on my bed, around 9 pm. Honestly I didn't have a second look at the Tour de France route.
I examinated it this morning and I see there is a lot of mountain indead. There are also new climbs that I don't know and an hard fnish in the Planche des Belles Filles. There is a 'classic' stage to Liège, a short itt at the begining and a short itt at the end, very short really. There are all the mountains of France: Alpes, Pyrennes and Massif Central. There are also a few stages for sprinters. Transfers seem few.
Do I like it? It looks fine. I'm a bit surprised to find a start in Mondorf-les-Bains in the first Tour de France with not even one Schleck... It's going to be a good add for Andy's Bike Shop.

Stage 1, Saturday, July 1: Dusseldorf - Dusseldorf (ITT), 13km
Stage 2, Sunday, July 2: Dusseldorf – Liege, 202km
Stage 3, Monday, July 3: Verviers – Longwy, 202km
Stage 4, Tuesday, July 4: Mondorf-Les-Bains – Vittel, 203km
Stage 5, Wednesday, July 5: Vittel – Planche des Belles Filles, 160km
Stage 6, Thursday, July 6: Vesoul – Troyes, 216km
Stage 7, Friday, July 7:Troyes – Nuit-Saint-Georges, 214km
Stage 8 Saturday, July 8: Dole – Station des Tousses, 187km
Stage 9, Sunday, July 9: Nantua – Chambery, 181km
Rest day 1, Monday, July 10
Stage 10, Tuesday, July 11: Perigueux – Bergerac, 178km
Stage 11, Wednesday, July 12: Eymet – Pau, 202km
Stage 12, Thursday, July 13: Pau – Peyragudes, 214km
Stage 13, Friday, July 14: Saint-Girons – Foix, 100km
Stage 14, Saturday, July 15: Blagnac – Rodez, 181km
Stage 15, Sunday, July 16: Laissac-Severac L’Eglise – Le Puy-en-Velay
Rest day 2, Monday, July 17
Stage 16, Tuesday, July 18: Le Puy-en-Velay – Romans-Sur-Isere, 165km
Stage 17, Wednesday, July 19: La Mure – Serre-Chevalier, 183km
Stage 18, Thursday, July 20: Briancon – Izoard, 178km
Stage 19, Friday, July 21: Embrun – Salon-de-Provence, 220km
Stage 20, Saturday, July 22: Marseille – Marseille (ITT), 23km
Stage 21, Sunday, July 23: Montgeron – Paris Champs Elysees, 105km


Mountaineering - Ang Tshering Sherpa: “Low price and safety don't go hand in hand. This is the problem "

62 year old, he's the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Associacion
He recently visited the International Mountain Summit (IMS), now undergoing in Brixen (South Tyrol, Italy).
Mountaineering in Nepal has been disrupted by a terrible earthquake in 2015 and while  climbers have already come back to the peaks above 6500 meters, this is not the case for the lower mountains. According  to 4sport.ua, trekking expeditions' market is now fluctuating at around 50% of the level it used to be before the earthquake.

Ang Tshering Sherpa:
"We hope that the mountain climbing in Nepal will be very soon reborn. People must know that the more they help Nepal visiting our country and faster the economy will grow again allowing us to rebuild the infrastructures.
We need to be more rigorous and serious in monitoring the climbers' activity, because at the moment is  very easy to harm the image of mountaineering. A recent exemple is the Indian couple who lied about its ascent of Mount Everest: eventually they have been exposed, still it required a lot of work. 
A big problem are the liaison officers: they do not help at all in this work, the overwhelming majority of them is just interested in earning money. Indead they collect money from the climbers themselves, in spite of their duties, they do not show up at the base camps, but at the same time they permit the ascent to the summit to every climbers. The Government of Nepal is discussing  a law that would limit the number of military liaison officers to 1, not 40-50 as it was until now. But to carry out such reforms in Nepal is very difficult, because every six to eight months the government changes, and if you can negotiate and come to an understanding, then the election time comes again! But this reform is vital, especially with regards to mount Everest.
Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and it is not so easy to climb, so climbers coming to Everest should have extensive experience of mountaineering in the Alps and other mountains of the world.
A major problem in Nepal is the fact that mountaineering companies only pursue their own profit. These companies have enough even for those tourists who know nothing about mountaineering. They don't know what climbing a mountain mean nor even how to deal with climbing equipment. These travel agencies have a negative impact on the tourism industry in Nepal.
Of course, in Nepal there are travel agencies that are responsible and think about their work but also about the safety of climbers. However and unfortunately the most of climbers chooses travel agencies on the basis of the prices for the services provided, and in this case, low price and safety don't go hand in hand. This is the problem "


In the Country Collecting Chestnuts... botanic info and recipts

Today it was Worlds' day in procycling so I couldn't spend it all hiking and in spite the weather was quite good I decided to go collecting chestnut. 
I didn't have to think about 'where': my country home, in the hills near Florence, includes a good stretch of chectnuts' wood and there is a tree just out the door usually so generous that it's enough to fill a big basket of fruits.
I was feeling sorry because of the lost chance of an excursion... the Pratomagno was rising from the white clouds high in the all blue sky... and on Monte Cimone it was sunny for sure. Still I was eager to watch at least the end of the race in Doha.
My place is always beautiful. In Autumn the wet grass is covered in cyclamens and the gree of the forest cheers me up.
My son and I collected a tons of chestnuts, not all though. Tehey were too many!
Once at home I went looking on the wikipedia for some information about this fruit I'm so used to but ignorant of. That's what I found out!
"The chestnut group is a genus (Castanea) of eight or nine species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the beech family Fagaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce.
Chestnuts belong to the family Fagaceae, which also includes oaks and beeches. The four main species are commonly known as European, Chinese, Japanese, and American chestnuts, some species called chinkapin or chinquapin.
European species sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is the only European species of chestnut, though it was successfully introduced to the Himalayas and other temperate parts of Asia. 
Chestnuts should not be confused with horse chestnuts (genus Aesculus), which are not related to Castanea and are named for producing nuts of similar appearance, but which are mildly poisonous to humans.
The name "chestnut" is derived from an earlier English term "chesten nut", which descends from the Old French word chastain (Modern French, châtaigne).
The trees' names are virtually identical in all the most ancient languages of Central Europe. The name Castanea is probably derived from the old name for the sweet chestnut, either in Latin or in Ancient Greek. Another possible source of the name is the town of Kastania in Thessaly, Greece; more probable, though, is that the town took its name from the most common tree growing around it. In the Mediterranean climate zone, chestnut trees are rarer in Greece because the chalky soil is not conducive to the tree's growth. Kastania is located on one of the relatively few sedimentary or siliceous outcrops. They grow so abundantly there, their presence would have determined the place's name. Still others take the name as coming from the Greek name of Sardis glans (Sardis acorn) – Sardis being the capital of Lydia, Asia Minor, from where the fruit had spread.
The chestnut's flowers follow the leaves, appearing in late spring or early summer. They are arranged in long catkins of two kinds, with both kinds being borne on every tree. The ripe pollen carries a heavy, sweet odour that some people find too sweet or unpleasant. Two or three flowers together form a four-lobed prickly calybium, which ultimately grows completely together to make the brown hull, or husk, covering the fruits.
Chestnut flowers are not self-compatible, so two trees are required for pollination. All Castanea species readily hybridize with each other.
The fruit is contained in a spiny (very sharp) cupule 5–11 cm in diameter, also called "bur" or "burr". The burrs are often paired or clustered on the branch and contain one to seven nuts according to the different species, varieties, and cultivars. Around the time the fruits reach maturity, the burrs turn yellow-brown and split open in two or four sections. They can remain on the tree longer than they hold the fruit, but more often achieve complete opening and release the fruits only after having fallen on the ground; opening is partly due to soil humidity.
The chestnut fruit has a pointed end with a small tuft at its tip and at the other end, a hilum – a pale brown attachment scar. In many varieties, the fruit is flattened on one or two sides. It has two skins. The first one is a hard, shiny, brown outer hull or husk, called the pericarpus. Underneath the pericarpus is another, thinner skin, called the pellicle or episperm. The pellicle closely adheres to the seed itself, following the grooves usually present at the surface of the fruit. These grooves are of variable sizes and depths according to the species and variety.
The sweet chestnut was introduced into Europe from Sardis, in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the Sardian nut. It has been a staple food in southern Europe, Turkey, and southwestern and eastern Asia for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas. Evidence of its cultivation by man is found since around 2000 BC. Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. A Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401–399 BC thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. 
American Indians were eating the American chestnut species long before European immigrants introduced their stock to America, and before the arrival of chestnut blight. Soon after that, though, the American chestnuts were nearly wiped out by chestnut blight. The discovery of the blight fungus on some Asian chestnut trees planted on Long Island, New York, was made public in 1904. Within 40 years, the nearly four billion-strong American chestnut population in North America was devastated. Due to disease, American chestnut wood almost disappeared from the market for decades. Today, they only survive as single trees. Efforts started in the 1930s are still ongoing to repopulate the country with these trees. 
The Australian gold rush of the 1850s and 1860s led to the first recorded plantings of European chestnut trees, brought in from Europe by the first settlers. Some of these are still standing today. Some trees in northern Victoria are around 120 years old and up to 60 m tall."
It's interesting, isn't it? Some of these things I didn't know, for exemple that chestnuts are so rare in America. In Italy they are very common. Eating chestnuts is a tradition in Autumn as well as cooking the 'castagnaccio', a typical chestnuts cake. There are basicly two ways to cook chestnuts: 'bruciate' and 'ballotte'. The first ones are put in a iron pan and 'burned' directly on the flame. The second ones instead are boiled in the water, normally together with fennel. The 'castagnaccio' instead is made by chestnut's flour and water: the dough is put in a flat baking tray with pine nuts and rosemary, then cooked in the owen.

Cyclocross: SP Zonhoven Report and Results (Women and Men)

In the women's race Sanne Cant wins and dedicated it to somebody in heaven: crossing the line solo she took a medal off her jersey, kissed it and pointed a finger to the sky.
In the men race we assisted to the usual duel between van der Poel and van Aert, since the first lap. Poor Sweek chased all day. Bravo Lars van der Haar: 4th! he's definitely on track again.

Lars van der Haar:
"4th place in #SPZonhoven. Moving up every race! Super happy with this result. Keep improving! Next up is WC Valkenburg! :-)))"

Klaas Vantornout:

"Happy with my 5th place @SuperprestigeCX #zonhoven with all the young  guys... Congrats @mathieuvdpoel"

1. Sanne Cant,
2. Jolien Verschueren,
3. Nikki Brammeier
4 Kaitie Antonneau
5 Ellen van Loy
1.M.Van der Poel,
2.Van Aert,
4.Van der Haar,
9.D.Van der Poel,

World Championship 2016: Peter Sagan wins Elite Men RR: "I’m still in shock."

Belgians split the peloton early, taking advantage of the wind of the desert.
The Dutch Lezer attacked late, passed solo at the last km. He got caught eventually and in the small group sprint Peter Sagan won, bravely passing Nizzolo by the barrier.
A huge Berahne (13th) was in an early break and resisted in front until the finish. Bravo!!!

Peter Sagan:
"I don’t believe it. I’m still in shock. I'm very happy because there was a crosswind and I was the last one to make the first group. In the end, it was a sprint so we should see.
There was a bit of a headwind so I felt I needed to come from the back. I felt I was lucky because Nizzolo didn’t close me out. If he closed me out for sure we would have crashed because I wasn’t going to brake. We should have crashed but I’m happy. It’s unbelievable."

1 Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 05:40:43
2 Mark Cavendish (Great Britain)
3 Tom Boonen (Belgium)
4 Michael Matthews (Australia)
5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy)
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
7 Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
8 William Bonnet (France)
9 Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)


World Championship 2016: Amalie Diderikse wins the Elite Women RR

Amalie Dideriksen:
“I dreamed of this. But today I had such good teammates, who even brought me back too after a crash. I chose Wild’s wheel in the sprint. Winning here is a surprise for me too".

Kristen Wild:
“I am actually pretty disappointed. We rode a very good race, we had it under control. I felt that it was early, but I could not wait any longer. Diderksen is a very good rider, who strongly came out of my wheel. We came together. It was my chance, but you cannot reverse it.”

Lotta Lepistö:
“I was so tired in the sprint and kept thinking I have to open up my sprint. I had to push myself to the limit but a medal is a medal and I am so happy about it. There were some attacks going and I had to count who was in the front and had to pay attention to it and see if I needed to be there. There was one moment where I felt I needed to be there but it came back together and I was just concentrating on staying in the front all the time. It means a lot, it’s the first road medal at this level and I hope everyone at home can enjoy it.”

1 Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) 3:10:27
2 Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)
3 Lotta Lepistö (Finland)
4 Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)
5 Marta Bastianelli (Italy)
6 Roxane Fournier (France)
7 Chloe Hosking (Australia)
8 Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)
9 Joelle Numainville (Canada)
10 Jolien D'hoore (Belgium)
11 Emilie Moberg (Norway)
12 Lisa Brennauer (Germany)
13 Katarzyna Pawlowska (Poland)
14 Leah Kirchmann (Canada)
15 Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)
16 Coryn Rivera (United States Of America)
17 Sara Mustonen (Sweden)
18 Mia Radotic (Croatia)
19 Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)
20 Barbara Guarischi (Italy) 0:00:04
21 Miho Yoshikawa (Japan)
22 Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
23 Alison Jackson (Canada)
24 Jelena Eric (Serbia)
25 Barbora Prudkova (Czech Republic)
26 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)
27 Megan Guarnier (United States Of America)
28 Christina Perchtold (Austria)
29 Carmen Small (United States Of America)
30 Alexis Ryan (United States Of America)
31 Eugenia Bujak (Poland)
32 Amy Pieters (Netherlands)
33 Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)
34 Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)
35 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
36 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy)
37 Aude Biannic (France) 0:00:12
38 Nicolle Bruderer (Guatemala)
39 Katrine Aalerud (Norway)
40 Olena Pavlukhina (Azerbaijan)
41 Samantha Sanders (South Africa)
42 Diana Peñuela (Colombia)
43 Ganna Solovei (Ukraine)
44 Yusseli Mendivil (Mexico)
45 Ursa Pintar (Slovenia)
46 Alice Barnes (Great Britain)
47 Julie Leth (Denmark)
48 Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)
49 Emma Johansson (Sweden)
50 Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)
51 Katrin Garfoot (Australia)
52 Stephanie Pohl (Germany)
53 Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)
54 Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)
55 Sara Penton (Sweden) 0:00:18
56 Dani King (Great Britain)
57 Eileen Roe (Great Britain)
58 Heidi Dalton (South Africa)
59 Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Norway)
60 Ting Ying Huang (Chinese Taipei)
61 Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)
62 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
63 Sarah Rijkes (Austria)
64 Yumi Kajihara (Japan)
65 Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)
66 Kaat Van Der Meulen (Belgium)
67 Chantal Hoffmann (Luxembourg)
68 Valerie Demey (Belgium)
69 Lauren Kitchen (Australia) 0:00:22
70 Romy Kasper (Germany)
71 Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)
72 Mieke Kroeger (Germany)
73 Trixi Worrack (Germany) 0:00:27
74 Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)
75 Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) 0:00:30
76 Hannah Barnes (Great Britain) 0:00:39
77 Olga Shekel (Ukraine)
78 Rosa Törmänen (Finland)
79 Abby-Mae Parkinson (Great Britain)
80 Lisa Klein (Germany)
81 Elise Maes (Luxembourg)
82 Annasley Park (Great Britain)
83 Lauren Stephens (United States Of America)
84 Anna Plichta (Poland)
85 Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands)
86 Eri Yonamine (Japan)
87 Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands) 0:01:00
88 Audrey Cordon (France)
89 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
90 Elena Cecchini (Italy)
91 Sara Bergen (Canada)
92 Gracie Elvin (Australia)
93 Roxane Knetemann (Netherlands) 0:01:43
94 Sofie De Vuyst (Belgium)
95 Anisha Vekemans (Belgium) 0:02:30
96 Wehazit Kidane (Eritrea) 0:03:42
97 Zhao Juan Meng (Hong Kong, China)
98 Amber Neben (United States Of America) 0:06:46
99 Sarah Roy (Australia)
100 Eugénie Duval (France)
101 Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland) 0:10:31
102 Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)
103 Paz Bash (Israel) 0:11:48
DNF Annie Foreman-Mackey (Canada)
DNF Loren Rowney (Australia)
DNF Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)
DNF Alexandra Nessmar (Sweden)
DNF Varvara Fasoi (Greece)
DNF Allie Dragoo (United States Of America)
DNF Marta Lach (Poland)
DNF Laura Vainionpää (Finland)
DNF Alexandra Chekina (Russian Federation)
DNF Hong Guo (People's Republic of China)
DNF Jaruwan Somrat (Thailand)
DNF Anriette Schoeman (South Africa)
DNF Thi That Nguyen (Vietnam)
DNF Coralie Demay (France)
DNF Laura Massey (Great Britain)
DNF Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)
DNF Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)
DNF Anastasiia Iakovenko (Russian Federation)
DNF Svetlana Vasilieva (Russian Federation)
DNF Pascale Jeuland (France)
DNF Margarita Syrodoeva (Russian Federation)
DNF Antonia Grondahl (Finland)
DNF Makhabbat Umutzhanova (Kazakhstan)
DNF Wogahta Gebrehiwet (Eritrea)
DNF Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed Mohamed (Egypt)
DNF Mossana Debesai (Eritrea)
DNF Sofia Arreola (Mexico)
DNF Silvija Latozaite (Lithuania)
DNF Kelly Kalm (Estonia)
DNF Alicja Ratajczak (Poland)
DNF Eden Bekele (Ethiopia)
DNF Carla Oberholzer (South Africa)
DNF Tsega Beyene (Ethiopia)
DNF Najla Aljuraiwi (Kuweit)
DNF Zanele Tshoko (South Africa)
DNF Jiajun Sun (People's Republic of China)
DNF Noura Alameeri (Kuweit)
DNF Nada Aljuraiwi (Kuweit)
DSQ Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation)
DNS Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)
DNS Qianyu Yang (Hong Kong, China)
DNS Beatha Ingabire (Rwanda)
DNS Eyeru Tesfoam (Ethiopia)